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Central AC vs Portable AC

Posted May 21, 2020

The Downsides of Portable AC

The Lower Mainland is getting hotter and hotter. In this climate, people are starting to buy more air conditioning units than ever. For first timers, a portable air conditioner is often the first solution to the problem. They’re cheap, readily available, and they can be moved around the house. They’re the perfect solution to the summer heat! At first, anyway. As you continue to use them, you may notice that portable air conditioners are less ideal than you initially thought. Here are some reasons why portable AC is not the incredible AC solution you thought it was.

They’re Loud… Really Loud

If you’ve ever used a portable AC, you know that they are really noisy. If you’re not familiar with the sound, a typical AC sound could be described as a combination of grinding and droning. If you have one in the room, you’ll have to turn up the volume of your speakers pretty darn high to be able to hear your shows or music. While the fan noise is noticeable, most of the grinding noise is coming from the compressor. It’s motor is constantly running to compress refrigerants in the AC unit. Central air conditioning units will typically place the compressor outdoors so the noise can’t be heard by people inside. Alas, your average portable AC lacks this feature and will leave you to bear all the mechanical noises the unit has to offer. Thanks to a better design, central or ductless AC systems are so quiet you’ll barely know they’re running.

They Heat the Room

It’s counter-intuitive but true. AC units work by absorbing heat in the room and expelling it out, usually through a window. By placing the unit inside, you’re actually expelling the heat into the cooled area once again. Usually, a cheap corrugated plastic tube is provided to help direct the heat to a window, but if you feel the tube while the unit is running, you’ll notice that the tube is pretty warm. That warmth is heat that is escaping the tube and going back into your room! In addition, the expulsion of air from the room will create a vacuum effect in that room. As more air is expelled, more air from outside will be drawn in. The air that is being drawn in is actually hot air from outside, so the unit indirectly brings in even more heat. For central air conditioners, hot air never enters the house because the compressor is outdoors. Also, central air systems don’t create that vacuum because they only push cold air inwards.

They’re Slow and Inefficient

Overall, if a portable unit is set up properly they should be able to cool a room. However, many people who buy them for the first time end up discovering that they don’t work right away. It can take a long time before the room is cooled down. This is due to the various inefficiencies which include those outlined above. Efficient AC systems work by drawing hot air from outdoors, cooling it, and blowing it directly into the room. Unfortunately, portable ACs fail at both these steps because:

  1. They release heat back into the room.
  2. They draw air from inside the room which means that they expend energy on cooling air that has already been cooled!

While a portable system may take 20 to 60 minutes to cool a room, central systems are very efficient and can do the job within a few minutes. You’ll certainly appreciate that when you come home to a hot house!

They Look Bad

This may not be a high priority on your list when the temperatures start to rise, but in the end, wouldn’t you prefer an AC solution that looks as good as it works? Portable units often have bulky, marshmallow man tubes that run across the floor and into your window. Central and ductless units are unobtrusive and don’t require any floor space. They look minimalistic and work quietly and efficiently.

Central or Ductless Air Conditioners

A central or ductless AC system requires more initial costs, which is the leading reason someone would choose not to have one installed. Despite this, people continue to install air conditioning in their homes because of how well they work. A properly installed AC system can bring comfort and convenience to your home or office for years to come. Before you buy another portable AC, give Milani a call for a free estimate and consultation!

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