Portable Air Conditioners – What to Consider

Top factors and features to consider in selecting a portable air conditioner



It’s that time of year again, the weathers starting to get warmer so it’s time to put away the heater and start thinking about how you’re going to cool down this summer.

Nothing saves money better than a portable air conditioner, and we’re here to help you pick out the right unit. They’re perfect for areas in apartments or offices because they are compact, easy to maneuver, convenient to use, and most importantly, energy-efficient.

They can be used in various spaces to make any room cooler, tolerable, and comfortable.




Deciding on Your BTU Requirements:

The power of your portable air conditioner is measured in British Thermal Units (BTU). The higher the BTU, the more cooling power your unit will have. The amount of BTUs needed to cool the room goes up with room size. Consider the square footage of the room you would like cooled, and decide on the right number of BTUs for perfect ventilation.


Here’s how to calculate your BTUs:

  • Step 1: Calculate the room’s square footage by multiplying its length by its width.
  • Step 2: Verify the size of the window opening for venting.
  • Step 3: Check the plug type and electrical requirements of your room.



If your room measures 30 feet by 30 feet, your BTU will be 12,000:

20′ x 20′ = 400 square feet

400 square feet = at least 12,000 BTUs

As such, if your room measures 400 square feet, you will need a portable air conditioner that offers 12,000 BTUs of cooling.


Some exceptions may also apply, such as:

  • For second story homes or especially sunny areas, add the BTU amount by 10%
  • For shaded areas, reduce the BTUs by 10%
  • For each additional person over two persons in a room, add 600 BTUs
  • To cool a kitchen, add 4,000 BTUs  (there nothing more off putting when cooking than being to warm)


The following are general guidelines for the maximum room size and the coinciding BTU’s that are typically recommended for portable air conditioners (note that the figures in the chart are estimates based on average room conditions in a moderate climate).



Desired Features:

Other considerations when picking out a portable air conditioner include controls, noise level, or energy efficiency. All that matters is your preference and the area you need cooled.


Here’s a list of important features that you may want in your portable AC unit:

Portability: does the unit have sturdy and durable wheels to be pushed from room to room, or a handle to easily lift and place elsewhere.

Ventilation: All portable air conditioners are built to be vented to the outside and need to be placed within a few feet of a window or vent. Some units also have a hose system that vents the compressor separately to provide even more efficient cooling.

Airflow: With a fan, an AC unit is able to circulate air efficiently. Look for units that oscillate and have adjustable airflow for truly great air circulation.

Temperature: Features with timers or sleep modes are convenient. It won’t use more energy longer than you want the unit on.

Noise Level: If you’re going to be using the air conditioner in a bedroom, office, or children’s room, it’s important to pay special attention to the volume each portable air conditioner produces. Particularly if you want a good night’s sleep.

Controls: Some portable AC units either have a remote control or digital controls available. Remote controls are convenient because you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own chair.  If you’re not so tech savvy, it’s best to opt for the simplest settings of digital.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER): EER is calculated by dividing your BTU by the wattage used to achieve this cooling. The higher an EER, the more efficient the unit is at cooling. High EER ACs will save you money because they use less electricity to keep you cool.

Recommended: If you are thinking about a portable air conditioner, I highly recommend looking at the  NewAir units.

NewAir is a premier provider of custom built and luxury home appliances. They have been in business since 2002, and are a renowned leader in air quality control, and ice, wine and beverage cooling and freezing systems.

NewAir has set standards for home appliance manufacturers all over the US by creating high quality and reliable products that offer unprecedented performance and value.  Their products are stylish, efficient and eco-friendly.


A Simple Comparison of NewAir AC Units:

Below are a selection comparing  NewAir’s best selling portable air conditioners to help you make a choice based on the key areas that are important in a portable air conditioner, as well as compare these units to other brands you may be considering:


NewAir Models details and reviews: 10100E, 12000E, 12000H, 14100H


Informational Video of the 12000E and 120000H units:

Remember that portable air conditioner must be placed near a window. The condensed hot air must be vented out of the room with a hose to be slid into a window, and with the exhaust hose being fitted into the appropriate window space.

