Buying A Portable Air Conditioner: Things To Look For

If you do not have central air conditioning, a portable air conditioner is the next best thing. One nice aspect of these units is that you can buy them in appliance stores and set them up yourself. You don't have to hire an HVAC tech to connect them to your ductwork or electrical system. Of course, if you're going to shop for a portable air conditioner on your own, you do need to know what to look for. Here are the primary factors to consider.

1. Size

When the term "size" is used relative to portable air conditioners, it usually refers to the unit's cooling capacity rather than its physical size. Capacity is measured in BTUs. The larger the space, the larger the AC unit you need. For a standard-sized bedroom of 150 square feet, a 5,000 BTU air conditioner is adequate. For a larger, 250 square foot room, you'll need a 6,000 BTU AC unit. Then, for every additional 50 square feet of space, you can add about 1,000 BTU to your needs. 

2. Energy-Efficiency

Since energy-efficiency has become so important to buyers, AC manufacturers have responded by making their units more and more efficient. Today's least efficient units still use less energy than those made a decade ago. An easy way to make sure you're getting a reasonably efficient unit is to look for the Energy Star logo. This logo is only awarded to products that meet the U.S. Department of Energy's standards for efficiency.

3. Vent Setup

Portable air conditioners can vent out of your home in a few different ways. Most have a flexible duct that you can run to the nearest window. Make sure the vent setup is compatible with your style of window. For instance, if you have hung windows, do not buy a portable AC unit designed to vent out a casement window.

4. Condensation Setup

You should also check how the air conditioner disposes of the condensation it creates. There are two different styles available. Some units empty into a holding pan, which you can then empty once a day or every few days. Other styles dump their condensation through a drainage tube, which you can run to a drain or to an exterior collecting pan.

Portable air conditioners come in many styles and with an array of features. For more help choosing the best one for your home, consult with your local appliance specialist.