Air Conditioners


window vs portable air conditioners

Air Conditioners: window units vs portable units

Window Units
Before you rule out window units entirely, be sure you’ve exhausted all your options. While some A/C units are a couple feet wide and designed for roughly standard size windows, there are mini air conditioners that can get as small as 14″ wide. Many of these are designed for casement windows, which open horizontally instead of vertically like most slide windows. These devices are taller instead of wider. It may be difficult to find one that fits perfectly, but it’s worth taking the extra time to look around before moving on to the more complex options.

The advantage with window units is that all the important parts—the compressor, condenser, expansion valve/coil, etc.—are all in one big box. The installation of these is much simpler and they’re very portable. Be sure to thoroughly search for a window unit before exploring other options. Find out what type of window you have and see if other people have a similar problem. If you absolutely can’t find a window unit, it’s time to move on to more elaborate solutions.

Window units provide the most cost-effective and painless solution to cooling a single room. The units are relatively cheap and they have a lot of cooling power. If you’re renting or want to avoid serious wall modification, this is the way to go.

Portable Units

The simplest non-window based option is a portable A/C unit. These are devices that usually sit on the floor near a window. Hoses will carry air inside and out through a window. Typically,these units will come with adjustable hose frames to place in the window that keep them in place. Technically, all the parts are physically in one box, but you’ll still need a connection to the outside world for them to function.

When deciding on a portable unit, you’ll have to choose between single or dual hose systems. A single hose system uses just one tube to pump hot air out of the building. The trouble is that this reduces the air pressure inside your home. This causes more hot air from the outside to come in through cracks in doors and windows. The A/C unit has to work extra hard as a result, which is a terribly inefficient system. It’s not a huge concern if you’re trying to cool a small space, and these devices are generally less expensive. For a larger home, though, the extra energy costs can rack up fast.

Dual-hose units, on the other hand, cool the hot air that’s already inside the house and returns it to the room from whence it came. To keep the unit itself from overheating, a second intake hose pumps in air from the outside to cool the device and then pushes it right back out again. This system is much more efficient because the device isn’t constantly working against itself. Dual-hose systems are almost always the way to go unless you only need to cool a very, very small area. Just keep in mind that some units can get pricey.

Whichever model you choose to go with, though, a portable hose unit should probably be your last resort. This is for those who absolutely can’t use a window unit and aren’t able to do any wall modifications. As Consumer Reports points out, they’re costly and not very efficient in general. A similarly-sized window unit will cool better than its portable counterpart.

Useful table to assist you choose the right unit for you

air conditioner btu calculator

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