Portable Air Conditioners Slightly Better Than Fans


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With summer temperatures rising, one might consider buying a portable air conditioning unit, to avoid the hassle of installing a window unit. Portable floor units are designed to draw in warm air, cool it, then push it outside via a hose that connects to a window.

Though, Consumer Reports has found that the quite expensive technology is typically no better than a regular fan. Consumer Reports fashioned a room to test the cooling power of various portable floor units. The temperature outside the room was set at 90 degrees with 70 percent humidity. Each air conditioner in the room was set to cool at 75 degrees.

Brands tested included Honeywell, Haier and Frigidaire. Prices ranged from $250 to more than $500, and an array of thermocouples placed around the room gauged the cooling power of each model.

Bob Markovich of Consumer Reports commented, “none of these units, not even the biggest ones, could get our test chamber below 80 degrees, even after an hour and 40 minutes. Window air conditioners are much more effective, and they tend to cost less." The test revealed that all of the units were struggling to keep room temperature at 80 degrees. The most expensive unit, the Honeywell which costs $550, was unable to cool the roughly 225 square foot test chamber. The Honeywell had promised to cool rooms up to 550 square feet.

Here is a portable air conditioner unit installation video by Haier:

It's been theorized that portable air conditioning units don't work well because negative pressure is created while conditioned air from inside the house is trying to push hot air through the vent leading outside. This actually forces more hot air into the house.

Consumer Reports went on to test some standard window units, and found that two LG brand air conditioners worked best for large and medium sized rooms, at a price of $350 and $240 respectively. It was found that a $210 GE unit worked best for smaller rooms.

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