The main difference between portable and window air conditioners is noticeable: it is their placement in the room. However, many more particularities, from price and energy consumption to installation and noise level, are under the surface.


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Does it sound too overwhelming?

You don’t need to become an aircon expert overnight; simply count on our expertise — we will guide you through all the pros and cons of both options!

Window-based AC units are some of the oldest players on the market. They have been around since way before we were comparing portable vs. window air conditioners. Everything is in the name: the model is installed in the window, with the exhaust — outside.      

Portable air cons can work in any room as long as there is a plug and space for an exhaust pipe. Most models require a window for the pipe.

The difference in installation of portable air conditioner vs. window is due to the exhaust method. A portable AC uses an exhaust vent (pipe) which you can attach to a window frame to exhaust the hot air outside.

Installation peculiarities aside, what are the other criteria when you don’t know whether to choose a portable air conditioner or window air conditioner?

1.   Do you own the place?

The answer to this question might shape the whole decision-making process for you. For example, if you rent, there are higher chances of bumps in the road if you pick the window air conditioner. This is because most landlords don’t like permanent alterations to their places.

If you own, you have more chances of cooling your place with a window AC but don’t get too ahead of yourself! Some cities (Paris, Vienna) are very cautious when it comes to their appearance. You might even need a vote of other owners in your building to get a permit to install simple air conditioning!

Another thing to consider if you rent is that a window AC is a serious investment you can’t pack up when you move to a different place. Some models allow doing so, but you will need to add a four-digit number to the initial price, plus the cost of reinstalling it in the new home. To answer the question of are portable air conditioners as good as window units, you need to understand other details.


2.   Cooling capacity

Whether you are looking at a portable or a small ac window unit, pay attention to the BTUs — British Thermal Units. The higher the number, the stronger the cooling capacity.

Generally, you need a more powerful portable device to cover the same area as the window-mounted AC since the window ones are more efficient per BTU.

Advantage: window air conditioner

The tricky part when comparing the cooling area of a portable air conditioner vs. a window unit is that there is no clear answer. If you need to cool the whole room, a window AC is stronger. On the other hand, if you need to cool several rooms, you should go for the portable AC to move it around.

3.   Noise

If you compare the data in decibels for both types of air conditioners, window models are usually louder than the portable alternatives. For the same number of BTUs, window ACs are noisier. Again, there are more details when you analyze one model in particular.

For example, at the cooling capacity of 10000 BTU, a window appliance will emit a 60Db noise, while a portable one will work at 54Db.

Advantage: portable air conditioner

4.   Installation

Window air conditioners require way more heavy lifting than portable air conditioning. They are dangerous to install on your own. You will most likely need a professional for a smooth installation. So here portable air conditioners are better than window AC units.

Portable units are good to go once you plug them in. However, most models come with an exhaust hose, so you will have to place it next to the window to blow out hot air. While it’s hardly the most photogenic solution, it beats the complication of the installation process of the window aircon.

Advantage: Portable air conditioner

Read also: The Best Mini Air Conditioner

5.   Price

This criteria for choosing a portable air conditioner or a window air conditioner is all over the place. You can find budget models in both categories, and you can also break the bank with a five-digit model.

Many pieces make up the puzzle of the final price: energy consumption, installation fees, unit price, cooling area, etc.

Advantage: No clear advantage

6.   Efficiency

The best way to compare the efficiency of a window vs. a room air conditioner is to take the reported area covered and compare it to the coming capacity in BTU. Window units usually present more clear data in terms of efficiency while the portable models fall all over the spectrum: some appear to be enough to cool an indoor stadium (hyperbole), and some need to stay precisely in the place you want to cool.

The conclusion is in the initial design and structure: window ACs are designed to cool down the room, and the portable ACs depend on their capacity, efficiency, and the surface covered.

Advantage: Window air conditioners

7.   Design

Nobody chooses to get an air conditioner because it is such a great addition to the home décor. A major drawback to most models is because they look … Well, like air conditioners. A window air conditioner blocks a part of the window. A portable air conditioner needs a certain distance from the wall (you can’t exactly hide it in the corner), takes space on the floor, and requires unattractive arrangements for the exhaust hose.

Advantage: No clear advantage

We pulled up a comparison table, to sum up the differences between portable air conditioners vs. window air conditioners. There are no winners or losers in the portable ac vs. window ac battle; there are simply options more suitable for your circumstances.

However, if we had to pick the best product for healthy, effective cooling, it wouldn’t be a portable air conditioner or window unit.

Instead, we would go with the coolest product out there — a personal evaporative air cooler!


Well, it checks every single “pro” on the above list!

An Evapolar evaporative air cooler is:

  • Excellent price/value ratio. The most expensive model is around 250$.
  • Extremely low electricity consumption, from 7W to 12W, which is 100 times less than a regular AC. The device cools down the personal space around you without wasting energy on cooling the whole room.
  • No installation fees. Nothing. Any Evapolar device can even work with a portable battery via a USB.
  • Ideal solution for rentals. Cool down your area, take it to a different room, move to a different continent, use it only for two weeks in summer — the options are endless.
  • Sleek minimalist design. Evapolar appliances are so stylish they could easily be a décor element in Scandinavian style. No eyesores blocking the window, no gigantic hoses, just a powerful cooler getting the job done.
  • Noise level. The maximum noise an air cooler emits at a regular speed is an equivalent of a very quiet house. Check out this review with the detailed breakdown of speeds and their noise equivalents.

Drawing up all the pros and cons of a portable aircon versus a window AC unit can be exhausting and not always crystal clear because it depends on many external factors. Overall, window units are good options for permanent residences if you don’t mind a bit of extra noise. Portable devices are easier to move around.

At the same price, a window AC will have slightly better characteristics than a portable unit. Real also: Are Portable Air Conditioners Good for You?

Best evaporative air cooler is the most budget solution for your personal comfort. The price is unbeatable, it is whisper-quiet, and all you need to do is direct the airflow towards you. Your personal comfort is always there, one click away with an Evapolar device. There are no installation fees, no freezing rooms, no exorbitant electricity bills — just you and your very cool, helpful friend.


People also ask (FAQ):

1. Are portable air conditioners as good as window units?

It depends on your goal. If you need to cool down the entire room, you should choose either a window-mounted air conditioner or a very powerful portable a/c model. If you need to cool a separate space, a portable model will do the job.

However, the best personal cooling option is always an air cooler — it is the healthiest, the most reasonable investment in terms of electricity, money, efficiency, and space.

2. I rent. Is it worth investing in a window air conditioner?

No. It is heavy, difficult to install, and while it suits your current window unit, it might not be the case for your next place. You will save money and headache by choosing either a portable air conditioner or an evaporative air cooler.

3. What is the difference between a portable air conditioner and a personal air cooler?

The difference is in the type of cooling. Evapolar air coolers work using the evaporative method with the patented evaBREEZE technology. This is a 100% ecological way of cooling, just like nature intended.

Air conditioners convert hot air into cold air using chemicals and three mechanical components: a compressor, a condenser coil, and an evaporator coil.

4. How effective is a personal air cooler?

As effective as you need it to be, for personal cooling, of course! It won’t cool down an entire room, but you can adjust the speed and the flow at your liking and enjoy the breeze.

5. Which category does HVAC belong to? Is it a good option?

The HVAC abbreviation stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. It is a whole system built into the house for moving air between indoor and outdoor areas. They provide various functions, and they are permanent solutions that require a lot of work within the residence.

6. How effective are regular fans?

Most fans tend to blow hot air around, which is not a pleasant option in high temperatures.