AC Features: How to Get More from Your New Portable Air Conditioner

AC-14100H-Image9You probably know that BTU ratings are an important when it comes to choosing the right portable air conditioner. But there are several other features that you may want to consider before making a purchase. Options such as auto-evaporative technology, timers, and even built-in heaters can make your mobile AC even easier and more convenient to use.

So before you buy your new portable AC, be sure to check out these features:

BTU Requirements

Every air conditioner has a cooling capacity rating that ranges anywhere from 5,000 to 30,000 BTU's. The higher the BTU value, the stronger the air conditioner. Purchasing an air conditioner with the wrong BTU value for the space you're cooling will result in problems with cooling efficiency, as an air conditioner that's too powerful will cycle off too quickly and not properly dehumidify the room, and similarly, a unit with too low a BTU rating will not adequately cool.

To accurately find out how many BTUs your room needs, perform one of these two equations:

Find the square footage of the room and multiply this number by 35 to get a general ballpark figure.


Find the square footage of the room and find this number range in the following chart:

Room Size

Recommended BTUs

150 square feet

up to 5,400 BTUs

200 square feet

6,000 BTUs

340 square feet

8,000 BTUs

400 square feet

9,000 BTUs

450 square feet

10,000 BTUs

550 square feet

12,000 BTUs

750 square feet

14,500 BTUs

850 square feet

16,000 BTUs

1,000 square feet

18,000 BTUs

1,400 square feet

24,000 BTUs

1,520 square feet

28,500 BTUs

1,600 square feet

32,000 BTUs

AC-12100E Image 1EER Ratings

EER stands for "Energy Efficiency Ratio," and this is another number that's commonly used in the portable air conditioner industry. High EER ratings are preferable because this means the unit costs less to operate.

Portable ACs have EERs usually ranging from 8 to 11 - the higher the EER, the more the air conditioner will cost to purchase. But if you plan operating it constantly, it may be cost-effective to get a unit with a high EER to save on utility bills.

Drainage Requirements

Air conditioners remove water from the air as part of the cooling process. This water collects in an internal bucket that must be emptied periodically. Different models offer different options for drainage:

  • Self-evaporative - Recycles most of the water to cool the condenser coils and then exhausts it through the vent. These ACs only need to be drained manually in the most humid weather.

  • Continuous drainage - Some units allow you to connect a hose to the water tank to train continuously.

  • Manual drainage - Every AC will allow for manual draining. Usually, this involves removing a plug at the bottom of the unit and letting it empty in a dish.

Noise Level

Most modern portable air conditioners run quietly, but if you're concerned about noise levels, be sure to pay attention to decibel ratings. The higher the decibel, the louder the unit is. To get a basic idea of decibel ratings, refer to the following chart:



Decibel Intensity Level



Typical 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner


Normal Conversation


Vacuum Cleaner


Large Orchestra


Military Jet Takeoff


Air Output

Almost all portable air conditioners will have at least two settings for airflow - how fast the fan blows out cold air - but you may want additional settings to increase the unit's versatility. Some manufacturers list CFM (cubic feet per minute), which is a measure of the volume of air flow. A higher CFM will mean more airflow.

Air Filtration

The air quality indoors is often many times worse than the air outdoors, and to address this issue, most portable air conditioner manufacturers will include some kind of air filter to remove impurities. The types of filters available might include:

  • HEPA filters - High-Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) filters trap particles as tiny as 0.3 microns, with an efficiency rating of 99.7%. They're ideal for capturing allergens like pollen, dust, animal hair and mold.

  • Activated carbon filters - Remove unpleasant odors and pollutants such as fumes and cigarette smoke.

  • Ionizers - Cause fine particles to attach together so they are easier to capture in a filter.

NewAir AC-12100E Image 7Electronic & Remote Controls

Most modern mobile ACs have electronic control panels with LCD displays, so that setting and monitoring the thermostat and other features is simple.You can also get a remote control with most units so you can control it from across the room, from the comfort of your chair.

Temperature Range and Increments

If you live in an especially hot and arid climate, portable air conditioners spanning less than 20° may not be sufficient. Also look for temperature increments, and be sure that the model you choose can be adjusted in notches of 1° to 2°, as this allows for greater precision and prevents electricity waste.

Timer Functions

Timers allow you to save energy by running the unit only at set times. Sleep settings are also quite useful as the air conditioner will slow down the cooling process to a minimum while you are sleeping, therefore saving you time and money.

Adjustable Louvers

Adjustable louvers in a portable air conditioner will allow you to adjust the louvers from up/down or side-to-side. This function will provide you with more options for directing airflow.

Built-In Heaters

Some portable air conditioners offer even more versatility by both cooling and heating your area.

AC-14000E Image4Installation Requirements

Portable air conditioners will usually come with installation directions and window kits for venting. When choosing a portable air conditioner and if venting through a window, make sure the window you intend to install the vent on matches the type of window covered by the kit.

Portability Features

Beacuse portable ACs are meant to be mobile, they usually have features that make them easty to move around. These include:

  • Casters or wheels
  • Carrying handles
  • Cord storage compartments

If you have any questions about the features available on any of our portable air conditioners, give us a call and talk to one of our cooling experts. We're happy to help you make the right choice to meet your cooling needs.Click here to see our selection of portable air conditioners for sale - we offer free shipping on hundreds of in-stock items.


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