1. Make sure to get the right cooling capacity. Portable air cooling systems capacity is measured in British thermal units (BTU) which rates how much the unit can cool per hour. If you are comparing multiple portable air cooling system, compare the BTU values and not the manufacturers claims. Manufacturers have different criteria on how much cooling is needed for the same room. As a general rule, a portable air cooling system needs at least 8000 BTU for 150 square feet and every 1000 additional BTU cools an additional 50 square feet of space. Portable air cooling systems tend to have a max rating of 13000 BTU. You should also be aware that a portable air cooling system does not cool as well as a window unit, so a portable cooling system with the same BTU rating as a window air conditioner will cool less effectively. To increase the cooling effectiveness of a portable air cooling system, look for one with fans that can be positioned and that oscillate. Oscillating fans help to move the cooled air around in a room instead of creating one cool area and leaving the rest of the room warm. If the cooling unit does not have a good fan, you may want to supplement with a floor or ceiling fan.
2. Consider the energy efficiency of the portable air cooling system. An Energy Star rated portable is the most efficient unit you can buy. These units consume a lot of energy and though an inefficient unit may be cheaper, it will cost you more money in the long term. The best way to check when comparing different portable air cooling system is to check the electricity required to run each unit per year and to look for the 'Energy Star' label.
3. Look for a portable air cooling system with sturdy wheels to make it easier to move around. The average portable air cooling system is heavy and getting a unit that does not have wheels removes one of the main advantages of a portable system. Wheels are especially useful for micro adjustments when positioning the system. One feature that some units have are wheel locks to hold it in place once installed. The feature can be useful if you have kids in the area.
4. Consider the water drainage options. Exhaust water can be drained into a bucket, out an exhaust, down a drain or through evaporation. Portable air cooling system units dehumidify the air as they cool it. This excess water has to be disposed off during the standard operations. Almost all systems have the option of emptying into a bucket. Emptying the water out of an exhaust drain or a vent is much more convenient but take some time to set up. The self-evaporation systems are the easiest option so that you'll never have to empty a bucket.
5. Certain extra features can make be very useful. Portable air cooling systems that operate quietly are great in the bedroom. Systems with digital controls tend to have better regulation of the thermostat and timers. Many digital controls are programmable to allow you to save energy by programming the unit to turn on only when you need it. However, when purchasing a unit you should be aware that digital controls tend to break more often than manual one. Some systems have remote controls that are useful for units placed in a hard to reach areas. Finally some portable air cooling systems are built with a heating element to be used during cooler weather.
Tips & Warnings
When mounting the intake and exhaust out the window, make sure that the any gaps are sealed up. Otherwise the outside warm air will leak in and nullify the cooling effect.
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