What is the best portable air conditioner out there to help keep you cool over what could be a very hot summer in some places.
With energy prices rising as fast as gas prices, the thought of cooling off an entire home during summer heat waves is not a pleasant one. Depending on what part of the country you live in, running your air conditioner full blast throughout the summer months is a sure way to put a serious crimp in your monthly budget. But maybe it doesn’t have to be that bad. Depending on the layout of your home or apartment, you may have an option to lessen the pinch energy costs will take on your wallet. This option would have you choose the best portable air conditioner and we are here to help.
WHAT IS A PORTABLE AIR CONDITIONER?
Before choosing the best portable air conditioner, perhaps it’d be best to discuss exactly what a portable air conditioner is. Many of us may think a portable air conditioner is one that hangs in the window. While those can be considered “portable,” they are not the ones we will be discussing. No, a portable air conditioner is one that comes with wheels and can be easily (or fairly easily) moved from room to room.
Portable air conditioners are also called stand-up air conditioners. They are self-contained and can be moved and set up anywhere that has a window and an electrical socket. These are very convenient modes of cooling because they can be moved throughout the home from bedrooms to kitchens to even the attic or basement.
HOW DO PORTABLE AIR CONDITIONERS WORK?
The best portable air conditioners work similarly to any normal air conditioner. By that we mean the unit takes in the room’s air, conditions it by turning the warm air into whatever cool temperature it is set to, then pushes the cool air back out into the room. To make this process happen, the portable air conditioner needs a few basic components. These are an evaporator coil and refrigerant. These two things are responsible for turning warm air into cold air. Then there is a condenser coil. This is necessary to cool down the hot refrigerant. The portable air conditioner also comes with a compressor that raises the refrigerant temperature to assist in the condensation process. Finally, there is the fan, which pulls the hot air in and then pushes it throughout the room.
With all this movement of air and refrigerant, hot air turning into cool air, there has to be some leftover moisture and there is. The best portable air conditioners have a few different ways in which you can remove this extra moisture. One way is a gravity drain. This is where the collected moisture is pumped out of the unit through a connected hose. A second way, though this is for much older units, is an internal bucket. Here, moisture is collected in a bucket inside the unit that would have to be dumped manually. A third way of removing the collected moisture is by self-evaporation. Most new models use this feature, and it is where the moisture is removed via an exhaust vent along with the hot air it produced.
DO ALL PORTABLE AIR CONDITIONERS HAVE TO BE VENTED OUT A WINDOW?
When it comes to the best and newer portable air conditioners, there are two types – a single hose model and a dual hose model. There are obvious differences, so let’s see which one would better fit your needs.
The most obvious difference is a single hose uses just that – one exhaust vent. By having just one hose, it makes these units much easier to install, to move, and a less expensive option. In contrast to the single hose is the dual hose portable air conditioner. These units are a bit trickier to maneuver and install and their price tag much higher. What you may consider in choosing a dual hose over a single hose is that they have a much higher energy efficiency than a single hose and instead of bringing in air from inside the room, the dual hose gets its air from outside.
While a dual hose portable air conditioner may be on the more expensive side, it does have its pluses. One hose handles the heat and moisture generated by the unit and exhausts it outside. The second hose draws in fresh air from outside, taking care of the negative pressure problem seen in single hose portable air conditioners, which we’ll discuss in a moment.
The dual hose unit requires much less work than its single-hose counterpart when it comes to cooling a room. It brings in the air much faster, and cools it much faster, making the overall production by a dual hose unit more favorable. The ease and comfort with which it works are nice, but it doesn’t mean the dual hose isn’t without its drawbacks.
WHAT IS THE DISADVANTAGE OF PORTABLE AC?
If you are considering a portable air conditioner, there may be a few things worth noting before you go and make that purchase. Based on the nature of the beast, portable air conditioners are a one-unit-does-it-all machine. And since they do it all, they can sometimes be noisy. This can be a drawback for those who want to keep their bedrooms cool while they are trying to sleep.
