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FAQ About Portable Air Conditioners

Looking for a way to keep cool while indoors during the summer? A portable air conditioner could be just what you're looking for. It offers incredible flexibility, letting you move the unit around so you can stay cool anywhere in your home. Check out these frequently asked questions about portable ACs and what you should consider when buying one.

What is a portable air conditioner?

A portable air conditioner (AC) is a compact air cooling system that can be moved from room to room. They're ideal for use in rooms with no window or a room where you're not able to install a window air conditioner.

What should I consider when buying a portable AC?


When you're talking about the cooling capacity of an air conditioner, you're talking BTUs or British Thermal Units. The number of BTUs you need to cool a room depends on the size of the room. Generally speaking, a 450 sq. ft. master bedroom will require about 10,000 BTUs, while a 350 sq. ft. den or home office will need about 8,000 BTUs. Keep in mind that you don't want to get a unit that is underpowered, because the small air conditioner won't be able to effectively cool the room and will likely be constantly running. Conversely, a unit with too many BTUs will cycle too quickly without properly removing the humidity in the room.

Water collection and removal system

As part of the cooling process, portable air conditioners remove humidity from the air. The water that's collected is either evaporated into the hot air exhaust or collected inside an interior bucket. Depending on the portable AC you buy, you may need to empty the bucket often. If you live in a humid environment, consider a unit that can also be used as a dehumidifier.


A portable AC unit is great for a room that doesn't have a window or one that has a window but won't support a window AC. But, window or not, you need to vent the hot air somewhere to cool the room. This is usually done through an exhaust hose that vents the hot air out a sliding window or door, into a drop ceiling, or through a wall. Many portable ACs come with sliding window/door venting kits, and some will come with drop ceiling kits as well.


Fans and compressors make noise. Since a portable air conditioner has both, it's going to make noise. Decibel levels for portable ACs typically range from 50 to 60 dB, which is louder than a refrigerator hum but quieter than a vacuum. But, if constant noise bothers you, consider getting a portable AC with a programmable timer or a sleep/night mode so the unit only cycles on at specific times.

Want more info about portable air conditioners? Check out some of our resources:

Air Conditioning 101 

Chill out this summer with a portable air conditioner 

How to map airflow and make the most of your portable air conditioner this summer 

How to Properly Size Your Air Conditioner 

Why we need Air Conditioning – not just for Comfort! 

Portable vs. Window Based AC Unit: Which One Should You Choose?  

Cool it now – Here’s your guide to choosing an Air Conditioner