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Portable Aircon vs Window Type: Differences, Pros and Cons, and More


If there’s a video game about air conditioners, without a doubt, a battle between portable aircon vs window type will always commence.

The growing intensity of summer heat is eventually forcing many of us to read about air conditioners.  With limited opportunities to freshen up at beaches or at shopping malls, we want an alternative that’s convenient and easily accessible anytime and anywhere. While this may sound funny, it’s slowly becoming the reality for us lockdown folks.

It almost always boils down to either a portable AC or a window air conditioner. It’s really inevitable because out of all air conditioning types, these two are easy-to-install, and don’t require much drilling or DIY work. 

However, with so many options to choose from, how can you decide between a portable air conditioner and a window unit? Let’s see what each of these two cooling devices has to offer.

Are Portable Air Conditioners and Window Air Conditioners the Same?

The straight answer is no. The fundamental distinction between portable and window air conditioners is their installation process. From their name itself, window ACs are positioned on a window unit, while portable ACs have the convenience to place anywhere inside the house.

In addition, they also differ in terms of pricing, noise level, cooling capacity, energy consumption, and ergonomic qualities. While both units provide the cooling effect you always desire, you have to choose the type that will fit your house and monthly budget. Otherwise, you will only be faced with more problems if you blindly bought an AC unit out of nowhere.

Why Should You Buy a Portable Air Conditioner?

Portable Aircon vs Window Type

As the name suggests, portable air conditioners are the future of convenient cooling and cost-efficient air conditioning. The design is definitely ergonomic because one of its defining features is how simple and easy it is to set up. Every portable air conditioner, whether it’s mobile or not, has the advantage of taking up less space and moving from one place to another easily.

Because window units hang outside of a window, several homeowners’ associations prohibit their usage. Meanwhile, portable air conditioners don’t require any changes to your home before they can cool your area. In addition, a portable air conditioner is more economical because you don’t need to pay installation fees.

However, portable air conditioners are not fit for rooms with limited floor space. While it’s true that a portable unit won’t take up too much space in your house, that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t cover up too many floor spaces because it is essentially placed on the ground, unlike a window AC unit. This may necessitate rearranging furniture because you will also need to make a room for the exhaust vent to flow out. Portable air conditioners need to be connected to an exhaust hose in order for the warm air to leave your place, allowing only the cool air to stay. 

Moreover, it is also a growing concern for a portable unit to keep a noise-free hum once it’s turned on. This has been a challenge for every well-known air conditioner manufacturing company, to increase the marketability of their product.

Why Should You Buy a Window Type Air Conditioner?

Portable Aircon vs Window Type

If you value your floor space and are always keen to reduce clutter reduction, then a window unit is just for you. Unlike other air conditioners, window air conditioners are a more permanent alternative to installing central air conditioning. It’s bulky, hence it requires a support bridge to maintain its way while being suspended on your window unit. But it only consumes less energy in comparison to portable air conditioners. In this way, you’ll get more cooling power per BTU.

When buying window ac units, make sure to always check their BTU ratings. The larger the number, the more space the unit can cool. By sitting in your window and just extending a few inches inside, window air conditioners save you space outside. Unlike portable air conditioners, the noise and hot air are directed outside, since only the cooling fans will be placed facing your room. In addition, it can also cool a bigger area of a single room without worrying too much about your energy bills.

The major drawback of a window AC unit is it’s bulky, hence it is difficult to install. While it’s doable, you still need additional manpower to place it on your window units and build a support bridge to prevent it from crashing down. If your room is located on a higher floor, you have to ensure it’s properly installed because it might damage so many properties if it falls down.

Window air conditioners are noisier than central air conditioners and a portable unit. A subtle humming sound will gradually be heard across the room, especially if it’s using too much cooling power to chill a room.

Things to Consider When Choosing Between a Portable Air Conditioner vs a Window Air Conditioner

The most obvious difference between a window air conditioner and a portable air conditioner is the former is a single box that sits in your window, but the latter has a box that lies on the floor with an exhaust vent that connects through a window, ceiling, wall, or door. Here are five things to consider when choosing between a portable and window air conditioner.

1. Design

The window air conditioners are not necessarily up to the challenge of cooling whole houses. Its function is mostly as room air conditioners. A portable unit is designed to cover multiple rooms due to its portability. In retrospect, it is a small appliance that must still be vented outside, since it has flexible exhaust hoses extending from five to 7ft so they may be moved as needed. This helps chill many areas of the household throughout the day and sends out hot air outside via the extended vent.

