Are Portable ACs Really Worth It? [Honest Review]

December 9, 2021 / RefrigeratorPro Team

Thinking of buying a portable AC for home use? Read this guide before you decide to buy a portable AC in India.

On the face of it, portable ACs look good, but are they really worth it? Should you spend on a portable AC or should you go for a regular AC such as a window AC or a split AC?

Portable AC Review

I will answer all these questions and give you an honest insight into portable ACs. First of all, you should know that portable ACs are not for everyone. Still, there are certain scenarios when you should buy a portable AC. Let’s understand the pros and cons of portable ACs.

Before I begin, let’s see how portable AC works.

How Portable AC Works

Don’t be surprised when I tell you that portable AC works exactly like any other AC. Just like all other ACs, its major components are refrigerant, compressor, condenser and evaporator coils.

The refrigerant reaches the evaporator and absorbs heat from the room to give cooling effect. This hot refrigerant reaches the condenser and releases the heat towards the outside. This process is similar to all other air conditioners.

However, the difference lies in the method of release of heat. Unlike split and window AC, where some part of the AC is present outside for releasing hot air, portable ACs are completely inside the room with an air duct connecting the AC with the window to release hot air.

Portable AC vs Conventional AC

FactorConventional ACPortable AC
Room SizeIdeal for rooms of almost all sizesWorks well in smaller rooms
Electricity ConsumptionYou can get highly power-efficient ACs by spending morePortable ACs are usually not power-efficient
NoiseProduce lower noiseProduce more noise
Cooling EfficiencyCan cool the room without much difficultyCooling efficiency is not high
PortabilityInstalling and uninstalling takes time and effortInstalling and uninstalling takes effort. However, it is easier to move only when the duct pipe is disconnected from the window
SpaceTakes very little space inside the roomSpace is occupied not only by the AC unit but also the hose which is 5 to 7 feet long
Resale ValueDecentNo resale value
PriceHighThe price difference is not much
Water DrainageOutside the roomPortable drip ACs require you to place a bucket for collecting condensed water!

The Biggest Problem with Portable AC

Portable AC has an attached hose (duct pipe) that must be connected to the window properly so that warm air and moisture can be pushed out. In order to do that, most portable ACs come with a window kit for fitting this hose.

This kit contains a window tile/bracket that has to be fitted into the window. In order to use the portable AC, this special window frame has to be fitted to attach one end of the hose to it. This requires a technician and is hard to do yourself. On top of this, if you have a glass window then you will have to make a large hole in it.

In short, you will have to get the frames fitted in all the rooms wherever you intend to use it.

Moreover, connecting this pipe to the window is not the easiest job. Usually, there is an apparatus provided with the AC to fix the pipe to the window. But this apparatus works with sliding type windows, which are less common in India. Here most windows open in a flip style, where it is difficult to attach such apparatus.

Why Portable ACs Are Not the Best Option

The biggest advantage of a portable AC is that it is more portable as compared to other room ACs. This is because this AC comes with attached wheels which can be used to roll the AC to another room.

However, the advantage ends there.

Firstly, it’s debatable how portable they are. This is because, once the hose is connected to the window, you won’t want to move the unit and detaching it is not always easy. On top of this, they usually weigh 20 to 35 kg which can make them difficult to roll on carpets and other raised platforms.

Another problem is that it is not as effective in cooling as conventional ACs. Why? This is because while a conventional AC uses outside air to cool outdoor parts of the unit, the portable AC uses conditioned air from the room itself to cool the heated parts. This creates negative pressure that causes warm, unconditioned air from nearby rooms or the outdoors to flow into your room that mixes with the cool air and increases the overall temperature.

Unlike window AC or split AC, portable AC is completely inside the room, which means that the noise level is also higher. And it’s not that these units consume less power. Most portable ACs come without any star rating, which means that a typical portable AC consumes way more power than a regular window or split AC. According to some estimates, a portable AC can consume even 50% more power as compared to a window AC.

You tend to think that with all these disadvantages, the price tag must be lower, but even that is not the case. A portable AC can cost as much as a window AC or even more than that. And to top it all many models of portable ACs come without any provision of water drainage. This means that you will have to collect the water in a pot or a bucket to collect the drained water.

They also need far more space than you might think. This is because the hose is around 7 feet long, and the AC has to be positioned away from any walls or furniture that may block its airflow.

Finally, this AC is not good for medium-large rooms. It is okay if the room size is not more than 8 x 8 feet. But if it is more than that, then you should not go for a portable AC.

Conclusion

Portable ACs should never be your first choice unless you are not able to place a window AC or a split AC. For example, some apartments do not allow mounted AC units, while in some apartments, the windows are in inconvenient spots. Even if this is the case, I will still recommend you to purchase a decent air cooler for your home since there are too many negatives attached to a portable AC. However, if you are only want to purchase an air conditioner and for some reason, you do not want a  window or split AC, then you can have a look at some of the best portable ACs here.

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