Hot temperatures are coming! A sweltering day is a bad time to find out your cooling system doesn’t work properly. Even worse, the problem is compounded if the issue is with an HVAC system. Those are expensive! But central air isn’t the only option. Consider this: a portable air conditioner. It’s good to have more options then only central air. If you don’t often use your central system, a portable air conditioner might be a great solution if you only need to cool one room in your home.
Portable air conditioners meet the same goals of an HVAC system when it comes to cooling. They can cool a room or space. Unlike a central cooling unit, however, a portable air conditioner is only meant to cool one room. It can sometimes cool two or more rooms. But the effectiveness of cooling degrades the farther away a room is to the unit. These types of air conditioners are often used in a shop environment. In fact, in a previous job I had to visit a service shop in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The shop wasn’t too large but there was no central air routed and it was in the middle of August. Their solution was a portable air conditioner. It kept the mechanics cool, well at least cooler then they would have been out in the Oklahoma sun.
All portable air conditioners are not the same when it comes to cooling power. They are separated, in part, by British Thermal Units (BTU). BTU is a number assigned to portable air conditioners. It’s essentially a number which measures the amount of energy produced by the unit. The higher a BTU number is, the more energy the unit produces. A very large room requires a unit with a high BTU number. On the other hand, a smaller room will cool well with a unit that has a lower BTU number. An example of a smaller room could be a bedroom. The good news is that there is a wide range of BTU numbers when it comes to portable air conditioners. You’ll be able to shop around for the best choice for you and your situation.
Window or a Portable Air Conditioner
Before you make your decision on rather or not you will be buying a portable air conditioner or a window air conditioner you should first consider the differences between the two types of products. What product are you leaning towards? Which one should you actually get? To be honest folks, these products are really very similar and there are only a few key differences that you will need to think about before making your buying decision. Let’s take a look:
- Window air conditioners have to be mounted either through your window or through a make-shift hole in your wall. Once mounted correctly they provide a stable and reliable cooling source. Some people may struggle mounting these units, especially if it is a higher BTU model and is a heavier unit. Depending on the size a proper mounting job may require two people.
- Generally, window units are more efficient then a portable unit. That means that you get more cooling power per BTU and also save on energy bills when compared to portable air conditioners.
- Another benefit to them is that you don’t have to worry about where to vent the exhaust. Window units are designed to be halfway in and out of your house so that there is a space for the exhaust to go right away. The downside here, which I’ll mention further below, is that mounted window units are sometimes seen as an eyesore and depending on where you live you may get complaints.
- If you have decided on a window unit then check out RefrigerantHQ’s guide on ‘What are the Best Window Air Conditioners’.
- Portable air conditioners are just that, portable. That means they are easy to move around your home or to even pack in your truck and take somewhere else. The versatility of this adds a lot of favor to the portable air conditioner side of things.
- A portable air conditioner is much much easier to install. There is no mounting required, no support brackets, none of the hassle that comes with installing a window unit into your home, garage, or office. These units are all about the ‘easy’ button.
- While portable air conditioners are easy to install they also prevent any potential squabble with your home owner’s association. Most HOAs do not allow a window unit hanging out of a home. They see it as an eye sore and will tolerate it. A portable air conditioner can give you a work around as the worst anyone is going to see is a small exhaust tube.
- For RefrigerantHQ’s guide on ‘What are the Best Portable Air Conditioners’ read our guide.
We at RefrigerantHQ want to make sure you understand your options before choosing to purchase a portable air conditioner, and there are a lot of options and conditioners to be made. Portable air conditioners have a great number of benefits. Inexpensive, small, efficient—these are among the factors people think about when they consider buying a portable air conditioner. These units are normally a few hundred dollars. In contrast, central cooling systems normally can cost thousands of dollars. Portable air conditioners are called such for a reason: they’re small. And you can move them around that house or shop as you please. You can even remove it completely and take it other places. You don’t need a central air conditioner running if you only want to cool one room. It’s more efficient to use the portable air conditioner in this situation. A lot of folks will just cool their bedroom during the day and night and a portable unit would be perfect for such an application.
