Portable air conditioning units are one of the newest types of air conditioning units and better than central air humidifier, but thanks to their advantages, they are becoming a more and more popular choice for an air conditioning system.
What Is a Portable Air Conditioning Unit?
A portable air conditioning unit (also known as a mobile air conditioning unit) is an air conditioning system in a single body, which accommodates all the parts of an air conditioner (in contrast to split systems for example, which have an outdoor and an indoor body). Portable air conditioning units have a hose, which is used to transfer the heat to the outside. Most portable air conditioning units are truly mobile because they are on wheels and it is easy to move them from one room to the other and is better than central air humidifier.
Since most portable air conditioning units cool by dehumidifying the air, the water that is extracted in the process must be disposed of. Most frequently the extracted water is placed in a removable pan, which needs to be emptied from time to time. Some of models just evaporate the water, so there is no need to dispose of it manually.
While air conditioning units in general and portable air conditioning units in particular are used mainly for cooling, it is important to know that many models can both cool and heat. This means that the same unit can be used in summer and in winter. Air purification and ionization is frequently an additional feature of almost any air conditioning unit.
When to Buy a Portable Air Conditioner
Portable air conditioning units are really cool and they can be a very useful piece of equipment compared to central air humidifier. Portable air conditioning units could be used both for industrial and residential air conditioning. Still, there are cases when a portable air conditioning unit is not the best buy and it is good to know when mobile air conditioning units are a good buy and when they aren’t. Generally speaking, the purchase of a mobile air conditioning unit is worth when:
It is not possible/ desired to permanently mount an air conditioning unit. Since portable air conditioning units don’t require mounting, they can be placed almost everywhere in a room, provided that the hose can reach a window. Hoses are generally 1.5 meters long, which is not much, but still it gives enough flexibility in positioning the unit.
One travels frequently. Mobile air conditioning units are great for campers and for everybody who travels frequently (on vacation, for example). Most mobile air conditioning units are about 30-40kgs and they can be easily transported. It has advantage over central air humidifier.
Additional cooling power is required. Portable air conditioning units are especially great as emergency air conditioning. For instance, in data centers, where the heat is really dangerous for the machines, a couple of these units are a clever way to provide emergency cooling.
The climate is damp. Most models (but certainly not all) of portable air conditioning units act as dehumidifiers, which mean that in a damp climate they are very useful. On the contrary, in hot dry locations, a portable air conditioning unit that acts as a dehumidifier is hardly the best idea because it will make the dry air even drier.
One is environmentally conscious. Portable air conditioning units are considered green because they achieve a reasonable cooling effect with less energy compared to central air humidifier.
Portable air conditioners are very practical. In general, they are a good buy, especially if one knows how to choose the best type of an air conditioning unit for his or her needs.
How to Select a Portable Air Conditioner
We’d all love to have state-of- the-art central air conditioning but for some people, this is not feasible. Apartment and condo dwellers do not have yard space or perhaps have restrictions on the placement of the outdoor chilling unit. The next choice is portable or window AC units. There are some windows that are not suitable for window air conditioners or at least require a lot of modification in order to fit. This is where a portable air conditioner may be the answer.
How Portable Air Conditioners Work
The warm air is drawn into the unit, then chilled and blown back into the room. The warm air is exhausted through a tube placed in the window. Most portable air conditioners act as a dehumidifier, thus making your room feel and smell less damp. The water extracted through the dehumidification process is collected in a drip tray or in some models; it is heated back into vapor then exhausted out the window through a second tube. Some models have air purifiers and can also operate as fans with no chilling or they can serve as heaters in the winter.
Air conditioner units are rated in BTU (British Thermal Units). This measures how much heat is removed by the hour. The compact models (7500 to 9000 BTU) can cool rooms up to 200 sq. ft and the more powerful models (10,000 to 12,000 BTU) can work up to 500 sq. ft.
Advantages of Portable Air Conditioners
Compared to a window air conditioner, a portable AC unit can fit windows that slide from side to side and crank windows.
The unit is easy to install. There are one or two tubes (depending on the model) which fit into a spacer bar supplied with the unit and are placed in the window. The adjustable spacer bar is approximately 6 to 8 inches wide. If the bar is too short or narrow for your window, you can insert a piece of wood, rubber, foam or insulation in the gap. You can leave the screen in your window.
You may need help in carrying the unit from your car to your home (they weigh 50 to 80 pounds) but once inside, it is easily moved on mounted casters and you will not need help again. A window unit weighs the same and it usually takes more than one person to lift it into the window but this process has to be done at the beginning and end of summer.
For storage, the hoses can be easily removed from the window and the unit wheeled into a closet.
Disadvantages of Portable Air Conditioners
A portable air conditioner usually costs more than a window unit, especially when looking at high end models.
There must be sufficient floor space in your room for the unit. Most portable cooling units take up a 12-inch to 18-inch of floor space and are about 30-inches tall.
Some people would rather see the grill face of a window air conditioner, as opposed to large tube(s) in the window and a unit situated amongst the furniture.
Unless you buy a no-drip model, you will need to empty the drip tray where the water is collected through the dehumidification process. Some models allow you to install a drainage hose. When the drip tray is full, the unit shuts off.
Portable air conditioning units require more BTU than window units for cooling a room of comparable size.
Choosing a Portable Air Conditioner Model
To get the most from your portable air conditioner, look at the models that are self drip and have air purifiers. Buy according to the room space. If the unit does not have the capacity for the room, it will run constantly and never effectively cool the room. Units that are too powerful will continually cycle off and on. This is bad for the compressor and does not allow proper dehumidification.
Other desirable features are multi speed fans, directional louvers and heating functionality if you live in a temperate climate. If used as a heater, no window vents are necessary.
To determine what BTU you need, you have to factor in room size, how much sun it gets and the general use of the room. Here is a cooling capacity calculator that can help you choose the model that is correct for your room.