Portable AC vs Window AC: Which one to Choose?

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Portable AC vs Window AC

Regarding cooling your home, there are two main options: portable air conditioners and window air conditioners. Both have pros and cons, and your best choice will depend on your specific needs and preferences. In this article, we will take a closer look at both portable ACs and window ACs, comparing their features, benefits, and drawbacks to help you decide which one is the best fit for your home.

Whether you’re looking to cool a small room or an entire house, we’ll provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision. So, let’s dive in and explore the world of portable ACs and window ACs.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Both portable and window AC units are energy efficient.
  • Portable AC units are great for cooling individual rooms but not the entire house.
  • Portable AC units are easy to install and don’t require technicians.
  • Window AC units have a pre-installed thermostat to control and monitor the system.

After reading the review, you’ll know which product suits you. Trust me, buying the wrong AC unit is the last thing you want, given my experience. 

Portable AC vs. Window AC Efficiency

My review started by checking the critical differences between the two products, and I can tell you there were several. They include

Portable AC Units Window AC Units
They’re smaller and lighter to carry. They’re a little larger and heavier than portable ones.
They’re perfect for large properties where buying several Window AC units is out of the question.  They’re perfect for cooling a single-unit home.
Portable ACs are easy to install and manage.  They require a technician to set up and manage. 
They’re a bit expensive, but it depends on the brand you want to buy. They’re relatively cheaper than portable AC units. 
Unable to cool large rooms at once. Very efficient in cooling large rooms

Key Features of Each AC Unit

Based on my experience testing the two units, I realized that each has unique features that make it stand out. Here is what I found out after months of reviewing the two AC units:

Portable AC Features

I found the 10,000 BTU more than enough to cool my 300 sq. ft. basement without straining the device. However, there are portable AC units with more capability than this, but you’ll have to pay more to get them. If you have a room like mine, a portable AC unit with 10,000 BTU is more than enough.

Smart capability is another feature I loved the most about the portable AC unit. I could interact with and control the unit using the customized smartphone application I installed on my phone. My portable AC unit had Android and iPhone applications.

The hose helps disperse the warm air out of your home, keeping the room cooler. However, I found that a portable AC unit with two hoses worked better and faster than that with one hose.

Related: Ultimate Review of the Best Smart Air Conditioner in 2023


Window AC Features

The adjustable fan speed determines how fast or slow the room cools down. The Thermostat provides control units where you can increase or decrease the fan speed. This feature ensures you have control over your AC unit every time.

A programmable timer helps you control when and for how long the AC unit should be functional. You can set when you want the device to go on and remain that way when you want it to shut down and for how long. I found this feature useful in energy conservation.

Related: AC Not Cooling Below 75 – Reasons And Solutions

Benefits of Portable AC and Window AC

Differences aside, the two ACs have unique benefits that come in handy when cooling your home. The benefits range from ease of use to customization. Here’s what I found to be positive attributes for the two:

Benefits of Portable AC

Although the benefits differ with the portable AC unit you buy, the following are common with almost any model in this category:

  • Easy to move from room to room
  • Reducing energy costs
  • Simple and straightforward to set up
  • Use it in an RV
  • Provides different settings
  • Affordable


I found the unit’s light to carry around, which comes in handy if you want to cool a room that doesn’t have a window AC. The units have wheels attached to help roll them through the house without lifting. You can move it to your office during work hours, roll it to the kitchen when preparing dinner, and take it to your bedroom to cool the room before you wind up your day. 

Related: Swamp Cooler vs. Air Conditioner – A Detailed Comparison

Energy Efficiency

Portable AC units are energy efficient, and I found out they consume nearly three times less energy than the central AC system. The units only cool the room they’re in, ensuring no energy is wasted on cooling rooms, not in use. They come in handy if you spend most of your time in one room.

Easy Set-up Process

You don’t need to mount it on the wall or handle any complex installation process. I only needed to unbox and turn on the device. The operating manual came in handy when configuring the settings, allowing me to set up a cooling unit quickly.


Use it in an RV

The cooling unit doesn’t take up much space. I was able to fit it into my RV and still have enough space to move around and conduct business as usual.

Reducing fan speed comes in handy in confined spaces in an RV. You can take the smaller models to your boats or vocational homes.


Provides Different Settings

Besides cooling your home, portable AC units also offer settings like the ‘dry’ option, which comes in handy in a humid environment.

Additionally, the ionizer in the AC unit helps eliminate harmful microorganisms like bacteria and germs.


I found many portable AC units affordable, especially the smaller units. Don’t let their small size fool you, but these units are powerful enough to cool a moderately sized room.

Benefits of Window AC

After months of testing the window AC units, here is what I found out:

  • Perfect for small rooms
  • Low maintenance
  • Easy to find
  • Water drains outside
  • Inexpensive to run

Perfect for Small Rooms

Window AC units are perfect for smaller apartments like those in urban areas. However, you’ll need a powerful unit if you reside in a bigger home.

Low Maintenance

Besides cleaning the debris from the fan and minor fixes, I found the window AC unit required low maintenance. After months of testing, the cooling unit remained functional, and I only had to clean the fan twice. 

