Is It Cheaper to Run a Portable Air Conditioner or Central Air?

Portable air conditioners can become a great cooling alternative for those who don’t have central air. But running such a unit is not always going to be cheaper.

For homes that need to keep one room conditioned, portable ACs can be a cheaper cooling option. They are less energy-efficient than central air, but an AC that is properly sized for the room will be able to keep the space cool for relatively cheap – up to $0.22 per hour.

Is It Cheaper to Run a Portable Air Conditioner or Central Air?

If you have a small apartment or a single room in a house that needs to be cooled, then it would be cheaper for you to run a portable air conditioner. However, that would certainly depend on the size of your portable AC as some of them might end up using more watts per hour than central units.

But even if your portable air conditioner has a high power rating, you might still be able to save on your electricity bills as you will only need to run the unit for a few hours in order to cool a single space.

Is Central AC More Efficient Than Portable AC?

Even though central air has ducts through which a lot of conditioned air gets lost, portable ACs are still considered to be less energy-efficient.

It would take a transportable unit more time to cool a room and they produce heat while operating which means that the air conditioner is going to have to work harder to lower the indoor temperature.

With that being said, portable air conditioners can be a great cooling option, if you use them strategically. Get a unit approved by ENERGY STAR and of the right size for your room and don’t forget to close the doors and windows as soon as you turn the AC on.

Read: Top Reasons Why A Portable Air Conditioner Fills With Water Quickly

Do Portable Air Conditioners Use More Electricity Than Window Air Conditioners?

Portable units would have to run longer to decrease the room’s temperature to the desired setting. As a result, they would be consuming more electricity, even if both the portable and the window unit have the same power rating.

What Is the Cheapest Way to Run Your AC?

  • The best thing about portable ACs is that they target one room at a time. Instead of moving the unit around the house, leave it in one space.
  • Take advantage of the accessories that come with a portable air conditioner. Some models include a programmable timer or an option to control the temperature from your smartphone – you can make the AC turn off while you’re away and program it to turn on an hour before you return home.
  • When using the air conditioner, make sure to close the doors and windows and lower the blinds.
  • If you have a ceiling fan, turn it on while the portable unit is running to help the air-con distribute the cooled air around the room evenly.
  • Use a portable AC instead of your central air when only one room needs cooling

What Temperature Should I Set My AC to Save Money?

You might be able to save the most on your cooling if you set the portable air conditioner to 78 F (that is for the times when you’re home).

If you’re used to leaving the air-con on 24/7, you’d be able to save up to 10% on your electricity bill, if you choose to raise the temperature by 7-10 degrees for 8 hours per day.

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Read: Is It Worth Buying A Portable Air Conditioner?

Are Portable Air Conditioners Expensive to Run?

Any cooling units are considered to be relatively expensive to run. It can cost you anywhere between $0.11 to $0.22 per hour to keep your portable AC operating.

The fact that it usually takes a portable unit longer to lower the temperature in the room will certainly contribute to the growth of operational costs. 

Do Portable Air Conditioners Use Much Electricity?

Portable air-cons use quite a lot of electricity. Medium-sized units need an average of 2.9 kW per hour and large units can end up using around 4.1 kW per hour (that’s more than the majority of central air conditioners require). 

Read: Portable AC Is Making Noise? Here Is Why

How Much Does It Cost to Run a 6,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner?

Let’s take the average residential US electricity price (15.42 cents) as an example.

In such a case, it would cost you around $1.30 to run a 6,000 BTU portable air-con on a hot day, if you use the unit for 8 hours. That is equal to approximately $38 per month. 

Is It Cheaper to Leave Portable AC on All Day?

Just like a lot of other cooling units, portable air conditioners that are equipped with a thermostat automatically turn off as soon as the set temperature is reached (they will also turn on once the temperature rises).

This makes leaving a portable AC on all day, if it’s hot outside, cheaper than manually turning the unit on and off a few times throughout the day. The equipment would simply have to work a lot harder, in order to reach the set temperature after it has been switched off for a while.

However, if your unit is not properly sized for the room or is not equipped with inverter technology, leaving the AC on all day won’t be cheaper.

Is It OK to Leave Portable AC on All the Time?

It is totally fine to leave a properly operating AC unit on 24/7. Simply don’t forget to drain your portable air conditioner.

Read: What Are Types Of HVAC Systems In Apartments?

How Many Hours Can Portable AC Run?

A portable air-con can run for as many hours as you need it to. 

How Big of a Room Can a Portable AC Unit Cool?

A portable AC can be one of the cheapest cooling options if you manage to choose a unit of the correct size.

  • For small rooms (up to 300 square feet), opt for a 7,000-10,000 BTU portable air conditioner
  • For medium rooms (up to 700 square feet), buy an 11,000-14,000 BTU unit
  • For spaces that are larger than 700 square feet, you would have to look for industrial or commercial portable AC models

The height of the ceiling should also be taken into consideration. If yours are extra high, you might want to go for a more powerful air conditioner. 

Read: Do You Have To Pay For Heat In An Apartment?

How Long Does It Take a Portable AC Unit to Cool a Room?

If the unit’s BTU rating is appropriate for the size of the room that you want to cool, then a portable air conditioner should be able to lower the temperature in about 20 minutes.

Of course, that is going to depend on the temperature difference that the unit needs to achieve – the bigger it is, the more time the AC will need.

Why Are Portable Air Conditioners Less Efficient?

Portable ACs generate waste heat indoors rather than releasing it outdoors as window units do. That’s why portable air conditioners have to deal with more heat overall.

How Can I Make My Portable Air Conditioner Colder?

  • Clean the air filters
  • Make sure that the exhaust air hose is straight and short
  • Seal up exhaust leaks
  • Close all windows and doors

Where Is the Best Place to Put a Portable Air Conditioner?

Place your portable AC in a location that is near to a window and an electrical socket.