Which room do you want to cool? What BTU level should you be looking for? The answer to these questions will help you choose a portable air conditioner. To know what BTU unit you’ll need and any other questions you could have please check the official RefrigerantHQ Window Air Conditioner Buyer’s Guide. Yes, this article leans towards window air conditioners. However, the information regarding BTU number, room size, and everything else can be applied to portable air conditioners as after all these units all function under the same principal of removing heat from a room.
Good, Better, Best
I am a big believer in giving consumers choice, but a limited choice. Instead of offering you fifty or even one-hundred different options for your new portable air conditioner we are going to offer you three products in each category. The thinking behind this model is giving the consumer a Good, Better, Best option. This methodology of selling was taught to me nearly ten years ago from a former supervisor. The concept behind it is we give an option to the price conscious customer: Good, an option to the middle of the road customer: Better, and an option for the premium customer: Best. So, once you recognize what kind of customer you are and what your budget is we can begin to narrow down your selection.
The last thing that I am going to mention before getting into the products is that a Good ranked product is not a bad product by any measure. They are a perfectly good product they just not may have all of the bells and whistles that a Better or Best rated product may have. Think of it as a bare bones car compared to a sports edition. The bare bones vehicle will still service it’s function getting you from point A to point B but it will not have all of the features that a sports edition will.
Which is the Best?
Here’s the answer: it depends. And it depends on a host of factors. Although I’ll rank them with good, better, and best, the ranking doesn’t necessarily mean the “best” one if the best for you specifically. For example, you might want to forego a few bells and whistles if it means you could save a hundred dollars. Or, perhaps you want a mix of features and cost. Better might be a good option for you at that point. Having plenty of choices will allow you to eventually narrow your search down to the perfect portable air conditioner for you.
Finally, before we jump in you should know that good units might be just as good as the best units. You have one primary goal when it comes to portable air conditioning: cooling your room. And you’ll be able to do that with any of the units below! In your BTU range, you might prefer good, better, or best based on a number of factors. Size, features, and BTU number are factors worth considering. Are you ready to look at the units? Without further delay, let’s get started!
11,000-12,000 BTU Range
The 11,000-12,000 BTU levels are nearing the middle of the range. Indeed, these numbers also correlate to the ability to cool larger rooms. I am talking about rooms that are between four-hundred and fifty to five-hundred and fifty square feet. Large living rooms, small apartments, one-level condos—these are the type of places that can be cooled by a portable air conditioner in this range. Here, you’ll begin to find some heavy duty units. Our Good, Better, Best picks for this BTU range are as follows:
- The DeLonghi PACN110EC has three and a half out of five stars. A great feature of this unit is that they advertise easy installation. This portable air conditioner should be up-and-running within minutes of taking it out of the box. This is important especially if you receive the unit on a very hot or humid day. Sometimes you want things you work right away. And this would be the perfect unit for that.
Better – Whynter ARC-110WD 11,000 BTU
- The Whynter ARC-110WD might be the better choice. It’s also rated three and a half out of five stars. However, this unit has over one hundred more reviews. This unit features four operating modes: air conditioner, fan, dehumidifier, and automatic. With all these options, there is a mode for everyone and for different situations. Sometimes you don’t need it to run much cooler than the room already is. The fan might be a good solution here.
Best – Honeywell MN12CES 12,000 BTU
- The Honeywell MN12CES has four out of five stars and has a whopping seven-hundred reviews. It is by far one of the most popular mobile air conditioners on the market today. This air conditioner boasts a powerful air flow yet quiet operation. In addition, this unit doubles as a dehumidifier which removes excess moisture in the air. The room will become cooler and you’ll stay dryer. This is the perfect choice for larger rooms.
Well folks, that covers it for our best mobile air conditioners in the 11,000 to 12,000 BTU range. Remember though, that this range is meant for master bedrooms or small living rooms. If you find that you need to cool a larger or smaller area then please check out our buying guide to determine exactly what sized air conditioner you will need.
Thanks for reading and I hope this article was helpful.