Easy to Find

Window AC units are widespread, with different brands competing to curb the market. You can always find a window cooling system in your local shopping center. With such popularity, I also found much helpful information from other users and experts.

Water Drains Outside

The window AC unit drains the droplets outside, unlike portable AC units that require emptying the water tray. 

Inexpensive to Run

Window AC units consume less energy than central AC units. In my experience, I found the window AC unit uses up to 1440 watts, compared to the 3,500 watts consumed by central AC units.

Related: Fans That Cool Like Air Conditioners – What Are Your Options?


Dual Hose Portable AC VS Window AC

Besides testing and comparing portable AC to window AC, I also included dual-hose portable AC units. Although the dual hose has similar benefits and features to the portable cooling unit, I found some golden nuggets that I believe would be fair to share with you. They include:

Dual Hose Portable AC Unit Window AC Unit
Easy to move around Cannot be moved once installed
The two hoses pull fresh air into the room and push hot air outside simultaneously. The system design helps to pull external air into the house and push warm air outside. 
Energy efficient Energy efficient
It’s costly due to added functionality and improvements from the standard portable AC unit. It’s affordable and widely available

Portable AC VS Central AC

Central ACs are common in large homes and offices, and I compared them to portable AC units. Here is what I found:

Portable AC Unit Central AC Unit
Cools one room at a time.  Cools the entire house simultaneously. 
Very energy efficient. Uses a lot of energy.
Affordable to install and manage. It’s costly to set up and maintain.
Set and forget with minimal maintenance.  Requires technicians to install and maintain.

Best Window AC Unit

Gree 8,000 BTU Window AC Unit

Gree 8000 BTU Window Air Conditioner with Remote Control, 3 in 1 Mini Air Conditioner Window Unit with Cooling, Dehumidifier, Fan functions, Quiet Window AC

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The Gree 8000 BTU window air conditioner is a versatile and efficient cooling solution for rooms up to 350 sq. ft. This 3-in-1 unit features cooling, dehumidifying, and fan functions, allowing you to control the temperature and humidity levels in your room easily. With its easy-to-use remote control, you can adjust the settings from across the room, and the 24-hour programmable timer lets you schedule the unit to turn on or off at specific times.

  • 8,000 BTU cooling power, suitable for rooms up to 350 sq. ft.
  • 3-in-1 function: cooling, dehumidifying, and fan
  • Easy-to-use remote control
  • 24-hour programmable timer for convenient scheduling
  • Energy saver function
  • Multiple fan speeds and cooling modes
  • Auto-restart function in case of power outages
  • Washable and reusable air filter
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy installation, fits most windows
  • Energy Star rated for energy efficiency

This window air conditioner is a perfect fit for those who want an efficient and easy-to-use cooling solution for their room. The 3-in-1 function allows you to control your room’s temperature and humidity levels, while the energy saver function and programmable timer help you save money on your electricity bills. With its easy installation and quiet operation, this window air conditioner is an excellent addition to any home.

Check the Gree 8000 BTU window air conditioner’s latest prices on Amazon

Best Portable AC Unit

Midea Duo Map12S1TBL

Midea Duo 12,000 BTU (10,000 BTU SACC) HE Inverter Ultra Quiet Portable Air Conditioner, Cools up to 450 Sq. Ft., Works with Alexa:Google AssistantMidea Duo 12,000 BTU (10,000 BTU SACC) HE Inverter Ultra Quiet Portable Air Conditioner, Cools up to 450 Sq. Ft., Works with Alexa:Google Assistant 1

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The Midea Duo 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner is the perfect choice for cooling larger rooms or spaces up to 550 sq. ft. It is equipped with HE Inverter technology, which allows the unit to adjust its cooling output as needed to maintain the desired temperature, resulting in energy savings and improved performance. With a 10,000 BTU SACC (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), this air conditioner is Energy Star rated and can help you save money on your electricity bills.


  • 12,000 BTU cooling power and 10,000 BTU SACC (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio)
  • HE Inverter technology for energy savings and improved performance
  • Ultra-quiet operation
  • Portable design for easy movement and setup
  • Multiple fan speeds and cooling modes
  • Auto-restart function in case of power outages
  • 24-hour programmable timer for convenient scheduling
  • Remote control for easy operation from across the room
  • Energy Star rated for energy efficiency
  • Suitable for cooling large rooms or spaces up to 550 sq. ft.

Check the Midea Duo 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner’s latest prices on Amazon


Portable or Window AC?

Based on what I gathered after months of testing the two cooling systems, they all serve similar functions. I found portable AC units great for cooling specific rooms and perfect for conserving energy. The fact that I could move the unit around the house and even use it in my RV was an added advantage. However, the unit required regular maintenance, such as emptying the water tray.


The window AC was perfect for cooling several rooms but was limited to house use. It was also more energy efficient than the central AC and required minimal maintenance.

I believe the two cooling units are perfect for home use. However, if you like being on the road or prefer cooling one room at a time, you should opt for the portable AC. If you’re looking for a house AC that’s simple and widely available, you should opt for the window AC unit. 

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