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Five Things to Consider When Buying a Portable Air Conditioner

5 Things to consider when buying a portable air conditioner.

1. How many BTUs do I need to cool my space?

How many BTUs do I need to cool my space?How many BTUs do I need to cool my space?When answering this question, you first need to consider how big the space is that you need to cool. Check the square footage of your space. Next, look at the BTUs (British Thermal Units) of the unit which tells you how much cooling energy the unit will provide. Though at first it may seem like the more power, the better, you shouldn't just automatically buy the unit with the most BTUs since larger units do consume more power.

Haier CPRB08XCJ Portable Air ConditionerIf the area you need to cool is relatively small, purchasing a portable air conditioner with enough BTUs to get the job done effectively, like the Haier CPRB08XCJ Portable Air Conditioner with 8,000 BTUs, will cut down on operating costs, the purchase price, and the size of the unit.

Conversely, the Haier CPN14XC9 Portable Air Conditioner which features a whopping 14,000 BTUs (and is the only Haier dual hose unit) can tackle cooling problems in much larger areas. As a guide, you can visit any of our brand pages for each manufacturer we carry or you can simply refer to the compare portable air conditioners page for a comparison of detailed specs for all of the portable air conditioner models we offer.

2. Are multi-functional Portable AC units a good idea?

Some portable air conditioners come equipped with dehumidifying-only functions and even heating functions. A dehumidifying function can be useful in removing moisture from the air even when temperatures are comfortable, and a fan-only feature may also come in handy. But it can be the old jack of all trades, master of none phenomenon. This is especially true when heating capabilities are included in the unit. Tempting as it may be to get a multi-purpose unit, we think 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. Keep in mind that both air conditioners and dehumidifiers essentially function the same way and employ the same mechanisms. So having a split functionality of this type is not as much of a stretch as a cooling unit and heating unit combined into one.

3. What's the difference between Dual and Single Hose Portable ACs?

There are two main exhaust hose options when it comes to portable air conditioning units: a single hose or a dual hose. Single hose units pull air from within the room only, and expel warmed air and moisture outside. This creates a negative air pressure since you are pushing air out of the room. The result is air has to be replaced in the room and is consequently sucked in from cracks beneath doors or around windows. This warm air, in turn, forces the unit to work harder to keep the room cool. Single hose units, which are simpler machines, do not generally pose a problem when used in smaller settings and are generally less expensive.

On the other hand, dual hose units feature two air intakes and one outtake hose. The air intake pulls air from the room, cools it, and then returns it back into the room. This process heats up the unit, so another intake hose takes air from outside to cool the unit down. The second hose expels all warm air back outside. Dual hose systems are more efficient in larger settings.

4. How loud are Portable Air Conditioners?

Royal Sovereign ARP-1400WW Portable Air ConditionerAgain, answering this question involves considering the room or rooms where the portable air conditioner will be used. Will it be placed in a closed off sun porch that doesn't have central AC vents? Is this a room only used for extra space for the kids to play or for eating a summer evening meal with extended family? Or will the unit be placed in a small upstairs office that seems to get particularly hot? Do you conduct business calls there that necessitate a quiet environment?

While portable air conditioners are not as quiet as central ACs or even window units, DeLonghi portable ACs and Royal Sovereign portable air conditioners tend to be among the quieter models. Most do not make excessive noise and generally fall in the 50-59 dBa category.

5. What type of maintenance is required on a Portable AC unit?

As with most appliances, portable air conditioners require some amount of maintenance. But the amount of work you have to do to keep your unit running properly varies according to what model you select. The cooling process of an air conditioner generates moisture that must be removed from the unit one way or another. Most units contain a tank to collect the water. The tank is emptied in much the same way a dehumidifier with a tank is emptied - pull the tank out of the unit periodically and empty it. Other units, however, feature automatic evaporation which enables the machine to expel moisture into outside air through the expeller hose. Most of the portable air conditioners we offer feature a combination of both of these. This means cool air with less work for you.

Sunpentown WA-1010M Portable Air ConditionerPlease keep in mind that even in units with automatic evaporation, the portable air conditioner produces more condensate than it can handle. In these cases, a water tank will catch excess fluid. Some units offer a choice of drainage methods. For instance, the Sunpentown WA-1010M Portable Air Conditioner allows you to either empty the tank manually or use a hose for continuous drainage. Most of these units have a drainage outlet at the back base of the unit. You can set up the unit to automatically drain or you can unplug the drainage outlet and drain the machine into a small pan.