The Disadvantages of Portable Air Conditioners

For people who do not have central air conditioning and do not want to cool their homes with a window unit, there is another option. Portable air conditioners can cool the home considerably during hot weather, and you can place them in any room you wish. Additionally, if you change your mind about where to place them you can move them elsewhere. Portable are conditioners are a good option for home cooling, but these devices have their share of disadvantages as well.

Difficulty Moving

While the ability to move the portable air conditioner from the living room in the evening to the bedroom overnight may be one of its biggest advantages, actually making the move is not. Portable air conditioners are a fairly heavy piece of equipment. Some models come with wheels that allow for easy movement on hard surfaces, but if you have a model without wheels or have thick carpet to navigate, moving from one room to the next can be quite an ordeal, which is an especially significant disadvantage for the elderly or those with bad backs because of the weight.


A central air conditioning system is quiet, with only the sound of the air rushing through the ductwork to disturb the peace. Even a window unit is low on noise because the noisy portion of the unit is technically outside the home. But the portable air conditioner is in the room with you in many instances and all of the noise is there as well. Running some portable air units in the room where you are sitting can drown out television, music or conversation.


Part of what makes the air in the room comfortable when running an air conditioner is the system's ability to pull humidity out of the air. When this moisture is pulled from the air, it must go somewhere. The resulting water on central and window units ends up outside while a portable air conditioner creates condensation indoors. Portable air conditioners must either be placed beside a window where an exhaust pipe can carry the water vapor outside, or there must be a pan inside the unit that is emptied from time to time by the owner. This prospect either limits the places a portable unit can be set up or causes the owner to take on an additional task not necessary with other types of air conditioners.

Limited Cooling Space

Perhaps the most significant disadvantage of the portable air conditioner is its limited range. A portable unit will generally cool only a small space, such as a single room. The cooling output is likely to be less than a window unit and far less than central air conditioning.