Portable vs. Window AC Units

Old 06-21-10, 11:17 AM
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Portable vs. Window AC Units

Hi Forum Members,

While I understand that questions about window and portable units may not exactly be "Do It Yourself," I'm sure you can imagine how difficult it is to seek out internet forums dedicated to air conditioning. So here I am.

The root of my question is basically whether there are any inherent differences in effectiveness, per BTU, of Portable units versus Window units.

I recently replaced an old 5000 BTU window unit with an (also old) 8000 BTU portable unit (i.e. one of those floor-standing units on wheels, which uses an exhaust hose to pump the hot air out the window). The room is roughly 11' x 11', with modest ceilings (around 8'), is reasonably sealed as far as air conditioning is concerned (by that I mean it has a door. If we were discussing heating, I would call it pretty old and drafty), and is on the top level of a two-story building.

While the window unit did a reasonable job of cooling the room as a whole, the portable unit is ineffective, to say the least. On a moderately warm day on which it would be "nice" to have air conditioning, but it's not an absolute necessity, opening the windows and firing up the ceiling and window fans beats the AC unit any day. On really hot days on which AC would almost be considered a public health issue, the only relief I get from this thing is by wheeling it to the side of my bed, and letting it blow on my face literally inches away.

Like I said, this unit isn't exactly brand new (I found it in the basement of my building after my window unit's compressor gave out), but it seems as if it should at least be able to bring the room down a few degrees (it's a DeLonghi Pinguino, in case any of you are, for some reason, air conditioning enthusiasts).

So please, impart your knowledge!
  • Are portable units just inherently less effective than window units? If this is the case, I will give up on this thing and just put down the $130 or so for a cheap, 5000 BTU window unit.
  • I'm sure not all compressors are created equally, even BTU for BTU. Is it possible that this particular unit is simply not that effective?
  • If the first two aren't true, is there any kind of cleaning or maintenance I can perform on the unit to bring it up to scratch?

Thank you for any advice you may be fit to provide!
Old 06-21-10, 12:06 PM
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What I've found (no expert) is that those big box portable A/C units are pretty much junk. I worked at HD for a while and when we started carrying those DeLonghi units we would have 2 or 3 pallets of them every week for return to the manufacturer.

Having to move the air though the hose cuts some efficiency of course, but I think they are just cheap, poorly designed, and undersized compared to a comparably rated window unit.

The industrial units I had experience with in the military worked great...but they probably cost thousands of bucks for even the smallest unit.

Depending on your location..they may be about ready to start marking down window units at most places. Last year I saw them go from about $129 for a 5k down to about $80 w/in a month from June to July.
Old 06-21-10, 12:23 PM
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Depends on what kind of unit you have. A two hoses unit is almost same as the window unit. but the single hose unit is at least 30% less effective, nothing wrong with unit's cooling power, but simply because you can not seal your room. Just like you run your window A/C with another window open- wrose than that, since the condensing unit uses inside air.. (Anyway, whether you use one-hose unit or two-hose unit,the air come out of the vent should be still cold and strong, if you don't get strong cold air from the vent, then something wrong with your unit)

Last edited by clocert; 06-21-10 at 12:39 PM.
Old 06-21-10, 02:34 PM
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Does it blow COLD air? If not, you'll understand why someone stuck it down in the basement.

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