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 to 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.
- Here on RefrigerantHQ we also have a guide on ‘What are 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!
16,000-18,000 BTU Range
The 16,000-18,000 BTU units can be considered the beginning of the higher-level units. These are considered more industrial-level units. These portable air conditioners can cool a space which is seven-hundred to one-thousand square feet. It’s easy to find apartments in this range. In addition to apartments, these units can cool an entire floor of your house. This would also be a great unit to cool a small service bay or workshop. You don’t need many units with this amount of power! If there is a room of area in your house that gets hotter than others, you should put your portable air conditioner right in there and enjoy the cooler air right away. This is especially true if you plan on spending a good amount of time in that room. Let’s take a look at the units in this range. Our Good, Better, Best picks for this BTU range are as follows:
Good – Movincool OP18 18,000 BTU
- The Movincool OP18 is considered a good option primarily because of its power. However, the unit currently has no customer reviews. In the order of prudence, we are putting this portable air conditioner here (“good”) because of this reason. If it cools the room, then it does exactly what we want it to do. It might not have a high number of bells and whistles. But it should keep you and your family cool on a hot day.
Better – DOROSIN DAKC-65 18,000 BTU
- The DOROSIN DAKC-65 has stretchable ducts, which can come in handy if you want to move away from a window. These portable air conditioners need a window or some other external fixture to connect to and the extra length from these stretchable ducts will help you position your air conditioner in exactly the right spot. This unit also features a large capacity water tank. This means that you don’t need to empty the collected moisture too often.
Best – Tripp Lite SRCOOL18K 18,000 BTU
- The Tripp Lite SRCOOL can be considered the best option of the three. It has three out of five stars. However, this portable air conditioner has over two-hundred reviews. I didn’t find a higher-rated unit in this range, which tells you that there aren’t too many options. However, this unit has some great features. This portable air conditioner is unique in that it prevents “shutdowns, malfunctions, and failures caused by overheating and temperature fluctuations”. It also comes with a one-year warranty and has free tech support. Because of its popularity, there are currently only a few more left in stock. Get one while you have the chance!
Well folks, that covers it for our best mobile air conditioners in the 16,000 to 18,000 BTU range. Remember though, that this range is meant for apartments, an entire floor, or even a small workshop or service bay. If you find that you need to cool a larger or smaller area then please check out our purchasing guide to determine exactly what sized air conditioner you will need.