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A Portable Air Conditioner To Fit Your Need

Updated on August 14, 2009

What is a portable air conditioner?

When you think of a portable air conditioner, what do you see? A Japanese geisha girl holding a fan? An elderly woman fanning herself with the church bulletin while listening to a long-winded sermon? An old house with a window open and the curtains fluttering from a strong breeze? How about a noisy contraption sitting in the window of a trailer home? By searching online you can find a number of great buys on portable air conditioner brands - Edgestar, Royal Sovereign, Toyotomi, MovinCool, Koldwave, Symphony, MightyKool, and KoolerAire to name a few.

The Portable Air Conditioning Device I Am Talking About

The term portable air conditioner can mean different things to different people, but the portable air conditioner I am referring to is one that provides cool air in a quiet efficient manner and may be easily moved from one place to another. The unit may also furnish heat for the winter or be used as a dehumidifier in a damp environment. Some may be equipped with an air purification filter to remove indoor pollutants from the air you breathe such as cigarette smoke, auto or other industrial exhaust fumes, dust, mites, pollen, mold spores, and other allergens.

This portable air conditioner runs on electricity or battery or can even be plugged into a cigarette lighter. It can be used in non standard places where permanent installation is not required or desired. This unit may be used at home, in an office, in a computer room, in a healthcare facility, in a warehouse, indoors or outdoors, on a boat, in a recreation vehicle, in a golf cart, in your car or truck, or in just about any place there is a need for a portable air cooling device.

Portable Air Conditioner?

Strong Natural Breeze
Strong Natural Breeze
Window Air Conditioner
Window Air Conditioner

How An Air Conditioner Works

Remember the old style window installed air conditioners? Much like the central home systems, this portable device removes warm air from the room where the unit is installed and replaces it with cool dry air generated by the unit.

A coolant called freon is used to generate the cool air. This refrigerant runs through a maze of coils attached to the unit. An internal fan blows air over the coils on the cooling side of the unit and the generated cool air is blown into the adjacent room to lower the temperature. The hot hair removed from the room is exhausted to the outside.

Typical Portable Air Conditioner
Typical Portable Air Conditioner

The Typical Portable Air Conditioner

The typical portable air conditioner uses a similar cooling process. This air conditioner can be air or water cooled. The air cooled version needs to be vented through a window kit to the outside or can be vented into an attic or a drop ceiling overhead space in certain instances.

A window kit usually consists of a window plate and an adapter for the plate. The adapter is used to fit a flexible hose that is connected from the portable unit to the window plate. This plate is set into the window frame. These window vent kits are designed for use in vertical and horizontal sliding windows.

Most portable air conditioners use one hose for venting. Some models have a dual-hose setup where one hose brings air in from the outside to cool the condenser coils, and the other hose exhausts the hot humid room air to the outside. These units tend to cool better.

The water cooled version uses water instead of air to dissipate the heat from the room and what is generated from the cooling process. A hose kit is provided to connect the A/C unit to a sink or other source of water. The water flows through the unit and may be returned to the sink where it is emptied down the drain or may be emptied to its own separate drain.

This type of portable air conditioner is best suited for a climate with damp air or high humidity. It dehumidifies or removes the moisture from the air as it cools it. This unit either collects the condensate in an internal bucket that must be manually emptied every few hours or uses a system that evaporates most or all of the condensate automatically.

Factors To Consider When Buying A Portable Air Conditioner

Before buying, you need to take the following into consideration:

  • BTU rating - Portable air conditioners are sized according to BTUs, which stands for British Thermal Units. A BTU is a unit of energy that is commonly used to measure the energy-transferring capability of heating and cooling systems such as furnaces, ovens, refrigerators, and air conditioners. A portable air conditioner's BTU rating basically defines its cooling capacity. The higher the BTUs, the better the cooling capacity.
  • Room size - Determine the room's square footage. The larger the room size, the more BTUs the portable unit will need. (See the chart above)
  • Ensure a window is available for venting, if necessary.
  • Ensure there is a receptacle nearby that is compatible with the plug on the unit and rated for the correct volts and amps.
  • Ensure a water hookup, sink or drain is available, if necessary.

Remember, an incorrectly sized portable AC with insufficient or excess BTUs will result in inefficient cooling. An air conditioner that has a higher BTU rating than the room size required will tend to cycle off too quickly and will not properly remove the moisture from the air. An air conditioner that has a lower BTU rating than the room size required will run continuously and will not adequately cool the room.

