During the summer months, there is nothing worse than a home that is too hot for your comfort. Maybe your central air unit tragically went out, or maybe you just can't get your bedroom cool enough for a good night's sleep. Either way, you don't have to suffer through the hot summer! There are a lot of options and none of them include running up your power bill. In fact, the answer is simple and easy: invest in a portable air conditioning unit and start living more comfortably today. Read our best portable AC reviews and discover what to look for to ensure that you're happy with your investment.
Best Portable AC Units
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|200 Sq. Ft. rooms
|500 Sq. Ft. rooms
|250 Sq. Ft. rooms
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Who Can Benefit from Portable AC Units?
Many homes have central air units, but that does not always mean that each room is the same temperature. You may have one room that does not seem as cool as you want it to be. In those rooms, you may want to have a portable air conditioner. Especially if you are having trouble sleeping because it is too warm in your bedroom, but you do not want to freeze the rest of your home to get the ideal sleeping temperature for yourself. They are also useful in homes that may not have a working central unit, RVs, and boat cabins. You can put them in your workshop or any other space that gets hotter than you want it to.
Advantages of Portable AC Units
There are several advantages to owning a portable air conditioner and many people are opting to use them over central air conditioners. It is ideal because they are so versatile and easy to use. It doesn’t stop there, though.
Since portable units cool one area of a home instead of the whole home; they can help you to cut down on your monthly power bill. They are smaller units than even the older style window units, but they put out the same amount of cold air than those units.
The fact that these units do not require you to run duct work or hard wire them to anything; they make the perfect air conditioner for all areas. They can be put into areas that do not need constant air conditioning. The only thing you may need to add to your home is an exit for an exhaust hose.
All of these machines have built in casters, which makes it easy to move from room to room. They can move from inside your home to your RV and then to your boat.
Most central units can cost several hundreds of dollars, even if they are small units. Window units may also cost you a few hundred. Portable air machines are often available for much less. This does depend on the portable unit that you want though. If you are seeking a high end, high powered machine, you could spend a little more.
Most people are surprised that a portable air machine can also dehumidify the room that it is in. This makes it easier for people who suffer from allergies to breath by controlling the indoor humidity levels lower. This is very useful at night and some machines offer the option to use it as just a dehumidifier, which means you can use it year-round and not just during the summer months.
Potential Issues with a Portable AC
The biggest issue for people who have a portable air unit is the vent that is often required. These machines do produce a large amount of condensation. Some have a drip pan that you will have to empty, but most have a tube that will drain water outside of the home. If you can deal with the vent or emptying the drip pan, you may still have issues with the noise. A central air unit is outside, so most of the time you will not hear it. A window unit is designed to not vibrate or make a lot of noise. Portable units are a little louder than the window units and they sit in the room with you. If you cannot sleep with noise, you may not want to put a portable machine in your bedroom.
When used in a large room, you may lose some of the efficiency and/or portability. This is because larger rooms will require a larger unit, which ends up being heavier and less portable. They may also release heat into the room while they are cooling it. This may be counter-productive and is why many choose to stick with window units if they are hoping to cool off a larger room since they release heat into the outdoors.
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing
Along with the pros and cons of owning a portable AC, you will also need to consider the different features that make each machine unique. These factors will make purchasing your unit easier because you will know ahead of time that you are making the right choice.
How large of a room can you cool off with the unit you are looking at? If you choose an air conditioner that is too large for a room, it will cycle too often. This will decrease its efficiency. Therefore, you will want to measure your room to find the square footage and then check the unit to find out what it is rated for. This will also be measured in BTUs. The higher the BTUs, the more area it will be able to cool off.
Every air conditioner will have an EER (energy efficiency rating). It is displayed on every box. You should look for the highest EER rating within your price range because they will use less energy than those with a lower number.
Because some machines are fairly loud, you may want to test it out in the store. Many stores have display models that you can turn on and mess around with. This will help you ensure that if you put it in your bedroom, you will be able to sleep through the noise it may make.
Do you want an air conditioner that has a remote control? A timer so that it comes on and turns off automatically? Filters should be easy to change and you should be able to purchase new ones as necessary without having to shop around for them. These features may seem like minor considerations, but they could make it easier to keep your home more comfortable in the long run.
A large unit may seem like a great idea because they may be able to cool a larger area. However, if you want a truly portable air conditioner, you should go as small as possible since larger units are often heavier. The large units will weigh more and be more difficult to move around, even if they are on wheels.
If you choose a portable air conditioner that has a drip tray, you will have an easy time installing it. Access to a power supply should be enough. Other machines, those with a vent hose, may require special effort. Some are able to drain out through a window and others may need you to put a hole in your wall. Most often this will also be dependent on the size of the machine and how portable it truly is, but it is still something you need to check out before you checkout. A lot of ACs say that they have auto evaporation systems. This is good because you will not have to empty out the drip pan very often, but it does not mean that you will not need to vent it to the outside through a window. Even with the auto evaporation systems, you will have a drip pan and a vent hose. It simply makes it so that you do not have to worry as much about it leaking on to your floor and some owners say that they never have to worry about running the hose or emptying the tray. You should test the unit that you choose before relying on it to automatically evaporate the condensation that it produces.
The price of a machine is definitely a huge consideration for most people. There are some who say that you should consider purchasing a portable air conditioner during the warm weather months. This is when you will find the biggest sales so that you can get the features that matter at a price you can afford.
What Does BTU Mean and What Size Do I Need?
BTU stands for “British Thermal Unit”. It is a unit that is used to measure thermal energy and how much energy is needed to raise one pound of water a degree at sea level. As you go shopping for an AC it is important because it tells you how many BTUs that particular model can add or remove from the air each hour. If you do not have enough BTUs then the room will not stay as cool as you want and the AC will run constantly since it will never reach the desired temperature, but having too many BTUs means it will cycle too often. Therefore, it is important that you understand the amount of BTUs you will need for the room that you are wanting to cool off. This is based on the square footage as well as other factors of the room.
If you have a room that is approximately 350 square feet, the ideal BTU amount will be 8,000. A room that measures in at 450 sq. ft. will need 10,000 BTUs to provide optimal cooling. A BTU rating of 12,000 should be used in rooms that measure in at around 550 square feet and a 14,000 BTU rated AC unit will work perfectly in a room that is around 700 square feet. As you can see, the higher the BTU number is, the larger the room can be.
A room that is 350 square feet and would normally be ideal for an 8,000 BTU air conditioner, may need a 10,000 BTU unit if the room is in a second story or it gets full sunlight with a lot of windows. The same is true if you are hoping to use the air conditioner in a kitchen where there is a lot of extra heat at times throughout the day, but in the kitchen, you may need to add as much as 4,000 BTUs to the recommended square footage baseline. If you have a kitchen and dining room or living room that is all open area, you will need to consider the square footage of all rooms before deciding on a single portable AC.
There are exceptions though and you should always read what the manufacturer says the unit is able to do and the size of the room that it is ideal for. There are some ACs that have a high BTU rating, but the manufacturer only states that it can handle a smaller sized room. For that reason, we have provided a list of what we feel are the best portable AC units.