For spot cooling and keeping costs down, portable air conditioners are a great idea when it's uneconomical to have a fixed unit in a room or other open space.
There are several benefits to choosing this option and in this category part of the site, I'll be delving into the pros and cons as well as taking individual aspects of these units and presenting them in greater detail in separate articles.
If you are in the situation where you maybe can't afford to have an AC system installed in your home, buying a smaller, free standing air conditioner unit can be beneficial. This is because it will provide you with some respite from the heat of summer while not costing you as much as a larger fixed unit or system would.
To give you an overview of these appliances, I'll introduce the concept to you here but if you need more information, take a look at the more detailed articles titles listed at the foot of this overview.
Pros and Cons of Portable AC
As with most things, there are pros and cons to owning and using a conventional or even a self evaporating portable air conditioning unit instead of opting for a larger, fixed cooling installation.
Easily the most obvious one of these is the cost of purchasing such an appliance compared to the greater cost of a fixed system. When you don't have a lot of money in your pocket, or your credit card is getting perilously close to its limit but you really, really need some way to get cool in the heat and you find you can get one of these for maybe under three hundred bucks, it looks like a no brainer.
For cooling small rooms, a portable or free standing air conditioner is often the best option because it will make the room cool pretty fast without using too much power, so running costs are affordable in this situation. It's when room sizes get bigger that the balance starts to tip in the wrong direction, as you will see below!
Also the idea of portability is a good one especially if you can only afford to buy a single machine. At least you can wheel it to whichever room you're occupying and that can be a big cost saving in not needing a fixed unit in every room.
Another big pro is that because you only have the one unit running and using power, that's all you're paying for. All too often having fixed units in every room means one or more invariably get left running when no one is in there, wasting power and costing you more money than it needs to!
While these machines are labelled as being "portable", there are one or two details that kind of cast a doubt over just how moveable they really are. The first glaringly obvious one is the ugly plastic expandable hose (or dual hoses) that comes with the unit which you notice when you take it out of its box for the first time.
You might not have paid any heed to the guy that sold it to you in the store when he was explaining about venting the unit to the outside, or maybe you bought it online and didn't read all the information on the page. But there it is. That at first strange addition that you may not have been expecting to see!
Now you discover you have to hook that hose up to the back of the AC unit and then fix it to a venting kit you also have to install on a window in the room you're going to use it in. That means you can't just wheel it from room to room without unhooking the hose from its window and hooking it up to another window in another room!
OK, you get over the exhaust hose thing that is probably the biggest irritation to owners of portable air conditioners. The next downside is the running cost.
Sure, on the low setting it doesn't seem to be using so much power. Maybe 1-2 kilowatts which seems a lot but for the relief from the heat, you'll manage it.
But when the low setting isn't cutting it, you need to turn it up and now on the high setting it's draining 3 kilowatts or more. If you were to go look at your electricity meter, you'd see the numbers flying in an upward direction very fast indeed!
But that's not just a trait of portables. Fixed and window AC units also use a lot of power when you crank them up high.
Of course, there are cheaper to run alternative coolers, such as the so-called ventless air conditioners (they are explained in that article), which are really evaporative coolers (swamp coolers) and they don't have an exhaust vent hose either.
Do You Want More Information?
Of course, I could go on at length about the ups and downs of free standing AC devices, but this article is focused on the main pros and cons of this particular type of cooler as an overview. There are more detailed articles associated with this in this section on air conditioning (click that link) where you can learn more if you want to.
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