Just What Is a Portable Air Conditioner?

Platinum Whynter Portable AC Unit
A high end portable AC unit by Whynter.

Whether you live in an area known for four seasons or for two, we all know how that special time of year when you’re just getting over winter but not quite in the sweltering sweating days of summer. While it is nice to see spring, however long that season is where you live, there’s no question that summer is about to follow and while that can seem like a good thing when you’re used to terrible wind chills and ice cold temperatures, once the humidity and endless heat sets in you’ll quickly want some more cool air in your life.

So the stage is set. The winter is long gone and spring is quickly flying by and maybe you’re beginning to notice the air getting hot and humid.  But maybe you live in an apartment with windows that don’t allow for the traditional AC window units, or maybe you have internal rooms that are the only ones that need cooling and you want to save money by just keeping those small areas cool.

For many people the best solution could be purchasing a portable air conditioning unit. Portable air conditioners allow people to cool down specific areas of a home or apartment and can be extremely helpful in keeping people from becoming overwhelmed by the summer heat and humidity. Unlike wall units that must have an open window or cut in hole in the wall where they can be mounted, portable units can be wheeled from room to room, which can be a huge advantage. This means the family room or living room can be cooled throughout the day, especially after the workday when everyone gathers around for dinner, family time, and a favorite TV show or movie, and then when evening hits, the portable air conditioner can be moved to a bedroom, sleeping area, or even a centralized location to make the entire floor a little bit cooler and a little bit more pleasant for sleeping.

While the exact mobility of any given unit is going to vary and depend on the company, the make, as well as the overall design. Many good portable air conditioners require at least a small open window or area to vent out, but that isn’t true of every single design. The key is looking through your options and figuring out what is in  your price range, which has the type of reviews that make you trust it, and simply looking at what fits your specific environment best. Let’s face it – if you’ve moved into bayou country when you grew up in the high northeast or Pacific Northwest, you’re going to need something strong.

If you’re dealing with a very dry heat like desert heat, you might not need quite as powerful a model to really help you out. That’s why this website exists: to help give you the critical information you will need in order to answer these questions, have a solid idea of what type of air conditioners are going to work best for your particular situation, and help you make a smart buy.

So learning more about portable air conditioners

Portable AC units are made from dozens of companies and brands, and these home appliances continue to grow in quality as only a very small area is needed for the condensation hose, which means these can be set up around windows which are incapable of holding even a small “dorm window” type of fan.  There is a huge difference between 72 degrees and dry as opposed to 95 and humid within the house, and depending on how strong (ie how many btu your portable ac unit claims) many rooms can become much cooler than that.

So what is a portable air conditioner?  It’s basically an air conditioner with wheels which does not have to be set up in a window of any kind.  Think of a space heater, but with the opposite effect.  These do need some type of a small vent, but this hose extending from an AC unit can fit in many small areas or even in some cases be set to a sink or container as opposed to a window.  These also work with virtually any window, including ones which will never accept any traditional window AC model.  This is part of the obvious appeal.  In addition to this, this units are often much cheaper than the conventional window models and there are some apartments where using a window model isn’t allowed – this circumvents that issue.

There are several things to look at when deciding if a portable air conditioning unit is the right choice, or even which one will be the best overall fit.  Aside from checking out what filtering system does exist with each particular model it’s important to take a look at the many companies who produce various home appliances like the movable AC units and what their rankings are on various comparison sites like Amazon, or other shopping comparison sites.  There are even some consumer websites set up specifically just for air conditioners or even the portable air conditioners and because of this you shouldn’t have any problem comparing the many models which are available.  Look for ones with the highest rating, and make sure to do your research into brand names.

There are many times when a company might be great at producing other appliances but their air conditioners leave something to be desired.  There’s also the fact that the overall ratings of a company can change radically from one year to another.  For example there was a time when Amana portable air conditioners were very highly thought of, and that time might come again, but as of this writing their refrigerators and washers and dryers are well thought of while there is not a lot of positives when it comes to their portable AC units.

Learn how to measure the strength of a portable air conditioner

Not only is the company and year important issues, but also look for the overall strength.  Common measurements of air conditioning strength include 8000, 10000, 12000, 15000, and 18000 BTU in strength.  Price will vary depending on the overall strength of the AC units and you might not need the strongest units available depending on what your house or apartment looks like.  If you’re only cooling a small main room or bed room, then 10000 BTU might be the perfect level of strength as opposed to the stronger ones which might almost be too strong.

So remember that when it comes to overall strength, there will be some variances but the most common grades are:

  • 8,000 BTU portable air conditioner
  • 10,000 BTU portable air conditioner
  • 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner
  • 15,000 BTU portable air conditioner
  • 18,000 BTU portable air conditioner

Most people find that for a residence something in the 10-12,000 BTU PAC units work best, however there are those that are stronger as well as those that are a little lighter and don’t put such a drain on the power and associated electric bill that goes with it. There can be a huge difference between the various levels of cooling machines you find here, so if you know someone who has a portable AC they swear by then it’s worth talking to them, seeing how well that unit works, and seeing what power level they have.

What should you look for in a portable AC unit?

What else do you need to look for? There’s a lot that goes into deciding what the best portable air conditioner unit for you is going to be. Not only can one portable unit weigh two or three times as much as another, but you will also find there is a huge difference between the noise that each one puts out, the heat that each one puts out from running (obviously you want this to be as low as possible or else it kind of defeats the purpose).

There are also some companies that simply have a much better reputation than others, which is part of what makes research such a critical part of any buying decision. You might end up finding out that an 8,000 BTU portable air conditioner is more than enough to take care of your living room or bed room – you just ended up experiencing a model from a company that has an average 1 star out of 5 rating. Unfortunately there are cheaply put together portable air conditioners out there which are indeed that bad.

The good news is that there are also many outstanding models that are built the right way and deliver the full amount of service that they promise. Doing your research will help you to make sure that you’re getting what you actually want versus getting disappointed by one of the poor models that is a complete letdown.

Finding your perfect portable air conditioner unit, in conclusion

Different blog posts will go over each of these in addition to actual companies, overall ratings, as well as the other major considerations and even reviews of individual models including the pros, cons, and otherwise.  While getting a portable ac unit might be a bit of an investment, it’s often cheaper than the traditional window units and their portability makes them useful even when moving from one location to another.  So continue to look around for something you like and hopefully this review site will be extremely helpful to all of you.

Thanks for reading!