Air conditioners are typically fixed and cannot be moved without dismantling. Portable air conditioners can be moved with relative ease. They have a small footprint – a portable air conditioner’s length, breadth, and height are typically within a meter. Attached caster wheels facilitate effortless movement. The portable AC is a boon for those who cannot buy a fixed AC due to structural limitations or lack of permission to install an AC.
The portable AC sits at one corner of the room and gets the cooling job done. MCL Aircon, a Singapore based aircon service company brings you this article which covers A to Z about portable Acs.
Where does the heat go?
An AC is a heat pump. It removes heat from the room and vents it off to the atmosphere. There must be a mechanism for heat to be pumped out. Portable ACs use a hose to remove heat.
The hose is detachable and must be fixed to the unit before the aircon can be used. The other end of the tube is typically attached to a window, and insulation is provided so that stray air or heat cannot enter the room.
Getting the air conditioner ready for use
The Window Attachment
Any leakage of air at the point where the exhaust duct is connected would lead to loss of cooling. The window attachment needs some effort, especially if the dimensions are large.
You need a piece of insulating material like wood and cut a hole into it. The hole should be appropriately sized as per the diameter of the hose pipe. Once you have the attachment and the hose is fitted to the window, you’re good to go.
Portability with the window attachment
You need to attach the hose to an outlet wherever you want to use the air conditioner. You may buy the hose mounting structure individually for each room where you plan to use the aircon. Once the outlets are ready, the AC becomes portable.
A portable AC could range from anywhere between 0.75 tons to 1.5 tons. Both these capacities require significant power. You need a large size electrical socket to be present in every room where the AC goes. The outlet should be rated at a high current capacity and be within reach of the wire.
Operating the Air Conditioner
Once the air conditioner has been fixed, it can be turned on using the on-board panel or a remote controller, if provided. Most portable air conditioners offer essential functions like air swing, temperature display, sleep, timer functions, and remote control.
The water tank is unique to the portable air conditioner. The aircon removes both heat and moisture. While the heat is vented off to the atmosphere using the hose, the moisture condenses and collects into a water tank that needs to be emptied.
The water collected in the tank depends on the humidity and number of hours of operation. The two factors, along with the capacity of the water tank, determine how frequently you shall be required to empty it.
Portable air conditioners come with an audio/visual alert to indicate a full water tank. You should ideally empty the tank when you get that indication. If the tank is equipped with overflow protection, the AC may stop temporarily until you empty the tank.
When should I consider buying a portable air conditioner?
Portable ACs are best suited for people who move around frequently. Specific job roles require the individual to be in different places for small stints. Transporting a regular window or split air conditioner may be an option but that requires professionals for installation and removal. This is where the portable air conditioner steps in.
Portable ACs are built with a small footprint, and the hose and power cable are detachable, making transport easier. Caster wheels allow the aircon to be moved around like luggage, and it can be conveniently transported to a different place.
If you move around regularly and use the air conditioner, in some time, you shall build the skill of getting the hose mounted yourself. It is not necessary to install the hose. If you can suspend the hose out of the window and somehow insulate the gap, it may work as a temporary arrangement. However, it is advisable to carry material with which you can have a more lasting solution.
You’ve driven to a new city and have carried the aircon with you, but you cannot figure out an immediate solution to fix it. One temporary fix is to let the hose vent into the bathroom. Even if the door is ajar, bathrooms have windows at height or have an exhaust fan. Heat rises. Either of these two can help you use the portable AC on the very same day you occupied a new place.
Pros and Cons of portable air conditioners
- Easy installation
- No need to make structural changes (drilling holes, cutting wooden fixtures, etc.)
- Beneficial for those who move frequently
- Extremely useful for rented accommodations where structural changes are not permitted
- No need for gas recharge upon movement (unlike split aircon units)
- Not a lot of variety available in the market
- Significantly higher power consumption than traditional units (weight reduction means less sophisticated technology)
- Need to drain the water pan is an overhead
- Water overflow protection may switch off the AC
- May not be available in capacities over 1.5 ton
Portable air conditioners are a boon for roaming individuals or families. After movement, it is possible to get the AC working immediately or in a few days. The ability to move it means lesser capital investment. One unit can be reused as required. The hose connectors are a one time fix and maybe a do-it-yourself project for some while others may require professional help. Portable aircon units have higher energy consumption than window or wall-mounted units of the same capacity. Emptying the water tank may seem to be a bothersome task but is one that hardly takes time or much effort.
Portable aircons are available in the same price range as that of a similar capacity window or wall-mounted units though the variety may not be as comprehensive. The portable unit is a brilliant avatar of the air conditioner and is a must-buy for those who want to beat the heat. MCL, Aircon servicing company based in Singapore can help you in buying or servicing portable aircons in your home.