When you’re considering a portable air conditioner, it’s important to know how it differs from the more common central air conditioner used in this region. While both cool, there are more differences than similarities that may affect which you choose.
- Sizing. The volume inside the area you want to cool will dictate the ideal size for the unit. Unlike central cooling systems that are sized using a complicated formula, portable systems go by square footage alone and their BTUs (British thermal units).
The smallest units have 8,000 BTUs that are capable of cooling a 200 square foot space. Given the duration and the heat of summers here, it’s better to oversize the unit to ensure your comfort, especially if the room isn’t well insulated.
- Humidity control. Besides the heat, humidity plays a major factor in comfort management in southeastern Texas. Central cooling systems drain condensation outdoors or into the plumbing automatically.
Portable A/C units manage it differently. Some collect the water in a bucket that needs to be manually drained, others evaporate it as part of their operation, and some use hoses to drain it outdoors.
- Placement. Unlike central cooling systems, a portable air conditioner uses a hose that vents the hot air it extracts from the indoor air. This hose must be vented outdoors through a window vent or through a dedicated hole in the wall that will drive where you place the air conditioner.
Access to a power outlet also drives where you place the unit. They should be plugged directly into the receptacle or use an extension cord that’s rated for the total amps that the unit draws.
- Energy efficiency. All air conditioners must meet minimum standards for energy use. Central systems are rated by their SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio), while portable units go by the EER (energy efficiency ratio). Higher ratings for both types are always better.
A portable air conditioner will keep an individual space comfortable, but won’t offer the seamless cooling a central cooling system can. To learn your best options, contact CCAC, Inc., providing HVAC services for Coastal Bend homeowners.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Corpus Christi, Texas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 361-678-2495.