Do portable AC’s use a lot of electricity and waste energy?
How much do they cost in order to run compared to split AC units and central air conditioners?
When should you use them, and when should avoid them?
I am an electrical engineer, and I wrote this short article in order to answer these questions for you, in order to help you make a wise decision before you invest in a new AC.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
Do Portable AC Units Use a Lot of Electricity?
Portable AC units can use a lot of electricity in order to generate a certain amount of cooling or heating units compared to split AC units, and compared to central air conditioners.
However, portable AC’s can be useful if you are renting a place that doesn’t have an air conditioning system, and you can’t make changes such as installing split units or central AC’s.
Also, portable AC’s could be more cost effective to run in case that the place have a big central AC unit, but you only need to cool or heat one room at a time.
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Portable AC’s vs. Split Unit AC’s Energy Consumption
In order to give the same effect of air cooling or heating, usually measured in BTU’s (British Thermal Units), portable AC units consume around 30-50% more energy than split AC units.
The use of portable AC’s over split units becomes favorable in case that you don’t have the ability to make changes to the place you live in, or in case that you want to get only one AC unit and move it from one room to another as per your needs, especially that portable AC’s are cheaper to buy and install than split AC units.
Portable AC’s vs. Central AC’s Energy Consumption
Portable AC units use around 50% or more energy compared to central AC units in order to give the same amount of thermal units in cooling or heating.
Portable AC’s might be viable in case that you have a big central AC that consumes a lot of electricity even if you want to cool or heat only one room, or in case that you have a room that is not connected to the central AC.
How Much Electricity Does a Portable AC Use?
On average, a portable AC uses around 1,200 watts of electric power in order to run, which translates into 1.2 kWh (kiloWatt-hours) of energy on the meter per hour of operation.
Note that this is the average electricity usage per hour, as portable AC’s come in the range of 900-1,500 watts in power, and they are enough to cover an area of 150-750 sq.ft., depending on the unit you choose.
And the total electric energy consumed by a portable AC depends on three factors:
- The wattage of the portable AC unit.
- The actual consumption at the time of its operation, which depends on the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperature, and on the desired temperature to achieve indoors.
- The number of hours it is used to run per day and per month.
How Much Electricity Does a Portable Air Conditioner Use Per Day & Per Month?
Assuming that you run the portable AC for six hours a day, with the average consumption of 1.2 kWh per hour of usage, the total electricity usage would be around 7.2 kWh per day. (6X1.2)
Per month, the portable AC would use around 216 kWh of electricity, when used for six hours a day, with the average consumption of 1.2 kWh per hour of usage.
Will a Portable AC Increase Your Electric Bill?
A portable AC, when used instead of a fan, an air cooler, or a split AC unit of the same cooling or heating output, would mostly increase your electric bill.
But when used instead of running a big central AC, then it depends.
If they central AC used to run on full capacity, and now you replace it with a small portable AC, then the end result would be a lower electric bill.
But if you use more than one portable AC simultaneously in order to provide almost the same cooling or heating output of a big central AC, then the portable AC’s might cause an increase in your electric bill.
Are Portable AC’s Expensive to Run?
Portable AC’s can be expensive to run depending on the actual consumption of the unit you have, how many hours you leave it on every day, and the price of electricity.
Although portable AC’s use more electric energy in order to give the same cooling or heating output compared to split AC’s and central air conditioning systems, but the fact that portable AC’s come in small sizes makes the total cost of running one of them to be in the medium range.
How Much Does a Portable Air Conditioner Cost to Run?
On average, a portable air conditioner costs around 17 cents per hour in order to run, based on the average consumption of 1.2 kWh/hour, and the average electricity rate of 14 cents/kWh.
That’s 1.2 kWh/hour X 14 cents/kWh = 17 cents/hour
Assuming that you run the portable AC for around six hours a day, then the total energy consumption would be around 7.2 kWh, and the daily cost of running the portable AC would be around $1.
7.2 kWh/day X $0.14/kWh = $1/day.
Per month, the average cost of running a portable AC would be around $30.
7.2 kWh/day X 30 days/month X $0.14/kWh = $30.24/month.
Note that these are average estimates.
The actual cost of running a portable AC unit might change depending on the size of the unit you have, the operation conditions, the number of hours you keep it on, and the actual cost of electricity as different companies charge different energy rates.
For example, in Connecticut, the electricity price is around 21 cents/kWh, which is 50% more than the average, which means that under the same estimated portable AC size and operation conditions above, the monthly cost would be around $45.
While in Idaho for example, with the rates of around 10 cents/kWh, which is around 30% lower than the average, the average monthly cost of running a portable AC would be around $22.
Conclusion – Should You Get a Portable AC?
It depends on your situation!
In case that you don’t have the ability to make changes to the place you live in, or in case that you only want to cool or heat one room, and you don’t have money to install a split unit air conditioner, then investing in a portable AC could be a wise option.
Or, in case that you have a big central air conditioner and you only need to cool or heat one room at a time, then a portable AC could help you save on your AC bill, depending on how much energy the central AC uses when running at a low capacity for supplying a small area.
When buying a portable AC, try to get an energy efficient one by comparing the DOE BTU rating that is correlated to the coverage area, and see which option draws less power in order to give that amount of cooling and heating units.
I hope this was insightful!
If you still need help in this topic or have another question about portable AC’s energy usage and costs, please, ask me in the comments’ section below, and I will do my best to help you out 🙂