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Portable Refrigerative Air Conditioners

Portable refrigerative air conditioners sound like a good idea if you are renting your home, but they aren't as effective as a wall split or even an old box type room air conditioner (RAC). If you live in a hot dry climate you are better off with a COOLMAX CM50 cooler and DIY kit. A cheaper option which is often nearly as effective is a good portable evaporative cooler with a CoolerBoost duct kit.

Portable air conditioners have a number of inherent problems, including:

Taking air from the room

Most portable refrigerative air conditioners take their condenser air directly from the room. (The condenser air is the air the cooler blows outside through the duct.) If the air conditioner takes air from the room, the air must have originally been dragged in from outside. This adds additional heat to the room. This outdoor air needs to be cooled down to 25C before the cooler even starts to cool the occupants of the room. On a hot day this heat is similar to the cooling capacity of the cooler. If the outdoor temperature is only just above the desired room temperature, the loss in capacity is acceptable, and thus portable refrigerative units work acceptably in cooler climates (like Northern Europe) and at night, but during the day the effectiveness is dramatically reduced.

You might ponder why portable air conditioner manufacturers are the only manufacturers who quote a different daytime and nighttime area that they can cool.

There is a maximum capacity that you can plug into an ordinary power point.

Because any practical portable refrigerative air conditioner needs to plug into a standard 10A power point on a standard circuit breaker, there is a fundamental limit to the cooling capacity achievable. This limits the size and prevents making up for the other problems by simply using more power.

MEPS (Minimum Energy Performance) requirements.

The latest efficiency requirements have put price pressures on the coolers.


I only recommend portable refrigerative air conditioners in areas which are relatively cool but humid. If you live in a hot dry area, you are better off with a COOLMAX CM50 cooler and DIY kit and you will use much less electricity.

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