Portable Air Conditioner Buying Guide

As defined by the basic terminology, a portable AC is a mobile unit that can be easily moved within and outside of the house. They have caster wheels to aid in the movement, are lightweight, and generally fall within the range of 28-34 feet. It does not require any permanent installation like window and split ACs and therefore, its efficiency and functionality lie in between a fan and high-end AC (window and split types).

How Does a Portable Air Conditioner Works?

The two major tasks of any model of portable AC are as follows:

  • Cooling down of one or multiple rooms as per the user requirements (Primary function).
  • Dehumidification or removal of excess moisture from the air (Secondary function).

Based on the standard refrigeration cycle, every portable AC has the following three components:

  • Refrigerant for cooling of the air.
  • Compressor for compressing the inlet air.
  • Fan for circulation of the cool air within the designated space.

Therefore, the following are the basic ways of working with these models:

  • The fan of the portable AC begins sucking the hot and humid air from the internal room, whose temperature and humidity are to be brought to the convenient levels.
  • With the condenser coils, the hot and humid air is cooled down to extract the moisture and transfer the heat to the refrigerant. As a result, the refrigerant fluid turns into a gas.
  • The cool air goes back into circulation inside of the room.
  • Similarly, the moisture from the air also gets removed either manually or via smart technology, as per the requirements of the user.

The basic fixtures associated with the portable AC to help out in executing the entire cycle are as follows:

  • Standard window venting kit to expel the exhaust and provide ambient conditions within the room.
  • Water reservoirs to collect the condensate and later can be removed with a hose pipe.
  • Evaporator coupled with an air duct, to directly remove the moisture from the exhaust and lower down the number of manual cycles of removal.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Portable AC

It can often get overwhelming when you find a large number of options in the market for portable ACs. In such cases, the buying guide is sure to help out in resolving the confusion. Therefore, look out for the following points to get help perfectly:

  • The first factor that needs to be looked upon is the size of the portable AC. It is determined in the units of British Thermal Units (BTU) and is directly proportional to the cooling power and room space i.e. higher BTU can impart better cooling to any larger room.

Therefore, to aid the perfect BTU for your requirement, look at your room space in which it would be put up:

  1. Small spaces, that can cover up to 350 sq. ft of floor space.
  2. Medium-sized areas that range in between 351 to 700 sq. ft of floor space.
  3. Large-sized rooms or commercial corners, that go beyond 700 sq. ft of floor space.

In addition to these, some of the external points that need to be considered within the room are window space, cross ventilation facility, and high ceiling.

  • The second factor comes up for the location of the portable unit and how would the ventilation and exhaust get affected in the overall process. Since the cooling unit vents out the hot air, the same must be dumped properly into the atmosphere.

The conventional methods allowed installation near the windows for direct exhaust into the atmosphere. But, the newer methods allow the set up of a special window kit that is coupled to the exhaust and helps in the effective release of the hot air (in other terms you need to put up the AC a bit away from the nearest window).

  • The next factor is decided on the choice of the users in taking up either a single hose or dual hose portable AC. The following are the differences between these units:
  • Single hose types work by pulling out the stagnant air from inside of the room and then cooling the same with the help of an internal motor. Using the hose and window, they take up the excess warm air and filter it out into the atmosphere. They are generally cheaper than the double hose types.
  • Dual hose types work by pulling out fresh air from outside and circulating the same within the room through one hose and removing the excessive moisture and warm air through the other hose. They are quicker in action and efficient than the single types.
  • The next factor lies in deciding on the kind of water removal system required. The majority of the available models are of self-evaporating types, where the condensed water is recycled back into the air. Some of the models are of manual type, where you need to drain out the excess water manually from any hose pipe. 

Some of the other variants to the category include gravity drain (where the water is continuously drained out to the nearby floor drain by the force of gravity), condensate pump that collects the extra water through a drain hose, and bucket (an internal container that holds the extra water up to a threshold limit and needs manual removal eventually).

  • Efficiency is another pivotal factor that needs to be taken care of since you would want an option that performs best and yet charges minimal on the overall utilities. Therefore, go for the higher BEE rating to get your choice.
  • The operation modes (like eco mode, sleep mode, and other requisites) as per user requirements can also form a selection criterion for any portable AC. Thus, check out the smart ones that provide all of these features and require no special wiring or out-of-the-world powering requirements.
  • Keeping in mind the nearby surroundings, it is also important to have a look at the noise of the operation before making the choice. Since the system uses motorized fans and compressed systems, it must create some degree of noise.

Still, many manufacturers are working on damping it by offering multiple features, like a programmable timer, multiple speed, and sleep mode. Each fan speed has a decibel reading associated with it and therefore, make yourself familiar with these before opting for it.

  • The ease of installation and maintenance also form another pivotal layer, as the ideal cases of both are required to improvise on the net user experience. Some of the basic maintenance works include cleaning of the air filters, regular draining of the water condensate, servicing of the running parts, and rechecking of the installation point.
  • You can also lookout for the options of heating methodology within the portable AC for winter conditions. It can either be via a heat pump (extracts heat from external environment and then disperses within the surroundings) or an electric heater (that converts electrical energy into heat and then releases the same from an installed heat strip).
  • Some of the special requirements can include auto-washable air filters, remote control, directional airflow, digital control, strong caster wheels, and an all-in-one unit of operation. 

Benefits of a Portable Air Conditioner

The following are the basic benefits of a portable AC:

  • Features of conventional ACs at a reasonable price and better performance than ordinary fans.
  • Easy portability to sort out the transportation or shifting issues.
  • Multiple features to enhance the flexibility of usage (in the forms of modes of operation or settings to optimize the overall performance).
  • Easier disposal options when compared to the regular AC models.
  • Lesser room space when compared to the conventional AC models.

Therefore, if you are constrained by budget and yet want the best relief out of hot summers, humid rains, and chilly winters, then go for the best model of portable AC. Let us know of your concerns on any of these buying points in the comments section and they would be resolved quickly.

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