Portable Air Conditioning Shouldn't Be Permanent

Portable air conditioning units are meant to be easy to transport and setup. That is the whole point, after all. When you need air conditioning to get you through a central air breakdown, portable comes to the rescue. They aren't supposed to be a permanent home cooling solution.

Some of you out there might have missed that last bit.

Portable Air Conditioning Units Should Be Temporary

About a month ago I was talking to a marketing partner. Let's call him Bob. Bob explained that he hadn't bothered getting his central air fixed after it went out a few years ago. He had been getting by with a portable air conditioning unit in the bedroom and another in the front of the house.

I was horrified. I couldn't do much but ask, "Why?!"

"I guess I just haven't taken the time," Bob said. "Besides, it's all about the same, right?"

No, Bob. No.

Portable air conditioning units are neither as effective or as efficient as central air conditioning, ductless mini-splits, or even window units. They're great at what they do, sure. If you need to get cooling and fast, then get some portable air conditioning.

But a portable air conditioning unit should never completely replace conventional systems.

Portable Air Conditioning Efficiency

Did you know portable air conditioning units don't have to meet even basic energy efficiency standards? The Department of Energy put forward guidelines in 2016, but they aren't final yet. Until they are, portable air conditioning is effectively unregulated.

Which means that portable units can be horrifically inefficient. They're even worse than window air conditioners, which already have some of the lowest efficiency standards. And "worse than window units" is really saying something.

Portable Air Conditioning Comfort

Air conditioning is about comfort. Portable air conditioners deliver, but barely.

First, there is the compressor. Compressors are the part of the air conditioner that makes noise. In a central air system, the compressor is outside in the condenser. In a mini-split it's outside in a condenser. Heck, it's even outside in a window unit if not very far away.

In a portable air conditioning unit, the compressor is in the room with you. Even the "quietest" portable units aren't really quiet.

Second, is the air cooling itself. Since portable air conditioning units are basically unregulated, their "rated" performance can be very hit and miss. According to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, a portable air conditioning unit rarely delivers the same amount of cooling compared to a similarly rated window air conditioner.

Yikes.

Keep It Temporary, Kids

When it comes to portable air conditioning, don't be like my friend, Bob. Use the portable unit only as long as it takes to get your permanent air conditioner back up and running. Anything else is just a waste of your time and money.

You Now Know Portable Isn't Permanent, Right?

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