Portable vs. Window Air Conditioning

Written By 5 Star Charleston Heating & Air
June 15, 2022

If you are looking for a way to keep your home cool without utilizing or installing central air conditioning, we encourage the consideration of portable and window air conditioners. The two units allow you to maintain similar comfort a central HVAC system would distribute, while additionally providing more flexibility in your home or space. Although, you are probably wondering which option to choose between the two. In this blog, we will highlight the benefits and drawbacks of both portable and window ac units and situations where each air conditioner is best.

Portable Air Conditioning

A portable air conditioner is a self-contained cooling system that can be placed anywhere near a window and electrical socket. These ac units pull hot, humid air from the room into the unit, cools it, redistributes the cool air, and pushes the moisture through a hose out the window. The specific components that make up a portable ac unit are the refrigerant, condenser coil, compressor coil, and fan.

Pros of a Portable Air Conditioner

  1. Easy To Move. Portable ac units have wheels on the bottom which allows them to be moved around easily. Depending on the unit, some can be lightweight for transporting on stairs.
  2. Flexible. This system encourages flexibility by the various spaces it can offer cooling. Portable ac units can offer extra cool temperatures in a bedroom at night or be taken to your office to keep cool throughout the day.
  3. Save Money and Energy. Portable air conditioners are designed to cool one room rather than a whole house. This can save money by allowing you to stay cool without cranking down your whole house temperature.
  4. Cools and Dehumidifies. These units not only keep you cool, but dehumidifies your space too! Dehumidifying has multiple advantages, such as decreasing mold and alleviating allergies.

Cons of a Portable Air Conditioner

  1. Limited Cooling Space. Where some may see specific cooling zones as a benefit, it can also be a drawback. There is a limited area a portable air conditioner can cool, which may not be the best solution for an individual looking to cool a larger space.
  2. Water. While a portable air conditioner doubles as a dehumidifier, it collects water that needs to be released. Depending on the unit, some may have a drain pan that needs to be changed frequently.
  3. Maintenance. Most home appliances need maintenance, including your portable air conditioner. Portable air conditioners do require extra care to perform efficiently. Air filters need to be changed and the condenser coils and exhaust hose need to be monitored.

Where is a Portable Air Conditioner Best?

Although portable air conditioners can be used for just about any space, below are situations where they are typically used.

  • Attics
  • RVs or campers
  • Room additions
  • Highly congregated rooms
  • Cabins
  • Offices
  • Lower temperature desired for one room

Window Air Conditioning

A window air conditioner is a single unit with all of the bells and whistles encased inside. These air conditioners are mounted in windows and require an electrical outlet. Warm air and moisture is pulled inside the unit, cooled, and redistributed throughout the room. The basic components of the unit include the blower, refrigerant, compressor, evaporator coil, and condenser coil.

Pros of a Window Air Conditioner

  1. Low Cost. Most window air conditioners are fairly inexpensive to purchase. They also do not heighten your utility bill dramatically due to the low amount of energy used. Depending on the brand and the features, a window air conditioner is the cheapest air conditioning option.
  2. Easy to Install. Window air conditioners come with step by step installation instructions that make it easy for most people to install. You can always call your 5-star technician for help installing and ensuring it is positioned correctly. If you are in need of a quick cool option, this unit takes minutes to install rather than hours of a central air conditioner.
  3. Energy Efficient. These units use significantly less amounts of energy compared to a central air conditioner. Window air conditioners are used to cool smaller spaces rather than the whole house, which can save energy on rooms that do not always need to be cooled.
  4. Flexible. Window air conditioners can be moved from window to window, which allows flexibility as to what space you want cooled. A window air conditioner could be beneficial for a non permanent resident as they can install this ac option easily most places.

Cons of a Window Air Conditioner

  1. Window size. Windows need to be a specific size for window air conditioners. Most window ac units are designed to fit inside standard double hung windows.
  2. Not aesthetically pleasing. Most would not consider a window air conditioner as decoration. They can harm the aesthetic and immobilize the use of the window. If there is a unit in your window, this window can not be used.
  3. Security Risk. Ground floor window air conditioning units can pose a security risk for your home. These units can be easily ripped out, allowing intruders an easy way into your home.

Where is a Window Air Conditioner best?

Window air conditioners are used by many in the United States due to their beneficial qualities. Below are examples of where window units are typically used.

  • Apartments and sublets
  • Dorm rooms
  • Single rooms
  • Offices
  • Small businesses
  • Lower temperature desired for one room

Central Air Conditioning

While both portable and window air conditioners can keep rooms cool, they can not cool your whole house without installing multiple. Although it seems pricier to purchase and install central air conditioning, it is the most cost effective and energy efficient option if you are planning on cooling three or more rooms. Three window units can actually use more energy than a central air conditioner, which drives up your energy bill. Newer models of central air conditioning and programmable thermostats have energy saving settings.

Pros of Central Air Conditioning

  • Greater Resell Value
  • Minimal Noise
  • Quick and Efficient Cooling
  • Improved Aesthetics
  • Cleaner Indoor Air

Related Article: How Do I Choose The Right Size Air Conditioner?


Give us a call for one of our technicians to evaluate your space and recommend which air conditioning option is best for you!

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