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Portable AC vs Packaged AC

Cooling Capacity

Packaged air has a higher cooling capacity than portable AC. While portable AC produces just 5,000 – 10,000 BTUs of cooling power, packaged AC typically produces more like 7,000 – 19,000 BTUs.

Packaged air is by far the better choice if you need to cool larger properties. Portable ACs are mostly just designed to cool a single room. 

A BTU is a measure of the cooling capacity of an air conditioning system. One BTU is the amount of thermal energy needed to change the temperature of a kilogram of water by a single degree Fahrenheit. 


Packaged air is much more expensive than portable AC. A packaged air system costs $2,000 – $4,000 to buy and install while a portable AC costs just $100 – $400. 

The massive difference in price between packaged air and portable AC is mainly because portable AC doesn’t need to be installed. 

Energy efficiency

Packaged air is much more energy efficient than portable AC. Portable AC is one of the most inefficient forms of air conditioning.

All air conditioners transfer heat out of your home. Portable ACs have to transfer that hot air out of a window via a thin exhaust tube. Heat leaks out through the lining of the tube and counteracts some of the cooling offered by your portable AC.

You can calculate an air conditioner’s energy efficiency ratio (EER) by dividing its cooling capacity in BTUs by the amount of watts of energy it uses. A higher EER means an air conditioner has greater efficiency.