Portable Air Conditioner exampleWhat is a portable Air Conditioner?

Portable Air conditioners as their name implies are air conditioners that can be moved from room to room. They roll around on wheels and look similar to Luke Skywalker’s droid friend R2D2.  Most are roughly two foot square and stand about three feet tall.

A portable Air conditioner is basically a window AC unit that is incased in a nice plastic shell.  The front or top of the unit has the fan and cooling controls as well as a vent that blows cold air. Most units also include a small remote control.

Most people buy portable air conditioners because they don’t have a window or suitable location to install a window unit, but remember that these units still need to be vented (see photo 2) to remove the heated air.


Two other reasons homeowners buy portable air conditioners.

  1. Many neighborhood associations do not allow window air conditioners.
  2. Whole house central air systems require too much electricity to run off a generator during power failures.  Since they are portable they can be stored away until needed, and moved from room to room as needed for example living room during the day and bedroom at night.


Portable air conditioners just like any other air conditioner produce condensation that will have to be removed. Some units have a hose hookup, while others have a collection bucket. Better units use a self-evaporative condensation system that removes moisture from the home by evaporating it and expelling it with the heated exhaust. This eliminates the need to empty condensation buckets or run a drain line. This type of air conditioner also runs without interruption, since it does not have to shut off when the bucket gets full.

Dual-duct units as the name implies have two air ducts one that moves heated air to the outside of the house, the other pulls in outside air to circulate through its cooling coils. Dual duct systems are more energy efficient since they do-not create a negative pressure effect that pulls warm air into the room from other rooms.


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Portable AC unit vented to window.

Some things to remember when buying a portable air conditioner.

  1. Portable yes-Light no. Although these AC units are portable they are not light. They weigh about as much as a small window AC. To aid in their mobility they almost always have wheels to roll around on and built in handles.
  2. Produces both heat and condensation, which has to be removed. Even a small unit can produce gallons of water in humid conditions. All systems need to vent heat and some need to drain condensation.
  3. Portable units are completely inside your home and can be noisy so compare the DB levels of the systems you are considering (lower is better).
  4. Most Portable air conditioners measure their energy efficiency using the EER rating system. If someone uses another rating scale for example HSPF or AFUE the ratings do not equate. Always compare ratings from the same system, Apples to apples not apples to oranges. If you need help understanding Air conditioner energy efficiency ratings read this.


Features to look for when buying a portable Air Conditioner.

  1. Remote Control.
  2. Programmable Timer or Thermostat.
  3. Oscillating Air Vent.
  4. Self-Evaporative Condensation System.
  5. Dual Function Heating as well as cooling.


Portable air conditioning is a great option for basements or homes that cannot be cooled by more traditional AC methods. Our home page has other AC options near the bottom of the page. Just like buying any other AC system compare many different models. Find the model that has all the features that are important to you, and stay cool.

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