A portable air conditioner is a free standing air conditioner or stand alone unit that needs to be vented through a window. These units are self-contained and operate the same way as window and wall air conditioners by pulling cold air into the room, removing the heat, dehumidifying the air and exhausting the hot air out through the window vent.
Like other air conditioning units, they also remove moisture from the air but do it to a greater extent than other air conditioners since most of these units have a dehumidify mode.
What Are the Benefits of a Portable Air Conditioner?
The convenience of these units is that they have wheels and can be moved from room to room depending on where you need them most. Since they need to be vented, you have to replace the vent kit too whenever you move the unit.
They can also vent them through sliding patio doors or sliding windows. They can be vented through a ceiling or a wall, but you would need a contractor for that, and it takes away the portability of the unit.
Another pro is that they usually have three different modes, fan, air conditioner and dehumidify. The fan is good when you just need to circulate the air a bit, the air conditioner when it’s too warm and just needs a little dehumidification, and the dehumidify mode when it is very humid out. As with other air conditioners, the tray or pan will not need to be emptied when in air conditioning mode because it self-evaporates. When it’s in dehumidify mode the tray needs to be emptied. The unit shuts itself down when the tray needs to be emptied, and a warning light comes on.
You can also get a portable air conditioner with heat mode if you need a supplemental heat source. You need to look specifically for that feature since most of them do not come with that function. Units with heat can be slightly more expensive. Portable air conditioners are more expensive than regular air conditioners.
What are the Cons of a Portable Air Conditioner?
When using dehumidify mode, the pan or tray at the bottom of the unit will need to be emptied on a regular basis. The unit turns itself off when the tray is full. You can buy a drain kit separately since not all units come with them.You will have to check with the manufacturer for the size of the drain before you purchase the kit.
The hose with the drain kit can be run to a sink or tub, or you can use a large bucket. You will still need to keep an eye on and empty the bucket, but it will prevent the unit from shutting itself down as often since the bucket is larger than its tray.
If your living area is on one floor and you don’t mind moving the ventilation kit from room to room as you need it, then these units will be right for you. These units are not quite as portable as you might think if you have to move the unit up and down the stairs. Portable air conditioners are quite heavy, weighing between 60 to 80 pounds, and you would need help to do it.
A portable air conditioner is not as powerful or energy efficient as the other types of air conditioners. They do not qualify for energy star ratings. While it is generally not recommended to buy more BTUs than needed when it comes to a window or through the wall air conditioners, you will need to do that when it comes to a portable air conditioner since they are not as reliable for cooling evenly as regular air conditioners.
Portable air conditioners only work at about 60% of the capacity of traditional air conditioners. If you think you can replace a window or through the wall air conditioner with the same amount of BTUs you will be disappointed. It will take many more BTUs to cool the same space that a window air conditioner would.
Since portable air conditioners are not nearly as energy efficient as other types, you might want to read some tips on saving money and energy at home by clicking here.
This type of air conditioner is best used when a window or through the wall air conditioner are not an option. These units are not as quiet as other air conditioners, so if it is going to be in your bedroom, it might take some getting used to.
What is the Difference Between a Single Hose and Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner?
Single-Hose Portable Air Conditioners vent hot air out through a single exhaust hose that connects to the back of the unit.
Dual-Hose Portable Air Conditioners have two hoses attached to the back of the unit: one hose vents out warm air while the other hose draws in additional air to be cooled.
Dual hose units are more powerful and will cool or dehumidify more quickly. Single hose units are quicker and easier to install.
When using the dehumidify mode, some dual hose units require that you temporarily disconnect the cold air hose and reconnect it when you are done dehumidifying.
How Do You Choose a Portable Air Conditioner?
- The BTUs. The size of the area you will be cooling is the most important factor. The width and length of the room are necessary to figure out the correct amount of BTUs that you need. As stated earlier, portable air conditioners are not that energy efficient so in this case, it would be best to get a unit that has slightly more BTUs than you actually need for the space you will be using it in.
- The Energy Efficiency Rating or EER. All air conditioners have an energy efficiency ratings, so try to get one of these units with as high an energy efficiency rating that you can. Portable air conditioners are not energy efficient enough to earn energy star ratings.
- You should take into consideration the amount of sunlight that the area you will be cooling gets. If it’s very sunny, you need to add about 10% more BTUs. The BTUs should also be increased by about 500 BTUs per person over and above two individuals who inhabit the room or area you are using it in.
