4 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Portable Air Conditioners

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4 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Portable Air Conditioners

Staff Writer · Jan 31, 2011

Many tenants are catching on to the fact that the best option for cooling an apartment is to buy portable air conditioners. They are easy to transport to rooms that need to be cooled, simple to install, and your landlord won’t complain about you having one (they might with a window unit). However, you should ask yourself 4 questions before you buy one.

1. How Many Rooms Do You Need to Cool?

It’s a good idea to buy portable air conditioners if you don’t need to cool more than 3 rooms at once. If you’re looking at air conditioning for a large number of rooms, then it’s not the most energy efficient or cost effective way to cool the apartment. If you use the living room and one bedroom a lot and need those rooms cooled, then it’s a good choice. Figure out how many rooms you need the most, and whether you’ll roll the portable air conditioner to each room. It depends on who else lives with you, and the times you plan to use air conditioning.

2. How Many BTUs Do You Need?

Before you buy portable air conditioners, you have to know the number of British Thermal Units (BTUs) you need for each unit. BTUs measure the amount of heat the air conditioner can remove per hour. The more BTUs, the more cooling you’ll get out of each unit, which affects the price you pay. To determine how many BTUs you need, find the square footage of the room and multiply that number by 35. Buy a portable air conditioner that has that amount of BTUs, give or take 15 percent. For example, if the room you want to cool measures 375 square feet, then the BTUs needed to cool that room is 13,125 BTUs (375 X 35). You would look for a unit within the BTU range of 11,156 and 15094, which is what you need, give or take 15 percent.

3. Will It Clean Your Air?

Not all portable air conditioners clean the air in your apartment. You’ll need to make sure that the one you buy has a High Efficiency Particle Arrestor (HEPA) grade filter. These filters are used in hospital settings, and can trap 99.97% of particles. It does trap dust, so you’ll have to change the filter.

4. Can You Afford to Buy One?

With all of the amazing benefits offered by these units, you can expect them to be expensive. They cost more than window units, and they’re not a hot item at yard sales or moving sales, because renters and homeowners want to hang on to them. Ask yourself whether you can afford to buy a portable air conditioner, and if the monetary and health investment is worth more than other high ticket items on your wish list.

Answering these questions will help you buy portable air conditioners that will work for you and your apartment. You can also make a realistic decision based on your finances.

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