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Is a Portable Air Conditioner Worth It?

Posted by Joshua Meyer on Mar 15, 2017 4:09:22 PM

If you’re looking for an alternative way to cool your living space, portable air conditioners offer unparalleled flexibility. Unlike traditional central air conditioning, these smaller units are energy efficient, mobile, and easy to use. It’s easy to see why they’ve risen so much in popularity over recent years.

However, portable air conditioners typically come at a higher price point than the other popular alternative to central A/C: window air conditioning units. Is a portable air conditioner worth it?



Things to consider when buying an alternative air conditioner


Portable air conditioners are engineered to cool smaller living spaces like single rooms and apartment spaces. Their ability to cool effectively tops out at 525 square feet. Window units can cool a greater square footage more efficiently, so if you have a large space you’re trying to cool, they might be a better option.


Window and portable air conditioners both generate more noise than central A/C, but portable air conditioners are noisier in your living space. Even though the motor from a window unit can be noisy, the noise is directed outside of your home, and if you’re sleeping or trying to gain some peace and quiet, a portable A/C might disturb you.


While both portable air conditioners and window units will beat the heat more efficiently than a central system, window units are generally considered more efficient because they force hot air directly outside. If the small difference in energy consumption is a large factor, a window unit might be worth the inconvenience


Portable air conditioners are a clear winner for those of us who want to be able to take something out of the box, plug it in, and start using it. A portable A/C only needs a partially open window for its venting kit, and you’re all set! Window units, though, require a much more complicated setup involving handyman skills and heavy lifting.

Window Usage

Window units take away your usage of the window in which you mount them, and they also block a significant amount of natural light. Depending on the construction of your living space, the window frame might not even be able to support a heavy window unit. Portable units also shine here, because they don’t prevent you from you using your windows, and their venting kits take up significantly less space, letting natural light fill your living space.


Drainage from window units might fall on pedestrians if your window is in a high traffic area, and they’re not considered the most aesthetically pleasing feature of a home’s exterior. They can also cause damage and injury if they fall, leading some landlords to ban them. If you’re renting a space, you might not even be allowed a window unit, and when you move, it can be difficult to bring it with you. Portable units, however, are easy to move, easy to store, and easy to take with you.

Is a portable air conditioner better than a window unit?

Portable air conditioners are a great option for energy conscious people trying to cool small spaces conveniently. They work well, are easy to move, and require little to no installation to start working. Window units can be more efficient and cool larger spaces, but they present difficulties, especially if you’re renting your living space or not good with tools and heavy lifting.

It’s important to think about the pros and cons of each unit to make the best decision. It comes down to the space you live in and what’s most important to you. Do you care about window usage, natural light, mobility, and ease of use? Then a portable unit might be just what you need. If you’re looking for a convenient, efficient way to cool a room or apartment, a portable air conditioner is certainly worth it.

Topics: Portable Air Conditioners

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