The Truth about Small Portable Air Conditioners

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Published: 03rd April 2015
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Due to the growing problems associated with global warming, there are more and more people who are choosing to use portable air conditioners instead of investing in massive central air conditioning units. This is primarily because of the convenient and functional features offered by this unit over others that are permanently installed. However, even though portable air conditioners have considerable benefits, still there are some drawbacks about them necessary for you to know.

It could be appealing to you that a small portable air conditioner can be rolled from one room to another, especially if you have a limited window space or if you are living within a building from which your typical window air conditioners are restricted. However, research studies conducted by Consumer Reports indicates that most portable air conditioners provide less relief from heat as compared to what their manufacturers have touted. By some analyses, the BTUs (units which measure the cooling power of an air conditioner) are significantly lower in portable air conditioners. Also, when researchers compare portable appliances with the more common window units, the portable ones were far more costly.

The tested portable units have only one exhaust hose which routes air from within the room through the condenser coils of the air conditioners and lastly to the outside. An average portable air conditioner features a discreet vent bracket adapter, which you can place within the double-hung window. This is to enable the humid, hot air to drain. Generally, there is no tool needed for this kind of installation. It is a good idea, however, to find a way to seal up the window around the exhaust hose. You can do this with a piece of cardboard or a piece of Plexiglas.

Even though small portable air conditioners seem to be convenient, there are some that may only provide half of the actual cooling capacity. This implies that they function with an EER (Energy-Efficiency Ratio) of around five or six. This is considerably different from the minimal EER of around 10 found on most window air conditioners. Those portable units are indeed extremely efficient because the air they drain to the outer space comes out from within the room you are cooling, along with the adjacent spaces. The used energy to dehumidify and cool the air is basically wasted as it is only sent the vent hose out.

Aside from this, this kind of set up implies the humid, warm air outside will pour out going back to the room. For this, the air in the room should be dehumidified and cooled. This process explains why this appliance can be so much more inefficient than a window unit. There are some small portable air conditioners that contain 2 hoses, with one that carries in the air coming from the outer area in order to cool the coils and the other one to drain such air back to the outer area. This set up imitates the process found from the conventional window air conditioner. That is why those models should get close to providing their promised BTU/Hr. ratings.

On the other hand, carrying the air through the hoses can waste energy. Thus, their levels of efficiency are normally lower than the ones of average traditional window air conditioners. When it comes to energy-efficiency concerns, there are several other factors to think about when purchasing a new portable air conditioner. Since the whole machine and all of its parts - is with you in your room, the noise from a portable air conditioner is significant. This is true even with a small portable air conditioner. Therefore, you should be extremely careful when choosing the unit you want for your home if you plan to use it while sleeping.


Jane Dabad is the lead writer at The Air Conditioner Guide blog. For more information, check out these helpful guides: Window Air Conditioner Reviews, Portable Air Conditioner Tips, and Amana Window Air Conditioner Guide.


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