How Much Electricity Does a Portable AC Use

How Much Electricity Does a Portable AC Use?

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Portable air conditioners are an efficient, productive, and cost-effective method to cool a room when temperatures rise in summer. While portable air conditioners are not meant to be a replacement for central air conditioners, they are very helpful when it comes to cooling a room down fast. Additionally, they also come without the need for installation, and a superb cooling capacity. So how much electricity does a portable AC use? Read on to find out.

What is a Portable Air Conditioner, and How Does it Work?

portable air conditioner is an AC unit that can easily be moved around the house. As a self-contained unit, it can easily be set up anywhere as long as there is a socket for an electric power supply. Keep in mind that portable air conditioners cater to spaces ranging from small rooms to garages and living rooms. Of course, there has to be a window, or an opening to vent hot air out.

In addition, portable air conditioners work by pulling in hot air from a room, and venting it out of the home. The air conditioner unit also has a motor that cools the air circulated through the room. Furthermore, portable AC units also remove excess humidity from a room and push it out through the attached hose out the window.

To cool air in a room, the portable air conditioner uses three major components including:

  • The fan sucks hot and humid air from the room being treated, into the air conditioner for cooling through the condenser coils.
  • The condenser coils remove humidity and any moisture from the air and runs the now water vapor through refrigerant coils.
  • The refrigerant runs through the air conditioning coils and acts to cool the hot air. The cool air is then pushed out into the room.

How Much Power Does a Portable Air Conditioner Use?

The size of your portable air conditioner determines the amount of electricity it will consume. Of course, the larger the portable AC unit, the more electricity it will consume. While portable air conditioners are an excellent way to cool a room, they work better as a backup for your central air conditioner. Of course, a medium-sized portable AC unit uses at least 2900 watts per hour.

On the other hand, a large portable air conditioner will use approximately 4100 watts of electricity. This will put a significant dent in your electricity bills. Furthermore, the watts per hour that a large portable air conditioner uses could outnumber the amount of electricity your central air conditioner uses. However, sometimes a portable air conditioner is more energy efficient compared to central air conditioning, depending on how you use it.

What Are Ventless Portable Air Conditioners?

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For a better perspective, running a portable air conditioner for an hour amounts to 4% of all your electricity bills. Of course, portable air conditioners range from compact, rolling boxes to mini-fridge-size towers, and each has its energy rating (measured in British Thermal Unit. Using this measurement, a small portable air conditioner with a BTU rating of about 7,500 can easily cool a 150 square feet room.

When it comes to mid-range models with a BTU of about 10,000, you can cool a 300 square feet room. The largest portable air conditioners have a BTU rating of 14,000, and they can cool very large rooms or roughly 500 square feet.

The final cost to run a portable air conditioner relies upon the type of portable air conditioner, the size of the room, and how you use it. The cost of running a portable air conditioner is also heavily influenced by environmental factors like daylight, humidity, and dryness. It can be argued that mini-split and window air conditioners are cheaper than portable air conditioners.

What affects the cost and electricity usage of air-conditioning?

Multiple factors could affect the cost and electricity usage of your portable air conditioners. The first and most important factor to consider is that you get a reputable brand that offers the best portable air conditioners. After that, you should consider the following:

1) Size of The Portable Air Conditioner

A portable air conditioner should be the right size for the room you want to cool. While small air conditioners are great, they are only suitable for small rooms. Additionally, you should keep in mind that a portable unit that is too small for the size of the room will utilize far more power than is needed. This will cause your energy bills to soar exponentially.

Size of The Portable Air Conditioner

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Remember, if you place a small portable air conditioner in a large room, it will have an unnecessary workload, not to mention a shorter lifespan. Of course, paying for a larger portable air conditioner when you don’t need it is also redundant, given you will still pay more for the portable AC unit and more in terms of energy bills.

2) Energy Efficiency

Air conditioner models are graded by the IBBE (Indian Bureau of Energy Efficiency). This means every air conditioner is given a star rating for its energy efficiency ratio. The more energy efficient the air conditioner is, the better its star rating. Ultimately, you should look for an air conditioner with a 5-star energy efficiency rating.

Energy Efficiency

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A 5-star portable air conditioner is highly energy efficient and consumes less energy or power than a 4, or 3-star rating. Of course, this applies to most air conditioning units. You should also know that portable air conditioners work by using less energy and provide substantial energy savings since, like a window air conditioner, they only cool one room instead of the whole house.

3) How Long You Run Your Portable AC

How Long You Run Your Portable AC

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The more your air coolers are on, the more energy consumption you will pay for. You can easily use a ceiling fan in the morning and at night when it’s cooler and blast your portable AC in the middle of the day. Your electricity costs will be lower, and the air quality in your house will still be better. In the long run, you will save money since the electricity consumed won’t be much higher than your normal usage.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Much Electricity a Portable AC Uses

i) Does portable aircon use a lot of electricity?

A portable AC is a great option if you don’t have a central air conditioning system. Portable units are very energy efficient and use less energy compared to a central AC system. The size of your portable unit also goes into how many watts your AC unit consumes.

ii) Is it cheaper to leave a portable AC unit for the whole day?

Ordinarily, leaving a portable AC on the whole day is a big no because your electric bill will be astronomical. However, most air conditioners run using a thermostat which you can adjust to your cold air preferences. Once your room reaches the desired temperature, the air conditioning automatically goes off and saves you money in the long run.

iii) How much electricity does a portable air conditioner use per month?

An average mid-sized air conditioner costs 20 to 30 cents per hour for a 2,344 kWh or an 8000 BTU air conditioner. To calculate the price per month, you will need to multiply it by the hours and the days of use.

iv) What is the disadvantage of portable AC?

Due to their size, portable air conditioners can only cool about one room at a given time and can’t cover larger areas. This means even the largest portable ACs have limited coverage

Noisy operation: Portable air conditioners can have quite a noisy operation. They may not be the best choice if you want an efficient cooling system that won’t keep you up at night.

Cost: Portable air conditioners are often more expensive to operate than other similarly sized air conditioner types (like mini split air conditioners) because they use more electricity.

v) Is portable AC a good option?

Yes, it is. A portable aircon unit is a great alternative to traditional window units. They are easier to install and are more energy efficient. Portable AC units are also more affordable and can be moved from room to room as needed. Furthermore, you don’t have to make any adjustments to your walls or extend your windows to accommodate a portable AC.

The Bottom Line

Portable air conditioners are extremely helpful to use in little spaces or for spot cooling. Many people are usually tempted to buy one for their space, especially for attics, small rooms that are separate from one another, and home offices. Furthermore, they are simple to set up, move, and store. They are also very effective, and they can be utilized throughout the year.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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