Portable air conditioners are a staple in many homes today, as they have become a convenient and affordable supplement to integrated air conditioning. The convenience of a portable air conditioner is unmatched since you can move them from room to room as needed and easily transport them to another location by car. Portable air conditioners are common in office settings, waiting rooms, mechanic shops, storefronts, restaurants, bakeries, gyms, spas, and more - usually, you don't even notice them since contemporary innovations have provided for quiet and low-profile machines.
Brands like Soleus Air, Sunpentown, and Whynter offer a wide array of portable AC units that include combinations of air conditioner and dehumidifier or air conditioner and heater. Most of today's options also have a fan function regardless of what other features they offer. This means that you can use the unit to circulate air throughout the area rather than cool it, providing for a versatile option that uses very little energy.
Furthermore, most portable air conditioners have some level of dehumidifying capacity, as this step makes the air cooling process more efficient and greatly increases the freshness and comfort level of the air you are breathing. In fact, many models actually "recycle" the withdrawn moisture to help keep the cooling coils at a low temperature. This recursive design reduces the energy required to keep a room cool.
A multi-purpose configuration is part of what makes a portable AC unit so attractive. In this section, you can browse through the various different configurations and feature sets. Here are some things to consider (and some industrial jargon to decipher) when trying to find the best portable air conditioner for you:
- "Dual-Hose" indicates that the model has significant dehumidifying capacity and is configured for continuous drainage of condensate via a hose that runs to a drainage point, sink, bathtub, or out through a window.
- "Self Evaporative" or "Self Evaporating" refer to the aforementioned recursive design wherein airborne moisture is withdrawn and recycled to assist in cooling the air; this facilitates energy efficiency.
- Be sure not to confuse Self-Evaporative or Self-Evaporating with an Evaporative Air Cooler, which is a machine that uses ice or water to absorb heat (endothermic cooling) before returning the air to the room. This is not the same thing as an air conditioner, which requires more energy but is far more powerful. View our Evaporative Air Coolers section to see these models separately from the rest of our portable air conditioning solutions.
- Energy Star air conditioners are an efficient and eco-friendly option. They will save you some money on energy costs, but not that much - somewhere around $50 over the lifetime of the unit according to www.energystar.gov. Keep this in mind when you see Energy Star.
- BTU (British Thermal Unit) is a measure of cooling capacity, and you can roughly estimate the BTU capacity you need based on your room size: 8000 BTU will cover up to 350 square feet. Thereafter, add 1000 BTU for every increase of 50 square feet. You must also consider how much internal or external heat the room receives: sunny rooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and heavily occupied areas will require more BTU power. Conversely, a room that receives very little sunlight, contains no appliances, or is sparsely occupied will require less power.
- Many people want a quiet portable air conditioner since the primary purpose of an AC unit can be for the bedroom or living room area. Many manufacturers provide us with the noise level in decibels. Anything below 60 dB is relatively quiet, as this is quieter than the neutral sound of normal human conversation. The term "H/M/L" means High/Medium/Low and gives the noise level at each fan speed setting.
- Be sure to consider drainage configuration. Some air conditioners have a water tank for condensate and most will automatically shut off when this tank gets full to avoid overflow. Some models require continuous drainage.