5 Things You Didn’t Know About Portable Air Conditioners

Portable air conditioners are fairly cheap and efficient alternatives to cool your home. Although not as reliable as fixed AC units, portable air conditioners are quite useful in temperate areas, where summers are shorter. They can be great cooling devices for small homes, workshops or office spaces, but there are a lot of things you probably didn’t know about them.

Take a look at this short list before buying your new portable air conditioning unit:

Portable is not always… portable

Portable air conditioners are always advertised as highly mobile. Just head to your local appliance store and you can see them neatly displayed on the floor. Something is missing, though – it’s the hose! This is something that many customers simply overlook and stores know it: they display the portable air conditioners without the hoses that carry the heat to the outdoor coils.

What’s more, the hoses also feature a series of fans that direct the air flow, and most future customers won’t get a chance to see this in a showroom. Portable air conditioners, unlike fixed air conditioners, have the outdoor coil inside the room, but it still needs to be cooled. Sure, these hoses can be slimmer, but you will still need to have at least one, and it must be connected to the outside of your home. Obviously, the hose needs to be as short as possible to reduce the power required to transport the hot air.

Portable air conditioners also need venting kits, just like window air conditioners. They will be smaller, but you need to take into account this small detail and locate the best spot in your room to install the unit.

5 Things You Didn't Know About Portable Air Conditioners

The low energy myth

Portable A/C units run on electrical power (duhh), but how much they really consume is up to debate. Firstly, an A/C unit’s efficiency is measured by the BTU/h rating, a universal unit of measure for the cooling capacity. Taking into account a normal 12,000 BTU/h figure, a fixed A/C unit will cool a 550 square feet room while a similar portable unit will only cool a 400 square feet room.

So, portable A/C units, although smaller and more energy efficient, won’t be able to cool an average sized room like a normal unit can. In fact, portable A/C units lose up to 30 percent of their cooling capacity when compared to fixed units. Keep in mind that these figures go up if you live in a subtropical or tropical areas.

Simply put, although portable A/C units might be convenient in certain situations, they are not as effective as fixed units and their low energy consumption (when taking into account their actual cooling capacity) is just a myth.


As the hot air is cooled, the moisture will condense to water and small drops will appear on various items inside your room. All portable A/C units have a condensation tank, but they are fairly small and will get filled quickly on a hot summer day. Always look for drips, wet and damp areas near your unit and check the condensation tank at least once a day. Some top of the range portable air conditioners have an evaporation system which will counter the effects of condensation, but basic models don’t have this feature.


Most portable A/C units are also quite noisy. Fixed A/C units have their compressors mounted in their outside unit, so noise is rarely a problem. However, portable A/C units have an internal compressor which will always be inside your home. Although not as noisy as normal compressors, some homeowners complain about the constant noise it produces and find it annoying, especially in bedrooms.

Space requirements

Portable A/C units also need plenty of space to work properly. Many models require at least 18 inches of space on each side. Similarly, you should not put the unit close to a wall, a bed or a sofa. Make sure you have plenty of space before you decide to buy a portable A/C unit.

If you’re looking into buying a new portable A/C unit, seek a professional’s input, like Bob Heinmiller.

  1. Flaviu Mercea is a homeowner and landlord who is always looking for cheap efficient appliances for his rental homes. If you would like to learn more about Flaviu, you can check out his google+ profile.
Categories: Home Improvement