We humans sure enjoy our creature comforts, and thanks to technology and some clever innovators it is becoming easier to bring things like air conditioners along for the ride when we go camping or enjoy the great outdoors. And if there’s one thing that’s true it is that Americans love their air conditioning. According to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey, 87% of American homes have AC units installed – a number that is up from 68% in 1993. In this article we review the Zero Breeze AC Unit.
Zero Breeze is a completely portable, battery-operated cooling system for times when you’re on-the-go. Its interchangeable batteries operate for approximately 5 hours each to keep you cool, while also working as a dehumidifier.
Initially designed as a compact AC unit for camping, consumers are also finding the small 12-pound unit perfect for dorm rooms, small cabins, RV campers, inside your vehicle (for yourself or pets), tailgating and more.
You might even want to set it up right next to you the next time you hit the beach, as it works as well outside as it does inside. But is it worth the cost? Let’s take a look.
How Does the Zero Breeze Portable AC Function?
Operating the Zero Breeze Mark 2 is as simple as pressing the “On” button and enjoying the cool breeze. But this doesn’t explain exactly how the device works. Just like true AC units, this machine operates on a rotary compressor, which gives it a major advantage in cooling performance compared to other portable units on the market.
Most portable ACs use a more simplified evaporation system, which essentially just uses fans with ice or water to create that cooling effect. The Mark 2, however, is much more advanced than this with its built-in micro compressor and dual hose exhaust configuration. It has a cooling power of 2300 BTU and can reach the sought-after temperature in as little as 10 minutes.
Thanks to the cordless battery design, this is the ideal on-the-go cooling solution. Unlike the previous Mark 1 model that uses a 12V battery, the Mark 2 utilizes an upgraded 24V battery for more powerful performance. Once the battery is fully charged (this takes about 5 hours), you’ll be able to stay cool for up to 5 hours.
The battery can be charged by car or solar power. Because it does require 5 full hours of charging time, it’s recommended that you purchase an extra one (especially if you’re planning overnight camping trips). Zero Breeze gives customers the option to purchase the AC only, the AC with a 1x battery, the AC with a 2x battery, or the battery alone.
Where Can This Battery Powered 12V Air Conditioner be Used?
AC units are becoming more popular with tent campers because we like comfort. Nobody goes camping with the intention of being hot and sticky all night! This 24V battery is great for tent camping because you don’t need to be hooked up to a power source (except to recharge, of course).
The only caveat is that you will have to hook up your exhaust pipe so that it is venting out of the tent. If you don’t, the backside of the unit will essentially be blowing even hotter air into your enclosed space from the compressor. Worse yet, the condensation will have nowhere to go, and you’ll likely wake up in a puddle created by the dehumidifier. You’ll thank us when you remember to use the venting kit correctly and also filter the runoff out of your tent!
For cabins with electricity, it would be wisest to use the AC adapter to plug the Zero Breeze into a standard outlet. And don’t expect that the unit will completely cool your cabin.
At 2300 BTUs, the Zero Breeze is designed to cool only about 30 -100 square feet of space (think about the area of a small-sized bedroom). It might not cool the whole cabin, but it can be a friendly bedside coolant on a hot summer’s night. Making sure the battery is charged, you’ll also have a cooling source with the 24V smart battery if the power happens to go out.
Using the Zero Breeze in a car or truck for short periods of time is ideal for use with the 24V battery. After all, most cars already come equipped with an AC unit for while the car battery is running.
This product allows you to use AC in situations like waiting in the carpool line, eating lunch or grabbing a quick nap in your car during a work break. Of course, never leave your pet alone in a warm vehicle as this could lead to harm to your pet. For that reason, we do not recommend using the zero breeze for that purpose.
The Zero Breeze can also be used outdoors. With your smart battery, it can be easily used anywhere – whether you’re at the beach or in your backyard. The specs will obviously be a little bit different when you’re outdoors, as the unit will have to work harder to cool the surrounding area and the cold air will fast escape.
For best results, when using the Zero Breeze outdoors, we recommend using in the shade and right next to where you want to cool.
Key Features of this Zero Breeze AC
|Weight (lbs)||16.5 lbs (including extra’s)|
|Cooling capacity (BTUs)||2300 BTUs|
|Power Source||AC/DC power adapter or smart battery|
|Noise Levels (dba)||52 dba|
|Area Coverage (sq. ft)||40 square feet (ideal) Max – 200 sq ft|
|Working Temperature||Less than 104 ° F ( 40 ° C)|
The rechargeable 24V battery is what makes this the perfect portable cooling solution. Just be sure to choose the Mark 2 that comes with the battery included.
To reach a full charge, you’ll need 5 full hours, and from there, you’ll be able to get 5 hours of use. It’s definitely recommended that you invest in an extra battery.
