With the summer weather approaching, many of us without central air conditioning (A/C) might want to consider buying a portable air conditioner. Even if you do have central a/c, it may be advantageous to consider buying a portable a/c because it costs much less in electricity to condition only one room instead of a whole house.
Portable a/c units are designed to plug into your home’s regular 115 volt electrical system. They have wheels that allow them to be moved throughout the house as needed. In moderate climates like here in the SF Bay Area, air conditioning is needed primarily in the late afternoon and evening when the daytime temperatures climb into the 90’s (or higher!). If it’s not that hot, it’s usually sufficient to open the windows and use natural ventilation to bring in cooler outside air.
So what are the main things to be looking for when choosing a portable a/c unit? Noise is a primary consideration, especially if the unit will be used in the bedroom. Check the specifications for a noise rating. Keep in mind noise is somewhat difficult and subjective to quantify. Also manufacturers tend to pad their numbers since nobody is checking. Most of the time, the noise level is listed in dBA. An average rating for a portable a/c unit would be about 60dBA. Again, noise is a subjective thing. While some people may be sensitive to the noise the fan makes, others will find the compressor noise more objectionable. The dbA scale kind of averages all the frequencies together into a single number rating.