Portable Air Conditioner
Do you need a quick fix for a hot space? Portable air conditioners are extremely convenient for many homeowners and renters, as they are easy to purchase, set-up, move and store.
They are an affordable and efficient method of bringing cool air into a space such as a bedroom, home office, caravan/tent, or small living area. They can also be a fantastic temporary solution if your main air conditioner requires repairs.
This blog will outline the following: –
• how portable air conditioners work
• maintaining your portable air conditioner
• the pros and cons of running a portable air conditioner
• general features of a portable air conditioner
• What is the best portable air conditioner in Australia?
• Portable air conditioner retailers
How Portable Air Conditioners Work?
Portable air conditioning units work using the same functional principals as refrigerated air conditioning systems. The primary function is to pull in the room’s air, condition it to your set temperature by extracting the heat and releasing the cooled air back into your room.
The basic components involved in working a portable air conditioner include:
• Evaporator coil and the refrigerant: Responsible for cooling the air.
• Condenser coil: To cool down the hot refrigerant.
• Compressor: Raises the refrigerant temperature for the condensation process.
• Fan: Moves the air around as needed.
The fan pulls in hot, humid air from the room into the portable air conditioner. The coils present inside the unit bring down the air’s temperature as well as extract water from it through condensation. The cooled air is transferred back indoors.
The refrigerant plays an essential role in the whole process. It is what cools down the room air and is used as a heat exchange medium. It is compressed and then rapidly expanded, cooling it down.
This cooled refrigerant absorbs the heat from the indoor air. As the refrigerant is compressed, heat is generated as a result which needs to be exhausted out. Therefore, portable units have an exhaust hose that is used to vent the heat outside the room.
A portable air conditioner can remove moisture collected from the air in three ways:
• Self-evaporation: Portable ACs remove moisture via an exhaust vent along with warm air. New models mostly use this feature.
• Gravity drain: The moisture collected is pumped out via a hose.
• Internal bucket: The water is collected in a bucket that you would have to drain out manually. Only old models use this feature.
The main difference between portable and other types of air conditioners is that it combines all the processing units together in one stand-alone device. The smallest of portable ACs work in the same way by grouping the refrigeration cycle as closely as possible.
Maintenance of Portable Air Conditioners
To main the effectiveness of your portable Air Conditioner, it is important to look after its maintenance. This will not only help your unit last longer but also keep it running efficiently.
The first step in maintaining any ductless air conditioner is the cleaning and changing of air filters. It is recommended to clean the air filters bi-weekly or monthly, depending on your usage. If you have pets at home, then you might have to clean the vents and filters frequently as pet hair and dander can block the airflow.
The water reservoir should be drained before it starts messing up your room. If your portable aircon isn’t reversible or you don’t plan to use it in winter, it must be stored properly. Clean the device and dry out the water tray to prevent the growth of mold.
Use mild soapy water and a soft cloth to clean the exterior of your portable AC unit. Avoid putting it in direct sunlight, or otherwise, its colour will start to fade over time.
Pros and cons
A portable unit is easy to install. You don’t even need to call a technician and can do it all yourself. You need to find an exit for the hose and install it using the toolkit that comes with the unit. Since all the conditioning is done only in one-unit, portable units are noisy as compared to their alternates.
Most portable air conditioning units have wheels attached at the bottom. Also, they are lightweight and can be easily moved from one room to another as per your needs.
Portable air conditioners are generally less energy efficient. The reason is they take more time to condition a room than any other type of AC of the same capacity. Portable ACs tend to generate some heat during the whole process. It is not noticeable but slows down the overall cooling process.
Portable aircons have a low upfront cost and are increasingly becoming more affordable. The long-term operational cost of portable room air conditioners does not make them an economical option.
Manufacturers don’t recommend using an extension cord with your portable air conditioner. Typically, the manuals advise against it, and claim that doing so will void your warranty. Portable air cons are relatively power hungry, and your extension cord may not be able to cope, posing an overheating or fire risk. Consider the placement of the portable air conditioner in relation to the power socket. Some cords may be too short for your setup.
General features of a portable ac
These are handy in much the same way that a television remote is handy (because we’re lazy!) but with the added benefit of information on room temperature. You can also usually set automatic modes and timers to make life simple. An LCD display is handy so you can see the cooling status without having to get up and look at the screen.
Cool, heat (for reverse-cycle models), dry (dehumidify), automatic or fan only. Automatic or ‘smart’ mode means they can be set for a target temperature and will switch to cooling mode (or heating for reverse-cycle models) as required
These are useful to program the unit to turn on/off at certain times, for instance to cool the place down before you get home from work. Sleep timers are useful at night as they switch the unit off after a set period rather than running all night, and usually have automatic temperature adjustment. This adjusts the temperature to a comfortable level for sleeping, so the air conditioner doesn’t work as hard (and also more quietly) while you’re sleeping.
Louvres to direct airflow
Most portable air conditioners have manually adjustable louvres, though a few have only fixed louvres. Other models have automatically oscillated louvres, which enable the cool air to be directed more widely rather than just in a fixed direction.
These come with filler panels to close the gap in an open window and direct hot air outside using an exhaust hose.
These units can be quite loud and distracting to run, especially if they’re on full blast. They can compete with normal conversation and can be distracting if you’re watching TV or listening to music.
Portable air conditioners will have a collection tank for water. Many new models use the water to aid cooling which reduces the need to empty water from the tank.
Ease of use
If you’ll be moving the portable air conditioner from room to room, look for easy to access handles and good clearance between the floor and the bottom of the unit. Smaller wheels on pile carpet can be a nuisance.
Some newer models let you control the appliance through an app or even smart speaker. These features may be useful if you need to turn the unit on or off when you aren’t home, but the standard remote control that comes with most models will usually do the job.
What is the best portable air conditioner in Australia?
• Solt 2.56 KW
• DeLonghi 3.3KW
• Olimpia Splendid 4.7KW
• Rinnai C4
Portable air conditioner retailers
• The Good Guys
• Harvey Norman JB HI-FI
• Dick Smith
• Big W