It’s worth noting that the Mark 2 battery is not interchangeable with other battery models. This means you won’t be able to use the battery for powering your other devices – it’s only suitable for staying cool with your Zero Breeze.
Set Up & Usage
One of the most recurring compliments relating to this portable AC is that it’s close to being ready to use right out of the box.
There’s a bit of setup required for the vent pipe so that condensation doesn’t puddle up next to your Zero Breeze, but this is an easy process.
Before powering the Mark 2 on, Zero Breeze recommends that you let the unit sit upright for at least 2 hours. If it was shipped on its side, the refrigerant will need time to settle back in place.
Noise levels are measured in decibels, or dB. The Mark 2 emits noise at about 52 dB, which is significantly quieter than the original Mark 1. To give you a reference, 52 is about the same as a running refrigerator or a small electric fan.
Most portable ACs fall somewhere between 50 and 60 dB, and the Mark 2 operates on the lower end of this range when on the low setting. Even on the high setting, this AC falls within that range, which means you can enjoy quiet cooling anywhere, anytime.
Cooling Capacity (BTUs)
Most portable ACs run on 5000+ BTUs, so the Mark 2’s 2300 BTU rating is considered on the lower end of cooling capacity.
Because of its relatively low BTU rating, the Zero Breeze is only suitable for small spaces.
The company says that it’s ideally used for 3-person tents measuring 70.9″ x 82.7″ x 40.9″, and in space like this, it can reach the ideal temperature in 10 to 30 minutes. It’s ideal for spaces under 50 square feet but performs best in 25 to 40 square feet.
EER, or Energy Efficiency Rating, is a measurement of how much energy a unit uses while operating. The higher the EER, the better the efficiency. It’s easy to calculate, just use BTU/wattage. Since the BTU of the Zero Breeze is 2300 and has a cooling capacity of 650 watts, the unit’s EER is about 3.5.
This is on the low-end of EER ratings for AC units, but it’s important to keep in mind that this is the norm for portable cooling devices. Higher EER ratings are more common for large bulky units that have higher cooling capacities – not for small handheld ACs like the Zero Breeze.
Temperature & Area Coverage
Unlike most room or portable air conditioners, the Zero Breeze is not designed to cool an entire room to a set temperature. It is explicitly made to cool the area right in front of the fan for more personal comfort for you and your guests.
The company claims that the Zero Breeze achieve optimal operating efficiency between 82℉ to 95℉ and utilize a blowing air temperature than can be 30℉ lower than the surrounding air in 10 minutes. But unlike other AC models, you won’t find a built-in thermostat that allows you to set or reach a direct temperature.
One of the coolest extra features of the Mark 2 is its infrared remote control, which lets you control the unit’s settings without needing to push buttons on the control panel.
It also comes with an LED light, but sadly there are no USB charging ports and no Bluetooth speaker like there are with the Mark 1.
In addition to a 1-year warranty, Zero Breeze has a 30-day money-back guarantee. The company says that “if for any reason you are not satisfied with your gear in the first 30 days – enjoy no hassle returns.”
If you experience trouble within the first year of owning your Zero Breeze, they’ll cover any defect that happens under normal use.
Comparing The Zero Breeze Mark 2 Vs Mark 1 Models
While the ideal cooling space of the Mark 1 is listed as 47.2″ x 78.7″ x 41.3″, Mark 2 can better handle 70.9″ x 82.7″ x 40.9″ (this is the difference between the standard 2-person and 3-person tent).
On top of that, the Mark 1 vents heat through a single hose system, but the Mark 2 has upgraded to dual-hose ventilation.
This directly correlates to the maximum temperature drop and the cooling time; the Mark 1 can drop the temperature up to 18 degrees in 30 to 60 minutes while the Mark 2 can drop the temp by 30 degrees in 10 to 30 minutes.
There are several minor differences between these two Zero Breeze models, but the other major difference that’s worth noting is the noise output. One of the main complaints of the Mark 1 is the somewhat noisy 65 dB operation, but the Mark 2 is rated at just 52 dB. This is a significant drop, and Zero Breeze users have noticed the improvement.
One thing to note about the Mark 2 is that it doesn’t come with some of the extras of the Mark 1, like the Bluetooth speaker and the USB charging ports. But some users actually see this as a perk since these extras were responsible for draining the battery faster than usual.
