Portable A/C vs. Window A/C

Without central air conditioning, summer heat can seem murderous, but to install a central air system is costly. Outside of central air conditioning, however, you will be faced with the question of portable A/C vs. window A/C.

Each option has its strengths and weaknesses to consider. Additionally, portable A/C may be better for some and window A/C may be better for others. Your own needs play a significant role.

Both portable and window A/C are designed to cool a specific amount of space. This means that they will generally not cool your entire home unless you live in a studio apartment.

Although the serve the same basic need, portable and window A/C have a number of significant differences. These differences will help simplify your decision if you weigh their features in relation to your own needs prior to purchasing.

In order to truly compare portable and window A/C, it is important to first know the pros and cons of each. After thoroughly examining their respective features, you can then weigh them against each other for a final decision.

Pros and Cons of Portable A/C

One major benefit of a portable A/C unit is that it is extremely simple to install. Unlike a window unit, the entirety of the A/C unit sits inside your house. The only thing that needs a window is the vent pipe.

In addition to their simplicity for installation, you can also very easily move them from room to room. A portable A/C is designed to cool one specific room. You can make sure the room you are in is always cool by simply taking the unit from room to room with you.

A portable A/C can also be easily hidden behind furniture or in a corner. This way, you do not mess with your décor by having a clunky A/C unit visible. Of course, the unit does still need to be near a window to vent the hot air.

Although there are a number of positive attributes to a portable A/C unit, they also have some considerable drawbacks. One such disadvantage is the noise level they produce. Because the entirety of the machine is inside, there is no way to damper the sound level.

Additionally, portable A/C units are typically not as energy efficient as a window unit. Even with the vent hose, they still let some warm air into the room. This means that the unit has to work harder and longer to cool the room.

Since they are less efficient, you will also need a larger, more powerful unit for a smaller room than with a window A/C. With the added power, however, portable A/C units go up in price and in weight. Keep this in mind when considering a portable A/C unit.

The final drawback to a portable A/C unit is that they often have a drain tank for water collection. This tank is often on the small side, so you will have to empty it frequently in order to keep your unit working smoothly.

Pros and Cons of Window A/C

One big plus for a window A/C unit is that they tend to be cheaper because they are more common. On top of that, window A/C units are relatively high efficiency, so you will not see as much of a spike in your electric bill.

Because a window A/C unit has most of the mechanism outside the home, they are typically pretty quiet. New models are seldom much louder than an average fan. This can be a major plus both for the sake of conversation at normal levels and sleep.

Window A/C units are also a bit better at keeping the hot air out of the house. While portable A/C have some trouble keeping out the warm air, window units are designed with all the mechanism and hot air outside the house.

Additionally, because they do a better job keeping warm air out, window A/C units can also cool a larger room with the same amount of power. This means that you can purchase a smaller, less expensive unit and get the same results as a portable A/C unit.

One place where a window A/C unit is less desirable than a portable one is in the movability. Because they are installing into a window, window units cannot be easily moved from room to room. This might mean one room is comfortable and the others are saunas.

Another concern is that some windows are not even compatible with window A/C units. There is truly no way to use them without a window installation, so they are not even an option for some living spaces.

Installation can also be a bit of a hassle with window A/C units. It is really a two person job – one inside the house and one outside. On top of the annoyance of installation, window A/C units can also make your house less secure since one window is essentially always open.


When it comes to portable A/C vs. window A/C, the first question to ask yourself is regarding your own needs and space. While each option has its unique strengths and weaknesses, each is better suited for a different environment.

If you do not have A/C compatible windows, for instance, a portable A/C unit can save you from the heat. Or, if you are worried about break-ins, a portable A/C unit allows you to close your window farther than a window A/C unit does.

If you are looking for the most bang for your buck, however, the window A/C is going to be a better bet. Because they are more energy efficient, they cost less to cool the same size space as a portable A/C unit.

More than anything, the conclusion you come to regarding portable A/C vs. window A/C truly depends on your own needs. Evaluate your space and lifestyle prior to deciding and you should end up with an A/C unit you will not regret.

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