Top 5 Portable Air Conditioners Money Can Buy

Introduction

Portable ACs are designed for cooling single rooms or specific areas and are easy to move around. The self-contained systems are easy to setup and usually sit on the floor, while most have wheels so people can easily move them from one room to another. Many people prefer portable ACs not just because of the portability factor, but because they only have one window in their room and don’t want to dedicate it to a Window AC.

While portable ACs have many advantages over Windows ACs, they might not be suitable for all situations, especially when you want to cool large areas and need more power. In addition to some of the best portable ACs currently available, this post also discusses pros and cons of different cooling solutions.

Who Should Buy a Portable AC?

Portable ACs are increasingly becoming popular among people who live in small apartments and don’t want to get involved in complicated AC installation projects. However, they are not the ideal cooling solution for every home. Let’s start with advantages and disadvantages of PACs before moving on to other details.

Advantages

  • Great for cooling small rooms
  • Easy installation and setup, no HVAC permits required
  • Very portable, easy to move around the home
  • Small opening required to exhaust to the exterior
  • Help cut electricity bills, consume less power than Window ACs
  • Can also be used as a dehumidifier

Disadvantages

  • Limited cooling capacity
  • Still requires a vent to transfer heat outside
  • Heavy portable ACs can be difficult to move around despite wheels
  • Bugs can enter through the vent if not properly secured
  • Some models require you to empty water tank regularly, especially in very humid conditions
  • Upfront cost is usually greater than Window ACs
  • Not as energy efficient as Window ACs
  • Many do not meet energy efficiency requirements or do not provide such information

Things to Consider Before Buying a Portable AC

BTU Level

Determining the BTU (British Thermal Units) level you actually need is perhaps the most important thing to consider before buying any type of AC. The more the BTUs (cooling power), the more area an AC can cool. The following pointers should help you determine the BTUs you need to cool your room (assuming an 8-ft ceiling):

  • Up to 150 sq.ft: 7,500 BTUs
  • Up to 200 sq.ft: 9,000 BTUs
  • Up to 300 sq.ft: 10,000 BTUs
  • Up to 400 sq.ft: 12,000 BTUs
  • Up to 450 sq.ft: 13,000 BTUs
  • Up to 500 sq.ft: 14,000 BTUs

In other words a 7,000-10,000 BTU portable AC should work fine for a small room, while mid-sized spaces need 11,000-14,000 BTUs of cooling power. While more powerful portable ACs are also available for commercial/large spaces, they are mostly used for server rooms and special event spaces. You’d want more BTUs than the recommended range if you live in a warmer region or have a lot of direct sunlight warming up the room.

Self-evaporative vs. Manual Removal

Many portable ACs are fully self-evaporative and evaporate moisture automatically out the exhaust hose. On the other hand, standard models only have buckets that you need to manually empty (quite often). If manually removing and emptying those buckets isn’t much of an issue for you, standards models can save you a decent amount of cash. Some models support attaching a drain port to an alternate location, but that can become a problem if you have to run it across a long distance.

Single Hose vs. Dual Hose

There is no conclusive evidence yet that suggests a single hose portable AC is better than a dual hose as each has its own pros and cons. A single hose AC takes the air from a room, cools it and returns most of it back while blowing out some of it via the exhaust. This means a small amount of air is being removed, creating a slightly negative air pressure, which can affect the cooling efficiency.

On the other hand, dual-hose ACs have separate hoses for air intake and exhaust. This means one hose takes air from the outside, cools it and exhausts the hot air from the other hose. If the temperature outside is too hot, the AC has to work extra to cool the warm incoming air, which also results in less efficiency. Dual-hose ACs might not be suitable for very hot and humid regions, while single-hose ACs don’t work great if your room is directly exposed to warmer air from the outside.

Top 5 Portable ACs

Product

Visual

Where to Buy

DELLA 12,000 BTU Portable AC

Honeywell 9,000 BTU HL09CESWK

JHS 8,000 BTU

Koldfront 8,000 BTU PAC802W

Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual Hose ARC-14S

 

1. DELLA 12,000 BTU Portable AC

In addition to the 12,000 BTU portable AC, DELLA ACs are also available in 10,000 and 14,000 BTU. It features a fully-functional panel control and runs at a low decibel rating. It comes with a window kit that allows users to easily set it up in almost any window. The AC features self-evaporative cooling tech, which means the condenser coils are cooled using the water/moisture from the air. You can easily adjust the temperature range (62-52F), while the unit also supplies warm air, making it an appliance you can use year-round.

