Sizing your air conditioner is extremely important. An oversized portable air conditioner will leave the room feeling damp, and can even bounce cold air back to the thermostat, causing it to cycle off too soon. An undersized unit will strain to get the room cold enough, wasting energy and leaving you feeling lukewarm.
Air conditioners are sized in BTUs, or British Thermal Units. As a general rule of thumb, small rooms of up to 200 square feet require an air conditioner that produces 8,000 BTUs. Add 2,000 BTUs for every 100 additional square feet. If the room is unusually sunny or shaded, add or subtract roughly 10 percent accordingly. Add a few thousand BTUs when choosing an air conditioner for the kitchen, to compensate for the heat generated by cooking. Likewise, add BTUs if the room is regularly occupied by more than two people due to the increased body heat. Remember that higher BTU air conditioners are bigger and heavier than those that produce fewer BTUs.
Air conditioners are rated according to their energy efficiency, and a more efficient unit will cost less in power bills. However, technology changes rapidly, and energy ratings do not always account for all of the latest enhancements. Use the energy efficiency rating as a guideline rather than a definitive rule.
Many portable air conditioners trap water from the air in an internal tank. Depending on the size and efficiency of the air conditioner, as well as prevailing weather conditions, you may need to empty the tank as frequently as twice per day or as infrequently as once every several days. This is not a difficult job, but can be challenging if you are not home much.
Some portable air conditioners are self-evaporating, which means that they have the ability to evaporate water rather than collecting it. This dramatically reduces the need to drain the tank, although during periods of high humidity you might still need to empty it occasionally.
While many portable air conditioners only provide air cooling, higher end models offer changeable modes. A dehumidifier mode allows you to remove humidity without cooling the air. A fan mode circulates the air without cooling it. Some portable units even have a heater mode, making them ideal for year round use. Be careful, though, as the BTU rating for the heater setting is not always the same as that of the air conditioner mode. Therefore, you might find that the heater does not perform ideally for the size of the room.
Like other types of air conditioners, high end portable units offer a wide range of extra features. While they are not necessarily required, they are useful enhancements that can make the air conditioner more pleasant to use. Manual controls are simple and easy to use, but require you to walk to the air conditioner whenever you want to make a change. A remote control allows you to manage the settings with push button convenience.
A programmable thermostat is a wonderful feature for those who want to reduce energy usage, save money on power bills, and reduce their carbon footprint. It allows you to set the air conditioner to automatically cycle on and off to maintain designated temperatures for different times of day. For example, you might set your bedroom temperature to be higher during the day and to automatically cool 30 minutes before bedtime. This saves you from walking into a hot room or unnecessarily consuming energy to overly cool a room that no one is using.
Ultimately, there is no such thing as the “best” portable air conditioner, only the one that is best for you. Choose a unit that fits the size of the room and has the features you desire, and you are likely to be pleased with the results.
Jim’s Heating & Cooling is a trusted provider of air conditioning and heating in the greater Adelaide region. We offer a wide range of heating and cooling solutions, along with special discounts and financing offers. Call locally on 131 546 now or request a quote to get started!