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How to choose a mobile air conditioner for an apartment

Written by:
Floyd Green

In cases where circumstances do not allow for the installation of a full split system, there is a good solution – a portable air conditioner. We will discuss how to correctly choose a portable air conditioner and all the nuances of this choice in 2023, as well as share the top models for the current year.

Features of portable air conditioners

Portable air conditioners are very easy to connect and use. If a regular split system requires installation, permission, and is not cheap, the floor-standing option is simpler – just plug it in, set it up, and the device is operational.

The functionality of the unit is no worse than that of a split system. The air conditioner can heat the air in cold seasons and cool it in warm ones. This option is ideal for a holiday home or as a temporary option in apartments where a split system is planned but not yet possible to install.

A floor-standing air conditioner can be used where it is simply impossible to install a full system – for example, in historic buildings where there is a ban on external split systems, in offices, and shopping centers.


The usual split system consists of two separate units – an external and an internal one. The external unit is placed on the facade of the house, and the internal one is installed inside the apartment. The apartment retains the evaporator, while the condenser and compressor are outside. We will not delve into technical details, but all the noisy operation is performed by the external unit of the device, while the internal simply cools or heats the home. Also, the external unit automatically expels heat outdoors.

A portable air conditioner combines both the evaporator and the condenser in its casing – hence the need to expel air outside using a duct hose.

Strengths and weaknesses of portable air conditioners

Although floor-standing air conditioners are very similar in functionality to classic split systems, they have a number of their own features, both good and not so good. Positive aspects:

 - A portable air conditioner can be moved between rooms and office spaces, connecting it where it is needed right now. For example, in the morning during breakfast the device is connected in the kitchen, and by evening – in the living room or bedroom. The only requirement in this case for the room where the device will work – is an exit to the outside. It could be even a simple window.

 - Ease of installation. For a regular split system, you usually need to drill the wall, create a convenient exit to the outside – which is difficult in, for example, houses with thick brick walls; – permission to expel the air conditioner outside, and so on. The floor-standing version is connected in minutes like any household appliance.

 - Low cost. A floor-standing unit, even with high power, will be cheaper than a medium-power split system with its installation and everything else.

 - All components of the floor-standing air conditioner are located inside the apartment – there is no external unit that needs to be placed on the building facade.

A floor-standing air conditioner cannot reach the convenience level of split systems. There are many reasons for this:

 - For the expulsion of warm air, exits to the outside need to be created. The simplest option is a window, but sometimes you have to drill the wall. For example, if you have double-glazed windows where simply opening a vent is not possible. And if there is a mosquito net, it will have to be removed or a hole created in it.

 - The second downside is that the device is quite noisy. With classic split systems, the compressor is placed on the external facade of the building, so the noise is only outside. In floor-standing versions, the compressor is inside – it emits a fairly strong noise, which is unlikely to be ignored at night.

 - At first glance, it seems that the device is small – but it is important to leave a gap between the device and the wall, and a wide pipe will lead from the device to the window, expelling heated air outside.

Choosing an air conditioner by specifications


The power of a floor-standing air conditioner is chosen based on the area of the room and the height of the ceilings. Additionally, pay attention to the number of doors and windows. If there is other technology in the heated room – for example, a refrigerator, stove, or fireplace – this is also taken into account when choosing power.

To calculate the power, it is recommended to use a simple formula: divide the room area by ten. Then consider the number of windows facing the sunny side, and if there are any, add 0.2-0.3 kW. And to ensure that the air conditioner does not work at full capacity, add another 15% power. Example: a kitchen sized 15 sq. m would suit a device with a power of 1.5 kW. Adding 0.2 for one window and 15%, we round up and get a power of 2 kW.

When choosing a model, pay attention to the cooling power, not the power consumption of the device. Manufacturers often specify the cooling power in the model specifications.

Energy Efficiency Class

The energy consumption parameter indicates how much electricity the air conditioner uses and what the bill will be in your electricity statement. Most models of climate systems on the shelves of electronics stores have classes A, A+, A++ and A+++. All these options are economical, but the more "+" signs at the end of the class, the less energy the unit consumes.

Noise Level

Floor-standing air conditioners will inevitably make noise – any models. But you can find options with the minimum available noise level. It's important to find the value in dB – it can range from 70 to 40 dB. 70 dB is an uncomfortably loud noise for the human ear, equivalent to a person shouting. Average values for floor-standing models are between 55-65 dB, similar to a functioning washing machine or a quiet conversation. The best values are 40-45 dB, at which, for example, an electric stove or fireplace operates.

Flooring and wall tiles, metal appliances, and a small amount of furniture in a room will enhance the sound of the air conditioner, as it will bounce off smooth surfaces. Soft furniture, wall carpets, curtains, and the like will absorb part of the noise.

Operating Modes

All models have several basic operating modes.

Cooling the air – the primary mode, without which it is impossible to imagine an air conditioner. On average, a portable air conditioner is ready to maintain a temperature from +17 to +30 degrees Celsius. Some models have a broader range.

Heating – a function not available in all units. It is recommended to choose air conditioners that support this mode so as not to buy a separate heater for the winter. It is important to pay attention to heating technology. There are mainly two: the principle of the heat pump and the technology of electric heating elements (TEN). The first option is more efficient, but it requires expelling cold air outside through a hose.

Dehumidifying the air – a very useful function that is present in almost all modern models. It prevents condensation on the walls and ceiling of the room and prevents mould from developing. Sometimes the dehumidification mode cannot be activated separately – only together with cooling. But some models allow activating dehumidification as a separate mode.

Additional Functions

Some models have remote control via a remote control unit. Of course, without this function, the device is much cheaper. Regular control implies a panel with buttons on the air conditioner itself. Some advanced models can be controlled through an app on your phone.

In night mode, the portable air conditioner operates much quieter, but it also cools or heats the room much more weakly.

Elimination of foreign odours.

Timer. With its help, you can set the time for the air conditioner to turn on and off. For example, knowing when you will return home, you can set the timer to a specific time so that by your arrival, the apartment has warmed up a bit.


So, in summary, when choosing portable air conditioners:

 - Power is one of the key parameters;

 - Check if there is a heating mode;

 - Plan how you will create an outlet for the hot air.

Moreover, consider the device's ability to integrate into your living space both functionally and aesthetically. Given their portability, these units offer a flexible solution for varying needs and spaces, from home to office settings. It's essential to assess the ease of moving the unit between locations, ensuring it fits your lifestyle and spatial constraints.

Furthermore, evaluate the air conditioner's capacity for air filtration and purification. Modern portable air conditioners often come equipped with filters that can remove dust, allergens, and other pollutants from the air, improving indoor air quality. This feature is particularly beneficial for individuals with allergies or respiratory issues.

Another consideration is the ease of maintenance. Look for models that offer simple methods for cleaning and replacing filters, as well as straightforward drainage solutions. Regular maintenance is crucial to ensure the unit operates efficiently and extends its lifespan.

In addition to the primary functions, examine any smart features that may enhance convenience and usability. Features such as Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows for remote control through a smartphone app, can offer significant advantages for user interaction and control over the unit's settings, even when away from home.

Finally, warranty and customer support are important factors to consider. A robust warranty can provide peace of mind, while reliable customer support ensures that any issues or questions can be promptly addressed.

In selecting a portable air conditioner, it is crucial to weigh these considerations alongside the fundamental aspects of power, heating capability, and ventilation strategy. By doing so, you can choose a unit that not only meets your immediate cooling or heating needs but also fits seamlessly into your lifestyle, providing comfort and convenience throughout its use.

By Liliana Alvarez

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