The Basics Of Portable Air Conditioners

Posted on August 23rd, 2013

The Basics Of Portable Air Conditioners

The Basics Of Portable Air Conditioners

Most people are familiar with two main types of air conditioners - window mounted units and larger home HVAC systems. But in some cases, these two aren't right for a home or office. Condos and other buildings may have restrictions in place that don't allow for window units, and their cooling systems may not be efficient enough to work properly. In these cases, a portable air conditioner may be needed.

A portable air conditioner is just what it sounds like. It will be a smaller size system that is mounted on wheels and can be moved from room to room in a matter of seconds. They're easy to use, easy to move, and convenient for plenty of situations. But while they're not as effective as the more common units, they could be the right answer for you.

There are actually two main types of these portable air conditioning units - the evaporative type and the refrigerative type.

Refrigerative units work in much the same way that window units work, and come with a duct that runs from the rear of the unit and must be placed outside. The unit draws in warm air in the room and then ejects it outside, just like window units. However, it lacks the cooling aspect that many larger window units have, and its main drawback is that it can't replace the air it removes with cooler air. This means that it takes much longer to reduce temperatures in the room.

Evaporative units rely on evaporation to cool the air. Water evaporates on cooling fins, and the vapor created during the process helps to draw in heat and cool the room. This option is less reliable than the refrigerative type, but costs up to 70% less in energy to run. It also won't work that great in areas with high humidity.

Deciding that you need to buy a portable air conditioner is just like deciding on purchasing a traditional one. It's a large purchase, and one you'll need to consider carefully. Don't just let hot weather force you into it - consider the pros and cons of a portable unit before you make the purchase.


  • More affordable than other options
  • Simple to install
  • Easy to move
  • Allowed in any building


  • Not as efficient
  • Won't work in larger rooms or homes
  • Not reliable in high temperatures
  • Could cause some damage to property

Essentially, portable air conditioners are an option that is usually looked at as a last resort. If your home or office doesn't permit a traditional AC unit, they could be the right call. In most other cases, making the extra investment in a good window unit or an HVAC system will be much better. Not only will they work better and keep you cool, but they're more reliable than portable options. And since central heat and air units actually bump up property values, they're even more of an investment than a window unit. Whatever you decide, be sure you consider all the different aspects of your purchase before you make it.

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