Key features and specs

  • 12,000 BTU, up to 400 sq.ft space
  • Remote control for temperature, fan-speed and timer adjustment
  • Self-evaporative
  • Warms and cools the air
  • Silent operation (55dB max)
  • LED display
  • Windows kit included
  • 62°F – 82°F temperature range
  • Cool, dry and fan modes
  • 120VAC @ 60Hz
  • 75 lbs weight
  • Dimensions 16 x 13.5 x 29 inches

2. Honeywell 9,000 BTU HL09CESWK

Suitable for smaller rooms, this Honeywell portable AC runs quietly and comes with a single hose. Pre-assembled window kit makes installation easier, while the digital control panel and remote control ensure effortless operation. This unit is a good option if you want to cool a small space and prefer an AC that’s easy to install and move around. The product description claims it can cool up to 400 sq.ft space, but we are doubtful about that claim as 9,000 BTU is suitable for up to 200 sq.ft spaces.

Key features and specs

  • 9,000 BTU, Up to 200 sq.ft
  • Pre-assembled window kit
  • Built-in dehumidifier, auto-evaporation
  • Silent operation, 45dB on low speed
  • Digital control panel and remote control
  • 115V @ 60Hz, 8A
  • Single exhaust hose
  • 241 CFM airflow
  • Dimensions 18.9″ x 15.7″ x 31.3″

3. JHS 8,000 BTU

JHS also offers 12,000 and 14,000 BTU portable ACs, but this 8,000 BTU AC is more suitable for small spaces. It can be used as an AC, dehumidifier as well as a fan and is easy to use, thanks to the digital LED display and remote control. The temperature can be adjusted between 61-88 °F, while energy consumption is rated at 8.0A/920W.

Key features and specs

  • 8,000 BTU, up to 170 sq.ft
  • AC, humidifier and fan modes
  • Digital LED panel and remote control
  • 31.7pints/ day dehumidification
  • 54dBA noise level
  • 61°F – 88°F temperature range
  • Power consumption 920W / 8.0A
  • 44lbs. weight

4. Koldfront 8,000 BTU PAC802W

This portable AC is good enough for up to 200 sqf.ft rooms and comes with a digital panel and remote control. Although it’s not among the lightest portable ACs, it’s still fairly easy to move around. It can also work as a humidifier, while louvers can be set to continuously move up or down or remain static.

Key features and specs

  • 8,000 BTU, up to 200 sq.ft
  • 62°F – 88°F temperature range
  • AC, dehumidifier and fan mode
  • 61 pint/day dehumidifier
  • Auto Swing louvers
  • Digital panel and remote control
  • Dimensions 34.5″ x 18.75″ x 15.75″ (HWD)
  • Single hose evaporation
  • 57.2 lbs weight
  • Power consumption 8.0A / 900W

5. Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual Hose ARC-14S

This dual hose portable AC features carbon air filter and can cool up to 500 sq.ft spaces without making too much noise. Like the other options, it also works as a dehumidifier and in fan mode. It uses self-evaporating technology to recycle collected moisture to cool the air, which minimizes condensate build-up. Weighing 80 lbs, the unit is not the easiest to move around, but considering the power it offers, it’s still fairly portable. The unit comes with a one year parts and three-year compressor warranty.

Key features and specs

  • 14,000 BTU, up to 500 sq.ft
  • Cooling, dehumidification and fan modes
  • Self-evaporating technology
  • Auto-restart to previous state
  • Power consumption 10.8A/1250W
  • 101 pits/day dehumidifying capacity
  • 61° – 89°F temperature range
  • Dual-hose
  • Airflow 360 m3/h / 222 CFM (Max)
  • Dimensions 19″ W x 16″ D x 35.5″ H

Conclusion

Portability and easier installation are the unique selling preposition of portable ACs and while they might not be suitable for large spaces, they work well for small rooms. Sure, you’d come across portable ACs made by top-tier brands, but they come at a hefty price tag. PACs help create a comfortable space anywhere in your home and allow cooling specific spaces. Most of the PACs mentioned earlier offer similar features so it ultimately comes down to size of the space you want to cool (and required cooling power or BTUs).

One thing worth mentioning is that PACs aren’t really a replacement for window/split ACs or central air conditioning systems. They should be considered as an alternative in situations such as when you don’t have enough space/no window or don’t want to use the central air conditioning system just to keep one room cool.

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