Portable Air Conditioner VS Window Unit: Which I Should I Get?

Many people are looking for a cheap air conditioner to tackle the summer heat. Naturally, the selection would be between a portable or window AC unit as central AC is too expensive to install. However, both are entirely different products with different sets of functionality and purpose. Fret not, as we will explain how each appliance works, cooling efficiency, pricing, the pros, and the cons. At the end of the post, you will make an informed decision on which type of AC is best suited for your home.


What Is The Differences Between A Portable And Window AC Unit?

The biggest difference between a window and a portable air conditioner is the movability. Portable AC sits on the floor and can be moved to any location that needs air cooling. Windows AC is mounted to the windows with fixed exhaust vents. You cannot move it around.

What Are Portable Air Conditioners?

As the name suggests, a portable air conditioner is a small, freestanding appliance that can be used anywhere in your home with a power source. The internal fan will draw hot air into the coils and turn the refrigerant into vapor. Cool air will be discharged, and the fan converts the gas into a liquid while expelling the hot air outside. It is the opposite of central AC that needs ductwork, a blower unit, and an outdoor condenser unit with refrigerant lines.

Pros Of Portable Air Conditioners

Cons Of Portable Air Conditioners

  • Weaker cooling efficiency and coverage. It uses smaller compressors and coils cramped inside the small appliance.
  • Needs to allocate floor space for portable air conditioners, unlike a wall or windows AC that can be mounted high.
  • Portable AC must be a few feet away from the windows to avoid direct sun damage.
  • Noisier with an audible fan humming in the background. The higher the fan speed, the louder the motor fan spin.

What Are Window Air Conditioners?

A window air conditioner is a small appliance that requires an opening window to cool your home. Through the refrigerant method, it pulls air from outside, cooling it, and circulating the cool air to reduce room temperature. Hot air with high humidity will also be expelled outdoor and replaced with cool air.

Pros Of Window Air Conditioners

  • Window air conditioners cool better and faster than a portable AC. It is also more energy-efficiency, therefore ideal for large room sizes.
  • Does not take up the room floor space. Window air conditioners will be securely mounted to the window frame.
  • Minimal noise. The compressor is located outside the window and blocked by a thick wall. Note it is still noisier than a central AC unit.

Cons Of Window Air Conditioners

  • Requires a window to work correctly. The bundled window kit mounting are designed to be compatible with only conventional window sizes.
  • It blocks the view from the window, and it can be an eyesore for some.
  • Difficult to install, especially if you stay on a high floor like an apartment. A poorly installed window AC holds the risk of falling and injuring someone.
  • It does not have the flexibility of a portable AC, and you can’t move it from room to room cooling. It is also hard to dismount the AC for storage when not needed.
  • Window AC is costlier than a portable AC that has identical BTU specifications.

Should I Get A Portable Or Window AC Unit?

Both window and portable air conditioners are designed for a specific user niche. If pricing is a significant factor, you can get a cheaper portable AC with identical BTU ratings and coverage over a window unit. You can even use it straight out of the box as no installation is needed. If you intend to use it in more than one place, portable AC has the flexibility to do so. If not, go with a space-saving window AC that will not eat up your interior space. Consider the size and layout of the room, e.g. the number of windows, ceiling height, and wall plug location. Last but not least, if the generated noise concern you, opt for a window AC with a lower decibel.

Ultimately there is no wrong answer to either one. However, if you are moving to a bigger and permanent residence, consider switching to a more permanent cooling solution like ceiling AC or Ductless mini-split AC systems,

Portable Air Conditioners VS Window Air Conditioners

TypePortable Air ConditionersWindow Air Conditioners
PricingCheaper ($100-$600)Higher ($300-$800)
Cooling efficiencyGoodBest
InstallationNot requiredYes
Room to room coolingYesNo
Noise levelNoisy (inside)Quieter (outside)
Ideal forSmall room sizes (studio, single room)Large room sizes (apartment, whole house)

Max Fernandez

A loving father and a dedicated reviewer for airfuji.com with more than 1000 air purifiers under his belt. Max Fernandez is also one of the million patients currently suffering from asthma. Feel free to nudge him if you have any questions.