Informational Guide

Portable Vs Window AC Compared

Let’s dive into these popular home cooling options and find which air conditioner is better for your needs.

by Ian Haynes

This killer heat has got us thinking about air conditioners. The weather is hotter than ever, resulting in more AC purchases.

But how do you select a suitable air conditioning system for your need? Who wins the war between portable AC vs. window AC? And how do you ensure that your AC is big enough to cool your entire space without mounting up the energy bills?

Let’s find out!

What Is A Portable Air Conditioner?

Portable air conditioners, also known as PAC systems, are self-contained, single-unit systems. They are ideally used to cool a single room or compact/small spaces. Portable ACs typically sit on the floor and come with a window kit that is easy to install for a quick setup.

Most portable air conditioners come with wheels under them, enabling them to move from one room to another while their function remains the same.

How Does A Portable Air Conditioner Work?

A portable AC generally takes in warm air and moisture from the room and throws it out through the exhaust hose connected to the window unit. Once the air starts to move out, the cooling process imitates.

Every portable AC comes with an exhaust hose; the floor standing unit doesn’t need any installation, whereas the hose needs to be mounted in a window nearby for adequate ventilation. Keep in mind; proper air circulation is vital to keep the room airy and efficiently air-conditioned.

This is made possible thanks to the window unit that works as an exhaust to drive out warm air and moisture. Also, you can choose to vent through a drop ceiling or a wall.

What Are Portable Air Conditioners Good For?

Portable ACs are a wonderful replacement for window units, and the best thing about them is that they are moveable. With this appliance, you can move room to room and utilize one machine for multiple indoor spaces. Plus, the window kit can also be transferred from window to window as you change the rooms.

However, having different ACs for all the rooms in a house may come with a substantial price. Once, for buying them and later for running them, add to that, maintenance doesn’t come cheap. Therefore, if you have a bigger house but don’t need an AC for every room, you should opt for a portable air conditioner that can be used according to the need.

Also, using one smaller portable system and moving it around proves to save electricity bills and keeps the setup cost of a residential air conditioner low.

Benefits
  • Installation: It doesn’t require any installation as it stands on the floor; the window unit only needs to be placed at a window and can be moved.
  • Mobility: It can be moved from one room to the next according to the need. It comes with wheels that make it more mobile.
  • Price: The prices are going down with each passing year.
  • Storage: If you don’t need to use the portable AC, you can stow it away in a safe place.
  • Size: The compact size is the ultimate benefit; it can seamlessly adjust and fit in any tight space.
Negatives
  • Noise: As the air conditioner takes in air and blows out cold air, it makes loud noises in the process. If you like a quiet environment, the sound can bother you at times.
  • Drain Tanks: The drain tanks are small as the size of the AC is. You need to drain out the tanks regularly to ensure their efficacy.
  • Cooling Capability: A portable AC is not efficient enough to cool larger rooms due to the smaller size.
  • Electricity Consumption: According to research, portable air conditioners tend to use more energy than window air conditioners.
Old Building with Window Type Air Conditioner

Pros & Cons Of Window Air Conditioners

Here is a detailed overview of window air conditioners, what they are, how they work, their advantages and disadvantages. Read on to find out all about window air conditioners.

What Is A Window Air Conditioner?

Window air conditioners are the easiest to install compared to other types of ACs in the market. This air conditioner is also a self-sufficient and independent system, just like a portable AC.

All of the AC’s components are housed within a single unit, and it doesn’t rely on any other part. They are ideal for people who want more sustainable solutions for air-conditioning than portable ACs.

How Does A Window AC Work?

A window sits on the sill of an open window, while the rest of the vacant window is sealed to keep dust, hot air, and insects at bay. A Window AC unit works by pulling the warm air and humidity out of your room while simultaneously bringing in outside air, cooling it, and then circulating it.

Most window ACs are designed to fit in single-hung or double-hung windows, while very few are made to fit in casement windows. Since it sits on the window, with its 1/3rd part inside the room and 3/4th  part outside, it can be tricky to balance. However, it is a permanent resort for air conditioning without drilling holes through a wall or placing additional brackets.

What Is A Window AC Good For?

A window AC is a small appliance that fits in compact spaces; they are suitable for people who don’t need a giant HVAC system or central air conditioning. A window AC comfortably lies in between the big and small air conditioner types.

Window ACs are suitable for medium-sized rooms and moderately warm areas. It maintains just the right amount of cooling in the room, ensuring that it neither gets too chilly nor too warm. Since window ACs are small in size, they are energy efficient, but you must find one suitable for the length of the room you want to place.

