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.
Choosing Between a 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 our guide on 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.
- We also have a full guide on the Best Portable Air Conditioners.
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!
13,000-15,000 BTU Range
The 13,000-15,000 BTU levels are past the middle of the range. Portable air conditioners with this level of power can cool rooms that are five-hundred and fifty to seven-hundred square feet. This might include multiple rooms that are close together. These units are able to better cool small apartments, condos, or living rooms. If you have a small apartment in an area that gets very hot in the summer, you might consider the units below instead of those in the 11,000-12,000 BTU Range. If you’re not sure, it’s always safer to go with a model that’s a little more powerful. The price difference is minimal and you’ll be happy you did. Our Good, Better, Best picks for this BTU range are as follows:
- The De’Longhi PAC N130HPE has three and a half stars out of five with around forty reviews. This model is extra portable due to having durable castor wheels. This plays an important role when you want to move your portable air conditioner from room to room. This model also doubles as a heater! Instead of buying another machine (a heater), you can just use this one all year long. You’ll be giving your HVAC system a break when you purchase an item like this.
Better – BLACK+DECKER BPACT14WT 14000 BTU
- The BLACK+DECKER BPACT14WT is less expensive and has four out of five stars. For this reason alone, this model might be a better option. But let’s see what else it features. Like the prior model, this one has castor wheels. But this unit has an easily removable filter which you can run under your sink to clean it. A feature as simple as this can make a big difference when it comes to your air quality.
Best – Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU
- The Whynter ARC-14S also has four out of five stars. However, it boasts over fifteen-hundred customer reviews. This unit is packed with features. It rolls. It has three modes of operation (air conditioner, fan, or dehumidifier). It also includes a washable filter. This model features an auto-restart function in the event of a power outage or similar event. It has a memory and will boot right back up to where you were when before the power went out! This portable air conditioner also features ‘advanced self-evaporating technology’ which recycles moisture collected as a result of its normal operation. It’s easy to see why this unit is so popular.
Well folks, that covers it for our best mobile air conditioners in the 13,000 to 15,000 BTU range. Remember though, that this range is meant for large living rooms, apartments, or sections of an entire floor. 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.