How To Determine If A Portable Air Conditioner Is Right For You

portable ac

Are you renting and there’s no way your landlord will install or let you install a fixed or split-system air conditioner? Thinking of getting a fixed or split-system Air Conditioner but just don’t have the budget? Are you looking for a good alternative to keep you cool? Read along and discover how a Portable Air Conditioner might just do the trick for you. Be informed and stay prepared as you come face to face with the scorching heat of summer days.

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The Dangers of Too Much Heat

Person SweatingSummer provides the perfect opportunity for you to enjoy.  You can go out, relax and have some fun in the sun. However, as much as you enjoy the sun, you need to take heed of the necessary precautions for you to make the most of summer in the safest ways possible.

The midsummer’s sun, no matter how inviting and fun as it is, can cause serious and sometimes life threatening health conditions.  It’s blistering heat may not only make you uncomfortable, but also poses great threat to human health.

You may think the comfort of your home can shield you against the dangerous effects of heat, however this may not be the case. Unless your home is made comfortable and you have an efficient cooling system to keep your room temperatures favorable, only then can you be sure that you are at low risk of acquiring a heat related illness.  To further understand how dangerous the summer heat can be, here are some of the most common heat related illnesses that may be caused by too much heat on high temperature days :

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are muscle spasms resulting from the significant loss of body fluid and salt either by exercise or by working in hot environments. These are brief and sudden muscle jerks often felt in the calves, thighs and shoulders.

Heat Syncope

This is a heat related illness that is more commonly known as fainting. It is associated with sudden and short episode of loss in consciousness brought about by a quick drop in blood pressure. Most people who are not well acclimatized to heat or are experiencing dehydration often fall victim to this health condition.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion occurs after a person has been exposed to extreme heat conditions. It is characterized by rapid loss of body fluid and salt through perspiration. A person who is suffering from heat exhaustion may have a body temperature as high as 102oF. Without proper and immediate treatment heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke.


Heatstroke is a condition caused by the body’s failure to regulate its body temperature due to physical exertion in extremely hot temperature conditions. This is a medical emergency where sufferers need to be given immediate medical attention. Symptoms include lethargy, confusion and unconsciousness. The body temperature can rise up to 105oF or even higher.

“An Ounce of Prevention is Worth A Pound of Cure”

Now that you are aware of some of the heat related illnesses you are likely to suffer from the blistering heat of summer, here are some tips on how you can avoid them.  As they say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking water every 15 minutes even when you are not thirsty.
  • Wear thin and comfortable clothing.
  • Learn techniques on how to acclimatize and practice heat safety measures.
  • Do not spend too much time under the sun.
  • Stay cool as much as possible.

The Need For a Portable Air Conditioner

During the warmest days of summer it is of great importance that you keep yourself cool all the time to avoid contracting heat related illnesses. Most people turn to air conditioning systems to keep their dwellings cozy, amidst the scorching heat of summertime.

The thing is, fixed air conditioning systems such as window and split systems are often expensive therefore not everyone can afford them. If you are in a rental, your landlord may not agree to install them or you may not have permission to install one yourself and even if you do, you may not be able to take it with you when you move out.

They use up a lot of energy too, thus increasing your monthly electricity consumption. It is for these reasons that not too many people are keen on buying a fixed air conditioning system.

Some would just settle for the most economical and portable appliance for the purpose – the electric fan. Electric fans however are not as effective in keeping your rooms cool. They function mainly on just cooling the people around it by evaporating sweat and but does not cool the air that circulates inside the room. Thus the comfort you can get from an air conditioning unit is  far better than an electric fan.

Now, here’s the thing and I hope you have heard about Portable Air Conditioners. Portable Air Conditioners sit in between the split type/window type AC’s and the electric fan. It is not as expensive as an air conditioning unit but works way better than your regular electric fan with great portability to go with it. Not only that they are quite affordable and portable, they are more energy efficient too, it costs less energy to keep them running.

