Regardless of the reason you might choose to extend your home, the next step is often to decide on an appropriate cooling solution for the new space.
While extending, redoing or upgrading the existing central air conditioning system is an option, it is an expensive and complex job. A much simpler and cheaper option is to buy a portable air conditioner.
According to “Best Portable Air Conditioners: The Ultimate Buying Guide“, by CoolAndPortable.com, portable air conditioners are not only more affordable, they offer many other advantages for homeowners who’ve just added on to their home.
What To Consider
Before buying a portable air conditioner for a new space, it is important to consider some factors. These include:
1. Room Size
Many experts agree that this is the most crucial factor to consider when choosing portable air conditioners. Air conditioners that are too small are less likely to meet the cooling demands of the new space. On the other hand, air conditioners that are too large will cool down the new space, but at the same time, leave more unwanted moisture in the air.
Cooling power is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). According to experts;
- Portable air conditioners rated between 7000 and 10,000 BTUs are ideal for small spaces of up to 300 square feet (e.g., standard bedrooms, small offices, and one-car garages)
- Air conditioner units of between 10,000 and 14,000 BTUs are ideal for medium-sized spaces of up to 500 square feet.
However, homeowners are also advised to get portable A/Cs with more BTUs if;
- The new space has many windows or several heat-generating appliances.
- The new area (especially for garages and workshops) is not well insulated.
- The new space has high ceilings
- The home is located in a state that has a warm and humid climate
One of the biggest advantages of portable air conditioners is that they are more mobile than other types of air conditioners. Despite their relative portability, however, portable air conditioners are better placed in locations where they can vent the hot air out of the space. To enhance the ventilation process, it is important to locate the portable air conditioner where there is;
- A window
- Drop ceiling
- Sliding glass door
Many portable A/Cs often come with drop ceiling panel kits or window kits.
3. Single vs. Double Exhaust Hose
There are two main categories of portable air conditioners; single hose units and dual hose units. Single hose units use one hose to draw in hot air from the space, fresh and it and returns most of the cooled air to space. Some of the cold air is used to cool the unit and is blown out of the unit’s exhaust hose. However, single hose portable units create some negative air pressure since the unit uses air from the space to cool the compressor down.
On the other hand, dual hose portable air conditioners work by pulling in the hot air from the space, cooling it and releasing it back into space. One hose pulls in air from outside the space to cool down the compressor. This air is then pushed out through the second hose. Ultimately, dual hose units do not result in negative pressure within the space that one is cooling. Many experts also consider them more efficient than single hose units since they work less hard in the cooling process. However, some dual hose units also come with two internal fans a situation that may result in higher energy consumption.
4. Energy Efficiency
Homeowners also ought to consider the energy efficiency of portable air conditioner units. A more efficient unit may lead to significant energy savings. The effectiveness of portable air conditioners is measured using the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). The higher the EER of a portable unit, the more efficient it is.
Portable air conditioners also perform the function of dehumidifying the air and removing excess moisture from the air. Homeowners must consider how the unit deals with the resulting moisture build up.
- Fully self-evaporative units exhaust all the moisture meaning that users do not have to deal with the problem of collected water. This is an ideal option for individuals who are seeking low maintenance units.
- Partially self-evaporative units evaporate a lot of the excess moisture into the hot air. However, users may have to empty a little water depending on usage as well as depending on other factors such as environmental conditions.
- Some portable units also collect the moisture in buckets and users may, therefore, need to drain these buckets every once in a while manually.
- Portable air conditioners also come with the option of installing a permanent water drain hose connection to allow water to continuously drain out to a lower point (through gravity). Such units are also low maintenance.
- Users of portable air conditioners may also opt for condensate pumps to help move the collected water in an upward direction and out of the space, e.g., through a window.
6. Noise Level
Since portable air conditioners are comprised of motorized fans and compressors, they end up making some noise. Some portable features try to minimize the sound they produce; such units are ideal for homeowners who find appliance noise disturbing. Functions that help reduce noise include a sleep mode function or a programmable timer. Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB).
Generally, 0.30 dB is considered very quiet while 61-80 dB is seen as annoying. 31-60 dB is considered to be quiet.
The Top 4 Portable Air Conditioners
While there are many brands and models of portable air conditioners, there are a few that stand out from the crowd and are perfect for cooling new spaces. These include;
1. Honeywell MN10CES ($399.95 on the company website)
This is one of the best single hose portable air conditioners in the market not only because of its features but also because of its relative affordability. It has a cooling power of 10,000BTUs making it ideal for rooms that are up to 400 square feet.
One of the biggest advantages of this unit is that it uses R410A refrigerant which is friendly to the environment. Aside from cooling spaces, this unit also features an auto evaporation function as well as a dehumidifying function. The dehumidifier function can remove up to 70 pints of water per day from a room while running in normal mode and up to 85 pints when using the unit’s dedicated dehumidifier. Additionally, it has a traditional 3-speed fan only function.
