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Are portable air conditioners worth it?

You might be considering buying a portable air conditioner if you’re sweating in a small apartment. Portable air conditioners are a quick fix to be sure. But are they worth the money? Portable ACs certainly get a lot of criticism on other websites. 

Are portable air conditioners worth it?

Portable air conditioners are worth it provided you use them for the right purpose – cooling a single room. A portable air conditioner is low-cost and convenient but will not replace a central air conditioning system.

How “worth it” anything is depends on how much it costs you. For portable air conditioners, that cost is low. Most portable air conditioners are $400 – $600 to buy and have no cost to install.

That’s a big difference from traditional air conditioner systems that can cost thousands to buy and typically $400 – $700 to install. You get a portable air conditioner just for the price of installing a different type of system.

What do you get for that money? Most portable air conditioners are well-equipped to cool a single room. Typical air conditioners have a cooling capacity of 5,000 – 8,000 BTUs and will fit that purpose.

You can even get some premium portable air conditioners that provide 14,000 BTUs of cooling, enough for a one-bedroom apartment.

It’s a myth that portable air conditioners don’t do a good job of cooling. Most people who say that have picked a portable air conditioner that’s just not powerful enough for the space they’re trying to cool.

There are other downsides to buying a portable air conditioner. Portable air conditioners are loud, producing 55 – 60 decibels of noise on average. That’s around the volume of a normal conversation.

One of the problems with portable air conditioners being so much noisier than other appliances is that you need to have them right in your living space. Portable air conditioners need to connect to a power supply and to a suitable window. 

So you don’t have a ton of control over where they go. That can be a problem if you live in an apartment with limited living space.

For my money, portable air conditioners are worth it. The cost of buying one is really low and that means the comparatively low output is justified. It’s hard to overlook how much capacity you get per dollar compared to other devices.

The real issue will be if you need a device that can cool a larger space. Portable air conditioners won’t work for you if you need to cool much more than a single room. 

Also, the noise levels and poor use of space might be deal breakers for some people. For me, they’re not.