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Why a Portable Air Conditioner Won’t Cut It in San Diego.

August 8, 2018

Things to Consider About Portable A/C

At this point, we all know air conditioning is a non-negotiable, but what type is best for you? If you are trying to avoid the time and cost of a full HVAC installation, you might be considering a portable air conditioner. Portable air conditioners are a common replacement for a full HVAC installation; however, the average portable air conditioner is more limited than you’d expect: these units are more expensive, noisier, and less efficient than their HVAC counterparts.

While a portable air conditioner is more effective than a ceiling fan, it won’t offer the temperature control to combat the warm summer months we face in San Diego. In fact, Consumer Reports found that most portable air conditioners struggled to reduce indoor temperatures below 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Let’s identify why using a portable air conditioner won’t cut it when compared to an HVAC system.

They Use a Lot of Energy

You may think that getting a portable air conditioner instead of a full-sized HVAC system will save you some cash but the truth is, you’ll spend more money in the long-term.

Most portable air conditioners don’t meet the minimum seasonal energy efficiency (SEER) requirements, and because of this, they often consume more electricity. The SEER ratings are defined by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute and help to clarify an air conditioning unit’s energy efficiency. Even if your air conditioner has a high SEER rating, it’s not a guarantee of energy savings, especially if your unit runs for long periods of time.

A portable unit also won’t be as powerful as a full HVAC system, which means it has to work harder to cool your room or home. And when a portable air conditioner works harder, it also consumes more energy — increasing your energy bill.

Limited Portability

One major selling point of a portable air conditioner is in the name itself: portability. You can relocate it throughout the day depending on where you need it most. Unfortunately, these bulky devices aren’t as easy to move as they may initially seem. Portable air conditioners are heavy and if you have carpet or stairs to navigate, moving your unit could be a real struggle.

Portable air conditioners also need a window or point of ventilation, which makes them location-dependent — and you must keep power requirements in mind to avoid breaking a fuse. This is unlike an HVAC system, which uses ducts and fans to help seamlessly ventilate your home and is installed by a professional, taking all of the guesswork out of the equation.

There’s a Condensation Problem

Air conditioners cool a room and pull humidity out of the atmosphere at the same time. But when this moisture leaves the air, it has to have somewhere to go. You’ll need to either place your unit near a window, where an exhaust pipe carries the water outside, or you’ll need to use a water pan inside the unit. This means more personal maintenance and attention than an HVAC system would require.

Portable Air Conditioners Are Noisy

An HVAC system is quiet, efficient, and powerful, discreetly working in the background to keep your home cool and comfortable. Portable air conditioners, meanwhile, have all of their components packed into one unit. This means you may experience excessively high noise levels while the compressor or fan is running. The harder your portable air conditioner has to work, the louder it will be, with some units becoming so loud that they drown out all conversation, music, or television in the room.

Limited Humidity and Temperature Control

It’s no secret that the summer months in San Diego can bring hot temperatures and humid days. Unfortunately, a portable air conditioner is only able to combat these temperatures and humidity issues in the short-term — it is not a quality long-term solution. Even if a portable air conditioner does offer some relief, it can only cool one small space at a time. You’d have to purchase multiple units to effectively cool an entire home — and the cost of these can quickly add up.

Instead, central air conditioning offers a comprehensive solution to beat the summer heat. A full HVAC system gives you the temperature control you want to cool your entire home — without having to relocate a unit or find a ventilation window.

Portable Air Conditioners: Worth Your Time and Money?

If your AC suddenly stops working or you’re temporarily between homes, a portable air conditioner might make sense and could provide some temporary relief from summer temperatures. However, these devices aren’t enough to provide long-term comfort, especially in places with long summer seasons like San Diego.

Talk to our experts at Bob Jenson about setting up a home evaluation to see how easy and cost-effective an HVAC solution could be for your home.


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About The Author

Bob Jenson

For over 45 years, Bob Jenson has been providing quality heating and air services to the San Diego community.


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