What Is a Portable Air Cooler?

Standard portable air cooler
One example of a classic air cooler – notice there’s no connection vent for humidity disposal like there would be with an actual air conditioner.

Portable air coolers are very similar to portable air conditioners, but they are different in one major and important way.  The major difference between the portable air coolers and the actual portable air conditioners is that coolers only cool the air, they do not dehumidify the air the way that actual air conditioners do. In most situations this does make actual air coolers a little less desirable than their air conditioning counterparts, but read on to learn more about the difference.

This can make a huge difference depending on the climate.  In more humid climates this means that air coolers will not be nearly as effective as the much better known air conditioners, while in a dry heat the portable air cooler might be enough by itself without needing to actually deal with the humidity in the air at all.

Portable air conditioners still require some room or areas to put the exhaust hose since it will suck moisture out of the air as part of a two step process for making the air in a room cooler.  The more traditional AC will not only put out cooled air, but it also sucks the hot humidity out of the air, which makes for an extremely effective 1-2 punch for cooling off an area and making it much more manageable to hang out there comfortably.

Anyone who grew up in an area that had extremely hot and humid summers knows just how important it can be to pull that moisture out of the air. Blasting cooling air helps, but in a larger area if there’s a lot of moisture in the air and no way to get it out, you’re going to be fighting to roll that boulder uphill when it comes to getting a comfortable living situation setup. Humidity is a really big deal in making any given indoor room comfortable, and this will probably be the deciding factor in whether you can get away with a portable air cooler or not.

Do you understand what a heat index is?

That’s why weather reports in these areas have a heat index. The temperature might be 90 degrees Fahrenheit with a 130 degree heat index. That second number is what it actually feels like compared to the temperature it actually is. That is a huge difference. Ninety degrees is unpleasant enough but getting up to 130 is so much worse. While a portable air cooler can seem like a better option as far as convenience, there are several good reasons not to believe this.

On the other hand portable air coolers don’t deal with the humidity in the air, and thus often don’t have disposal hoses for condensation, but simply collect what water is collected into a tray at the bottom.  The tray must then be emptied on occasion from time to time.  In extremely humid areas this becomes an issue as the portable air cooler won’t be as effective as a portable air conditioner.  However if you’re dealing with a dry heat then the portable cooler will be enough.

Often times people mistake portable air coolers for being just a different model of the portable air conditioners, but these are not the same things and it’s important to know the difference between the two.  Because of this confusion, many people think there are vent-less or hoseless portable air conditioners but the truth is there isn’t.  If there are no hoses and no vents then the appliance is an air cooler, not a conditioner. Depending on where you live, the difference between the two can be absolutely huge.

When is a portable air cooler a decent choice?

If you live in an area that gets dry heat and is almost always low in humidity, such as the desert, then a portable air cooler might be more than enough for your specific needs. In certain situations where the heat tends to be moisture free like in a small room that gets a lot of sunlight and becomes a “hot box,” an air cooler might be enough, as well. However, most of the time you’re going to find that a portable air conditioner is going to be a much better overall choice and the combination of taking moisture out of the air and cooling the air there is going to give you the best overall results.

Outside of those two limited situations, it’s hard to see many times where the cooler will be a good choice over a portable air conditioner. As with the more common conditioners, you need to do your research to make sure you find a model that has a reputation for doing well and has a lot of good reviews. Keep in mind that some bad reviews will be due to people not understanding the difference between coolers and conditioners, but the star ratings are still at least a basic rule of thumb to follow to see which are better to work with.

Portable air coolers, in summary

Air coolers do tend to be less expensive, but they also do less in making a room comfortable than an air conditioner does, which helps to explain the difference in price.  For some people having a portable air cooler might be enough, and you might not need that extra bit of investment for an actual portable air conditioning unit, but at least knowing the difference between the two will help you to make a more informed decision on the matter.

If you’re in the desert, you can give a good air cooler a shot – but otherwise make sure you’re getting an actual portable air conditioner and get an idea of how you can arrange the small vent to work best for you and your particular living situation. With a little bit of research and planning, you will be in a much better position to make an intelligent decision and get the right fit for a cooler and more comfortable home.

Do you want more information?

If you want to read more about portable air conditioners to see how they work by contrast, just click on that link and be sure to look around this blog more. Thanks for stopping by!