Benefits
  • Availability: Due to its efficient cooling feature and the ability to save on bills, it’s commonly a demanded product. Therefore, it’s readily available on the market.
  • Price: Since it’s old technology and slowly becoming obsolete, prices have gotten pretty reasonable.
  • Energy Consumption: It is considered an energy-efficient system, as it uses comparatively less energy than a conventional AC and cools spacious rooms.
  • Cooling: It maintains the room’s cool by continuously pumping the hot air out and cooled air inside. It is efficient enough to cool spacious rooms or even two rooms at a time.
  • Installation: It requires a professional to install it; installing it without experience might damage the unit or keep it unbalanced.
Negatives
  • Space: It requires a window for fitting, as it’s installed in an open window or a wall opening, blocking the room permanently.
  • Dripping Water: It has no arrangement for dripping water. It either goes to the street or ends up rusting the unit’s steel body.
  • Mobility: Since the window unit is installed as a fixture, it cannot be moved very often. To move it to another room, you would need to remove the fixtures and replace them.
  • Noise: It does make noise but lower than a portable AC.
Window Overlooking Garden

Portable Vs Window ACs (Key Differences & Which Is Better?)

When finding the best air-conditioner that is cost and energy-efficient, the choice is always between portable AC vs Window AC. Here we have discussed and compared both options to find out which ones better and which ones best based on the features.

Both window and portable ACs are very similar to each other. Both are easy to install, come for a reasonable amount of money, and have almost the same life and durability. However, it’s the usage that will help you choose one!

Portable air conditioners are best for people who are looking for portability and moderately cool room temperatures. This option is perfect for individuals who don’t need a continuously chilled environment for extended periods but a temporary or occasional get away from the scorching summer heat. Furthermore, it’s is designed to cool smaller areas.

On the other hand, window ACs work best for people who want a more permanent solution. A window AC can run for extended periods without a pause, cools the entire room, and maintains a constant temperature.

It is capable of cooling one spacious room or two at a time if installed perfectly. Suppose you want continuous cooling for larger spaces and a permanent solution to escape the hot summer. In that case, Window ACs are an energy and cost-efficient option as they can work efficiently all day long.

Portable air conditioner vs window unit; here is what works better in terms of:

Energy Efficiency

Since Window ACs cool and maintain the temperature of larger spaces, they are more energy-efficient than Portable ACs. On the other hand, portable ACs use the same amount of energy but only cool compact spaces.

Noise Level

Portable ACs are noisier than window ACs. Various ‘quieter’ models are available for both types. See some below

Quietest Portable Air Conditioners

Quietest Window Air Conditioners

Price

Since portability brings more convenience and Window ACs are turning old by the year, Window ACs are cheaper than Portable ones. But on the broad spectrum, there is not much difference in the price of both.

Portability

Portable ACs can be moved all around the house, but Window ACs are fixed in place, and you’ll likely need professional help to remove them if the need arises.

Cooling Efficiency

Window ACs are much more efficient in terms of cooling when compared to portable ACs. They can cool larger spaces and maintain the cooling for extended periods.

Durability

Window ACs have more BTU ratings and are proven to last longer. Since they stay put in one place, they tend to be more reliable and durable for more extended usage. However, portable ACs face constant wear and tear as they are moved around the house.

Design and Appearance

Window ACs are square in shape and heavier in weight as compared to their portable counterparts. Portable AC’s are standing units and usually rectangular or tower-shaped.

Installation Difficulty

In terms of installation, portable ACs take the lead as they don’t need any installation; place them anywhere, and they are ready to ventilate. However, window units are only installed in windows, but they are also easy to use as they don’t require any drilling or digging.

Window Air Conditioner On a Side of a Building

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Are Portable Air Conditioners Worth The Money?

Yes, portable air conditioners are worth the money if you invest in the right appliance. They last long and provide commendable cooling for homes. However, it would help if you examined all the cheap vs. expensive options to find the best value for money.

Are Window Air Conditioners Worth It?

Yes, if you need a permanent and durable option that lasts long, window air conditioners are worth the money. However, it would be best to examine all the cheap vs. expensive options to find the best fit.

Can I Vent A Portable AC Into Another Room?

Technically, a portable AC needs to be connected with an exhaust hose to vent hot air out of the room. However, venting it into another space will only raise the temperature of your home. Thus, the vent should exhale the hot air outside the house.

Can I Put An Air Conditioner In A Room With No Windows?

Yes, you can put the air conditioner with no windows, but there should be a wall fixture, and the wall you place it in should be an external wall of your home. Also, if it is a portable AC, you can set the vent hose outside the room so that the hot air can be evacuated from your room. Learn more about alternative venting options here.

Which AC Type Is Better In Very Humid Conditions?

Generally, a split air conditioner works best in very humid conditions. But if you compare window and portable AC units, the former would work better than the latter. Read about more cooling options for homeowners here.

Which AC Type Is Better In Colder Climates?

Living in a colder climate means that you don’t need an air conditioner as the weather remains cold. However, if the weather plays its tantrums once in a blue moon, leading to hot, humid weather, a portable AC is ideal.

Conclusion

Hopefully, we have given you enough evidence to decide what unit would suit your needs. Portable, as well as Window ACs, have proven their worth in different spaces. However, a lot has to be considered while basing your decision, from room size to the weather outside, and more.

So choose wisely, and select an option that leads to adequate cooling without bumping your electricity bill.

Ian Haynes

Ian Haynes is an HVAC writer, and researcher. He has worked on hundreds of articles relating to home cooling, heating and air quality with a vast knowledge of the technical aspects of these types of appliances. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador. Learn more about the AC Lab team here.

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