When it comes to weight, the unit is relatively heavier than other portable air conditioners at just over 63 pounds. However, it has gliding castor wheels to help move it around. Its lowest possible noise level is 50 dB which makes it relatively quiet.
Other notable features include;
- Availability in 3 colors; black, white and black-silver.
- Powerful airflow of 174 CFM
- Full remote control function
- Programmable Timer
- LED display with “feather touch” controls
- One year warranty (4 years on the compressor)
Nonetheless, this portable air conditioner also has its shortcomings. Firstly, it does not have an auto-restart function, and secondly, it does not have a sleep mode function.
2. Whynter Elite ARC-122DHP ($489.99 on Amazon)
Whynter is arguably one of the lead manufacturers of portable air conditioners, and this dual hose digital portable unit is proof of this. The unit provides up to 12,000 BTU in cooling power making it ideal for spaces that are up to 400 square feet. In addition to that, the unit also has a heating function with a heating power of up to 10,000 BTU. This gives it more versatility in that homeowners can use it during the hot season as well as during the colder seasons. It also has a dehumidifier function capable of removing at least 76 pints of water in a day.
It comes fully equipped with a self-evaporative system which helps to exhaust most of the condensate under average environmental conditions. To guard against excessive accumulation of moisture during humid conditions, the system comes with an internal condensate pump to push out any excess moisture condensate.
Additional features include;
- Eco-friendly CFC free R-410A refrigerant.
- Lead-free RoHS compliance
- Leakage-Current Detection and Interruption plug
- Three-speed fan function with two-way directional air louvers
- Carbon air filter and washable pre-filter.
- The quiet noise level of a maximum of 52 dB.
- Powerful airflow of up to 155 CFM
- Remote control function
- 24-hour programmable timer.
- One year warranty (3 years on the compressor)
- An energy efficiency ratio of 12.25
3. DeLonghi America PAC AN120EW ($599 on the company website)
(Source: Freda Mans)
This is a 3 in one unit that comprises of cooling, dehumidifying and fan functions. It has a cooling power of 12,000BTU making it ideal for spaces up to 450 square feet. This portable unit has some unique features that distinguish it from other services in the market.
Firstly, the unit features the “Real Feel” technology of De’Longhi. This feature guarantees users high degrees of comfort when using the portable air conditioner. This is made possible through the ability of the unit to reduce temperatures and control humidity levels to find the optimum levels required for comfort.
The PAC AN120 EW portable unit also features the innovative BioSilver air filter function which ensures cleaner and fresher air by removing bacteria, dust particles and pollen from the air.
The third unique feature is the Whisper Cool technology which is meant to ensure that noise levels are significantly reduced. In fact, the Whisper Cool function can lead to as much as a 50% reduction in noise levels. This feature makes it an ideal portable air conditioner for use in the bedroom, in the office and other spaces where peace is necessary.
Additional features on this portable unit include;
- A sleek aesthetic design makes it ideal for that contemporary or modern feel in the house.
- Remote control function
- 24-hour programmable timer
- Three-speed fan function
A significant disadvantage of this portable unit particularly when compared to other air conditioner units is its weight which stands at 68.4 pounds. In addition to that, the high price may turn some potential buyers off.
4. Luma Comfort EC110S Evaporative Cooler ($131.99 on BestBuy)
Anyone looking for a truly portable cooling unit ought to seriously consider the EC110S evaporative cooler. It is small (weighing just 16.20 pounds) and is energy efficient. This air cooler uses approximately the same amount of energy as a standard light bulb. The cooling process uses only water and electricity subsequently enhancing its energy efficiency. In addition to that, the unit does not have a compressor which means that it consumes significantly less energy than most portable air conditioners.
This unit is specially designed to cool spaces of up to 250 square feet. The unit can trigger temperature reductions of between 20F and 30F. Additionally; the unit features three cooling speeds and three different wind modes to ensure that a fresh breeze is blown into space regardless of the heat. It also acts as a tower fan and as a humidifier.
Source: Luma Comfort
Despite the small size of this cooling unit, it packs an array of additional features including;
- Very powerful airflow of up to 500CFM
- A high-efficiency cooling pad which enhances the cooling capabilities of the premises.
- A removable water tank that has a capacity of 1.76 gallons of water.
- An 8-hour programmable timer as well as a sleep timer to facilitate the gradual lowering of power and speed.
- Remote control function.
- No installation is required for this unit.
- Ideal for use in climates that are hot and dry.
- Available in black and white
- Automatic louvers
- Digital display
However, this portable cooling unit is relatively noisy and has a noise level of 66 dB.