Room-based portable air conditioner units are affordable, portable, and a good way to cool down a specific spot that’s become unpleasantly hot (something many have recently been familiar with!). If you are considering a room AC unit to help deal with your heat situation, there are several things you should know about these air conditioners if you are considering a purchase!
Room Units and Window Units Aren’t the Same
A window AC is installed into a window frame and takes the place of the window itself. That blocks some light but provides a permanent cooling solution that’s a good fit for apartments and lofts (some versions can also be installed on walls, although this takes much more renovation). A portable room AC is a standalone device that usually comes with wheels for easier positioning. It can be used temporarily on warmer days and is a good fit for larger homes where it can be placed in the rooms that need it the most.
…But You Will Need Access to a Window
While portable air conditioners are typically designed to be movable, they also need access to outdoor air through an attachable vent. This allows the air conditioner to pass the heat it has collected from the room to the outside. The AC will come with an exhaust hose for this purpose, and typically includes a frame or attachment so that you can connect the hose to your window screen or similar opening. That means you will need to set up near a window and do a little prep work when you want to install your air conditioner, so be prepared for that.
There are cooling devices that don’t require a window connection, but these are more accurately known as swamp coolers and won’t actually lower the temperature in the same way that an AC unit can.
Portable Air Conditioner Units Are Also Rated for Spaces
These units are typically rated for square feet, or by BTUs. A 10,000 BTU unit, for example is suitable for a 300 square foot room. It’s important to pay attention to these ratings. An AC in a room larger than it’s rated for won’t be able to make a satisfactory difference. While an AC in a room that’s too small will waste energy without adding extra benefits. Take a look at the rooms that you are planning on cooling before you buy!
AC Units Can Collect Moisture Over Time
While these portable units aren’t exactly dehumidifiers (although you can find combo units with this feature), they do tend to collect water from the air as part of the cooling process. This water is collected in a bin or pan that will need to be emptied out occasionally.
Some very efficient models are designed to evaporate any water vapor they collect. If that interests you, make sure you find an air conditioner that’s labeled as “self-evaporative” or similar language.
On a related note, in some cases you may have to defrost the AC if ice starts to build up. So it’s a good idea to look for units that have auto-defrost functions.
The EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) Is Important
You really don’t want your air conditioner to be an energy hog, as that can rapidly increase utility bills. Look at the EER numbers when you are comparing models: This is a rating for how efficiently the AC works. Always compare like sizes when looking at the EER, and look for higher EER numbers, which indicates greater efficiency.
These Units Can Make Noise
AC units make noise as they work, there’s no way around that. If keeping things quiet is very important to you, look for units that specialize in low-noise operation. These units will typically list their decibels for comparison. Look for units that are around 45dBs or lower for extra-quiet models. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a way to cut out the noise entirely, as the unit has to be in the room with you to make a difference. But as far as background noise goes, it’s relatively mild.
A Portable Air Conditioner Uses Filters, Too
This is good news! It means you get to help clean the air of allergens, contaminants, and odors while the AC unit works. However, you’ll also have to put the work in to maintain the filter, which can vary from system to system. Some filters need to be cleaned, while others need to be replaced every several months or so. The best AC units use indicators and alerts to make this process easier.
Do You Upgrade Your HVAC System or Buy a Portable Air Conditioner?
Aren’t sure if want to upgrade your whole house AC or buy a room-based air conditioner? Contact American Comfort Experts today: We can talk about what an AC upgrade would look like and offer you a quote to help you find the right decision for taking the heat down a notch.