Another disadvantage might be that they aren’t as energy efficient as you want them to be. Remember, these units (even dual ones) take much more time to cool off a room than a window unit or your central air. Portable air conditioners also generate some heat during the cooling process. While this may not be noticeable, it does slow down the room’s cooling process.
Drainage may also be an issue. Portable air conditioners extract water from the air and that water needs to go someplace. Some units push that excess water out through hoses, but others have water tanks. These tanks have to be drained on a regular basis so the unit can function properly.
One of the disadvantages of a single hose portable air conditioner is that it constantly pulls in air from inside the room without replacing it. This action creates negative pressure in the room. Because of this, air may seep in from under the door, gaps in windows, or any other possible air leak so it can replace the missing air. The hot air seeping into the room will cause the single hose unit to work much harder to cool and keep the room cool.
HOW LONG DOES A PORTABLE AC LAST?
Like all air conditioning units, portable air conditioners have a life span. To let you know what you’ll be getting, a central air unit typically will last from 20-25 years. If you were to employ a mini-split air conditioner, you will get 15-20 years from it. Window air conditioners, if kept well maintained, will give you a good 10-20 years of cooled air. Finally, the portable air conditioner should give you anywhere from 5 to 10 years of cold air.
The reason you may get only 5 to 10 years’ worth of cooling (not that that’s worth sneezing over), is that these are portable units. By design, they are moved around a lot. Most of these units are not built with long-lasting materials. You will commonly see durable PVC plastic used in portable air conditioners. Also, their life span is much shorter due to the below-average quality of their compressors.
Of course, there are a few things you can do to prolong your portable air conditioner’s lifespan. Regular maintenance is key so be sure to check, clean, and change air filters consistently. You can also make sure the portable air conditioner you purchase is the proper size for the room or rooms you wish to cool. A smaller unit set in a big room will defeat the purpose. Also, with that in mind, when you are looking to purchase, you may want to lean on the brands that have tested positive over time. You want to find units that have shown they can last a full ten years or more. Do your research before plunking down that credit card.
IS IT WORTH BUYING A PORTABLE AIR CONDITIONER?
Of course, this question may only be able to be answered by you. There are so many factors when deciding if a portable air conditioner is worth the cost. Let’s go over a few of those factors.
What is your end goal with a portable air conditioner? Are you trying to simply cool a room or rooms? Is the plan to take it from room to room to help knock down the heat in each? If you are wanting to cut cooling costs, this may be the way to go, but if you find yourself cranking it up more than you first thought you would, you may want to reconsider the purchase.
How heavy of a sleeper are you? No doubt these units are noisy. So, if using them at night may cramp your nighttime zzz’s, then you may want to avoid a portable air conditioner, at least at night.
The helpful spot cooler. Say, for instance, your central air doesn’t quite cut the mustard. It does its job, but there are still certain areas in your home or apartment that just don’t cool down. A portable air conditioner could then be the ticket.
Gotta love that natural light. You are having an internal debate with yourself. On one side you would love to have a window air conditioner because you believe it will cool your room much faster. But on the other hand, having a window unit means your natural light, as well as a possible view of the outside, will be long gone. A portable unit takes care of that concern. Natural light comes in, cool room follows.
So, you decide after all that back and forth that a portable air conditioner would be a wise investment. You work from home during the day, so you only need to cool your office or wherever in your home you set up shop. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. It’s time to find some of the best portable air conditioners on the market. Notice we didn’t say “affordable.” We will let you decide what your budget can handle.
WHAT ARE THE BEST PORTABLE AIR CONDITIONERS?
PRICE – $745.97
WHY WE LIKE IT – LG has given us plenty of reasons to consider this one of the best portable air conditioners, one of the main reasons is its dual-rotor compressor that allows the unit to save you up to 40% on your energy costs. The LG also offers its LoDecibel™ Quiet Operation for all you light sleepers out there that will bring the portable’s noise level down to 44 dB when in sleep mode.
