questionsare portable air conditioners any good?

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Yes - I have two of these portable units. Make sure you buy a unit with a higher BTU rating, you're probably going to want 12,000 - 14,000 BTUs. You may see some less expensive units that have only 7-8,000, and they just aren't powerful enough to cool even a medium size room. I have a DeLonghi that I purchased at Sam's Club that does very well, and they are carrying it again this summer. I also have a smaller LG unit that does an ok job in a small room, but not so well in a big room. I recommend the DeLonghi.

Note, one of the drawbacks of a portable unit is the noise. Since the unit is entirely contained within your room, 100% of the noise stays inside too, as opposed to a window unit, where a lot of the unit, and thus a lot of the noise, stays outside.

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@djp519: Thanks. Is Haier any good? Also if i have a sliding window that opens horizontally vs vertically like most windows, are there adapters sold to fit these?

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@icemanforlife: I've never owned a Haier, but I believe they have a decent reputation.

Yes, you can use these with sideways sliding windows. In fact, that is exactly the set-up I have in my bedroom. They usually come with an plastic base piece that the hose fits into, that can be adjusted to fit a window of almost any size, and can be mounted vertically or horizontally.

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@icemanforlife: I see a lot of 3-star averages for Haier air conditioners. I don't care for most of their products, personally.

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What Brand would you all recommend? Is DeLonghi the best?

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Yes they are - got one in my basement and it works great.

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we have 2. the one we use works ok, you wont be cold, but it works. it's a 14,000 btu pinugo I think. the other is in my renter's place, and he claims it doesn't work. I think it's him. tips: don't extend the exhaust hose. that weakens it. be smart about air movement, use a slow fan etc... my renter likes to keep windows open, that does not help.

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Security - A baby squirrel could break into your apartment while a portable AC is connected. The plastic exhaust vent that must be taped to your window provides no security at all. If you are worried about someone breaking in, be ready to constantly go through the hassle of disconnecting the unit before you leave the apartment, and reconnecting it every time you want cool air.

Also, I agree about the noise. They are loud. Much louder than window units.

Read reviews when selecting one. Some of them end up making large puddles on the floor.

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@mcullers: "If you are worried about someone breaking in, be ready to constantly go through the hassle of disconnecting the unit before you leave the apartment, and reconnecting it every time you want cool air."

Pretty much exactly what was mentioned in the question, yes.

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If you can find it, you want one with 2 hoses.

If you only have 1 hose, that hose is used for exhaust only. Here's the problem - that exhaust air has to come from somewhere, and it's going to come from inside your room. That's going to produce negative pressure, which means you'll be sucking hot outside air through every crack and window, defeating much of the purpose of an AC unit! :)

Instead, a 2 hose system will bring in outside air to push through the coils and then exhaust THAT back outside. No neg pressure, no sucking outside air in.

I have a detached workshop here in FL with a 1 hose portable AC. It would cool the workshop down about 1 or 2 degrees in summer. I Macgyvered it to make it a '2 hose' system. The system could then drop the temps by over 10 degrees.

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My place is going to be an oven this summer. I am going to get window tint but not sure if it will be enough. It's 9:15 right now and it's warmish. I was tossing around a portable but the noise problem never occurred to me nor did the one hose system problem.

Is there something that could cool down a 750 sq foot place?

I'm also curious about how much an A/C unit affected your electric bill? I hate subsidizing the electric company more than I hate being hot.

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Regarding the hose - make sure the hose is set up in an S-shape. That helps let the condensation exhaust properly. If you extend the hose in a straight line, the water condensation will accumulate in the bottom of the unit, forcing it to shut down until you empty the tray.

Regarding security - you can always rig something with a board above the window (or next to it in a sideways sliding window) against the frame, very similar to what you might do with a patio door, so that it cannot be opened more than the 6 inches or so that the exhaust assembly requires.

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@djp519: I like the idea about putting a piece of wood or something in, preventing someone from opening.

