how to purchase the best portable ac unit
Tips and Tricks

Just how to purchase the best portable ac unit

Your overview to go-anywhere cooling.

mobile air conditioner with duct connected to home window

Kim Gilmour

Kim Gilmour

You might be a renter, want to wheel your a/c unit around between areas, or just simply do not have the money for a repaired choice. In any one of these as well as a lot more scenarios, a portable ac system is a choice to think about, yet as a result of their inefficiency it might be wise to recognize what you’re in for if you get one.


What is a ‘mobile’ a/c?

Just how do mobile air conditioning systems function?

Do portable a/c unit have energy star labels?

What to look for in a portable air conditioning unit


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Learn more: How to install a portable a/c unit


What is a ‘portable’ ac unit?

To start with, ‘portable’ in our language is somewhat various to a supplier’s idea of portable. While you can mount these units without adjustment to the building, you wouldn’t want to carry one from room to area the way you make with a follower. They’re heavy (occasionally approximately 40kg), not constantly very easy to manoeuvre and require installation to your home window using the supplied package.


Portable ac unit reviews

Looking for a mobile ac system?

We’ve tested to discover you the very best.


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Exactly how do mobile a/c work?

Mobile a/c unit functions basically similarly as integrated a/c: absorbing warm and also damp air, cooling down and also evaporating it as well as blowing it back into the area. Single-duct designs, with an air duct attached to a home window to air vent warmth from the area, can be very efficient at cooling the majority of the space, but they draw the air from the area (in order to cool it) as well as air vent several of it outside.


Venting the hot air outside with the duct causes an internet air pressure reduction, so extra cozy air is drawn right into the space from the remainder of the residence. The portable a/c unit hence encounters a constant struggle to cool down the area. Portable units are also noisier inside than the majority of split-systems (which have the advantage of having the noisiest element, the compressor, positioned outside).


So while they are convenient and frequently relatively less costly than split-systems, single-duct portables are not as efficient or reliable.


The warmth removed from the air is an air vent with a duct that you mount in an open window. The system also condenses water from the air while cooling down. Usually, this is collected in a tank or receded in a tube. Several models will certainly utilize the water to assist air conditioning, which can aid with general power performance and lower the demand to empty or drain the water. Dryer air really feels more comfortable and enhances the cooling effect. An airing vent kit typically consists of so you can secure the gap around the duct to quit the cool air running away.


Portable air conditioners are typically noisy over power; we’ve measured them at greater than 67dB on full blast in some cases. That’s louder than a normal conversation (about 65dB).


New portable air conditioners going into the market has to currently show an energy score label. Single-duct ac units have no stars as they are not power efficient.


Do portable ac systems have power star labels?

Portable ac units have historically been exempt from presenting an energy “star ranking”, but finally as of 1 April 2020, new mobile a/c need to satisfy minimal power performance criteria (MEPS) and also present a brand-new “zoned” power score tag. This reveals power efficiency according to your place, as well as other things, consisting of just how loud it is, its kWh use each year, as well as its cooling ability.


Single-duct (one-hose) mobile a/c such as the ones we examine typically have no power celebrities on their tags since, by their very nature, they aren’t all that power effective at cooling down a space down as well as are best for cooling or warming an individual instead of a whole area. Yet the brand-new labels provide some concept of just how much energy they utilize in time, especially if you’re in a damp region.


There is a transition period for existing stock to either run out or be registered with the regulators, so not all mobile air conditioning unit will certainly have this label.


What to seek in a portable air conditioning system

Power cable

Makers don’t recommend making use of an expansion cable with your portable a/c unit. Generally, the handbooks discourage it, and case that doing so will certainly nullify your service warranty. Portable air cons are reasonably power starving, and your expansion cable may not be able to cope, positioning an overheating or fire danger. Consider the positioning of the portable air conditioning unit in connection with the power socket. Some cables may be too short for your setup.


Remote control

These come in handy in similar manner in which a television remote is handy (since we’re careless!), however with the added benefit of information on room temperature. You can likewise normally establish automated modes and timers to make life simple. An LCD present is handy so you can see the air conditioning status without needing to rise and consider the display.


Operating modes

Great warmth (for reverse-cycle models), completely dry (dehumidify), automatic or fan just. Automatic or “clever” settings means they can be set for a target temperature level and will switch over to cooling mode (or heating for reverse-cycle designs) as required.


On/off timers

These serve to program the device to turn on/off at specific times, as an example to cool the place down before you obtain home from work. Sleep timers serve in the evening as they switch over the device after a collection period as opposed to running all evening, as well as normally have automatic temperature adjustment. This adjusts the temperature level to a comfortable level for sleeping in, so the ac system doesn’t work as tough (and likewise a lot more quietly) when you’re resting.


Louvres to guide airflow

Most have manually flexible louvres, though a few have actually just taken care of louvres. Various other designs have automatically oscillating louvres, which allow the awesome air to be directed a lot more widely rather than simply in fixed instructions.


Window package

These included filler panels to close the gap in an open home window and direct hot air outside utilizing an exhaust pipe.


These units can be rather loud as well as distracting to run, especially if they get on full blast. They can compete with normal discussion, and also can be sidetracking if you’re enjoying TELEVISION or listening to songs.


Water drainage

Mobile air conditioning unit will certainly have a collection storage tank for water; several new versions utilize the water to assist cooling which minimizes the requirement to vacant water from the container.


Alleviate of use

If you will be relocating the portable air conditioning system from space to room, look for very easy to access deals with and great clearance between the floor and the bottom of the system. Smaller wheels on pile rug can be a problem.




Some more recent designs let you control the appliance through an application and even wise speaker. These functions may work if you need to turn the unit on or off when you aren’t home, however the typical remote control that includes most models will usually get the job done.



Mobile air conditioners we tested most just recently ranged in cost from $349 to $1395. Just like all home appliances, a higher cost doesn’t always assure better efficiency. Certainly, they likewise cost money to run, and also we take power performance and also performance right into account in our portable ac unit reviews.