How to choose the Best Portable Air Conditioner – Buying Guide

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A buying guide on how to choose the Best Portable Air Conditioner.

How to choose air conditioning

As the name suggests, portable air conditioners can be easily moved from one place to another without much effort. Portable air conditioner units are a perfect solution for flexible air conditioning options. They are ideal for small spaces; such as small offices, living rooms or bedrooms where installing an air conditioning unit sometimes may not be cost effective and impractical. It is a perfect cooling solution for places like, server rooms or small apartment blocks with limited areas to cover. Other than portability, these types of air conditioner are compact, don’t require installation, are easy to move around and very energy efficient due to the small area required for cooling. They are particularly good if you do not own the apartment or room.

How does a Portable Air Conditioner work?

Since portability is the main advantage of a portable AC, its design is generally very simple as compared to wall mounted or split units. The unique box like design of the unit, holds cold and hot sides of the AC while an exhaust pipe eliminates the heat. Condensed water is collected in a drain bucket inside the unit, or is drained out through a hose. Some advanced portable air conditioners come with advanced evaporation techniques that eliminate all the water from the drain bucket.

Other than these benefits, Portable Air Conditioner not only cool your room, or rooms, but they also work like a dehumidifier by eliminating humidity from the air. Some portable units that are available in the today come with a built-in heater and air purifier.

How to choose the correct size air conditioner

Just like any other type of air conditioner, even Portable Air Conditioners require correct size selection for ideal cooling. Choosing the wrong size is one of the most common mistakes made by consumers. Portable air conditioners are rated in BTUs or British Thermal Units.

It is the most common unit of energy used in the heating and air conditioner business. The higher the BTU, the higher the cooling power. The cooling capacity in a portable AC ranges from 5000BTU to 30,000 BTUs. The exact BTU size needed for you will depend on the size of your room and the area to be cooled. Thus, selecting the correct BTU size is extremely important for efficient cooling.

If you select a portable AC with higher BTU thinking that it will cool your room better then you are wrong, as the unit will phase off very fast and fail to remove the moisture from the air. On the other hand, if you select a smaller size BTU unit for large rooms, it will not cool your room efficiently.

Air conditioner guidelines

Before deciding your areas BTU, you need to follow certain guidelines:

  • Compute your room’s square foot area by multiplying its length by width.
  • Confirm the size of your window in the room for proper ventilation.
  • Check the type of plug and other electrical points for compatibility in your room.

After verifying the above guidelines, you can finally decide your BTU requirements. The following chart shows the room sizes and the corresponding BTUs that are highly recommended for Portable Air Conditioner types.

Square Foot BTU
100-200 7,000-8000
150-250 8,000-10,000
250-350 10,000-11,000
350-525 12,000-16,000

If your room size is 15 feet by 15 feet, your room calculation will be:
15′x15′=300 square feet
For a 300 square feet room you will need at least a 10,000 BTU portable AC for efficient and proper cooling. The above estimates are for moderate climatic conditions and for average room conditions. These guidelines may vary for each manufacturer. The effectiveness of your portable air conditioner can be altered due to various other outside factors which are listed below:

  • Reduce your BTU capacity by 10% if your room is adequately shaded.
  • Increase your BTU capacity by 10% if your room is sunny.
  • Increase your BTU capacity by 600 for every additional person occupying the room.
  • Add 4,000 BTU capacity if your room is also a kitchen.

The final decision to get a perfect portable AC is your preference, your requirements, area to be cooled, and how long do you want to cool the room. Make sure to get yourself the most cost effective and energy efficient portable air conditioner. Check the energy rating and sound levels of your portable AC before you make a decision to purchase, as it will help you save on energy bills.


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