All air conditioners use a lot of electricity, but portable air conditioners do use more electricity than window units do.
Portable air conditioners are very versatile and can be used in circumstances where it is not possible to install a window or central air conditioning unit.
However, portable air conditioners do use more electricity than window units and are not as effective as central air units, but there are ways to optimise the electricity usage and shop around for the best EER-rating.
When to use a portable air conditioner
Adding any kind of air conditioner to your space can have many benefits. However, there are so many varying kinds of air conditioners that it can be difficult to determine which one is best for you.
Portable air conditioners are great cooling solutions for spaces that do not have windows, like basements or attics and they can also work if you cannot install a window unit for any other reason.
This is also a good option for renters or people who live in an apartment where the landlord does not want to install a central air conditioning system.
Do portable air conditioners use a lot of electricity?
Air conditioners, in general, are known to use a lot of power to run. To add to this, air conditioners also draw a lot of power when they initially start running.
This higher initial power draw can take almost double the amount of power that the air conditioner uses when it is just running normally.
Although it is true that air conditioners use a lot of electricity compared to other appliances, portable air conditioners do use more electricity than window units, which have about the same capacity, on average.
Portable air conditioners may use less electricity than central air systems, but central air systems have a much larger capacity and can be used to cool an entire house instead of just a single room.
The average electricity usage for the different kinds of air conditioners can be summarised as follows:
|Type of air conditioner||Capacity||Electricity usage (in watts)|
|Central air conditioners||1 ton to 5 ton||3000 to 3500 watts per hour|
|Portable air conditioners||6000 BTU to 14 000 BTU||1000 to 4100 watts per hour|
|Window air conditioners||2000 BTU to 12 000 BTU||500 to 900 watts per hour|
It can also be useful to examine real-life examples of different portable air conditioner models to get a realistic idea of how much electricity this type of air conditioner uses, as well as to understand what the EER-rating of different air conditioners means.
There are also ways to reduce the electricity usage of your portable air conditioner, if this is your main concern about this kind of unit.
The wattage of different portable air conditioning units
Although the averages explained above can give you a general idea of what the wattages of different portable air conditioners are, you can get a more realistic idea of how much electricity this type of unit uses by looking at real-life examples of portable air conditioner models, such as:
|Portable air conditioner||Capacity||EER-rating||Electricity usage (in watts)|
|BLACK+DECKER BPACT10WT Portable Air Conditioner||10000 BTU||8.7||1150 W|
|De’Longhi PACEX390LVYNPortable Air Conditioner||14000 BTU||7.6||1345 W|
|GE APWA14YBMW Portable Air Conditioner||14000 BTU||7.9||1350 W|
If you want a more accurate wattage for your specific portable air conditioner, it is best to use a watt meter to measure the electricity usage of your unit at different stages of its cycle and in varying settings.
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Understanding how EER-ratings work
The EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) of an air conditioner represents how energy-efficient the unit is because it compares the electrical power that is put into the air conditioner with the cooling energy that is put out by the unit.
In terms of portable air conditioners, this may be more accurate than just purchasing the unit with the lowest wattage, as it can help you find the unit that does the most with the least amount of electricity. An EER-rating of above eight makes a portable air conditioner very energy-efficient.
Ways to reduce the electricity usage of your portable air conditioner
Whether you have a low or high-efficiency, or low or high wattage portable air conditioner, you can reduce the electricity usage of your AC unit in a few ways.
The best way to optimise your electricity usage is by buying a portable air conditioner with the right BTU capacity for the space that you want to use it in. Regular maintenance and cleaning will also help your unit use the least possible amount of electricity as it runs.