Portable AC or Window AC: What’s the Best Choice for Me?

Portable AC or Window AC: What’s the Best Choice for Me?

When considering the strengths and weaknesses of portable air conditioners versus window air conditioners, how can you tell which cooling method is right for you?

Setup situations

  • Most portable ACs come with convenient window installation kits that fit easily into vertical and horizontal windows. There are also kits for sliding doors and casement windows – you can see our previous tips on how to handle these situations here.
  • Window ACs require unobstructed single- or double-hung windows, so they aren’t an option for anyone with other window/door configurations. To install, these heavy units must be lifted into place and properly secured. When in doubt, contact a professional to ensure proper, safe installation.

Moving on up

  • Portable ACs are freestanding units that can be placed in nearly any room with a power source and a window nearby. Moreover, you can move a portable AC from room to room as needed – cool your office during the day, then glide your unit to your bedroom and use the window installation kit to swiftly set it up in your bedroom for the night.
  • Window units, meanwhile, pretty much reside in the window in which they’re installed forever. You can enjoy refreshing cooling in the room where you set up your unit, but that’s where it’s going to stay.

The price is right

  • Buying a portable air conditioner can save you big bucks if you want to cool multiple rooms in your house. Why buy a window unit for every room when you can save by purchasing one portable air conditioner that you can move around?
  • The good news is that both portable ACs and window ACs come in relatively affordable models as cheap as a few hundred dollars. However, units for larger rooms of both types can cost up to $900. It all depends on the British Thermal Units (BTUs) and whether the unit includes special features like heating and Wi-Fi.

Hey, good lookin’

  • Looks aren’t everything, but when it comes to air conditioners, they do play an important role. While portable air conditioners come in a wide variety of attractive styles, you might prefer not to have a portable AC in the room if you think it will detract from your décor.
  • Meanwhile, window units can mar the outside appearance of your home. In fact, some Homeowners Associations ban window ACs for this very reason.

Bigger, better, faster, stronger

  • Both portable ACs and window ACs offer high-power models that can cool large rooms, and both are perfectly capable of providing you with strong, consistent airflow on warm days.
  • That said, window units are generally more efficient than portable models, which means you can buy a lower-BTU unit while still enjoying the same cooling.

Can you hear me now?

  • All air conditioners produce noise, but some create more noise pollution than others. Some portable air conditioners, like the Honeywell HJ2CESWK8, have a maximum sound output as low as 52 dBA, so you can sleep peacefully while staying cool.
  • Window units, though, tend to result in less noise because they direct sound outside of your home, while portable ACs have nowhere else to direct sound but into the room.

Spacing out

  • If you have a portable air conditioner in your home, it will, of course, take up some floor space. If space is a big concern, there are compact units you can buy to better accommodate your room setup.
  • One great asset of window units is that the entire unit is outside, so you don’t have to sacrifice any of your coveted floor space.

The more you know

Taking all these points into account, you might prefer a portable air conditioner if:

  • You want to cool down more than one room in your home
  • You want hassle-free installation
  • You don't want to sacrifice your home’s outside appearance

You might prefer a window unit if:

  • You don’t have much floor space
  • You don’t want too much noise
  • You want a more efficient unit

Remember that these considerations vary from model to model. With this information in mind, you should be able to make a more confident decision when you go to purchase a unit.

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