Portable Air Conditioner?

suziequeJuly 11, 2010

Hi -

Can anyone give me information about portable (meaning the floor ones) air conditioners? Here's the scoop. I don't have air conditioning in my house. I don't have window air conditioners either; frankly, the sizes I'd need are too heavy for me to lift into and out of the windows and to the cellar for storage and simply just a pain.

But I'm dying in this heat and am thinking that I'll buy a couple of portable air conditioners that sit on the floor and can roll. I would get help getting them into my house. My house is very small (1100 sq. ft. total), but open concept. So I'm thinking of one on the main floor and one upstairs (2 bedrooms). But I'm just starting to do my research.

Can anyone offer any information or advice? Brands, caveats, etc.?

Many thanks in advance.


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I don't have much to offer except that when I started to research them a couple years back I found that they all need water dumped fairly regularly, even the ones that say they don't. After looking around for a while I was not convinced they're particularly good products. Maybe that's changed though.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 10:49AM
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Hi suzieque. We have two of these and are very grateful to have them.

We live in a cold climate (north-central Vermont) but every summer we have a string of unbearably hot and humid days + nights. The whole state gets cranky -- we're used to cold, but not tropical heat.

These units come on wheels and look like R2D2 in person. We have one in a 12 x 12 sunroom and, with the blinds down, its cools superbly. We also have one in our MB (about 16 x 24 ') and it's just wonderful. We've had them about three years. No problems. Because we use them infrequently, we have had no difficulties keeping their water containers emptied.

My Vermont friends pooh-pooh this luxury but wow, a good night's sleep is priceless.





Here is a link that might be useful: Sno portable AC

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 11:21AM
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Thank you both. Anything would help right now. Even my cats don't want to come up from the cellar, where it's at least a little cooler. Perhaps I don't understand what's involved in emptying water, so I'm willing to do it. Seems to be an Ok tradeoff for being a bit more comfortable. My only thought is to how I will get the units into the cellar after the summer heat is over! Oh well - I'll cross that bridge then, I guess.

I appreciate the link and the recommendation. I expect that I'll be purchasing 2 - one for upstairs and one for down.

Any other input is certainly welcome.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 11:51AM
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Have you thought about a mini-split? They come as a package with two units, an indoor unit which mounts on a wall and an outdoor unit that sits next to the house. They are very efficient and quiet. Some also act as heat pumps and can do a good job heating. Check out Mr. Slim. Some qualify for the $1500 energy tax credit.

A portable AC is less efficient than a window unit of the same BTU range. Just is. They are portable in the sense that they have wheels on the bottom and can roll around, but they still weigh a bit, like 60-100lbs. Hauling two up and down stairs would be too much for me.

Sharp and Royal Sovereign are two good names. I would probably avoid Chinese products like Haier.

Here is a link that might be useful: dual split Mr. Slim

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 1:51PM
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Hmmmm....now that's interesting, weedmeister. More costly, but if it works better I could probably swing it. Course I'd also have to pay someone for installation. Since my house is pretty much open concept (I even took the bedroom door off), I wonder if one would do the whole house or if I'd need 2. Decisions, decisions!

I'll read up. Thanks again, all.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 4:38PM
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I've been thinking about these. We have a three-story house plus basement, it is an old house that was retrofitted with central air/heat, which means that by the time you get to the third floor - okay, it's just a finished attic/family room - there is one tiny A/C vent to cool 600 sq ft. Not going to happen, and there is no practical way to enlarge the duct. And in the process of failing to cool the third floor, the ground floor gets wastefully cold.

So, I've looked into a portable A/C unit for the third floor. This is what I've found:
- They need to be within six feet or preferably less of a window, through which the hoses can pass. If the hose is longer, the machine doesn't run well (too much resistance to pull/push air through a long hose) plus the hose will act as a radiator and heat up the room.
- Some models have just an exhaust hose. They use room air to cool the condensor, then the heated air is sent out the hose and out the window. The problem is, that room air is cool indoor air, and to replace it, hot outdoor air is coming into the house somewhere. You are losing cool air.
- Better ''dual hose'' models have an exhaust hose and an intake hose. They pull outdoor air in, use it to cool off the condensor, and send the heated air outside again. You don't dump cool air to the outside.
- Water will drip off the evaporator, in any A/C unit. Some models vaporize the condensed water and send it out the exhaust fan. That means you don't have to dump the water tray.

I only know one person who has a portable A/C unit. They have a small house, and use it to cool their small bedroom during heat spells. It works well, they say. I don't know about using a portable A/C - or even two - to cool a whole house.

