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Portable Air Conditioners - Pros and Cons

Sep 14, 2007
Portable air conditioners have become very popular in recent years. Many people use them even if they have a central system because portable A/C can provide excellent cooling for a significantly lower cost. Find out about the pros and cons of a mobile A/C unit and if one could work for you.

A portable air conditioner is a self contained unit, usually about 30 inches tall and about 80 pounds in weight. The best thing is that it doesn't require any installation: it stands on the floor and you don't have to fit it in your window or your wall. Most mobile A/C units have little wheels, so you can easily move them around.

Portable A/C pros:

- you can move your portable unit from room to room, so there is no need to buy a window-mounted air conditioner for each room
- you don't have to block your window or make holes in your wall - a portable air conditioner is ready to use as soon as you unpack it
- using a mobile air conditioner to cool only one room instead of switching on a central system saves you a lot on energy bills

Parable air conditioner cons:

- a portable unit costs slightly more than a window air conditioner with a similar cooling capacity
- comparable to central air conditioning and mini-split systems (where the compressor is outside), portable A/C is loud. If noise is an issue, look at the reviews of several portable units and select the one that makes the least noise.

Is portable A/C effective in cooling large rooms?

That depends on the size of your unit. Small portable units with cooling capacities of about 8000 BTU are perfect for a 300 sq. foot room, while larger 24000 BTU air conditioners can effectively cool a 1000 sq. foot room. So, as you can see, a properly sized mobile air conditioner can do a good job even in a very large room. However, you should know that larger doesn't necessarily mean better. An air conditioner that is too large will consume more energy and won't cool your room effectively, because it will stop and start constantly.

Portable air conditioner energy efficiency.

Everybody knows that air conditioners chew a lot of energy, so energy efficiency is a big issue. However, recent developments in technology allow manufacturers to produce very efficient air conditioners. A few years ago an EER (energy efficiency ratio) of 6 or 7 was considered good. Now the standard is 12 or higher.

Modern portable air conditioners are as energy efficient as window or mini split units. To select the most efficient air conditioner, look at its EER - the higher, the better. Also choose a unit with an Energy Star. The Energy Star means that an air conditioner meets energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.

How affordable is a mobile air conditioner?

You might be surprised to learn that portable A/C is not too expensive. The prices have gone down significantly, in recent years, and now you can buy a good unit from around $300. Of course, air conditioners with a larger cooling capacity cost more, and so do those with higher energy efficiency ratings. However, when it comes to paying more for a more efficient unit, you actually save money because your energy bill will be lower.

To conclude, if you don't have air conditioning and don't feel like investing in a central system, a portable air conditioner can be a great alternative. And if you have a central A/C, it's still a good idea to have a portable unit for cooling just the room you are in, instead of the entire house. It can significantly reduce your bills.
About the Author
Find consumer information about portable room air conditioners and mobile air conditioners at 100 Air Conditioner Reviews.com
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