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Portable Air Conditioner Buyers Guide



How Do Portable Air Conditioners Cool?

The heat in an area is removed in two ways, much like a conventional air conditioning unit.
  • There can be an actual drop in temperature
  • Heat can be removed as water
The hotter air passes over a closed-loop coil which contains refrigerant and the air then becomes cooled and dehumidified. The cold air is then recirculated into the room. The condensate, (the water which is produced by dehumidification), is then pumped or drained away.

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What Is A BTU?

  • The amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
BTU Stands for British Thermal Unit. A BTU is the common unit of measurement used for air cooling and heating appliances.

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What Tools Will I Need To Install My Portable Air Conditioning Unit?

Outside SourceA portable AC will require a window or vent leading outside the house in order to properly dispose of heated air.
Circulation HoseA portable AC will require a hose to filter air. The hose will always be included when you buy your portable air conditioner.
Power SourcePortable air conditioners require a power source in order to operate. A wall socket is the typical method, and voltage needed is often listed in the manual.
Window KitThe window kit, (included with your portable ac), is essential when installing a portable air conditioner. This kit closes the window gap needed by the portable AC to filter air.
Tool KitA conventional tool kit is always handy to have around while installing your portable air conditioner, for "just in case" adjustments.
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What Will I Need To Do To Maintain My Portable AC?

  • Will I Need To Add Water?: No. A unit that requires water is not an air conditioner, it is an evaporative cooler.
  • Will I Need To Empty The Tank?: Yes. The condensate that is produced depends on the temperature and humidity as well as installation and control settings. Warmer, more humid seasons will produce a greater condensate. Cooler seasons will produce less.
  • Will I Need To Know My Room Dimensions?: Yes. For a portable air cooling unit, the room size is directly related to how well it cools the area. If you invest in a unit that produces 8,000 or less BTU's, and your room is larger than 200 Square Feet, your unit will struggle with cooling the area. Get A Better Idea About BTU vs Room Size.
  • Will I Need A Window?: Not for all units, but for most. Most portable AC units require an outside source of ventilation. You can choose where to vent, as long as the heated air.
    Here are some common venting areas for portable air conditioners:
    Windows - Portable AC units can use a hose to vent air through a window and to the outside.
    Ceilings - A portable air conditioning unit can vent through the ceiling, providing you have the proper ceiling duct kit. The air exits into the upper attic area (also called the plenum), and the attic vent from your home releases the air to the outside.
  • Will I Need An Extension Cord If The Portable AC Cord Is Not Long Enough?: Yes, but extension cords are to be used with caution. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the appliance. Contact the manufacturer if you are not sure, or your local hardware store can help.
    **Adding extra footage changes the amperage.
    **Using too low an amperage cord might create a fire hazard.
    **The unit might not work correctly.
    **Manufacturer may not honor the warranty if an extension cord is the cause of appliance malfunction.
  • Will I Need A Single Hose Or Dual Hose?: With efficiency in mind, a dual hose portable air conditioner and a single hose portable air conditioner have their drawbacks.
    A dual hose portable air conditioner uses two fans, meaning it is slightly less energy efficient.
    A single hose portable air conditioner cools the compressor less efficiently since it is using warmed air form outside to filter into the unit for cooling.
  • Will I Need A Longer Exhaust Hose For A Large Room?: It is not recommended to lengthen the exhaust hose of a portable air conditioning unit. Depending on the manufacturer, this could also void your warranty and possibly cause your air conditioner to overheat.
  • Will I Need To Know My EER?: EER stands for "Energy Efficiency Ratio". It is important to know this, to determine how efficient your portable air conditioner will function when the outdoor temperature reaches around 95° F.
    The EER measurement is calculated as a ratio of BTUs to the amount of power your portable air conditioner uses in watts.
    **You should look at the EER of a portable AC if you're seeking an energy efficient unit that will save you money overtime. High EER means better energy efficiency
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