What's New, Including Features, Models, Prices, and More

If you only need to cool a room or two in your home this summer, you may be considering purchasing a portable air conditioner, or two. Portable air conditioners now cost as little as $100 and often include more precise temperature controls with digital readouts, rather than the standard "warmer" and "cooler" settings we're used to. They are now more efficient, energy-wise as well as price-wise. BTU ratings are important to consider, as well as Energy Efficient Ratings, when choosing your new unit. The larger the BTU/hr and EER (energy efficient) ratings, the bigger the room or the warmer the climate is for efficient use. If your current air conditioner is older, you should consider a new model. With the higher efficiency ratings, you should find yourself saving money on your air conditioning costs this summer, and it won't take long to pay off your investment. Here are some tips for buying your new portable air conditioner.

How To Choose the Right Model

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you're thinking about a new portable room air conditioner:

  • Size of Room. The size of your air conditioning unit will depend a lot on the size of room you want to cool. If your room is 100 to 150 sq. ft., you can settle for a unit with a BTU rating of 5,000 to 5,500. Recommended size for rooms from 150 to 250 sq ft is at least 6,000 BTU, and rooms larger than 300 sq. ft go from 8,000 BTU's on up, depending on room size.
  • Heat Source? Is there direct sunlight hitting this room? Is it shaded or partially shaded? If the room you want to cool gets the last hot sun of the day, this will also determine the size you should buy. This is where your EER factor comes in. If your room is not in direct sunlight and your climate is reasonably mild, your can get by with a lower EER, although recommended rates are at least 9.
  • Window Location. If you are considering a window model, will the air conditioner need to blow air to the right or the left to direct cool air into the center of the room?
  • How Much Are You Willing to Pay? Price ranges vary from as low as $100 on up, depending on the size of unit you are considering. The $100 models are going to be smaller, but might work well for you if the room you want to cool is small, and is not in direct sunlight.


Most portable air conditioners are built to fit double-hung windows, although some are built for casement and slider windows, and some are even built for in-wall installation. There are also free-standing models which do not sit in the window, but sit somewhere in the room. It is still necessary for outside ventilation to remove the hot air from the room as cool air replaces it, and this is usually done with a window kit containing a hose similar to your dryer hose. Most units have vertical and horizontal louvers to direct airflow. Some have a fresh-air intake or exhaust setting for ventilation. Some models offer an energy-saving setting which stops the fan when the compressor cycles off, and they can monitor the temperature to turn back on again if needed. Electronic controls and digital readouts are also common on many models. And some even have a remote control.

Models and Prices

Here are just a few models, their BTU ratings and recommended room sizes and prices for your consideration.

For under $100, Haier lists their model HWF05XC5, a thru-wall or window unit with a 5,000 BTU/hr rating, 2-speed fan, and a 1-year warranty. If your biggest concern is your budget and the room you are cooling is on the small side, this one might be for you.

Need something a little bigger yet still have to consider your budget? Frigidaire's FAAO62P7 model runs a little more money ($160-$200), but has a 6,000 BTU/hr and 9.7 EER rating. Features include a 3-speed fan, reusable filter, but no remote control.

The Haier HWR12XC5 runs a little more money, but comes with a higher BTU/hr rating of 12,000, an EER of 9.8, a 3-speed fan, AND a remote control. Prices range from about $240-$280.

Moving up the price ladder, and a brief review of a free-standing portable air conditioner, we offer Sunpentown's model WA 1010-E for anywhere from $285 to $450, depending on where you buy from. It's a 10,000BTU/hr and a 15.15 EER. It's also a dehumidifer, so if you live in an area with high humidity, this model may be well worth the extra cost. The only downside to this model we've found is that the window kit may need some beefing up.

In Conclusion.....

There were way more air conditioners available than we could possibly review, so we suggest a few places for you to check online before plunking down your dollars. We found Epinions.com, air-conditioners-america.com, and ConsumerReports.org to have excellent reviews of the more than 2500 makes and models of portable air conditioners. With so much help online, you should have plenty of help in deciding which make and model is right for your air conditioning needs.

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