Pros of this Portable AC
The technology behind the Zero Breeze is certainly not lacking, especially with the noticeable improvements made to the newest model. Here are a few things that we like about the product:
- More BTU/cooling power than the Mark 1
- Only 16.5 pounds with easy carrying handle
- Doubles as a dehumidifier
- Can be used with smart battery by Zero Breeze or included AC/DC adapter
- Easy-to-clean filter and included port for the condensation drain
- Quieter operation compared to the Mark 1
- Multiple fan speeds for optimal comfort
No portable AC is perfect, and the Zero Breeze is no exception. There are mostly only good things to say about the Mark 2, but this doesn’t mean that we have no complaints. Here are a few things we’re not loving:
- The Zero Breeze Smart Battery cannot be used with other products like other 24V batteries
- Will require additional batteries for continued portable use
- Cools best only in a small area (up to 50 square feet)
- Battery life only 5 hours with 5-hour charging time
- The exhaust exchange actually creates hot air out of the back of the unit, which over time mixes with the colder air from the front of the unit for a less desirable effect
- Does not come with collection site for condensation/water (must use your own pan/bucket)
- When used indoors, must be near a window for proper venting of condensation
- Company is known to have long periods between ordering and shipping but they are usualy prepared for summer period
- Expensive to purchase
Better Air Conditioning Alternatives On The Market
For Tent Camping
When it comes to portable AC for tent camping, we recommend this Frigidaire Window-Mounted unit. It might seem a little silly, or even counter-intuitive to use a window room AC on a camping trip, but the idea is gaining more traction. This model can be plugged into a standard outlet at your campsite and easily vented through your tent. In fact, many tents are now being manufactured with a built-in vent for this specific purpose – check out this Ozark Trail Tent. This Frigidaire unit runs on 5,000 BTUs and will keep an area of up to 150 square feet cool. Not too mention it’s about a third of the price of a Zero Breeze unit.
For Small Cabins
For small cabins with electrical hook-ups, an item like the Zero Breeze is going to do zero good because it just isn’t built to cool the space efficiently. That’s why for areas of up to 450 square feet we recommend the Haier Portable Electronic Air Conditioner. It’s slightly larger than most portable air conditioners at 55 pounds, but at 12,000 BTUs you will feel the room instantly becoming cooler. The unit also works as a dehumidifier, so no more sticky wet summer nights. Units like these are easily hooked-up and ventilated through a window and most are super quiet, so you’ll likely forget its even there.
For Cars & Trucks
Most cars and trucks are manufactured with their own fans and AC units already, but sometimes you want a little more and that’s where a product like the AboveTEK 12V DC Electric Car Fan comes in handy.
This small but mighty double-fan has got your back when you come back to your car after it has been sitting in the bright sun for several hours, or if you just need a little extra breeze.
It comes with a nine-foot cord, so it can be placed anywhere within your vehicle and works well right off your car’s battery. No more do you need to be running your engine just to have a cooler car while you eat your lunch or sit in a carpool line. It doesn’t have the AC component, but you will feel like it does.
Customer Reactions & Reviews
User opinion can be challenging to dissect. Some may have a different purpose in mind, others may be paid to write positively or negatively about the brand and some may also have expectations that are unrealistic. We encourage you to read and judge for yourself. We can assure you we have not been paid or influenced and this is our unbiased opinion on the Zero Breeze.
Jay Lee is one of the original backers of the Zero Breeze Kickstarter project, and couldn’t wait to review the product in its fullness. See what he has to say about his new AC unit in his YouTube video.
After trying his Zero Breeze, Richard has doubts that it could cool a hot car during the day, but thinks it would be sufficient for cooling a tent overnight. Check out his review on Does It Really Work?
The folks on iReview have mixed feelings about the Zero Breeze. Some users are very happy with their purchase, while others are having trouble getting in touch with customer service or even receiving their product at all.
Yin Chi Guy shares his unboxing experience on the Zero Breeze website and shows views how to setup and run the unit.
Reddit users on this post seem to agree that the Zero Breeze name is a play on how well (or little) the product works.
Frequently Asked Zero Breeze Questions
Was this product a Kickstarter project on Indigogo? How was it received?
Yes! Zero Breeze started on Kickstarter with a goal of raising $100,000. They quickly raised over $550,000 with over 1,100 backers. You can read more about their story here.
Who designed this product?
The Zero Breeze was designed by a group of six self-funded guys led by Kelvin Ma, who remains the company’s CEO.
Is this a paid review?
No, this is an independent and unbiased review. All opinions stated are my own and we did not receive anything from Zero Breeze for this article.
Does the Zero Breeze come with a warranty and returns policy?
Yes, Zero Breeze has a 1-year warranty on all of their products. Returns must be submitted within 30 days of receipt.
Where can you buy the Zero Breeze portable AC?
Zero Breeze is currently only available for purchase on their company website. The older version is available on Amazon.com where you can read many in-depth reviews from verified buyers but keep in mind that this Mark 1 is a far cry from the newest version of this portable AC.
When it comes down to it, we think that Zero Breeze Mark 2 is a vast improvement on the initial model. Yes, it is expensive and it is best used for small spaces.
If cooling relief is needed, then this is a great solution for camping, in cars or trucks, in cabins or other small living environments.