You have the added advantage of taking it between rooms, such as the bedroom for a comfortable night sleep.  Therefore one unit can cool your room of choice, something you cannot achieve with a fixed unit unless you have one in each room you need to cool.

So, How Do You Know That A Portable Air Conditioner Is Right For You

Apart from your budget, there are several things you need to consider in determining whether a portable air conditioner is your best option. You need to look into the structure and design of your dwelling or the room/s where you might need to place your portable air conditioner. To further understand what I am trying to say, take a look at some examples where Portable Air Conditioners can be deemed more opportune for use.

Rented Apartments

Apartment tenants can perfectly understand why installation of fixed appliances such as an air conditioner can be difficult at times. Most landlords impose restrictions on the incorporation of permanent home appliances, leaving them with no choice but to go for freestanding models. Apartment dwellers opt for Portable Air Conditioners mainly for these reasons:

  • Landlords don’t approve getting permanent appliances installed.
  • The structural make up of the apartment does not make permanent installation options feasible.
  • Tenants find installation of permanent air conditioners tedious and time consuming.
  • They move around apartments a lot thus requiring mobility on their home appliance.
  • If they move out, they may not be able to take the fixed appliance/s with them and if they do, the next landlord may not approve their installation.


Some home owners prefer getting a Portable Air Conditioner than fixed models simply because they don’t want to go through the laborious, expensive and time consuming process of installation. For those who have a relatively spacious home setting with a number of rooms to cool, the mobility that a Portable Air Conditioner presents can be used to their advantage.  They can easily move a Portable AC from one room to another quickly and with ease.


In offices, Portable Air Conditioners are often used as supplemental air cooling systems to their existing air conditioning units. An employee’s environment has a direct effect on their concentration and productivity. The more comfortable they are at work the more productive they become.

Even computers need to be kept in cool temperatures to avoid over heating from a day’s intensive work. An office can be too crowded at times when a lot of clients are present.  Such a situation may find an air conditioning unit wanting.


People who tend to go out a lot on camping trips or a night’s sleep in a trailer can turn to portable AC’s to stay comfortable . It could be a great idea if they can bring along with them an air conditioner that can keep them cozy amidst the mid-summer’s heat. Just make sure you bring in with you a possible source of electricity to keep your Portable AC’s running even outside of your home.

The Pros and Cons of Portable Air Conditioners

Like other appliances, a Portable Air Conditioner both has advantages and disadvantages. It’s all up to you to weigh them up to find out if this type of air conditioner can or cannot seamlessly fit into your lifestyle. To help you decide, here are some of the pros and cons of using a Portable Air Conditioner:

The Perks of Having a Portable Air Conditioner

In hindsight, a Portable Air Conditioner is obviously the best alternative to more expensive fixed air conditioning units. However I don’t find it appropriate to pass on judgment on this particular piece of appliance by merely looking at the savings you may get from it. You see, there are quite a lot of great advantages about these appliances that you shouldn’t overlook, and they are:

They Are Very Quick and Easy To Install – If They Even Need Installing

Portable Air ConditionerIf you know exactly how fixed air conditioning units such as those of split type are installed, then you will surely find installing a Portable Air Conditioner a whole lot easier and quicker. With this type of air conditioning unit, you need not seek the expertise of an HVAC expert to have it installed. You can do the installation on your own as there are not any specific electrical configurations that need to be set up. All you would need is an electrical socket to plug your appliance. With regards to the installation of its exhaust, you can count on your wisdom and skill in following the installation instructions.

One of the greatest benefits of Portable over Fixed is you can have it up and running in a matter of minutes from unpacking it!  You can’t do this with a fixed system.

They Offer Great Mobility

From subject itself, you can very much tell how easy you can have this unit transferred from one room to another. Although some models may come bulky and heavy, they often have casters or rollers that provide for ease of maneuver, should you decide to have it transferred to another room.

They Are Affordable

Among the most important factor that sways people to get them to buy an appliance is their budget. Not everyone has the luxury to splurge on air conditioning units and a Portable Air Conditioner provides consumers the best alternative to the more costly air conditioners.

