Can A Portable Air Conditioner Cool An Apartment?

by | Jul 16, 2020 | AC Maintenance, Energy Saving Tips

Living in an apartment without air conditioning can be stifling. In the past, many renters have opted for window units – but these systems come with drawbacks: they take up an entire window and don’t cool the space that effectively. Now, renters have the option to purchase portable AC units. But do these systems have the power to sufficiently cool a sweltering apartment?


Whether a portable air conditioning unit can cool your entire apartment depends on two factors: the size of your space, and the power of the model. Consider the square footage of your space, and the BTUs (British Thermal Units) of the system to see how powerful of a model would be needed. For apartments that are 1000 square feet or 93 square metres, at least 18,000 BTUs are required. Units of this calibre will start at roughly $700 for a basic model. To cool an entire apartment, you will need to spend a pretty penny on a higher-end machine.

Install Window Vent

To remove the hot air, a window vent is installed. Then, the portable unit is attached with a hose so it can expel warm air outside of your apartment. This means that even though the unit is moveable, it must remain within a few feet of the vent. Portable air conditioners are more powerful than window units, but they’re also more expensive. These systems will also block a portion of your windows – for apartments with limited light sources, this can be a deciding factor for many.


Portable air conditioners come fitted with wheels so they can be moved around, but options are limited; they must attach to a window with an exhaust vent. The short hose makes them immobile, since their cooling capabilities are confined to rooms with window vents installed.


Moist, muggy air will make your space clammy in no time. A portable air conditioner removes moisture from the air using water reservoirs that dehumidify your apartment. The downside of these reserves is that they fill up fast on humid days, and need to be emptied often. Neglecting to do so will cause damage to the system, and potentially a water leak.


Your landlord may forbid you from installing an unsightly window unit; in this case, you might be considering a portable AC unit. These units will require a window vent, so your landlord may be unimpressed if you have one installed. They also make your windows unopenable. Furthermore, some find the appearance of the exhaust hose to be unattractive.


Will a portable AC unit be enough to cool an apartment? Unless you are willing to invest several hundreds of dollars into this system, the answer to that question is: probably not. Despite the “portable” aspect of this product, it still needs to attach to an exhaust hose, meaning it must be within a few feet of the vent. The AC properties of this product are limited to rooms with windows, and only the higher-end models have the power to cool large spaces. At that price point, it may be worth it to invest in a proper HVAC system. 

About The Author

John Magninat

John Magninat

Owner John Magninat is a third generation air conditioning repair man. Classic Services Air Conditioning & Heating is a family company with family values and our customers are our top priority.

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