Portable Air Conditioner Guide to Buying

If you are looking for a great way to conveniently cool a room, this portable air conditioner guide to buying can help you decide which is the right model for you!

Many people are already very much aware that a portable or free standing air conditioner allows you to conveniently cool a room without having to suffer the hassle of complex installation.

This handy guide is provided to help you find one that can help to make your home more comfortable during the hot summer months.

Why Choose a Portable Air Conditioner?

portable air conditioner buying guideThere are several options when it comes to choosing a suitable air conditioning device for your home.

It depends on your budget as well as the size of your home, how many rooms it has that require cooling and how many people occupy the house.

While it is fairly common to see central air systems in homes, not all homes come equipped with suitable air conditioning, including some that are located in places with hot seasons in the year.

If affording to buy and install a central air system is out of your reach, there are some cheaper alternatives. Distributed or zone mini-split air conditioners are common, and while they have certain advantages over other forms of cooling, they can also be expensive to install, especially in larger homes.

Individual room coolers, such as contained air conditioners like window units, PTAC or VTAC or portable units can bridge the cost with flexibility and cooling features.

Portable air conditioners are a favorite choice for people living in smaller homes or apartments where window units are not allowed or disliked because they take up a part of the window space and don't look so nice from the outside.

Portable units are easy to install, versatile in that they can be moved from room to room as needed and generally cost less than other forms of cooling.

Benefits of Portable Air Conditioners

The best cooling appliance for you depends on your needs. When you choose a portable air conditioner for a single room for spot cooling and its portability, there are some advantages to making this choice.

A single hose portable AC unit takes in warm, moist air from the room, cools and dries it ,then directs it back into the room. The residual warm, moist air is expelled outside through an exhaust vent hose that is installed in a special window kit, or though a pre-installed wall vent.

This type of free standing room cooler generally features controls that allow you to adjust several settings on the unit, such as the fan speed, temperature and run-time (self timer).

Simple Alternative Cooler

Here is a simple to use, versatile alternative to larger central air conditioners and less asthetically pleasing window units.

They are designed to cool down an individual room or smaller space and being relatively easy to install for most people, can provide a useful option for rooms that lack existing cooling systems as well as for rooms that do not require constant cooling all the time.

A portable unit can supplement larger central cooling systems or help to cool an apartment or rental where it is not possible to install a permanent unit.

They are easy to set up and the very portability provided by their compact design along with the easy glide caster wheels allow the owner to move the unit from room to room as needed with minimal effort.

Compatible Window

It is important to ensure there is a window in the room that is compatible with installing a portable air conditioner window fixing kit, that is generally included in the box.

Different units can fit different window sizes, so make sure you have pre-measured your window opening before purchasing. Some free standing AC units are designed to use single or double hung sliding windows, while some models are not designed towork with casement windows that open by swinging outward.

The Right Portable Air Conditioner to Choose

Whether you want to cool a home office, living room, guest bedroom or for that matter any other room in the house, it is important to choose the most suitable portable air conditioner for the room depending on its size, shape and height.

The right air conditioner will help you cool a room more efficiently without wasting energy.

Size Matters

Note that an undersized unit will be inadequate to cool the space, while an oversized one will not remove enough humidity and use more power than is needed, wasting energy and money.

To find the correctly powered air conditioner for the intended space, measure the length and width of the room to discover the square footage (multiply the room's length by its width).

Note the air conditioner's BTU (British Thermal Unit) rating, which is an indication of the amount of heat it is capable of removing from a room. The higher the number, the more cooling power is available for cooling a larger room.

Here is a handy room size to BTU rating comparison:

As the BTU rating gets larger, so does the size and weight of the air conditioner, as the internal refrigeration mechanics increase in size and weight.

Energy Efficency

There is also an energy efficiency rating that will help you to decide if a model is economical.

This is the EER value, which stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio. An electrical appliance with a higher EER indicates that it is more efficient to run, conserving more energy and therefore being more economical to operate.

Features of a Typical Portable Air Conditioner

The best portable air conditioner models will have features designed to make the device user-friendly, versatile and convenient.

It is possible to find air conditioners designed with multiple functions in addition to merely cooling the air.

While all air conditioners naturally dehumidify the air they condition by removing moisture as they cool, many models provide an additional dehumidifier mode for removes greater levels of moisture from the air while not actively cooling. This is a very handy feature to have in the colder months of the year when indoor humidity is still a problem.

Almost all portable AC units have a fan only function that runs without the air conditioning to simply circulate air in the room.

Some high-end portable air conditioners have an additional heating function, giving the unit the capability to provide heat when needed. This is also especially useful during the cold season, providing a comfortable temperature year-round.

All you need to remember is to configure the unit for each of its operating modes.

For example:

If there is a heater function, the unit will have a separate heating BTU rating. This means the room size it is designed to fit may be different from its cooling capacity.

Other features available:

Portable Air Conditioner Setup...

Setting up your portable air conditioner in the right place is important to avoid problematic instances when operating it.

First, you should select a location that is near a window where the vent hose fixing kit will be installed and also ensure it is close by an available power outlet.

Some manufacturers specify the device be plugged directly into a wall outlet and not an extension cord.

Setup is generally quick and easy. A screwdriver is often all that is needed to complete installation. The AC unit's adjustable window vent panel is relatively easy to install and the unit's exhaust hose should be fixed to this at one end and to the back of the unit at the other end.

If the AC unit has a dual hose setup, remember to fix both hoses to the back of the unit and to the window vent.

Allow the unit to stand upright without moving it for at least an hour before turning it on to allow the refrigerant liquid to settle so it is ready to operate without any problems.

...and Maintenance

Fortunately, portable air conditioners require only simple maintenance. Remember to disconnect the unit from the power supply before you perform any work.

Summing Up

Ultimately, the air conditioner you will choose to buy will depend on your own preferences with regard to styling and color, coupled with the correct power rating for the size of room you intend using it in and whatever additional features you deem necessary and desirable.

A standard AC model will cool your space adequately without any frills and will cost you less to buy.

However, if you want more features, such as a dual hose operation, self-evaporation or even a smart, WiFi ready model, be prepared to pay more because all these extras will increase the price of the unit.

Posted: June 16 2021

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