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3 Great Reasons To Buy A Portable Air Conditioner
1. Oprah said so.
2. It looks like the robot from “Lost In Space”.
3. Brad and Angelina are adopting one.
For those of you who make your decisions based on real information, here are some cool portable air conditioner facts.
A goldmine of enlightening information can be uncovered by visiting forums. For instance, when I wanted to tap into the experiences of actual portable air conditioner owners, all I had to do was Google “portable air conditioner forums” and Voila!, I had instant access to pages of relevant information from 3 different forums.
I encourage you to try this technique. Just substitute any generic product or service description for “portable air conditioners” plus the word “forums”.
What I uncovered was concerns over energy consumption, how energy consumption impacts circuit load, noise level, venting, the disposal of water from the dehumidifying process, and of course, price.
In the United States, the average air conditioner runs 750 hours each year. Since air conditioners use a lot of electricity, their efficiency has become a public issue. The EER, or Energy Efficiency Rating, is the ratio of the Btu's per hour to the number of watts the unit draws.
EER ratings of 7 or 8 are at the low end of energy efficiency. Many units have ratings around 12 which are good. The highest rated portable air conditioner I could find was the Amcor AL10000E. It has an awesome EER of 16.6.
Energy Consumption and Circuit Load
Before you start your search for a portable air conditioner, check your breaker box for the number of amps available to the room you want cooled. If you buy a unit that draws 14.5 amps on a 15 amp circuit, you’ll have the additional but unintended cooling effect of sitting in the dark while enjoying your new portable air conditioner.
Most portable air conditioners that deliver 14,000 Btu’s or less have a noise level around 50 decibels. This is comparable to the loudness of most refrigerators. At 60 decibels, a 16,000 Btu unit is slightly noisier. Think of what it’s like to watch TV in the kitchen while the fridge is running.
There is some controversy as to whether a dual hose unit is superior to the single hose configuration. On one hand, a single hose unit will exhaust from the room some portion of the cool air it just produced.
On the other hand, a dual hose unit eliminates this problem, but the warmer unconditioned air used to cool their compressors results in slightly less efficiency. They also use two internal fans which result in slightly higher energy usage.
Another hot topic at the forums that people are venting about is having to wrap insulation around the hose of their single hose unit. This is done to prevent the hot exhaust hose from adding heat back into the room. Personally, I can’t think of anything better than duct tape wrapped around insulation to brighten up a room.
Water Water Everywhere
Portable air conditioners offer three methods for disposing of the water extracted by the dehumidifier component.
The most convenient is auto evaporation which eliminates the need for drains or reservoirs. The reliability of this method varies from unit to unit.
The second method is direct drain using a hose attached to the unit. This can be problematic unless the unit is located near a floor drain. Not much chance of that, so you’ll have to use a bucket.
And finally, you get to empty the pan yourself. Just make sure the pan is large enough so the air conditioner doesn’t shut off in the middle of the night when the pan fills up.
I think price is a secondary consideration to efficiency. As usual, a higher priced unit that operates more efficiently will always end up costing less in the long run than a cheaper, less efficient model.
Portable air conditioners are much less efficient than comparable window units and cost roughly twice as much. What you're paying for is the flexibility to roll it from one room to another or into a closet for easy storage.
Another Option to Consider
For the price of a portable air conditioner you might be able to buy a window air conditioner AND a new window to put it in.
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