Best AC Units for Small Rooms (250 sq. ft.)

With the economy sinking like a tanker, a rising trend is the concept of small living.  The idea of compact living has not only gotten many people to downgrade the number of services they use (i.e. cable, internet, dry cleaning, gourmet coffee), but it's also gotten them to ditch expensive lofts and apartments for cheaper and more economic spaces. 

From small houses to yachts-turned-homes, people across the country are completely rethinking their approach to living.  And with the rise of do-it-yourself shows and home makeovers, we're all realizing that we can have the comforts of a larger home, even the aesthetic appeal, without having to scrape out our wallets for that last little penny to fund it all.

The Problem with Smaller Rooms

Yet, there are a few possible problems with smaller living, even if you live in a space of 250 sq. ft (and yes, some people actually do!).  Unless you're a hard core spatial economist, chances are you're going to feel a bit luxury deprived, especially when it comes to climate control.

But even the best of us can eventually feel like the walls are beginning to close in on us.  And with the summer ready to begin its season long roasting, plus the fact that smaller spaces get hotter faster and tend to retain heat, even the most conscientious of us can end up going a bit stir crazy.

The Solution

First, be under no delusions that your little piece of heaven will quickly turn into a little piece of hell as soon as summer heat and humidity sets in.  The obvious solution is an air conditioner, but smaller spaces normally don't come equipped with a central AC. Installing a central AC is also out of the question because 1) it's not functionally practical and 2) it's far too costly an installment for such a small space.

The solution?  A portable air conditioner.

A portable air conditioner is a mobile cooling unit that doesn't require permanent installation. Portable air conditioners have two main parts: a box-like frame that holds both the hot and cold side of the unit, and an exhaust hose to expel heat.  This exhaust hose needs to be placed near a window vent to ensure that unwanted hot air doesn't get re-circulated back into the room. 

Some reasons why portable ac's have been gaining popularity is because they 1) usually come with air purifying filters, 2) are simple to use, 3) offer spot cooling, 4) are energy efficient, and 5) often offer multiple cooling modes, including fanning and dehumidification.

Choosing the Right Type of Unit

While portable AC's are great for cooling, there's an even better alternative if you're in a desert climate.  Desert climates are notorious for their dry air, in which case just cooling your isn't enough.  If you're in a desert zone, what you ideally need is to inject some moisture back into the air.  Many people make the mistake of thinking a humidifier is enough, when really your ideal devise is a swamp cooler, also known an evaporative cooler.

Swamp coolers produce effective cooling and can reduce the ambient temperature by up to 20 degrees by combining the natural process of water evaporation within a simple air moving system. Therefore, they provide a low-cost, low technology alternative to standard refrigerated cooling.

Swamp coolers are pretty simple to use, but if you've never heard of one then it can be confusing.  Swamp coolers have the same effect as a wet towel or t-shirt on a fan.  If the climate is dry and the humidity is low, the cooling (and sometimes even chilling) effect will be instantaneous. However in areas with high humidity levels, this process will only result in dampness on the skin and in the air - this is why it's best if these evaporative coolers are used only in dry climates.

And unlike ACs, where you will need to close all doors and windows, an evaporative cooler needs adequate air flow and ventilation in order to evenly and effectively distribute the cool air through the home and expel warm, moist air through window openings.

Choosing the Right Size Unit

Now whether you decide to go with a portable AC or a swamp cooler, you still need to make sure you get the right size for your room.

To figure out what type of unit you need, you first have to start off with the square footage of the area you want cooled - in this case it's 250 square feet.  You then can get quick estimate of the BTUs you'll need by multiplying the square footage by 35.  In the case of a 250 square foot room, the recommended BTU rating is approximately 6000.