Edgestar AP12000S
Edgestar AP12000S

Best Portable Air Conditioner

Edgestar - Along with Koldfront, Edgestar is a private-label brand for portable air conditioners made by Living Direct. These air conditioners can cool 225 to 525 sq. feet of living space.

An Edgestar portable AC unit can provide supplemental or spot cooling to a server room. It can cool an apartment, office, or a single room at home. It offers a remote control with LCD display, a 12 or 24 hour timer, caster wheels for easy mobility, and an auto-restart function.

Many of the models also function as fans, heaters, and dehumidifiers. They feature a self-evaporative design that virtually eliminates the need to manually drain water from a tray. Some of the larger capacity models are outfitted with dual hose venting.

Living Direct has built a strong brand in the refrigeration industry. They have provided the Bellagio Hotel, one of the most elegant casinos in Las Vegas, with wine coolers for some of the most luxurious suites. The Philadelphia Eagles have purchased Living Direct compact refrigerators for use in the VIP suites at their football stadium.

  • Edgestar Models: AP14000HS, AP14000W, AP12000S, AP10000HW.
  • Koldfront Model: PAC8000S.

Royal Sovereign ARP-3014
Royal Sovereign ARP-3014

Royal Sovereign - This company is headquartered in Rockleigh, New Jersey with plants in China and Korea.

Their AC units are rated from 8,000 to 12,000 Btu/hr. The top end model contains a self-evaporating system and has adjustable louvers and an oscillating mode to direct the airflow. The unit can be used in fan mode to just circulate air and as a dehumidifier to remove up to 72 pints of water a day without draining a tray. This portable AC can also be used as a heater in the winter giving it year round functionality.

  • Models: ARP-1008, ARP-9009TL, ARP-9011TL, ARP1010, ARP-3012, ARP-4009, ARP-4010, ARP-4012H, ARP-5012XH, ARP6010H, ARP-900E, ARP-900M, ARP-904EC, ARP-906EC, ARP-1000DE, ARP-1200E.

Toyotomi TAD-T38J
Toyotomi TAD-T38J

Toyotomi - One of the world's largest producers of heating products and a leading maker of portable air conditioners. All Toyotomi products are manufactured in its state-of-the-art facilities in Japan.

Toyotomi currently has three models that are rated for 10,000 to 13,000 Btu/hr. All models have double air filters. Two of the models are double duct systems with separate intake and exhaust hoses. This provides 20% greater cooling efficiency than a single duct unit.

  • Models: TAD-T32G, TAD-30J, TAD-38J.

MovinCool PC7
MovinCool PC7

MovinCool - Their products are manufactured by DENSO Corporation which is based in Kariya, Japan. DENSO has provided air conditioning and heating systems for automotive manufacturers for years and leveraged this learned technology to build portable air conditioning systems.

They initially provided the solution for cooling their own plants and used this knowledge to build systems to cool other factories, warehouses, hospitals, server/computer rooms, offices, and schools. They create units and systems that provide cooling for outdoor events and for moisture removal as well. Their systems range in size from 7,000 to 60,000 Btu/hr.

  • Models: PC7, Office Pro 12/18/24/36/60/63, Classic 10/18/40/60, Classic Plus 14/26.

Koldwave AWK07
Koldwave AWK07

Koldwave - Based in Marietta, Georgia, Koldwave is an international manufacturer of portable air-cooled and water-cooled air conditioners. Heat pumps can also be installed in the water-cooled units. They provide units with cooling capacities from 7,000 to 65,000 Btu/hr.

A Koldwave air conditioner can provide cooling to rooms in a home, basements, offices, computer rooms, hospitals, labs, communication rooms, switching rooms, and factories, and be used for outdoor events.

  • Models: 4AK10, 4AK14, 4AK24, 4AK30, 4AK60, 4WK07, 4WK14, 4WK16, 4WK23, 4wk26.

How Evaporative Cooling Works

Another type of portable air conditioner.

There is another type of portable air conditioner. This unit would actually be more precisely termed an air cooler. It uses "evaporative technology" to produce cool air, so naturally this type of portable air cooling device is called an evaporative cooler. It may also be referred to as a swamp cooler.