It is not the fixed cooling unit alone that is expensive, traditional air conditioning system installation requires the expertise of both HVAC and electrician to have it fully set up. You may even need to upgrade some electrical wiring in your home.  A Portable Air Conditioner eliminates the additional cost of having to install permanent air conditioning units. For this, Portable Air Conditioners can be considered as the most affordable yet efficient ways of staying cool during the hottest days of summer.

The Downside of Portable Air Conditioners

There is no question about the Portable Air Conditioner’s capacity as being the best alternative to traditional air conditioning units. However, like most household appliances, it is not made to fit into the decor of all people who own them. One way or another there are some aspects where one of particular appliance may be falling short. Here are some the most common concerns on Portable Air Conditioner that you shouldn’t overlook.

They Can Be Noisy

Since both the compressor and the coolant are encased in the same unit, the Portable Air Conditioner tends to create more noise as compared to other types of air conditioner. Split type air conditioners have their motor installed outside the room, making them fairly quiet compared to the portable units.

Placement Restrictions

Portable Air Conditioner 2In spite of Portable AC’s mobility and easy maneuverability, it may come with restricted placement options, at least for three considerations. These are the appliance’s water management, access to an electrical outlet and hot air extraction.

You need to have ease of access to an electrical outlet where you intend to have your portable AC placed. The water that is collected after the dehumidification needs to be emptied somewhere. You can either do it manually by draining it every few hours or have it positioned near or against a window so it can drain its water out with a hose.

Water and Heat Exhaust Management

One great advantage that a traditional air conditioner has against its portable version is its ability to pull the moisture out of its system without human intervention. A portable Air Conditioner meanwhile, needs to have the water from its dehumidification process discarded somewhere outside the room. It is for this reason that most models come with a hose that resembles those of your clothes dryer.

They function mainly to exhaust the hot air from within the room and to discard the water, thus requiring your unit to be placed near a window that can allow its exhaust flow out of its system through a hose. Window kits are available for most models. Some models also come with a pan that you need to empty whenever it becomes full.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing A Portable Air Conditioner

Now that you are aware of the advantages and disadvantages of using a Portable Air Conditioner, it is now time to weigh up your options and see if a Portable Air Conditioner would fit in to your lifestyle. Before you do that however, you need to have a very quick look but a good understanding on some of the most important factors you need to look into before you choose your particular model.

Cooling Capacity

The cooling ability of your air conditioning system is by far the most important factor you need to consider. It is crucial to get this particular aspect right as it dictates how efficient and effective your Portable AC unit can be in cooling your rooms.

An Air conditioners’ capacity to cool is measured in BTU or British Thermal Units. A BTU measures how much heat your air conditioning unit can remove from a room in an hour. The higher the BTU rating, the cooler your room will get. However, you need to select your Portable AC unit in accordance with your room size. The BTU’s should not be too high or too low or else you won’t get to enjoy the benefits and the money you spent will just be put to waste due to lack of efficiency and cooling ability.

To know the appropriate BTU rating you can use the formula:

Room’s Square Footage x 35 = BTU Required (rough estimate)

This is just a rough estimate and you should just use it as a guideline. The way you choose your portable air conditioner also requires consideration on the specifics of your circumstance. Any additional heat sources you have inside your home should be taken into account.  For example, the temperature within your home (how hot it can become on a hot day), the appliances that you are using and the insulation your dwelling has.  Window coverings such as block-out blinds go a long towards keeping heat out.  You may need to get a model with BTU’s slightly higher than what is required to compensate for the additional heat your home environment might have.

Energy Efficiency

One of the most common concerns most people have on air conditioning units is the amount of electricity it consumes. A lot of people are conscious of their monthly electricity bill and always aim to keep it at a minimum.