- The Purpose You are Using it For.When it comes to portable air conditioners since they do not work as well as other types of air conditioners, the purpose for which you will use it is important. Many people use them as supplemental sources for cooling and not the primary source. Some people use them as additional sources of heat. Like me, some people use them to dehumidify both in the air conditioning mode and dehumidify mode.
- Placement is important when it comes to a portable air conditioner. These units are quite bulky and need about 18 to 20 inches on all sides to function properly. You need to make sure you can give up that amount of space if you will be buying this type of air conditioner.
Which Portable Air Conditioner Should You Buy?
When it comes to portable air conditioners, you have many different options. I’m going to show you five of the most popular ones by one the top manufacturers for you to consider.
Remember that these units are more expensive than window air conditioners and that you need to size up to cool the same size room that you would for a conventional window air conditioner. The room size recommendations below are from the manufacturer.
If you have been browsing around the internet for a portable air conditioner, you might notice that some websites say these same units can cool larger rooms. Those sites might be paying attention to the BTU chart and not the manufacturer. All of these portable air conditioners are single hose units and use an 115V grounded outlet (regular household outlet).
Best LG Portable Air Conditioner Reviews
The following portable air conditioners are by LG Electronics. LG portable air conditioners are very popular and the 8000 BTU unit is one of their bestsellers.
Model # LP0814WNR is an 8000 BTU portable air conditioner by LG Electronics. Keep in mind that you should be using this unit in the same size room that you would use a 5000 BTU window air conditioner which is no more than 150 square feet. It has 4 casters which allow you to move the unit from room to room with ease. It is a single hose unit.
It comes with an easy to use remote control that lets you operate the unit from across the room. As with most portable air conditioners, this unit has 3 modes. Fan, air conditioner and dehumidify. Both the air conditioning and the fan modes have 2 speeds, high and low. It operates with an 115V grounded household outlet.
Dehumidify has only one mode although the unit does remove moisture from the air in air conditioner mode which self-condensates.When the letters FL appear on the display, that means the water collection tank is full and needs to be emptied. This unit removes 2 pints of moisture from the air per hour.
It has an LED digital electronic touch display that allows you to control the temperature of your room with the touch of a button. It has a 24-hour ON/OFF timer that gives you the freedom to have your room nice and cool when you arrive home and will shut your unit off after you leave. This benefit can save on energy usage.
It has a washable and reusable air filter which saves you money on replacement costs. It also automatically restarts after a power failure.
Four-way air control through the louvered panel on the front of the machine lets you direct the air up, down, left or right, wherever you need it most. It comes with a window installation kit and is easy to install. You need about 20 inches of room on each side of the unit for it to operate properly. You can buy the LG Electronics LP0814WNR 115-volt Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control, 8000 BTU, here.
Model # LP1014WNR is a 10,000 BTU unit which is also by LG. It has all of the same features as the model above except you should use it in a room of no more than 250 to 300 square feet. This unit removes 2.6 pints of moisture from the air per hour. This portable air conditioner has an energy efficiency rating of 9.2.You can buy the LG Electronics LP1014WNR 115-volt Portable Air Conditioner with Remote Control, 10000 BTU, here.
Model # LP1215GXR is a 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner which has an 11.2 energy efficiency rating and can cover an area up to 400 square feet. It removes up to 2.8 pints of moisture from the air per hour. It has all of the same features of the other two models except that it has 3 cooling and 3 fan speeds so your room can have the comfort level you like best. You can buy the LG 12,000 BTU 115V Portable Air Conditioner with LCD Remote Control, black, here.
Model # LP1415WXRSM is 14,000 BTU. This unit has a more streamlined look than the other models. It has an energy efficiency rating of 10.1. This unit will work in an area up to 500 square feet. It removes 3.4 pints of moisture from the air per hour. The top of the unit, which houses the vents, opens automatically when you turn the unit on. It closes automatically when you shut down the unit.
This air conditioner has an Auto Swing feature which oscillates the air automatically. There is also an energy saving mode which turns off the fan and compressor once the desired temperature is reached. Other than that it has all of the same features and benefits of the 12,000 BTU model.
There is one more LG model I will talk to you about. This one has heat mode in case you need an additional heat source. Model # LP1417WSRSM has 3 cooling speeds, 3 fan speeds, and 3 heat speeds. It also has dehumidify mode which has only one speed. As with the model above it removes 3.4 pints of moisture from the air per hour and has the same streamlined appearance.
