Choosing the Right Portable Air Conditioning System

Depending on the specific circumstances of your application, a portable air conditioning system can be an appropriate solution to your cooling needs. Particularly in a small bedroom or outbuilding, a small portable air conditioning unit can provide a level of comfort in areas where conventional window units or central heating and air conditioning units are impractical or impossible. As long as you know in advance the advantages, capabilities, and disadvantages of portable air conditioning systems, you can make the best decision for your space, need, and budget.

Which Unit Do You Need?

Portable air conditioning systems for most home and non-commercial applications start at about 7,500 BTUs, which can cool a space of about 150 square feet. These type units go up to around 12,000 BTUs, capable of cooling as much as 350 square feet. Because of the reduced efficiency inherent with portable air conditioning systems, more BTUs are required to cool the same amount of space that could be served by a less powerful window unit. So, the first thing you need to consider is the size of the space you are trying to cool. You should not expect the same level of cooling with a portable air conditioning system that you can obtain with a window unit or central unit, but appropriately sized portable air conditioning systems can provide a moderate amount of comfort.

Noise Levels

Another disadvantage that some users have noted with portable air conditioning systems is the noise level. It just makes sense: since all the equipment is in the same room with you, it's going to be louder than a window unit, where the condenser is hanging outside. Especially in a bedroom, though, this is something you should consider. Quieter models, like the Royal Sovereign ARP 1000ES, should be evaluated for situations where noise level is a major consideration. The Haier HPE07XC6 unit has also received positive reviews for its lower noise level, though individual experiences may vary.


Another important thing to consider is drainage. Some portable air conditioning systems have no drainage or exhaust hose, so you'll have to periodically empty the condensate pan. If, however, the unit features a hose for drainage, you can pass the hose through a window and allow the condensate to drain outside. With these models, a foam insulation is usually provided, allowing you to open the window enough to admit the drainage line, and still insulate to prevent outside air from coming into the room.