Which Portable AC is Best for my Apartment?

Haier CPN12XH9 12,000 BTU w/ Heater

Haier CPN12XH9 12,000 BTU /w Heater

This is the stage of the summer where your cooling system from the year before really gets put to the test. I actually remember coming home from vacation around this time last year. I was gone for two weeks at the end of June and returned home for the long weekend. The main window to my apartment faces west and when I returned home in the evening I was embraced with an incredible wave of heat.

Now, on vacation I was staying at my parents’ house which had a central AC system. I stayed inside most of the time going out mainly at night, so I was really used to the consistently cool environment. Coming home to a scorching apartment and a measly single oscillating fan just didn’t cut it. I needed a better solution and I needed it fast. Today I’m going to use my experience purchasing a portable air conditioner for my bachelor apartment in hopes that this will help you when deciding on which portable air conditioner is the best.

Now bachelor apartments can range from 150 ft.² all the way up to 500 ft.². Some bachelors even contain a bedroom and are sometimes called “junior bachelor” apartments. If your apartment is on the smaller side you may be looking at a unit with the BTU power in the range of 5,000 to 8,000 BTUs. If it’s on the bigger side you might be looking for something in the 12,000 or 14,000 BTU range. Keep in mind though, when looking for a portable AC the size of your room is only one factor for determining the amount of BTU’s to buy.

My bachelor apartment is approximately 300 ft.². So it’s kind of in the middle. I actually live in a junior bachelor. So out of that 300 ft.² approximately 100 is used for my bedroom. I mainly use my portable air conditioner in my TV area where most of my friends come to relax. That leaves about 150 to 200 ft.² of space too cool including my kitchen. On paper alone, just looking at the numbers you would think that buying an 8,000 BTU machine would be the right choice. I ended up purchasing the Haier CPN12XH9 12,000 BTU Unit w/ Heater and I’ll tell you why.

First off my room faces west so when I come home in the evening the sun is directly shining in my apartment. At this time of day my apartment is the hottest and most humid. The other thing is the kitchen. I cook regularly so that added heat was another major thing to consider. As we’ve mentioned in a previous article, having a kitchen in your environment will increase the required BTU’s by as much as 4,000. It sounds crazy, but when you think about it your oven does create a lot of heat. Even after you’re done cooking it will still give off heat as it cools itself down. Not only that but my fridge and electronic devices(computers, tv’s etc) all gave off some degree of heat while in use. Lastly, I chose this unit because of the heater. My apartment’s central heat was terrible in the winter and sometimes didn’t even work. This machine did a pretty good job of keeping my place warm on those off days.

Some of you are probably wondering. “Okay, so he bought a 12,000 BTU unit for such a small space. What about when the sun is not directly in his room or what about when he’s not cooking?” Well the only time I really need an AC is when it gets to that extreme, usually from 1 – 9pm (depending on how hot or humid). In the mornings (and sometimes at night) it’s usually not that hot. So at those times I don’t even need the AC function. That’s when I’ll use the fan or just open a window to get some cool fresh air. If your portable AC has an auto shut off feature, then you can program it to turn the AC off when your room meets your desired temperature. Some will even switch to fan mode automatically for you.

The only major drawback I’ve experienced with a Haier CPN12XH9 12,000 BTU Unit was the fact that it was a single hose machine. Otherwise, it did a great job cooling my apartment with ease. If I ended up purchasing an 8,000 BTU machine instead of the 12,000 BTU, I would probably have a harder time not only keeping my room cool, but maintaining any excess drainage as well. I have since moved to 1 bedroom and recently switched to the Whynter ARC-14SH 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Unit w/ Heater. I still use my portable AC in my TV area which again is connected with my kitchen.

I hope this article has helped provide you with insight on the factors to consider when actually making that final purchase on your portable AC. Just because your room is 300 ft.² doesn’t mean that you should purchase the unit that covers exactly that. Your room could be a breeding ground for humidity so doing some research will save you from disappointment in the long run.

Click here to see the Best Portable Air Conditioners for Summer 2013: Dual Hose