How to Choose a Portable Air Conditioner for Your Home

About Portable Air Conditioning

Portable air conditioners work by drawing in warm, moist air from the room, cooling and dehumidifying it, and discharging the heat and moisture out through an exhaust system. Some portable AC units are self-evaporating, with the water released as vapor in the exhaust, while others have a condensation pan or bucket that must either be emptied or drained through a hose.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Portable Air Conditioners

    • Cooling: Portable air conditioners are great for taking the edge off overheated spaces. However, in terms of cooling ability, portable units are the lowest-rated type of air conditioner. While a portable AC unit can help achieve a moderate temperature change, it will never cool a room the way a window unit or central air conditioner system can.
White portable air conditioner unit
Stylish portable AC unit
  • Portability: As the name implies, portable AC units are mobile, so you can use them where and when needed. While portable air conditioners are the easiest type of AC unit to install; you do have to hook up the exhaust/venting system, which is usually mounted in a window. If you’re willing to move the exhaust hose, portable AC units can be used anywhere, though at 50 pounds or more, they’re not exactly easy to move around.
  • Ease of Use: Portable air conditioners require some attention when using, especially if they have a condensation pan which has to be emptied. A properly installed window AC unit, on the other hand, doesn’t require regular maintenance, other than cleaning the air filter.
  • Cost: Smaller portable air conditioners can be twice as expensive as window units. However, with more powerful models, the cost between portable and window AC units starts to even out.
  • Multipurpose: Many portable air conditioners have the ability to function as a dehumidifier, a fan, and sometimes even a space heater – which can save you money on other appliances.


  1. There are two different BTU ratings on each unit. Of course the higher of the two is the one that’s touted loudly on the packaging and the lower of the two is in smaller print a ways down. What I want to know is why are the two numbers so far apart ? Mine says 8000 BTU / 5500 BTU. Is it a “peak” vs “average” or “continuous” like with generators ? Or something else ?


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