Portable Air Conditioner vs Window Unit: Which one is Better?

Portable Air Conditioner vs Window Unit: Which one is Better?

You know how it is in summer – festivals, backyard BBQs, camping, sunbathing at the beach, and lots of other fun activities. But on the flip side, the hot and humid conditions can leave you all sweaty and sunburned. That’s where air conditioners come in. But, between a portable air conditioner and window unit, which one is better? If you aren’t sure which one will suit your needs, this article is here to help.

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How Air Conditioners Work

Inside air conditioners are refrigerants, liquids formulated to absorb heat from the surrounding air in a room. It does this as it passes through the coils that run inside the AC units. As the refrigerant takes on heat, it turns into gas, which is then pressurized to create heat that is evacuated outside. When this happens, the cool air remains in the room, and the refrigerant turns back to liquid form, starting the process all over again. While a window unit expels the hot air via the system installed outdoors, a portable unit expels the hot air via an exhaust hose that has to run to the window or another outlet.

Assess Your Needs

Before you choose the air conditioner to buy, it is important to assess your needs. For instance, what size of space do you have? Will you need to be cooling all the spaces in your house? Where do you want to install the unit? When you determine your needs, making the choice can be a tad easier. Your budget and how much you want to save on bills will also play a role.

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Portable Air Conditioners

So, what is a portable air conditioner? As the name suggests, this unit is portable and is ideal for cooling, or sometimes heating, single rooms, individually. In other words, they don’t need installation like window units, and you can move a portable AC from room to room.

Window Air Conditioners

Window units, on the other hand, are self-contained with no separate exhaust hoses. Usually, they are mounted on windows and extend a few inches inside. Unlike portable units, you can't move a window AC from one room to another.

Portable ACs Vs. Window Units: The Comparison Pricing

Portable air conditioners are more expensive than window units. If you plan to be cooling one room at a time, then it might the better option. Window units are usually cheaper than portable units. That’s why they are more popular. A less powered window unit can efficiently cool the same area as a higher-powered portable AC.

Noise Level

A window unit is slightly louder than a portable AC of the same cooling power. And while portable units are quieter, keep in mind that they are installed indoors. This means that you will hear a portable unit more compared to a window unit that is installed outside. However, not all portable air conditioners are quiet, so you might want to confirm first before getting one.


If you don’t plan to always be cooling one room or space, a portable air conditioner is a better option than a window unit. Portable ACs can be moved to any room or space you like, including garages, workshops, home offices, bedrooms, etc.


Portable ACs are plug and play. You don’t need a technician to help you fix it unless you have some major renovations to make for the exhaust hose. Plus, you don’t need to alter your window frame to fit the unit as you would do with a window unit. All you need to do is connect it to the power source and vent it out. Window ACs, unlike portable units, block your window, hence reducing the intensity of natural light flowing into the room. What's more, these units come with more venting options compared to window ACs. For example, you can vent a portable AC through the ceiling, sliding doors or windows, or other areas in the house, depending on how the unit is designed.


Window units are more efficient than portable ACs since they can cool a larger space at a lower cost. It is easier to find window units with Energy Star Ratings than it is to find a portable AC with Energy Star Ratings. You can get more cooling power per BTU with a window unit than with a portable AC. That said, when getting an air conditioner, pay close attention to the BTU rating. The higher the number, the larger the room the AC can cool. Both portable and window units can come with additional features like remotes, timers, and thermostats. These conveniences will also play a part in your decision making.

To Consider Before Your Purchase

Not all models are designed equally, and noise levels can be a real concern. While some are quite noisy, you can find others that are not as loud. It is advisable to always go for one with the lowest decibel (dB) rating. Both portable and window units are necessary for cooling your room during the hot summer months. Keep in mind that a portable AC can take up a fair chunk of floor space, and you might have to rearrange your furniture to accommodate it. Additionally, with a portable unit, you have to collect water from the tray regularly or connect it to a water drain. With a window AC, you don’t have to do anything as the water can drip outside.

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