However, window air conditioners have faster and stronger fan speeds. This helps the AC to provide a better cooling experience to the house. It also comes with a window kit to ensure the installation is secured.

2. Noise

When you compare the decibel rating of both types of air conditioning units, window air conditioners are much louder. Further tests and analyses were made to compare the noise production of every aircon. It was found out that window air conditioners will make 60 decibels of sound at a cooling capacity of 1000. On the other hand, a portable model will only make 54 decibels of noise. This gives us a quiet portable air conditioner that is perfect for resting, sleeping, and studying.

3. Cooling Capacity

As discussed previously, the greater the BTU rating (British Thermal Units), the greater the cooling capacity of the AC. Air conditioners work to flow the heated air outside while allowing only the filtered cold air to stay.  

In this round, the window air conditioner wins because it has a greater cooling capacity than a portable AC. But this comparison is still dependent on the type of room you want to install the AC. A window air conditioner has a reported area covered that can chill the hot air immediately in one room. On the other hand, a portable AC will only keep the temperature in a single room stable while you cool the whole of the other areas of your house. You also need to remember that while having a large cooling capacity is good, it might cause problems like overheating or noise disturbance if left unattended.

4. Installation

A portable AC can be installed faster than a window AC unit because all you have to do is choose the least occupied space in your house to place the portable AC units and connect its vent. On the other hand, you need to check a lot of things like the standard-sized windows, length of your window frame, the height of your room, and the size of your house before installing a window air conditioning unit.

Weight is one of several issues that can cause installation problems. However, it’s still a question of convenience. Portables will fit perfectly for bigger houses with many rooms to cover. Most often than not, the average weight of the window air conditioning unit is 100 lbs. This is the reason why it takes so much time before it can be installed and be used properly.

5. Efficiency and Power Consumption

When you talk about energy-efficient air conditioners, a portable AC unit will not be your first choice. While it is unclear whether a portable aircon will be rated as Energy Efficient Star or UL rated, there are still some limitations in regulating the efficiency of air conditioners and it’s not necessary that portable air conditioners are rated for efficiency. 

On the other hand, window types have more advanced cooling coils, an evaporator coil, and a condenser coil which will save money and energy in the process. Portable models use the exhaust pipe as one of their primary heating systems. While this is true for every air conditioner, a window air conditioner is mostly equipped with technologies that act as an exhaust method to cool both the aircon and the surroundings.

Final Note on Portable vs Window Aircons

Portable Aircon vs Window Type

Comparing portable AC vs window types will always be the talk of the town, no matter what climate the world will be in. If you think about it, it’s not exactly difficult to choose what aircon unit will fit your house. If your room is only a small space, then the answer is clearly a window type. Portable ones will be best reserved for houses with wider and bigger space. 

It’s true that window types require heavy lifting to install it properly, while portables can be placed either in the same area or in different rooms. However, we must also realize that it’s not a permanent solution to always rely on aircons to keep us cool. With the increasing heat index of the world, it’s also up to us to find natural ways to keep a comfortable temperature going.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do A/C units work?

It is pointless to compare portable vs window types without understanding how aircons function. In general, chemical compounds or refrigerants act as liquid substance which absorbs the heat in the air and converts it to a more comfortable temperature. The resulting by-product is a hot gas which is then pumped outside by the exhaust fans. In this way, cool temperature is kept, while maintaining a reasonable amount of humming noise levels. For instance, portable units use a pipe to funnel air into your windows.

Do all portable air conditioners have to be vented out a window?

The answer is yes. Much like every other air conditioner, a portable AC unit vents out the warm air and humidity from your home in some way. Using exhaust pipes, the ventilation system of a portable air conditioner is done through a window, a ceiling exhaust, sliding door, or wall exhaust.

JP Reyes

JP has been in the aircon industry for almost as long as he has been alive. As a child JP would help his tatay fix aircon units at their junk shop in Cavite. After graduating UP in the early 2000's, JP then started his own Aircon servicing business and within 5 years had 10 shops in 8 different cities. Fast forward to today and JP brings all his experience and expertise online to give readers trustworthy advice and reviews about Air-conditioning buying, servicing, cleaning and repair in the Philippines.

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