Air conditioners are useful in many different types of rooms and spaces thanks to their compact size and lack of installation.



Best Rooms for your Portable AC



Many portable air conditioners operate quietly, so you can have a peaceful nights sleep. If you share a room, then its even more beneficial, as the more people in a room, the warmer it is.



When you’re sitting down all day, it’s easy to become uncomfortable and fidgety. Portable ACs are perfect to cool down any office because of their mobility, size, and low level noises.



Most dorm rooms do not come with any central air or heating system. Sometimes not even a window. The size and no installation make it perfect to move-in with.


Living Room

It’s important to keep the air fresh, cool and and ventilating in the living room because that’s where more guests will relax. It will also save you a lot of money instead of a central AC unit with it’s energy efficiency.


Basement and Garage

Both areas can be difficult to work in when it’s suffering from warm, humid air. You’re going to need a cooling option and a portable air conditioner is a great alternative. Additionally, most portable air conditioners can also help to dehumidify the air.


Portable AC Maintenance


Portable Air Conditioners require less maintenance than any other alternative cooling system.

  • Your unit may collect a good amount of water in it’s bucket, which needs to be emptied periodically.
  • Other units have the ability to evaporate the moisture in which does not require any draining of water.
  • Most portable air conditioners can support the connection of a drain hose that allows water to be drained continuously, and there are even condensate pumps available which pump the water outside or into a drain pump located indoors.
  • The air filters eliminate airborne particles, and require bi-weekly or monthly cleaning or replacing in your portable AC.
  • If your portable air conditioner has a washable filter, slide the filter out, immerse it in warm water and detergent, rinse thoroughly, and let it dry before replacing it back into the unit.


After storing you portable air conditioner for the colder months, you will want to do some simple maintenance to get the unit ready for summer use:


Vacuum Out Dust and Debris

Before you plug your unit in, pop out the filter frames and remove the filters. Use a vacuum with a hose attachment to clean out all the vents and louvers. Make sure you reach inside with the hose to suck up anything inside the air conditioner’s case. Unless you’ve kept it wrapped up in plastic, it will have some accumulated dust, and maybe the leavings of a few buggy friends who used your air conditioner for a winter home.


Cleaning the Coils

Clean condenser coils work more efficiently when free of dirt, grease and grime. If the coils in your unit look particularly grubby, you can clean them off with a store-bought coil-cleaning product, or a homemade acidic solution of vinegar or lemon juice mixed with water. Just spray it lightly onto the coils and let it sit a while to remove the dirt.


Clean or Replace the Filters

If you didn’t clean the filters before storing them, now is the time to do it. Most air conditioner filters are washable, so all you have to do is rinse them under warm water. Let them dry thoroughly before you put them back in the unit. Washing the filters is something you

should do every couple of weeks when you are using it regularly – dirty filters will impact air circulation, which means your AC won’t work as well.

If after you wash the filters, they still look dirty or worn, then it is time to replace them. Contact the manufacturer for fresh filters, to ensure your indoor air is clean and breathable.  Usually, filters need to be replaced about once a year.

The activated carbon filters might need to be replaced a little more frequently, depending on your circumstances. Since these filters are designed to remove odors from the air, if you have pets or do a lot of cooking then you might have to change them once a month or so to experience their full benefit.


Washing the Exterior

Washing the exterior of your portable air conditioner  is the easiest part of cleaning it. Just use a soft cloth and warm water. If necessary, you can use a mild cleanser – dish soap, for example – but avoid any cleansers that have abrasives in them, as it could scratch up the plastic casing and leaving it looking worse than when you started.


Once everything is cleaned and put back together, it’s time to take your air conditioner for a quick test drive. You can do this before you install the exhaust hose and window kit for the summer, just to make sure everything is operating correctly.  Basically, turn it on for 5 or 10 minutes and make sure it is blowing cold air.



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1 thought on “Portable Air Conditioners – What to Consider

  1. This is some really good information about the portable cool room. I didn’t realize that you needed to clean the coils. It seems like it would be a good idea to have a professional help you do any other big maintenance.

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