You can cool your home with your smartphone using the LG ThinQ technology or even by using Hey Google or Amazon Alexa. The single hose unit has 3 cooling and fan speeds – cool/fan/dry – and also has a 24-hour timer that will allow you to devise a cooling schedule that suits your needs. To help control the cool air flow, the unit also has an auto-swing air vent.
MIDEA DUO MAP12S1TBL
PRICE – $599.00
WHY WE LIKE IT – First and foremost, this is a dual hose unit, which immediately puts it near the top of the best portable air conditioners on the market. The Midea’s dual-hose design allows users to bring in that cool air while kicking all the hot stuff outside. Because of this, the Midea routinely cools down a roo two times faster.
It is powerful enough to blow the cold 26 feet, which would cover just about any room in your home. If you like your air conditioner quiet, then you’ll love the Midea. It comes with a 42 dB ultra-quiet operating system. It’ll give even the lightest sleepers a good night’s rest. Pushing buttons can be fun, but sometimes it’s much easier to use a smartphone app. The Midea offers one. You can also control the unit with your voice using Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
HONEYWELL SMART WIFI PORTABLE AIR CONDITIONER
PRICE – $529.99
WHY WE LIKE IT – Who doesn’t like user-friendly products? The Honeywell Smart unit is definitely that, making it one of the best portable air conditioners. It is Wi-Fi enabled and compatible with Amazon Alexa to make controlling the unit a breeze. Voice commands allow you to turn the unit on, change temperatures, and also change fan speeds.
The Honeywell comes equipped with a Smart Digital Thermostat that automatically turns on the AC based on room conditions you pre-set. It also has a 24-hour timer that you can set for daily or weekly AC functioning. It comes with smooth-gliding wheels to make moving the unit from room to room easy. As for being a cool and quiet operator, the unit can drop down to 52 dB in noise, so it may be a little noisier than other units. Still, that shouldn’t be enough to turn you away from this solid cooler.
WHYNTER ELITE ARC-122DS DUAL HOSE PORTABLE AIR CONDITIONER
PRICE – $414.00
WHY WE LIKE IT – For its price, the Whynter Elite ARC-122DS is one of the best portable air conditioners on our list. But it isn’t just the price that makes it a winner, it’s the 12,000 BTU ASHRAE cooling engine that makes it special. The cooling engine can accommodate a room up to 400 square feet and allows for three operating modes – cooling, fan-only, and dehumidifier-only.
What also makes this unit special is typically the price you’ll pay for it; you’d be looking at a single hose model. This Whynter is a dual hose one, making the cooling of a room that much more efficient. The unit offers full thermostat control with a digital readout and a 24-hour programmable timer. It comes with its own remote control that allows you to easily control temperature, fan speed, and dehumidifier settings from far away.
SERENELIFE SLPAC10 PORTABLE AIR CONDITIONER
PRICE – $269.99
WHY WE LIKE IT – Want affordable? SereneLife gives you just that. As one of the best portable air conditioners, the SLPAC10 claims this status with its impressive cooling capabilities as well as its overall versatility. True, the SLPAC10 is an air conditioner, but it is also a circulating fan and a dehumidifier.
Not as powerful as some, though more than others, the SereneLife can cool rooms as large as 270 square feet with its airflow that reaches 290 cubic meters per hour. The diminutive unit stands just under 3 feet tall and comes equipped with casters that make rolling the unit around the house very easy. One drawback you may find is the noise factor. If you are a light sleeper, you may want to test this unit out in the store first as the noise level clocks in around 57 dB.
If you are looking, like most of us, to somehow cut your energy costs, a portable air conditioner may be a great way to start. For the most part, they fill a specific need, that being to cool down a room. If you are one of the many who have turned their home into a home office, this may be the solution you are looking for. Do your research before you make your purchase. Understand your needs, not just during the day, but during those nighttime hours as well, when you are trying to get some sleep.