This model has an energy efficiency rating of 10.1 and should not be used in an area larger than 500 square feet. Even though some websites state it can be utilized for 400 sq ft, LG does not recommend it. It has the same automatic open/close features as the other 14,000 BTU model as well as the energy saving mode that turns off the fan and compressor, it oscillates like the other model too. These last two models are packed with features, but you will also pay a little bit more for them in price. You can buy the LG Electronics LP1417WSRSM 14000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Wifi Control, here.
How Do You Install A Portable Air Conditioner?
Portable Air conditioners are relatively easy to install. They come with one or two exhaust hoses that are about three to five inches in diameter and attach to the back of the portable air conditioner unit to a four or five-inch PVC piece that sits on the window sill or ledge and the bottom of window closes on top of it similar to a window air conditioner.
It does not obstruct the view as much as a window air conditioner does since the PVC piece which sits in the window is only three to five inches tall.
Some units come with pieces of foam weather stripping to stop drafts. I prefer to use clear weatherproof tape since I use my portable air conditioner in my basement mostly to dehumidify since I live near the ocean and a bay and do not intend to move it from room to room.
Most portable air conditioners use a regular 3 prong household outlet although some state that a GFCI outlet would be preferable, depending on which room you are using it in. GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, it is an outlet that can prevent an electrical shock in wet locations.
A GFCI outlet has two buttons: a test button and a reset button. If you are replacing one of these units be sure to check the plug on the new one you will be purchasing so that it matches your outlet. I have mine plugged into one of these types of outlets because my basement has flooded when there has been excessive rain.
Below is a video by LG showing how to install a portable air conditioner.
Tips for Using and Maintaining Your Portable Air Conditioner
Since portable air conditioners are not as powerful as other types, take advantage of the timer feature and start the unit a couple of hours before you need it. If you are using it in an enclosed space, keep the door closed so you get the optimum amount of cooling power.
Keep the unit as close to the ventilation source as possible while still maintaining the proper amount of space needed around the unit. These units work much more efficiently when the hoses are shorter and not fully extended. Make sure the hose is straight and not kinked up to maintain the best air flow and to keep moisture from the exhaust out of the unit.
If possible try to keep the unit out of direct sunlight. The air conditioner has to work harder if it gets too hot. Use an oscillating fan or a ceiling fan to help distribute the cold air more quickly since these units are not as energy efficient as regular air conditioners.
Clean the filter on a regular basis. Most of these units come with a reusable filter that you wash and put right back in after drying it. I clean mine weekly. Check your owners manual to see what they recommend and whether or not your filter is reusable. Some units also come with a second carbon or antimicrobial filter. Check your manual to see if that needs to be cleaned or needs to be replaced.
Clean the outside of the unit too with some warm water and a paper towel. Make sure any vents are clean and free of dust and dirt. Use the soft brush attachment of the vacuum to clean deeper into the vents once you clean away any surface dust Proper maintenance can go a long way to extending the life of your portable air conditioner. If you take care of the unit, it should last you a long time.
I recently purchased a new portable air conditioner, but my previous one lasted over 10 years. The air conditioner and fan still worked perfectly but dehumidify mode, which is my primary purpose for the unit stopped working. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have needed to replace it.
If you cannot have a window or through the wall air conditioner a portable air conditioner might be just what you need. As long as you are prepared to buy more BTU’s than the room size calls for then the unit should do what you need it to do.
Due to the wheels, moving the unit from room to room as long as the room is on the same floor should not be a problem. As long as there is a window available to vent it through the unit will work just fine.
I happen to love my portable air conditioner. I use it in air conditioning mode to handle the humidity in the spring, which is moderate, and I use it strictly to dehumidify in the summer when the humidity is much worse.
It does exactly what I need it to do. Unlike stand-alone dehumidifiers, portable air conditioners actually throw off cold air in dehumidify mode so my basement stays comfortable. I love the fact that I can walk in my front door and no longer smell a damp musty basement.
If you rent an apartment or a home or live in a place where air conditioners that protrude from your home are not allowed, and you like the convenience of being able to move it from room to room, then a portable air conditioner might just fit your needs perfectly.
If you are still not sure which type of air conditioner you need, you can find my article about window air conditioners by clicking here.
You can also read about through the wall air conditioners by clicking here.