What is a good price range i should expect? I have seen some sell on woot in the past from $250 - $300. I do not know though if they were any good or not. I would like to stay under $400, but i do not know if that is feasible to get a decent A/C unit.

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@icemanforlife: Probably $299 and up for a new unit. The ones on Woot were refurbs. Nothing necessarily wrong with a good refurb if you can find one, though.

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I bought a Panasonic 11000BTU last summer. Reasons: quieter than the rest- they even advertise dB levels. Noise just wasn't an issue. While I wasn't thrilled with its single hose, at least I never had to empty water from it nor heard any water sounds. Although possible to remove the hose daily, I see no reason to: there is a screen blocking bugs and presumably squirrels and I am able to lock my window in place with two small "L" brackets. Downside: half the size of a chair and you have to look at it. Efficiency is diminished when the heat-producing bits are indoors. Like everything electrical these days, one must use the remote control. (But at least it is time-programmable.) Upside: ahhh...A/C! My reef aquarium will not overheat either. As for Haier: don't. They are Walmart-Chinese disposable unrepairable POS. Make sure you pay attention to shipping charges (mine was free until June, then $50 after that, same company) because they are heavy.

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I tried quite a few portables before settling on a window unit.
Hands down the window unit kicked the crap out of the portables in cooling performance. Factoring in price/performance it wasn't even a contest.

I recognize that there is a need, though, so here's a point that hasn't been mentioned: The portable units take up a shockingly good bit of floor space. Outside of the unit itself, you have to have room for the hoses to extend and not be kinked up (unless you can get a rigid venting system of some sort)

Another option that is gaining popularity is the "split" unit. (Pioneer, e.g.)

edit: nevermind, not sure if you can do ductless-mini-split in an apartment, but leaving this here for others in the market.

j5 j5
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@minkeygirl7: If a window unit is an option, I'd suggest that over a portable unit. They are more efficient for for the electricity used, are less noisy, bring in fresh air, etc. Good, cheap window units are widely available, but good, cheap portable units are non-existent as far as I know.

Also, I wouldn't worry about window tinting. Instead go for solar shades (sometimes also called solar screens, or sun screens). They do the same UV blocking, and are far easier to remove or open when you don't need it. And make certain you keep them closed during the day, especially when the sunlight is directly hitting a window.

I'm guessing this isn't an option for you, but you'll get a more dramatic difference if you put up outdoor shades.

Oh and a window unit AC trick for people... if it's an option, put the unit in a window where it gets the maximum shade, or put up an awning to provide shading for the unit. Makes them way more effective!

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@stile99: I would be more worried about someone breaking in with the portable and sticking the hoses out when I am home. All it would take is a couple of days watching the place to realize the hoses are out when someone is home and they are put away when no one is home. That says rob me more than anything else.

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So if i do a window unit my biggest dilemma is that my windows open horizontally. How do cover the area above the window A/C unit other than using plywood & still be able to make it secure for when i leave home?

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@icemanforlife: That's a tough situation, and may limit you to the indoor units.
How big is the opening (width x height)?
Plywood would work, but sure is ugly, and you'd have to screw it into something solid to make it secure.
Maybe plexiglass or similar?

j5 j5
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@j5: My window dimensions when i open it up all the way is 2 ft wide and 57.5 inches tall. I am defiantly open to any options but am worried a portable A/C unit might be my only answer.

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Yes, most definitely portable air conditioners are good. Much better than dangling a heavy box of a window unit on your window ledge. I never wanted to risk damaging the window frame, and from the outside they're unsightly. Electicity usage differences are no longer that significant with the latest portable a/c's.

To respond to a top-rated answer, portable a/c's in the 8000-9000 BTU range are also very good for small to medium size rooms, like a bedroom. That's how I'm using mine. I have a Soleus KY-80 (8000 BTU) bought at Newegg for $200 and couldn't be more pleased. This is the 3rd summer of using it to keep my bedroom cool for good night sleeping on those hot and muggy nights.