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What is a portable air conditioner?

Portable air conditioners offer more flexibility than other window or through-the-wall air conditioners. Portable air conditioners have wheels and are compact (usually 2' - 3' tall). Condensation is either collected in a bucket, redistributed through a hole, or recycled through the air. Even though portable air conditioners are easily moved, the hot air needs to vent to the outside. A hose, usually 3" to 5" in diameter, attaches to the air conditioner then vents through a window, sliding door, wall or ceiling.

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How do I choose a portable air conditioner?

There are four things you need to consider when choosing your portable air conditioner: BTUs, plug type, water removal system and special features. BTUs (British Thermal Units) BTUs are units of power - the larger the area you need to cool, the more BTUs you need. Plug Type There are two parts to plug type: voltage and amperage. Most rooms have circuits rated for a total of 15 amps of electricity, and many units have common 125V/15A plugs that can be used in most homes. If you are installing a larger unit with higher than 15 amps and more than 125 volts you may need to call an electrician to upgrade your circuitry. If you are replacing an existing unit, choose an air conditioner with the same plug type to determine the right amount of amperage and voltage. Water Removal System Most units will have a self-evaporating system, so the water condensation is recycled back into the air. In units with a condensate pump, water collects in a tank and pumped outside through a hose. For a few units, water will collect in a tank that has to be manually drained every 2 - 6 hours depending on the size of the tank and the humidity in the air. Special Features Many portable air conditioners are also dehumidifiers - meaning they not only cool the room but they also remove excess moisture from the air. Other models of portable air conditioners both cool and heat.

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What are the pros and cons of a portable air conditioner?

Portable air conditioners are very versatile units that can be easily moved from room to room. Although the unit is required to vent to the outside, the venting application is more flexible - you can vent through a window, sliding door, wall or even a ceiling. Some models have condensation buckets or trays that will need to be emptied for the air conditioner to work properly. If the unit has a self-evaporating system, the bucket would only need to be emptied under certain conditions when the water cannot be recycled fast enough back into the air. In this case, the compressor would shut off and an indicator light would alert you to empty the bucket. If the unit does not have a condensate pump or a self-evaporating system, the bucket will have to be emptied every 2 - 6 hours depending on the humidity in the air.

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What is the difference between a commercial and residential air conditioner?

Commercial portable air conditioners are designed to run 24 hours a day - they are ideal for a computer/server room that needs to be cooled non-stop. Commercial portable air conditioners ideally have higher BTUs than residential units. Residential portable air conditioners have between 6,000 and 14,000 BTU, while commercial portable air conditioners will have between 6,000 and 60,000 BTU.

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How do I install my portable air conditioner?

All portable air conditioners require some type of ventilation. It is important that you vent the hot air outside of the room you are trying to cool. Most portable air conditioners come with installation kits for your window or sliding door that is easy to install and remove. If you are choosing to vent your portable air conditioner through a wall or ceiling - a hole will have to be made for the hose to vent to the outdoors.

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Portable AC Installed with Window Kit Portable AC Installed through a Wall

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Do some portable air conditioners have heat?

Some portable air conditioners have electric heat strips and a few have heat pumps - learn more.

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What type of drainage is required?

There are three ways that water is drained from a portable air conditioner: Self-Evaporating With a self-evaporating system the water is dispersed back into the air, so no drainage is required. Under extremely humid circumstances - the collection bucket may need to be emptied manually, but the compressor will automatically shut off and an indicator light will inform you to empty the tank. Condensate Pump If you purchase a condensate pump, the excess water will be pumped out of the tank through a hose to the outside. Additional installation is required. Manual Some models will require you to manually empty the water collection tank. This will need to be done every 2 - 6 hours depending on the humid levels in the room.

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