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How cold can a room get a portable air conditioner?

You’re probably sitting in your apartment now sweating through your clothes. A portable air conditioner might make you more comfortable. But before you shell out the cash, you’ll want to know if a portable AC would actually make a difference. How much colder would your room get with a portable AC?

How cold can a room get with a portable air conditioner?

A room can get 15 – 20 degrees colder with a portable air conditioner. Exactly how much colder your room will get depends on the power of your portable air conditioner, the size of your room, the current temperature, and a bunch of other factors.

This is quite a difficult question to answer exactly. Because how much a portable air conditioner will cool a room really depends on which portable air conditioner and which room. Here are some factors to consider that will determine how effective your portable air conditioner is likely to be:

  • BTU capacity: Every portable air conditioner comes with a BTU rating, which is a measure of how much cooling power it has. The higher the BTU output, the more powerful the portable air conditioner. Pick a portable air conditioner that’s too weak for the size of your room and it won’t get cold at all. 
  • Energy efficiency: Another big factor in the cooling potential of your portable air conditioner is how efficiently it uses its power. The more energy efficient your unit is, the more electricity it will dedicate to cooling rather than just running.
  • Room size: A bigger room will be much more difficult to cool than a smaller room. A larger volume of air will hold more heat and it will take your chosen portable AC longer to move all of that heat out of the room. That’s a good way to think about air conditioners – they don’t cool, they remove heat.
  • Room seal/insulation: You can run a portable air conditioner all day and nothing will happen if you’ve left a window open. On a serious note, the quality of your apartment’s insulation (and its number of external vs internal walls) has a big impact on how easy it is to cool your apartment. Pay special attention to the seal around the portable AC’s exhaust tube. You’ll have to stick the tube out a window and this is the most likely place you’ll let heat back in. 
  • Outdoor temperatures: The warmer it is outside the harder your portable air conditioner will have to work in order to get rid of all that excess heat. 

But how did we land of 15 – 20 degrees in the first place? Explaining our logic unfortunately means a short, painless (we promise!) math lesson.