Portable air conditioners have become a popular summertime cooling solution, valued for their easy, non-intrusive installation, fast set up, and the ability to easily store them away after the summer season ends. There is no end to the possible applications for a portable unit. Bedrooms, sunrooms, workout rooms, garages and other areas where relief is needed from the sweltering summer months are a great place to use a portable AC. Even homeowners with central AC will be glad to have one of these units on hand when the central AC breaks down during a summer heat wave and the first available service call is several days away. Ready to shop for a portable? Here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing a portable unit.
Get the right capacity (BTUs) for the space you’re cooling
As with any other air conditioner, you need to know the square footage of the space you want to cool. Most portables will list a recommended square footage for the unit’s capacity. Getting the right BTU capacity for your space is critical. You’ll find several models rated for areas up to 500 square feet. Keep in mind that a space that has multiple sun-exposed windows, a heat producing appliance, or routinely has multiple occupants will have added heat load. If any of these conditions are present, you’ll want added BTUs to stay cool.
Single hose or dual hose portable?
Portable air conditioners are either single hose or dual hose design. Single hose models are faster to set up and may have built-in hose storage, so they are easily stored away once the season ends. They’re a great choice for spot cooling or in areas that have moderate summers. However, single hose models, by design, must intake and exhaust air through the same hose. Warm outside air is mixed in with indoor air and over time will produce a ‘warming effect’ if outdoor temperatures are extremely high (above 950 F). On two-hose portable models, one of the two hoses is dedicated to removing heat (exhaust) and expelling it outside. Intake air comes from the room that is being conditioned so the unit will maintain comfort even in extreme heat. Dual hose portable air conditioners will cool more quickly and efficiently. Dual hose portables are a great choice for all climates and are even suitable if you will be using the unit as a permanent cooling solution.
Is there a window to vent air to the outdoors?
Portable air conditioners must be vented to the outdoors. The units come with a window installation kit. The kit has either one or two expandable hoses, and a frame that fits into the window with knockouts for the hose(s). The hose kit will install into most standard windows. The hoses snap or twist and lock into the kit frame and into the back of the unit. Most flexible hoses can extend from 24-60 inches.
Venting through a drop ceiling may be an option in certain circumstances, however additional hose(s) may be necessary to reach ceiling height. You’ll also want to make sure the ceiling opening is well sealed to maintain proper cooling and venting of hot air.
Is there a proper electrical outlet near the window?
Portable units will plug into a standard 115v wall outlet, but you’ll want to make sure the wall outlet is close enough to the window so the power cord of the unit will reach the outlet, and the unit remains close enough to the window to utilize the installation kit hoses. Otherwise, you’ll have to hire a qualified electrician to install the outlet. Typical power cords are 6-7 feet in length
Here’s a product overview to help you choose the right portable.