I didn't as far as get to researching specific brands, but hope that helps you in what features to look for.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2010 at 9:46PM
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Thanks, John. I'm finding that my perception of these machines has been, apparently, off. I didn't realize that a hose had to be put through the window for exhaust, nor did I realize a lot of other things (as posted here). I don't "get" how to put the hose through the window - does that mean that the window has to be open a bit? Mosquitos, etc. coming in? Actually - those are rhetorical questions; the hose and other things I've learned (weight, method of cooling, bringing in hot air to cool it, etc., etc.)have pretty much turned me off of these.

Darn. But that's why I asked you all the questions - I knew you are smart!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 12:22PM
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I used my daughter's portable AC when my central AC broke, a few weeks ago. It's OK in a pinch, but I sure wouldn't want it as my only AC.

It's very, very noisy. I think a good quality window unit would be much, much better.

The exhaust hose does go into the window, it just has to be open enough for the hose and panel to sit snug, no need to take the screen off. BUT, the AC pulls a lot of heat out of a room and blows it out that vent hose. The farther the AC is away from the window, the more heat leaks back into the room from that hose.

My daughter said the water evaporates, but she forgot to give me the drainage tray (?!). The AC pulls a lot of moisture, I had to jerry-rig tubing and a bucket so my bedroom didn't flood. It does make a great, though noisy, dehumidifier.

Good luck

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 1:15PM
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WIndow units are much more energy efficient, quieter, cheaper and provide better directed airflow for the equivalent BTU. You can get a small LG 5000 BTU window unit that is small and lightweight for only $99 at HD. That's usually enough for a bedroom. A 10,000 BTU unit runs about $250 and will cool a larger family room area. We've had to resort to window units this summer due to work on the attic insulation and the central air unit. The depressing bit is that 2 5000 BTU units and a 10,000 BTU unit are cooling the house as well as the 3 ton unit we have outside. That just goes to show you that running ductwork through a hot attic just isn't energy efficient. We're trying to remedy that too.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 7:50PM
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I should have mentioned -- we have no double-hung windows in our house -- they are all sliders. Therefore, hanging a normal window unit was impossible. That's why we resorted to those R2D2 units.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 8:00PM
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There were/are window units for sliding windows, with a filler panel that pulled up or installed at the top instead of at the sides. Don't know if any manufacturers still offer them.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 8:31PM
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We're using a portable floor model ac called "new air". The den has to be closed off from the kitchen which is undergoing a remodel. We've been using it for about 8 weeks.

There is a hose that goes to the window, and yes it has to be open partially. But they come with a window guard that the hose can fit through. That way you aren't exposed to bugs.

Since DH brought this one home from work for us to use, that part is missing and I have *pillows* stuffed around it.

It's noiser than I'd like, but it is efficient. There is also a water line that goes out the window as well so we aren't having to dump water out.

We wrap up in another week and then this unit goes back to his resturant. They use it in the back private dining room during the day because it so large and has so many floor to ceiling windows and gets so warm before opening time.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 6:32PM
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Heh.. I should mention that we have central heat/air. And there are vents in the den. However, everything from the kitchen is stuffed in here, and two of my dogs have commandeered the vents that are available. They lay right on top of them to get cool bellies while the rest of us had to suffer with the heat.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 6:38PM
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I have one. Don't even consider buying one that has only an exhaust vent hose and not a separate intake vent hose, because these will create an air vacuum in the room it's in and consequently suck air from leaks around doors and windows, other rooms of the house, and such to replace the air it's constantly exhausting. You'll feel cold air blowing from the portable A/C, and yet it will usually feel too hot in the rest of the room when you're not right in front of it. The dual-hose portable A/Cs avoid this problem by cooling *outdoor* air and thus bringing new, fresh air into the room to replace the air it exhausts. Also note that cheaper ones require emptying a bucket of water every few days (every day during the hottest and most humid times) unless you have a nearby drain. Better units have an internal pump to allow you to drain water upwards (i.e. to a sink or out the window), or better yet, have a self-evaporating feature that exhausts evaporated water out the window with the air.

I use mine only because it's difficult to mount a window A/C in a side-hinged window that swings open. Although a panel to hold the vent hose in your window is usually included, these almost never fit any real window you'd use a portable A/C with; I've had to fabricate my own panel every place I've ever used a portable A/C.

Mine (an old one I think was manufacturered by Fedders and private-labelled as Home Depot's house brand) also tends to leak or freeze over. I'm not sure why this sometimes happens. It gives you an option to self-evaporate, but the coils freeze over even more often if I use it, so I stick with draining into a bucket.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 10:19PM
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You could also try a simple dehumidifier unit. It has a reservoir that needs emptying (ours will go about 24 hours before cutting out because it needs emptied) but the advantage is that it can go anywhere in the room, not just by a window.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 6:59PM
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I wonder how one would work sucking in 115 degree AZ heat from outside to cool the condenser...

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 8:14PM
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I just bought two LG units and so far so good. Not noisey, no drainage issues.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 8:07AM
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