AC-12100E Image 1How to Choose Your Own Portable Air Conditioner

On the surface, most portable ACs look a lot alike - if you've seen one, you've seen one, you've seen them all, right?

Maybe not. Appearances can be deceiving, as they say, and never more so than in the crowded marketplace of mobile air conditioners. How do you know, then, which one is the right product for you?

We've made choosing simple with this easy-to-follow chart. 





What it is:

How you should choose:

Cooling CapacityMeasured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), this number tells you how much cooling power a portable AC has. Choose BTUs according to how big the space you're cooling is. A 7,500 BTU AC will cool 150 sq. ft. A 14,000 AC will cool up to 500 sq. ft.

Read more about choosing the right size AC here.

Energy EfficiencyThe Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) tells you how efficient a unit is. It's calculated by dividing the BTUs by the watts used per hour. The higher the EER, the more money you will save when you use your AC.

Read more about EER here.

DrainageAs part of the cooling process, air conditioners remove water from the air. This water collects in a bucket or tank inside the unit and must be emptied periodically, either manually or by a hose that empties continuously into a drain.

Many newer portable air conditioners use self-evaporative technology, which uses the water to cool the compressor and exhausts most of the excess moisture outdoors.

The larger the water tank, the less frequently you will have to empty it. This is especially important in humid climates, where water tanks can fill quickly.

Make sure the tank easy to reach and remove.

Continuous drainage hoses work ideally in basements or other locations where a floor drain is present.

If you plan to vent your air conditioner into an attic or drop ceiling, then avoid self-evaporative models, as these will exhaust unwanted moisture into these spaces.

Learn more about air conditioner maintenance here.

Exhaust HosesPortable ACs must be vented through a window, drop ceiling or wall in order to work properly.

A single-hose portable AC takes air from within the room, cools it, and exhausts through the hose to the outside.

A dual-hose brings outside air in through one hose, and exhausts through the other.

Single-hose systems create "negative pressure" inside the room, since a small amount of air is constantly being removed.

Dual-hose systems are slightly less efficient than single-hose systems, since they are consistently cooling warmer air. They also have two internal fans, so the energy usage is higher.

It's a matter of personal preference as to which is better.

Learn how to vent your portable AC here.

Heat PumpA portable AC that includes a heat pump is able to reverse the usual air circulation process. Instead of pumping the cool air inside and warm exhaust outside, the warmed air is circulated indoors and the cold air exhausted.If you would like to get year-round use from your portable air conditioner, a heat pump allows it to function as a personal space heater in temperatures as low as 50 degrees F.
Options and FeaturesEvery model has a variety of options and features that include:
  • Electronic control panels
  • LCD displays
  • Programmable thermostats
  • Programmable timers
  • Sleep mode
  • Auto-restart after power outage
  • Automatically swinging louvers
  • Remote controls
  • Multiple fan settings
  • Easy-gliding casters
  • Cord storage
  • Air filters, HEPA filters, or air ionizers
All these features are added to ensure convenience and ease-of-use, and won't affect the performance of your portable AC.

Decide which features are the most important to you in order to get the most satisfaction from your final purchase.

Visit the portable air conditioner Buying Guide.

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