Portable air conditioners are great options for small home and office spaces as well as rooms without central A/C duct access. Unlike window-mounted or wall-mounted units, portable A/C systems can be moved from room to room, giving users unparalleled flexibility when it comes to their cooling needs.
There are plenty of portable A/C units currently on the market and choosing among the multitude of options available can be somewhat daunting. The following offers a brief guide on what to look for when choosing your new portable A/C system.
Choosing the Right Size
As with any window or wall-mounted A/C system, it's important to choose a system that offers just the right amount of cooling power for your room. Having a system that's too big or too small for your room can result in reduced overall comfort, wasted energy and higher energy costs. Oversized systems are also notorious for short-cycling, a condition that could shorten the life of your portable cooling system.
Knowing the size of the room you plan on cooling is a critical step towards choosing the right portable A/C size. For instance, a small office space that's only 250 square feet in size may need only 6,000 to 7,000 BTUs of cooling capacity. A large living space that's 600 square feet in size may need 14,000 BTUs of cooling capacity for maximum comfort.
If you plan on using your portable A/C unit in a kitchen, you'll need to add 4,000 additional BTUs of cooling capacity. In shaded rooms, you can shave the BTU requirements by 10 percent, whereas sunny areas require 10 percent more BTUs of cooling capacity.
Understanding Noise Levels
Noise levels are another consideration for choosing a portable A/C system, especially since the entire unit is located indoors. In contrast, window and wall-mounted A/C units usually keep the noisier parts of their systems (such as the compressor) outdoors.
Nevertheless, most portable A/C systems are designed to be as quiet as possible in spite of their inherent limitations. Most manufacturers list decibel (dB) level ratings for their units, making it easier to compare between different units.
Comparing Energy Efficiency
The energy savings a portable A/C system offers over a similar yet permanently-mounted unit depends on a variety of factors, including room size, unit size, average room temperatures, humidity levels and the frequency of which other cooling systems are used. These factors can make a portable A/C system more energy-efficient to use.
Planning an Exit Strategy
When choosing a portable A/C unit, it's important to keep an exit strategy in mind for the hot exhaust the unit produces during the air conditioning process. Nearly all portable units come with flexible hoses that help channel the hot exhaust out of the room, usually through a nearby window. The standard hoses that come with the units are only a few feet in length, which means the unit itself has to be placed just a few feet away from an open window.
Some units are available with longer hoses that make it possible to place units further away from windows. Other systems are also available with installation kits that allow users to route their exhaust through drop ceilings or adjacent walls. These kits make it possible to run portable A/C systems in rooms without easily accessible windows.
Portable A/C units also generate excess moisture that must be removed on a regular basis for the unit to function properly. Most units feature drainage trays that must be manually removed. Other units feature hoses for gravity draining and pumps for pushing moisture out of the unit and into nearby drainage areas. Some units even feature self-evaporative systems that allow most of the moisture to harmlessly evaporate.
To learn which system will best suit your home, contact air conditioning suppliers.