Which Is Better, a Portable Air Conditioner or a Window Unit AC?

Portable and window air conditioning units are some of the options that get the most buzz. These air conditioning units have different capabilities and functionalities, making it hard to choose the best for your home. You want a unit that, apart from serving you better, won’t be inconveniencing in any way.

A portable air conditioner is better if you have many rooms with small windows and don’t want to buy multiple units as you can shift it to different rooms. On the other hand, a window unit AC is your go-to option if you have large windows and want an energy-efficient system.

In the rest of this article, I’ll compare portable and window unit air conditioners. This will help you make an informed decision when on the market for a new air conditioning system. Let’s get started!

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a crucial consideration when shopping for an air conditioner. The cost of power has been rising, with the U.S. Energy Information Administration stating that U.S. residents use 14.92 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) on average. Such high electricity costs imply that you need energy-efficient appliances to minimize energy bills.

Window air conditioning units have the edge over their portable counterparts in terms of energy efficiency. Window air conditioning units have an energy efficiency ratio (EER) of 10. On the other hand, their portable counterparts have an EER of 8.5.

It’s worth noting that an air conditioning unit with a higher EER is more energy-efficient than one with a lower EER. Therefore, a window air conditioning unit is more energy-efficient than a portable air conditioner.

Portable air conditioners also have a higher power consumption rate than window units. A typical portable air conditioner uses 1.176 kWh of electricity, while most window units use 0.0874 kWh.

Read: How Much Does A Window AC Unit Increase Your Electric Bill?

Ease of Installation

Portable air conditioners have a simple setup that takes a few minutes to complete. These units have wheels and window clips that make attaching to the window easier.

You can place a portable air conditioner in any room and attach the window kit to the window to vent moisture and exhaust. The only challenge you may face is finding the right place to vent the portable air conditioner.

Window air conditioners are a bit more complicated to install as they require expertise. Most people use a professional installation service when setting up window air conditioners.

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Window ACs weigh at least 50 pounds (22.68kg). You need to be able to lift this weight to install the AC securely onto a window frame. The installation process is also quite technical as you need to ensure that the AC is level and plumb.

An improperly installed window air conditioner can fall out of the window and injure people or damage property.

Therefore, portable air conditioners are easier to install than window air conditioners, making them a better option if you don’t want to hire a professional installer.

Read: Can Black Mold Grow In Window Air Conditioners?  

Ease of Use

Portable air conditioners are easy to use as they come with an intuitive control panel. The control panel has buttons that allow you to set the temperature, fan speed, and mode. You can also use it to set a timer or activate the sleep function.

Window air conditioners also come with an easy-to-use control panel. The control panel usually has a digital display showing the set and current room temperature.

You can use the control panel to adjust the thermostat, set the fan speed, and choose the operating mode. Some window air conditioners also have a timer function that allows you to set the AC to turn on or off at a specific time.

Both portable and window air conditioners are easy to use, making them an excellent option for people who don’t want to deal with complex appliance controls.


As the name suggests, portable air conditioners are designed to be moved from one room to another. These units have wheels that make them easy to roll from one room to another.

Portable air conditioners are also lightweight, making them easy to carry around.

On the other hand, window air conditioners are not designed to be moved from place to place. These units are heavy and need to be installed in a window.

Therefore, a portable AC is your go-to option if you want a unit you can move from one room to another. Otherwise, go for a window conditioner if you want a more permanent solution that sticks to the window.

Read: Can You Run A Window AC In The Rain?

Space Occupation

Window air conditioners don’t touch the floor as they are installed in the window. This design leaves more floor space for you to use.

On the other hand, portable air conditioners need to be placed on the floor, which means they occupy valuable floor space. If you have a small room, a portable air conditioner can take up a lot of space and make the room feel cramped.

In general, window air conditioners are better in the following cases:

  • If you want to save floor space
  • If you have a small room
  • If you want a unit that can be installed outside

Noise Levels

Window and portable air conditioners make noise while operating as they have rotating fans and refrigerants. However, noise levels vary between these units based on design and cooling power.

Window AC units are noisier than their portable counterparts as they have higher cooling power. In most cases, window ACs come in 8K, 10K, and 12K BTU cooling powers. Such high cooling power rates produce more noise that can exceed 58 decibels. This explains why these units are kept outside in most cases.

Although portable air conditioners make less noise, they have limited cooling ranges. Noisier air conditioners use more power to propel the cold air to cover larger indoor distances. Therefore, this is an essential factor when using noise as a factor to disregard window air conditioners.

You’ll have to compromise the noise or cooling area if you want only one unit. Whichever favors the needs of your home wins.

Read: Is It OK To Leave Window AC On All Day?


Window air conditioners are priced higher than their portable counterparts. The high price tag results from the high energy efficiency depicted by window ACs.

Portable air conditioners are less expensive than window units. The lower price makes them a popular choice for people who want an affordable cooling solution for their homes.

In general, portable air conditioners are a more affordable option than window units. However, the high initial cost of a window AC is offset by its long-term energy efficiency.

The Working of Window and Portable Air Conditioners

Portable and window air conditioners work in the same way by using refrigerants. These refrigerants pass through cooling coils as they absorb heat from the air. The coils compress the refrigerant, raising its temperature.

The refrigerant then passes through the expansion valve, where it enters a low-pressure chamber. In this chamber, it absorbs heat from the air, cooling it. The cooled air is then distributed into the room by a fan.

The extent to which the AC blows cold air into the room depends on its cooling power. The higher power it has, the more area it can cover, and vice versa.

Final Thoughts

The best air conditioner between portable and window units comes down to your needs and house design. A portable AC unit is your go-to option if you have a house with many rooms and small windows. Depending on your cooling needs, you can move the unit from one room to the next.

On the other hand, a window AC unit is better if you have large windows and want an energy-efficient system.

Related: How Do You Prevent Mold In A Window AC?