An air conditioner portable is a cost-effective and efficient way to cool down a room in the summer heat. It pulls warm air from space, cools it, then releases the cooled air back into the room.
While not meant to replace a traditional climate control system like a thermostat, portable ACs can cool rooms that seem sticky no matter how much you turn on the AC. This Old House Reviews Team explains how portable air conditioners work, and discusses their pros and cons.
How portable air conditioners work
A portable unit is different from a mini-split ductless, which is a more common alternative to central air. A ductless mini split is equipped with an outdoor component as well as an evaporative cooler, which relies on fans or water pumps. It uses negative pressure airflow. The unit pulls in hot air from the room and cools it with a compressor and condenser coil before releasing the cooled air back into the room.
The main components of a portable air conditioner are the compressor, condenser, and evaporator coils, fan, exhaust hose, and fan. The compressor reduces the refrigerant gas in the system and converts it to a high-pressure, vapor. Condenser coils turn this vapor into liquid by cooling it. The liquid flows through the condenser coil. Here heat is transferred from warm room air to the liquid. The fan then blows the cool air out of the room.
The exhaust hose connects to the back of the portable AC conditioner. It vents through a window or wall and out through a drop ceiling, wall, or window. The hose lets out the hot air that has been removed.
One Hose vs. Two Hose
Portable air conditioners with a single hose draw air in and out using one hose. Two hoses are used in dual-hose portable air conditioners. The first hose draws air from outside, and the second hose expels air from within the room. This reduces the unit’s energy consumption and creates a more pleasant environment.
Although single-hose units can be quieter and cheaper than others, they may perform less well in larger spaces. A portable air conditioner with dual hoses can cool a room faster and more evenly.
Portable Air Conditioners vs. other Air Conditioners
There are three options for homeowners purchasing air conditioning: central AC, window AC, and portable AC. Let’s take a look at them.
The portable AC units can be easily moved from one room to the next and do not require permanent installation. These units are typically smaller than central AC units and less expensive than window or central AC units. They can cool single rooms and small apartments. You can use portable air conditioners in homes that have too few windows or restrictions.
Window units work in the same way as portable air conditioners. They require a window to vent the hot air outside. Window units can be bulky and heavy, so it is necessary to drill into the window frame or wall in order to install them. It is also difficult to move them around so they are not an ideal choice for people who need to bring their cooling units with them when they move.
Although central air conditioning systems are more expensive than window units and portable air conditioners, they are more efficient and powerful. This system cools a whole house using a network of ducts and ventilations that allows the cold air to circulate throughout every room. This system is useful for large homes with multiple levels but not necessary for smaller apartments or single-level homes.
Air conditioners are capable of removing water vapor from indoor air. They can also double as dehumidifiers. Some portable air conditioners include a dry mode that slows down fan speed, allowing condensed water vapor to remain longer and drying out the air.
A condenser coil is used to remove moisture from the air during dehumidification. This reduces the humidity in your home, which makes it feel cooler. It also helps to lower the AC’s need to be run for extended periods of time.
If you live in hot and humid areas, dehumidification can be especially helpful. It helps to keep your indoor environment cool and comfortable. A dehumidifier is the best portable air conditioner.
Even if your central AC is working well, there may be some rooms or spots that need additional cooling. By providing additional support for those areas, portable air conditioners can be a great way to supplement your AC system.
These units can be used to cool specific rooms or small spaces such as the bedroom. The central AC cools your entire house. You can combine your central AC and a portable conditioner to keep your home comfortable and well-ventilated.
You may be restricted from having AC units hang out of windows if you live in an area governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA). Because they don’t need to be installed or altered, portable air conditioners can be a great alternative.
Portable ACs will not cool larger spaces in your home as well. Some models can cool multiple rooms, but others are powerful enough to do so. To ensure the best choice for your home, make sure to do some research on your room size and power requirements before purchasing a portable AC conditioner.
People worry about the loss of natural light after installing a window unit air conditioner. Portable air conditioners don’t have this problem. They can be moved around to maximize natural lighting without compromising comfort.
A portable AC conditioner can work in your situation if you don’t have central heating, but your windows are too small to accommodate an AC unit. A portable air conditioner doesn’t need to be vented through a window. Warm air can be released through a door, roof, or another opening.
These models are small enough to fit through any window. These units have adjustable top and side panels that can seal any size frame. These panels are adjustable and ensure that the unit is perfectly fitted without leaving any gaps at the top or sides.
Portable Air Conditioner Efficiency
When shopping for portable air conditioner units, be sure to look out for the following acronyms: BTUs (British Thermal Units) and EER (Energy-Related Abbreviations).
BTUs (or British Thermal Units) are a measure of heat transfer in space. BTUs are a measure of the energy required to cool a room. BTU ratings indicate how much space the unit can cool effectively.
EER stands for Energy Efficiency Rating. The U.S. Department of Energy created it. This rating measures the efficiency of an air conditioner operating at a temperature outside of 95 degrees Fahrenheit. A rating of 8.2 is higher than average. Higher ratings indicate more significant energy efficiency.
Even though they use less energy overall, single-hose AC units have a lower energy efficiency rating than dual-hose models. Dual-hose AC units are more efficient, can cool more space, and cost more.