The way evaporative cooling works is the heat from the hot air is absorbed as the moisture evaporates. The portable air cooler processes the hot dry room air and runs the air over special pads in the unit that are saturated with water. The air is then cooled by evaporation and circulated back into the room.

An air cooler is best used in a dry climate with humidity less than 30%. That is because the evaporative cooling process uses water to humidify the air. The unit also works best in a well ventilated area. It can reduce the ambient air temperature by as much as 20° F.

Evaporative coolers are much cheaper to operate than air conditioners. They are also "green friendly" because they don't emit toxins to the outside air.

Convair Millenia
Convair Millenia

Best Portable Air Coolers

Convair - Manufactured by Seeley International which is based in Adelaide, Australia. Seeley developed the world's first all-plastic non-corrosive evaporative cooler more than 20 years ago and takes pride in the fact that their products are environmentally friendly and healthy.

  • Models: Cool Wind, Westwind, Prestige, Millenia, Arctic Breeze, Award, Convair 3-in-1.

Edgestar EAC421W
Edgestar EAC421W

Edgestar - Mentioned above for making a nice portable air conditioner, Living Direct uses the same high quality standards to produce their evaporative air cooler.

  • Models: EAC421W, EAC211TS.

Symphony Winter
Symphony Winter

Symphony - Symphony is an Indian company that has the distinction of creating the world's largest functional air cooler. It's air coolers are made in Thol. They have units that can cool an area from 150 to 750 sq. feet.

Symphony has three categories of evaporative air coolers.

  • Desert Coolers: Sumo Go, Jumbo, and Winter.
  • Room Coolers: Kaizen, Jumbo Jr., Sumo Jr., Kaizen Jr.
  • Personal Coolers: H! Cool, Surround, Ninja.

MightyKool MW1
MightyKool MW1

MightyKool - Made by Swamp Cooling Systems located in Mesa, Arizona, the MightyKool portable air cooler can be used in a car, truck, boat, golf cart, semi-truck sleeper, electric recreational vehicle, camper, or a tractor.

This unit can even be used as a pet air conditioner. It can provide comfort for your pets when you bring them along while traveling and need to stop for an hour or two while leaving them in your vehicle.

  • Models: MW1, MW2.

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A third type of portable air conditioner.

Yet another type of portable air conditioner. This one is a lot less high tech and basically uses a fan and ice in a chest or frozen bottle of water to produce cooler air. There are times when a portable air conditoner or cooler are not an option and this may be the last creative way to cool off.


Best Ice Air Coolers

KoolerAire - KoolerAire is a 12-volt air cooling device that was developed by an outdoors man who likes to camp, fish, and use his boat.

This unit is totally portable. To use, you simply fill a foam cooler with ice, insert the KoolerAire device just inside the top, plug it into a 12 volt adapter such as a cigarette lighter adapter and enjoy the cool air. The foam cooler can still be used to ice down refreshments while the device is running.

KoolerAire generates cool air by forcing the ambient air downward into the ice filled cooler. The air flows across the ice and is cooled to about 50 degrees before leaving.

This is a great cooling solution for your truck, camper, RV, boat, tent, or any other small space where cooling is needed. KoolerAire has been used by UPS, Fed Ex and USPS delivery personnel, toll booth operators, and even a military advisor in Iraq. It's a great device to use to keep the pets cool while on the road.

Desktop Air Conditioner
Desktop Air Conditioner

Desktop Air Conditioner - This item is sold by Action Packaged at It is portable and easy to use. You simply fill the included water bottle with water, freeze it, and set it inside the desktop unit. Most types of one pint water bottles can be used with it as well. There is an adjustable vent on the front. The desktop air conditioner requires two D sized batteries to operate.


Do you have a need for one of the portable air conditioners mentioned in this hub?

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    • profile image

      aisa reyes 

      7 years ago

      this is very informative. i have a question though, i am not sure what to get because the room i need to cool down is in the attic with no windows, and no water source plus it would be very difficult to bring water up and down the stairs. i would like to use that big empty space as an office. is there a suitable portable air conditioner for me? i live in new jersey and it gets really humid. thank you for your help.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love the performance of my TAD-T32G. Portable air conditioner is the best!

    • conradtempleton profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Florida

      That's great to hear Nelle.

    • profile image

      Nelle Hoxie 

      9 years ago

      I love my portable air conditioner, which can also be a portable heater if I need it. It has made my life much more comfortable, especially on hot and humid days.


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