Buying Guide – How to Shop for Portable Air Conditioners
Portable ac units are an excellent choice for anyone who lives in a location that forbids installation of a window air conditioner. They’re also a great purchase for someone who prefers the option of transferring the unit from room to room. Some portable air conditioners are meant to cool a small area, such as the area around a desk or bed. Others are just as capable as any powerful window conditioner of keeping an entire room comfortable and cool.
When trying to choose the right portable unit for your home, there are important things to take into consideration. Below we’ve organized additional information to help you find the best portable air conditioner for your cooling needs.
Key Considerations when Shopping for an Air Conditioner
How Much Cooling Power Do You Need?
A portable air conditioner can be powerful enough to cool spaces up to hundreds of square feet, but what if you only need something strong enough to keep you comfortable while studying at your desk, or sitting in front of the television?
Too much power can waste energy and money while too little will leave you frustrated. Before making your portable ac purchase, you should already know how large an area you need to cool. Take measurements if necessary.
You should also be aware that air conditioning power is measured using the British Thermal Unit (BTU). The larger the room space, the higher an ac unit’s BTU should be for efficiency purposes.
For instance, the best air conditioner for cooling a 1,200 square foot room is a machine that generates 23,000 BTU per hour. But for a space no bigger than 120 square feet, a 5,000 BTU portable unit will work just fine.
Besides overall power, knowing an air conditioner’s efficiency is vital. That’s measured using the energy efficiency rating or EER. The EER is the ratio of a unit’s cooling capacity (BTU) over the power input, which is measured in watts (W). The higher your portable air conditioner’s EER rating, the more energy efficient it is.
Settings & Personalization
You’re buying a product with the expectation it meets your individual needs. Therefore, it only makes sense to focus on the more customizable aspects of the portable ac.
If, for example, you’re buying your portable unit for use in the bedroom, you’ll need to know if it’s capable of cooling the whole room or if it’s strictly suitable for cooling the area around one side of the bed.
Below you’ll learn more about what to think over when striving to personalize your home cooling experience.
- Timer: Ideally, your product will come with a timer option allowing you to program when it turns on or off. This function allows a tremendous amount of freedom, making it easy to have the unit ready and going when you get home or off and conserving energy for when you’re away, or it’s not needed.
- Fan Settings: Sometimes you don’t need to run the air conditioner; just the fan is enough. Check the fan speed and power settings, because it might be possible to save energy and money by using the unit’s fan settings. Units often come with multiple fans and speed settings at low, medium, or high. As well as conserving energy, the fan might be preferred for noise reduction, allowing you to enjoy a cooling sensation without too much noise.
- Temperature Range: Does the product have temperature range information? Is the available temperature range satisfying? Not all units operate within the same range due to a difference in power. Because of this, you’ll want to double check what the product’s temperature range is and make sure it’s what you prefer.
- Remote Control: If you’re not prepared to or interested in doing everything manually, a remote control will make your portable ac usage more hands-off and less stressful. It’s practically a modern must-have, alongside the TV remote or voice-activated products.
- Filter: Good quality filters are essential. Not just for enhancing your ac unit’s cooling capabilities, but also for avoiding excess energy consumption. A good filter can reduce energy waste by anywhere from five to fifteen percent. Make sure to regularly clean or replace your filter, particularly for an ac that gets regular use or if you own pets with fur.
- Single vs. Dual Hose: Single hose products are rather straightforward; they work by drawing in air and expelling moisture and warmer air, which creates a negative air pressure, with the machine working harder to replace the air that’s pumped out of the room. A dual portable ac avoids this by dividing air intake and exhaust between the two attached hose. A single hose portable ac will typically be the more affordable option, while some shoppers prefer a dual hose portable air conditioner because of its efficiency.
- Portability: Although some units come with wheels, due to their weight, they might not be as easy to move from room to room as you might initially expect. That’s why, before buying a portable air conditioner, you should think about the height and weight of the product, as well as how often you’ll want to relocate it to other rooms, or if you intend to transfer it to another location at all.
- Return Policy: You might like what you’ve read about a portable air conditioner, but your feelings may change when you get it home and start using it. Research a company’s return policy before buying their product, because it’s possible that they don’t accept returns. Or, you might only have a limited amount of time to send your portable ac back in order to get a refund. It’s a good idea to hold onto your receipt just in case you need to return your air conditioner.
- Warranty: You want to make sure your portable air conditioner is covered if you later decide it’s not what you wanted or should it break down. Air conditioning can get very pricey, which is why it’s crucial to know about a product’s warranty information before making a purchase. Read the warranty to know how long coverage lasts and if there are certain stipulations to be aware of. For instance, your product’s warranty might be for the first year alone. It’s also possible that your purchase is fully covered for the first year, but only partially covered for the next few years.
- Shipping: Whether it’s shipping cost or speed, there are multiple questions to answer about how quickly and easily you can get your product delivered to your front door. Does the business ship its products internationally or are they limited to a region of the United States? Is shipping free or are there certain fees? Do you have to pay taxes or duties on the product in addition to initial shipping costs? Try to learn what you can about shipping so that if it comes to it, you’re prepared to spend a little more to get the air conditioner you want for your home.