Air Conditioner Window vs. Portable: Pros & Cons of Each

When it comes to cooling a certain room or living space, the best air conditioning options available to consumers are usually window or portable units. The challenging part when it comes to buying a unit, however, is that both units provide a handful of advantages despite their pitfalls.

In this portable air conditioner vs. window air conditioner article, we’ve placed both units against one another to take into account both their strengths and weaknesses and see which one ultimately deserves to be in your room more.

Portable Air Conditioners

As their name suggests, portable air conditioners can be moved from one room to another. This type of unit is mostly used by homeowners or those who rent apartments for their specific needs. It’s also commendable for office rooms as well. Some of the best advantages that portable air conditioning units offer include:

Advantages Of Portable ACs

1. Easy To Install

Unlike split, central, and window air conditioners, portable ACs don’t necessarily require any codes or follow any type of building or HVAC permit. And most portable AC units that ship these days also come with “easy to install” kits. The only thing that requires any installation is a 4-inch hose that vents warm air to the outside.

2. Portable

Another great strength of portable air conditioners is their obvious portability. Unlike window ACs, portable ACs aren’t restricted to one place and to move from one room to another. Considering most models have wheels, all you need to do is roll these units for easy transportation.

3. More Venting Options

Portable ACs provide more venting options than simply a window. You can also hook it up to an existing exhaust system like the one in your kitchen to reduce cost and keep your window free.

4. Low Price

Everything considered, portable air conditioners are more affordable than conventional window AC as you can find some even for under $200. Granted, some high-end portable spot coolers might definitely be a little pricier than the low-end window units


Cons Of Portable ACs

1. Take Some Floor Space

Portable ACs may be smaller than their window counterparts, but they’re not necessarily a small appliance, and they do take up a fair amount of floor space. This can especially pose a problem for smaller rooms.

2. Requires Continuous Draining

Most portable air conditioners require constant draining. Using it as a humidifier will have it pull excess moisture from the air. The units come with an attached tank that has to be emptied regularly. However, this can be countered by purchasing an auto-evaporation system unit that would save you the trouble of draining. But it will humidify the room once more.

In some homes, draining water from portable units as well as condensation may become a tiresome task every 30 minutes. That’s why it’s difficult to leave these units unattended for longer durations. Although some models don’t come with that extra maintenance, they do cost a little more upfront. So it’s best to consider a unit that best meets your needs.

3. Less Energy-Efficient

If you were hoping to save more electricity with portable ACs, you would be greatly disappointed. In fact, portable ACs usually take more BTUs –  as well as use up more electricity – to cool the same area as a window model would. This is possibly due to the units generating waste heat indoors instead of outdoors, thus creating more heat to deal with.

4. Noisier

Although each model varies in terms of noise levels, which is measured in DB (decibels), portable AC units are slightly noisier than window AC units. The noise level in portable air conditioners is somewhere close to 70 DB, whereas window AC units hover around 50 DB, making them one-eighth quieter.

If you want to learn more about how to reduce the buzzing noise in your air conditioning unit, learn more here.

Window Air Conditioners

Window air conditioning units are typically the most common option for cooling rooms and other living spaces. They’re installed in one place, but offer a handful of interesting benefits, including:


Pros Of Window Air Conditioners

1. Offers More Space

Compared to a portable air conditioner unit, a window unit sits at one place from a window and frees up floor clutter from your bedroom, office room or other living spaces. You can move around freely without having to bump into any venting hose or an entire unit getting in the way.

2. More Energy Efficient

When it comes to portable vs. window air conditioner efficiency, window air conditioners are generally more affordable than portable units as they take less BTUs. Since the outer unit is located outside, there will be less heat in the room to deal with. For instance, a 10,000 BTU window AC unit will cool about 450 square feet, whereas a 10,000 BTU portable unit will cool only 300 square feet.

And because window air conditioners are more efficient in cooling, they will use up less energy in the process and save up on energy bills. This especially works well as many window air conditioner units have an Energy Star rating on them.

3. Cools Several Rooms Like A Central Unit But At A Lower Cost

One of the greatest advantages that a window air conditioner unit offers is that it has nearly identical cooling capabilities as a central air unit but without the added cost involved. You don’t even have to worry about installing or either updating the ductwork as well.

Compared to a portable AC, a window unit is capable of cooling an entire house in a relatively short amount of time. In fact, if the rooms have straight airflow, a window air conditioning unit is powerful enough to cool two or three rooms. Newer models tend to be more energy-efficient, which has homeowners saving more money on energy bills.

Cons Of Window Air Conditioners

1. Loss Of A Window

For some, such as apartment dwellers, installing a window AC unit can prevent their only source of sunlight from coming through, as well as depleting some level of fresh air from the outside.

2. More Difficult To Install

Though it’s only a one-time thing, installing a window AC is tougher compared to a portable AC as they only fit in standard-sized windows. However, some consumers find it harder to install the unit than others would.



As you can see, portable air conditioning units and window units each come with their own set of pros and cons. But which one takes the lead in this air conditioner window vs portable dual is simply a matter of preference and the only ones with the deciding vote are the consumers themselves.

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