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How To Choose A Portable Air Conditioner

Portable AC units are easier to install than window/wall mount units.  But they do need to be placed near a window because you will need to exhaust hot air outside.  Since all AC units dehumidify, ou will also need to account for the water that is pulled out of the air (you can either drain water in a bucket or out a window with a drainage hose).  Also, remember that portable AC units are (as their name says) portable.  But they are still heavy (usually 50 to 90 pounds). 


There are a few factors to consider when choosing a portable air conditioner. 


  1. Size: As with all HVAC components, it is important to choose the right size portable AC unit given the size of your room.  If you pick a unit that is too large, you will consume much more energy than is really needed (and your utility bills will show it).  Here is a bit of a cheat sheet for sizing an AC's cooling capacity to your room:
    Room Size
    Cooling Capacity (British Thermal Units)
    150 sq-ft
    7,500 BTU
    200 sq-ft
    9,000 BTU
    250 sq-ft
    10,000 BTU
    350 sq-ft
    12,000 BTU
  2. Portability: If you plan to move your AC unit from room to room, look for one with casters or wheels to make it easier.
  3. Circulation: For better circulation, look for a portable AC with oscillating louvers or multidirectional airflow.  This will be particularly helpful in faster cooling for larger rooms.
  4. Energy Efficiency Rating: The EER is a measure of the efficiency with which a product uses energy to function. It represents the ratio of total cooling capacity (BTU output) to electrical energy input (wattage). The higher the EER, the more efficient the unit.  Portable AC units made after January 1990 are required to have EERs of 8.0.  Look for a unit with EERs of 12 or higher.


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Green Options › How To's › How To Choose A Portable Air Conditioner