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Pros & Cons of Portable Air Conditioners

Portable air conditioners are becoming a popular trend in Gainesville and around the country. They offer cooling comfort for the hotter rooms in a house or they can serve as the primary source of cooling for a home. While they may seem like a great option for those looking to cool their home, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing one of these units. We also have information on the other different types of air conditioners on our blog.

At Stellar Services, we stay committed to providing our customers with industry insights and answering the questions we are most often asked.

If you’re interested in portable air conditioners, we have outlined some of the pros and cons of portable air conditioners to help you make the best decision.

4 different types of portable ac'sWhat Are Portable Air Conditioners?

Portable air conditioners are stand alone air conditioning units that can provide cooling for those who need a specific room cooled more or don’t have central air conditioning. They work in the same way as central air conditioners, only on a smaller scale. They take in the air from outdoors through a nearby window, cycle it through the compressor, and exhaust the hot air back outside. Portable air conditioners are an option for those who need to move their air conditioning from room to room or don’t want to block too much natural light in their window.

Pros of Portable Air Conditioners

Lower Cost

A simple online search shows that portable air conditioners can be purchased from any major retailer for a relatively low price. Considering the price of a central air conditioning unit, as well as the labor to install it, a portable air conditioner is a cost-effective option. Usually, these types of air conditioners can be found for less than $500, depending on the model and features.

Easy Installation

Portable air conditioners are the easiest form of air conditioning to install. All they require is a window for the intake/exhaust hose and an electrical outlet. The air conditioner itself will come with a set of instructions on how to assemble the window hose unit. A standard window kit includes a window bracket, one or two vent hoses, and the vent hose adapters. Vent hoses are usually 4 to 5 feet, so you need to install yours close to a window.

Relatively Easy to Move

Most models give you the ability to roll the unit around to where you need it, which makes it a great option for people who want the freedom to use cooling where they need it. It’s also considerably easier to move and handle than a window unit. Window units usually need more than one person to move, whereas portable units can roll from one place to the next. Portable units are still heavy so be careful moving them.

Doesn’t Block Natural Light

A portable air conditioner only requires a small sliver of space in a window for the intake/exhaust hose. For those who have limited natural light, it’s a better option than a window unit because it takes up less window space.

Cons of Portable Air Conditioners


It doesn’t matter what kind of air conditioner you buy, it will make some sort of noise. A portable air conditioner can add considerable noise to a room, but it is often described as “background noise” and usually isn’t disruptive. Just like with any air conditioner, it’s important to know what to expect in terms of noise. If a quiet air conditioner is a must, then search for a portable air conditioner that lists “quiet” as a feature. Ultimately, your best source for knowing how much noise a portable air conditioner will make will be by reading online customer reviews.

Not Energy Efficient

Surprisingly, even though portable air conditioners provide cooling for small spaces, it doesn’t mean they are energy efficient. If you are relying on a portable air conditioner as your primary source of cooling, then you may find that your energy bills go up significantly. If energy efficiency is a priority for your home, then investing in a model that offers a programmable thermostat is the best option. Also keeping your unit clean and maintained will help to keep your portable air conditioner running at its best and avoid any maintenance down the line.

Room Size

Room size is something else to consider. If the room you’re trying to cool is too big, your portable air conditioner will have to work harder to cool the room and can end up costing considerably more in energy costs.

When a manufacturer creates a portable air conditioner, they measure the power of the unit in BTUs. When taking a look at BTUs, generally the higher the number of BTUs, the larger the room that air conditioner will be able to keep cool. On the box, manufacturers usually specify the size of the room the air conditioner can cool. Below we have created a chart to help you know how many BTUs you will need to cool the space in your home.

BTU Chart based on room size

Humidity & Temperature Control

It’s no secret that Florida has hot and humid summers, especially here in Gainesville. On a typical summer day, the heat index can reach over 100°F. A portable air conditioner not equipped to withstand these hotter days, and it won’t provide much humidity control. Even if it does offer decent humidity relief, the air conditioner’s water pan produces leaks and water damage if not emptied regularly. Portable air conditioners are best suited for areas with moderate humidity levels, which unfortunately isn’t Florida.

More Maintenance

While a portable air conditioner is easy to install, it definitely requires more maintenance to keep it running efficiently. You will need to ensure that the intake/exhaust hose if clean and free of debris, as well as keep the air filter clean. Most portable air conditioners also include a dehumidifier that has a water pan where the water collects. This water pan needs to be emptied regularly to prevent leaks and water damage.

Only Cools Small Spaces

As we previously discussed, portable air conditioners can only cool small spaces. In order to effectively cool an entire home, you will need to buy multiple units for several rooms. The cost of the energy required to use those units can add up quickly, and the maintenance required may not even merit the expense. If you are looking for a solution to cool an entire home or business, it is better to consider a central air conditioner.

No Professional Home Evaluation

Simply adding an air conditioner to a home won’t be an effective cooling solution if your home isn’t keeping cool air in to begin with. A professional HVAC technician can evaluate a home and discover any potential leaks in windows, doors, walls, and insulation. At Stellar Services, we take our time to evaluate the efficiency of a home and offer any recommendations to improve the effectiveness of your air conditioner. With a full home evaluation from Stellar Services, you can rest assured that your air conditioner is working at top efficiency for your home.

Contact Stellar Services for Air Conditioning Services

There are many factors to consider when choosing a portable air conditioner. If you decide that a portable air conditioner might not be the best choice for your needs, we can help you find the perfect air conditioner for your home. Our team of HVAC professionals can take a look at the size of your home and help you find the ideal and most energy efficient choice. We also provide AC unit repairAC maintenance, and AC installation, as well as offer 24-hour emergency service. Contact us today!