Portable Air Conditioning Units

Published by 
Last updated: 
April 18, 2013

By: Betty Stephens of Quest Media

Portable air conditioners provide effective cooling to spaces without access to central air conditioning or areas that simply need supplemental cooling. They are a popular choice for their mobility and for cooling small spaces such as bedroom, offices, basements and computer rooms. The portable units are available in a wide range of cooling capacities and include various user-friendly features.

There are a many reasons why people may want to use a portable air conditioner. Sometimes older homes do not have duct work, or people who cannot afford to install a new central heating and cooling system in their house may have no choice but to have a portable air conditioner. Portable air conditioner units include air cleaners, fans and dehumidifiers. The improved quality of the air alone is often a reason to go with a portable air conditioner unit. Also, a portable air conditioner can be moved from room to room. And, the installation of the portable unit is easy. The units do require space for tubing to run through the wall.

The portable units have a single exhaust hose that routs air from inside the room over the air conditioners’ condenser coils and finally to the outside. A typical portable air conditioner comes with a low-profile vent adapter bracket that is placed in a double-hung window to allow the hot, humid air to escape. The air from the room that is being cooled is exhausted outside.

Pros of Portable Air conditioners

Central air conditioners energy use in a home or business costs homeowners cost more than $15 billion per year, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Proper matching of portable air conditioners to the square footage of a room can help lower cooling costs when supplementing a central air conditioning system. This is especially true for rooms that generate more heat, such as a kitchen or an office with copiers, computers and other equipment. Let’s look at some of the pro features and their benefit to you.
Feature Benefit
Ability to cool small areas Can be moved from area to area as needed.
Economy Lower cooling costs than central air systems. Lower price for the equipment that the window model.
Minimal Set up Only requires a simple venting system with a hose and a window spacer.
Energy Use Uses less energy that a central air conditioner.
Emergencies Useful in an emergency when other systems have failed or an unusually hot period occurs.
Humidifiers Portable air conditioners are also dehumidifiers – meaning they cool the room and they remove excess moisture from the air.
Maintenance Low maintenance costs, mainly cost for changing filters.
Cons of Portable Air Conditioners

The main drawbacks of portable air conditioners are listed  below.
Feature Con Issue
Energy rating Low rating; Many do meet or exceed the 10 SEER efficiency ratio
Cost Portables have to run a long time during hot spells.
Noise They are louder than other types of air conditioner systems.
Condensation Some models require a drip pan you must empty daily. A unit could produce 30 pints of condensation per day.
Area coverage Only useful for small areas.

Pricing Portable Air Conditioners

Depending on the model, portable air conditioners range in price from $149.00 to over $900. A 10,000 BTU is in the price range of $400. A 14,000 BTU model is in the price range of $599. A three-speed cooler that can cool up to 900 sq. ft. and can lower the temperature up to 30 degrees F may cost up to one thousand dollars -$1,000. Many companies offer a selection of models, such as Sears, Frigidaire, LG, Edgestar,JC Penney, Danby, Honeywell, Kenmore, “AIMCO, Arctic Armor, CFM, Haler, Sharp, and many others.


Lower prices, flexibility and ease of installation are pluses for the purchase of portable air conditioners. They offer a better alternative for residences without central air conditioning, especially when the number of rooms and square footage are minimal. Yet the overall energy use, condensation removal issues and noise might dissuade one from buying one.

Consider these things when buying a portable air conditioner:

1. How many BTU’s are needed - How big is the space is that you need to cool. Check the square footage of your space. Then, look at the BTUs of the unit which tells you how much cooling energy the unit will provide.
2. Do you need multifunctioning system - It's better to get a portable AC unit that is committed to its main function as an air conditioner with a limited and secondary function of a dehumidifier.
3. Do you need a Dual or Single Hose Portable ACS –Remember the about the Dual hose systems are more efficient in larger settings.
4. How loud are Portable Air Conditioners –How is the room to be used?
5. Consider the type of maintenance needed – How much work you is need to keep it running properly?

All Things HVAC

We formed this web site so consumers could have an educational place to go for good, solid information.  We are not trying to sell you anything.
Copyright © 2023 AllThingsHVAC. All Rights Reserved