HVAC For Beginners

Portable Air Conditioner

A Guide To Temporary Heating/Cooling Systems

A portable air conditioner unit is one that is easily moved from area to area. They usually are mounted on casters for easy movement. They can be a good solution for apartments or other circumstances where permanent mounting or window units are not allowed. A renter can use these units without any permanent modifications to the structure and when you move they can go with you.

A split type unit has an indoor section and an outdoor section. The indoor section contains a fan, the controls, and a refrigeration coil. The outdoor section contains the compressor and another refrigerant coil and fan. The refrigerant system is usually connected with quick connect couplings for easy installation and removal.

This type of unit is not very common therefore we will concentrate on the standard packaged units.

What size air conditioner do I need?

If you have standard 8 feet high ceilings and normal insulation, you can use our sizing tool to find the proper size unit for your room.

The Basic Operation

Most units have built-in timers so that you can program the units to turn on and/or off at set intervals. Most also come with a remote control.

Like other cooling units, these appliances have an energy efficiency rating (EER) so that you can compare the cost of operating different units. A unit with a higher EER requires less electricity to produce a set amount of cooling.

The standard units exhaust air to the outside through a flexible duct. This is usually ran to a window where a window exhaust kit allows the air to be expelled but the window can still be closed most of the way and secured.

On some units another flexible duct is used to bring in air from outside to cool the condenser coil of the unit. This allows the unit to operate more efficiently because cool air from the room is not expelled to the outside in the cooling process. If air from the room is used for this purpose, then the air that is exhausted must be replaced by normal air infiltration from the outside. This air must then be conditioned requiring more operation and electricity.

Most portable air conditioners have a dehumidify mode which allows them to remove moisture from the air without overcooling the room. On some units this water that is removed from the air is automatically disposed of by a pump while in other units it is collected in a tank/reservoir. If the water is collected in a tank, then the tank must periodically be dumped or the unit will automatically stop operation.

Some units have more than one cooling and/or fan speeds. This allows the units to more closely match the required cooling. Some units have louvers that automatically swing back and forth for better air distribution.

Some units can be used for heating as well with a built in electric heater. Other units are available in heat pump models for added efficiency in the heat mode.

Buying A Portable Air Conditioner

Before you shop for a portable air conditioner, you can check our unbiased reviews. We have reviewed the manufacturer's data and, using our hvac industry experience, created a simple system to help you in selecting a brand to purchase.

Please press START to find the proper size air conditioner for your room