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Portable Air Conditioner Features and Options to Consider

Portable air conditioner units come with a wide variety of features. Consider these options when shopping.


You are most likely to find one-year warranties, as well as some two-year warranties. Some times the condenser may be covered for up to five years.

Water Drainage Options

  • Evaporation pans: Because portable AC units are also dehumidifiers, they produce water as a byproduct of cooling. Many models come with an evaporation pan that must be emptied. Make sure the pan is easy to remove and big enough so that it does not have to be emptied often. A good way to do this is to read the product reviews available on this site for specific models, to see if anyone is complaining about the water pan.
  • Self-evaporating units: These units avoid pans by discharging most of the water through the exhaust hose. When the weather is humid, water may collect in the unit anyway and have to be emptied. Some units automatically shut off when this happens.
  • Drain Hose: Most units provide a place to attach a small hose that you can run to a nearby drain which is downhill from the unit. However, few people have an available floor drain to use for this purpose.
  • Condensation Pump: Some units include a condensation pump that will pump the excess water from the unit, through a drain hose, into an uphill drain located in a sink, for example.

Air Filters

  • Washable Air Filter: This is designed to take dust from the air.
  • Carbon Filter: This feature is designed to remove odors from the room. You typically have to purchase replacement filters every so often.

Castors (wheels)

Your portable unit should come with castors that make the unit easy to move from place to place.

Digital vs. Manual Controls

  • Manual or rotary controls are user-powered, that is you push or turn them yourself (buttons and switches).
  • Digital controls are electronic and can be controlled by a remote.

Digital Temperature Display

Some units offer an electronic read out of the temperature.

Remote Control

Almost all units come with a wireless remote control that allows you to control settings from the comfort of your chair. Some remotes are also programmable, and many have a display screen on the remote itself.


This features allows you to determine the intervals during which the unit will run. Programmable timers allow you to pre-set when the unit will run. This is particularly useful, for example, to program the air conditioner to turn on some time before you arrive home, so the room will be cool when you're there.


A portable AC unit may have one or more fans. Some fans can be run at 2 or 3 speeds and oscillate. However, using the portable air conditioner as a fan only is less efficient than using a regular household fan, as it uses much more power (about 90 watts). Also, manufacturers suggest  you remove the exhaust hose from the back of the unit when using the unit as a fan.

Programmable Thermostat

This feature allows you to set different temperatures for different times of the day, which can be a money saver. Check the thermostat controls on the unit you are considering to be sure they are easy to read and the operation of the thermostat is easy to understand.

Moveable or Motorized Air Vents (Louvers)

Air vents determine where the air flows in your room. Some air vents move to the side and up and down manually. Other units feature vents that move electronically, sometimes even by using the remote control.

Heat Pump or Heater mode

Thatís right, some portable AC units also work as heaters. Look for this feature if it suits your needs. The exhaust hose is not used when in heater mode.

Sleep Mode

This feature turns the fan on only when the condenser is activated, which can save on energy and noise. It may also shorten the life of the fan motor, however.

Energy-Saving Mode

This feature gradually adjusts the temperature of the unit a few degrees upwards over a short time period so that when you're sleeping you don't notice the increase in temperature.

Noise Dampening or "Library Quiet" models

If the noise created by the unit is important to you, look for models with a noise damper or that are rated at relatively low noise levels.


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