In order to find out if the Portable Air Conditioning Unit you have in mind is energy efficient, have a look at its EER or Energy Efficiency Rating. To determine how much electrical energy your AC consumes you can have its BTU divided by its EER and you get its wattage. Do the math and you’ll perfectly understand how much of your electricity bill can be accounted to your air conditioning units.

Unit Dimensions

The size and the weight of your potential Portable Air Conditioning Unit plays a vital role on how portable your unit is. Obviously the lighter and the smaller your portable unit is, the easier and less effort it takes to move it around.

You might also want to consider the space you have dedicated for your air conditioner. Remember that it needs at least 18 inches of space around it. It is typical for freestanding home appliances to be provided with enough room to breathe. Not only that, it increases it’s efficiency and lengthens its lifespan.

Noise Production

If you are a type of person who has a low tolerance to noise and you easily get distracted as you work or sleep under noisy environments, it’s best to check on your AC’s decibel level. You see Air Conditioning units are built to give you comfort and ease and it should not be the other way around.

You can’t expect your portable air conditioning unit to be as silent as some of the quieter versions of traditional air conditioning systems. However there are some portables that can operate fairly quietly, depending on it’s brand and model. What you need to do is to learn how to read and understand the decibel levels each portable air conditioner presents.

Every 10 decibel level measurement mean it is 10 times as noisy as the level below it. A normal conversation has a decibel measurement of 60, so if you can’t take the sound of people talking as you sleep or work then go for a model with a decibel level no greater than 55.

To ensure you won’t be making any mistake on your portable air conditioner purchase, find some time to read product reviews to give you an idea on exactly what to look for.   Here is a link to Amazon where you can read what others say about portable air conditioning units in their reviews.

Installation and Maintenance

You often times hear that installation and maintenance is relatively easy with Portable Air Conditioners. However, you should realize it’s not always the case as there are some models that come fairly difficult to install and maintain.

The ease of installation and maintenance depends on how quickly and accurately users can pick up it’s installation and safekeeping instructions. Therefore, it is of high importance that potential buyers of these portables conduct in-depth research on how these products are installed and maintained. What could be better than reading reviews written by people who had an experience on handling these appliances?


Portable Air Conditioner are relatively cheaper compared to other Air Conditioning Units, especially fixed types. However different brands and models vary in price as some models may come with additional features and some do not. Here are some factors that can affect how each make and model are priced:


I have to admit that some reputable brands are more expensive than others. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the more popular the brand is more effective and efficient. In saying that, recognised brands have built trust over a very long period and their products have been tested against time.  However, what I am certain of is that you can find more affordable brands that can deliver expectations as good as the more expensive counterparts.  To compare brands and customer experience, you can check out Amazon here.

The Make and Materials Used

Obviously those that are made with superior quality and sturdily built may be more expensive than other brands. I guess, there’s a good chance you’ll get the maximum benefit if you decide on getting a unit that is made from the most durable and finest materials.

BTU Rating

The main functionality of your air conditioner rests with its BTU rating.  This is something you should not skimp on as you may end up purchasing a unit that will not do the job.  You shouldn’t buy a unit that has a lower BTU than required just because it may be cheaper as it will be less efficient and may cost more in electricity.  A lower BTU than required may actually cost you more in the long run and not actually do the job required.  The general rule is “the higher the BTU rating, the more you can expect to pay”.

Extra Features

Additional features are also available on various models. However if you don’t really these features like a remote control or a built in timer, then you can just probably settle for the basics. After all it is the cooling capacity that really matters and the extra features and upgrades are really the ‘icing on the cake’.

Final Word

Now that you are made aware of all the considerations for buying a Portable Air Conditioner, it’s all up to you to determine if this is the way you wish to cool your home, albeit room by room. People have different needs, preferences and priorities, therefore with all factors considered, you now have all of the information to determine whether a Portable Air Conditioner relive you from the uncomfortable heat of summer.

If you do decide on decide on purchasing a Portable Air Conditioner, make sure you know exactly how to make the best use of it. Portable Air Conditioners, like all home appliances, require some tender loving care for them to function at their best for the longest time possible.

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