What is a portable air conditioner?
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A portable air conditioner (PAC) is a self-contained portable appliance that cools the air in a single room or moderately sized space. Unlike traditional window ACs, portable air conditioners do not sit in the window. They typically sit on the floor within the space you are trying to cool.
What is required to set up a portable AC?
Requirements vary based on the model. All portable ACs exhaust hot air as part of the cooling process. This hot air is usually directed out of the cooled space using a hot air discharge hose, also known as an exhaust hose. This air hose is often vented out of a window, into a drop ceiling, or through a wall to an adjacent space. Depending on the model you choose, window venting kits and drop ceiling panel venting kits may be available or included with your purchase.
For more information about venting your portable air conditioner, read our Learning Center article How to Vent Your Portable AC.
Will I need to empty water? Will water collect in the portable air conditioner?
When air is cooled, moisture is removed from the air. Therefore, all portable air conditioners remove water from the air while they are cooling. There are many different ways that various PACs deal with this condensate water.
The simplest portable air conditioners, like the Danby Premiere DPAC12010H, have buckets that need to be emptied periodically, from as often as every 8 hours to just once a month. More sophisticated room air conditioners, such as our DeLonghi portable air conditioners, automatically evaporate moisture along with hot air exhaust. Hence, there is no water to empty.
All portable air conditioners are equipped to drain water continuously through a gravity drain hose. Many models, including the Sunpentown WA-1410 Portable Air Conditioner and Air Purifier, are also designed to use condensate pump accessories, which help pump the drained water through a hose and move it in an upward direction to drain out of a window, for example, or across long distances to an alternate location.
What size air conditioner (BTU level) do I need?
In contrast to traditional window air conditioners, portable air conditioners are slightly less powerful at the same BTU level. This occurs for various reasons, from manufacturers inflating their listed BTU ratings to an air conditioner giving off heat that is not properly exhausted away from the cooled room. We recommend you buy slightly more AC than you think you might need to ensure you have enough cooling power. Use the following guidelines to determine the portable air conditioner capacity that your space requires. These calculations assume that you have standard 8-foot ceilings:
7,500 BTUs will cover 150 sq. ft. x 8-ft. ceiling = 1,200 cubic feet
9,000 BTUs will cover 200 sq. ft. x 8-ft. ceiling = 1,600 cubic feet
10,000 BTUs will cover 300 sq. ft. x 8-ft. ceiling = 2,400 cubic feet
12,000 BTUs will cover 400 sq. ft. x 8-ft. ceiling = 3,200 cubic feet
13,000 BTUs will cover 450 sq. ft. x 8-ft. ceiling = 3,600 cubic feet
14,000 BTUs will cover 500 sq. ft. x 8-ft. ceiling = 4,000 cubic feet
We typically classify our portable ACs according to the following room square footage guidelines:
Less than 300 Square Feet: These portable ACs are great for small rooms and other compact areas like bedrooms, nurseries, or home offices.
Less than 500 Square Feet: Portable air conditioners in this category are best suited for cooling medium to large areas such as living rooms and larger offices.
Greater than 500 Square Feet: These portable air conditioners work well in commercial and industrial applications, including large computer server rooms, manufacturing facilities, and special event spaces.
Keep in mind that you may need less BTU power if you live in a cooler region or only plan to use your PAC in the cooler evening hours. On the contrary, if you live in a warmer region or plan to use the unit during peak temperature hours you might require more BTU power. This is also true if you will be running multiple heat-generating appliances in the same room. You should also adjust your BTU requirement against the number of people who usually inhabit the room.
Typically, each person will generate about 2,000 BTUs of heat. Lastly, consider the number of windows in your room as well as the location of the room. Does sunlight regularly shine through your windows to make the room feel naturally warm? All of these things can affect the cooling performance of your portable AC. For more in-depth information about choosing a the right cooling capacity, read our Portable Air Conditioner Buyer's Guide and our article 5 Things to Consider When Buying a Portable Air Conditioner.
If you need help weighing the many factors that affect portable AC performance and ultimately making a decision about the right BTU power for your room, please call us at 1-800-934-9194 for a detailed consultation.
Can I lengthen the exhaust hose?
In general, you should not lengthen the exhaust hose of a portable AC. Depending on the manufacturer, this may void your warranty and potentially cause your air conditioner to overheat.
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