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Portable AC vs. Central AC: Which is Better for You?

Aircon Comparison

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What's in the article?

Between portable air conditioners and central air conditioning systems, the latter may seem like the obvious choice as it provides the best cooling comfort for any space. However, this is not always the case as central AC units are not suitable for small spaces, and are costly. In this article, we look at the pros and cons of each aircon type to find the suitable model for you.

What is a Portable Air Conditioner?

A portable AC unit is convenient, low-cost, and can efficiently cool down small spaces at a time. They are great for small apartment units, and are easy to clean and maintain as they don't take up much space. Still, portable air conditioners provide adequate cooling to beat the heat during the hot summer months.

Pros

Budget

Portable air conditioners are low-cost cooling systems. You can find a fair-quality portable air conditioner priced for as low as $100, with more powerful units prices at $500 and above. These portable AC units are suitable for small spaces, and maintain low operating costs while providing cool air to the surrounding room.

Space Requirements

The portable air conditioner was made for a specific purpose: to be portable. These units are small and compact, and only require a window to install. They are discreet and quiet, and while they take up floor space, they don't require much more room than an electric fan, space heater, or an evaporative air cooler.

Energy Efficiency

The energy consumption of a portable AC unit is negligible compared to larger units like a central air conditioning system. Energy efficient units use up to 0.754 kWh per hour, and these units save up on energy bills without compromising its cooling capacity.

Maintenance

Keeping a portable unit clean is relatively easy. Most portable air conditioners have accessible air filters that can be washed or vacuumed clean, and you can DIY the aircon cleaning by opening up the air conditioning unit. Professional repairs may be difficult to find, but our technicians at Luce Aircon will be able to check your unit for any malfunctions.

Cons

Cooling Power

Portable units, however, are limited in terms of cooling capacity. Portable air conditioners average 5,000 BTU to 14,000 BTU, which is less than half the cooling capacity range of window air conditioners. Between a central air conditioning unit and a portable air conditioning unit, the cooling capacity of the latter cannot compete.

What is a Central Air Conditioner?

To cool multiple rooms at a time, most homeowners look for a central system that can moderate heating and cooling throughout the entire home. A central AC unit is ideal for large homes, landed properties, and buildings as it can handle multiple zones at a time, and provide consistent cooling throughout the space.

Pros

Cooling Power

The cooling capacity of a central air conditioner is incomparable, with a BTU rating range between 20,000 BTU and 50,000 BTU. These air conditioner systems are often made with top-of-the-line compressors that can both heat and cool spaces as needed.

Energy Consumption

While a central unit may seem like such an energy hog, inverter technology and smart systems have made them energy efficient, saving you on your energy bills. They may be more energy efficient in the long run as they provide warm air in addition to cold air, making them an all-around air conditioning system.

Cons

Budget

Central air conditioning systems are expensive. One central unit can cost between $4000-$8000, or even higher depending on the brand and model. These units will also incur installation costs, which will drive up the initial price of the HVAC system.

Space Requirements

Central ACs are also called duct-mounted air conditioners, which means they need existing ductwork to install. Not all spaces have existing ductwork, and this HVAC system must be integrated to the ducts to function properly.

Maintenance

Central AC systems cannot be maintained at home, but will require a professional to clean, checkup, maintain, and repair the unit. While there is no shortage of air conditioning services that can work on central AC units, the frequency of availing these services can be a hassle, and can be costly as well.

Portable Air Conditioners vs. Central Air Conditioners: What's the Difference?

Factors Portable Air Conditioners Central Air Conditioners
Budget Affordable, low-cost option.5 out of 5 rating Very expensive. 1 out of 5 rating
Energy Consumption Low energy usage. 4.5 out of 5 rating Optimized energy usage. 4 out of 5 rating
Space Requirements Does not require large spaces or extensive installations. 4.5 out of 5 rating Requires existing ductwork and extensive installations. 2 out of 5 rating
Cooling Power Low cooling power. 2 out of 5 rating Efficient cooling capacity. 5 out of 5 rating
Maintenance Low maintenance. 4 out of 5 rating High maintenance. 2.5 out of 5 rating

The Verdict

For the most efficient cooling system, central air conditioners are the way to go. They are discreet, cost-efficient, and capable of cooling rooms in different zones at a time. However, the costs and space requirements of central AC units can be off-putting for most consumers.

If you need to cool down a large space with multiple zones, a central air conditioner is your best bet. However, if you have budget and space constraints, or only need to cool one room, then portable ACs will suffice, and are more suitable for studio apartments.

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Staff Writer

Staff Writer

This article is written by our passionate staff writers who seek to share our knowledge from our business

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