Portable vs Window Air Conditioners | Which One is Better

Buying an air conditioner may look like the easiest task for some people. I mean, when you have enough money, how hard can it be to buy a simple air conditioner, right? However, many people find it quite challenging and dilemmatic since there are numerous options out there in the market. When the temperature starts to rise, the most common question that arises along with the temperature is Portable vs window air conditioners, which one is better?

Well, the dilemma is quite common and natural. Both types of air conditioners possess the attributes that make them super easy to install and maintain. Yet, some people have no idea about them whatsoever, and consequently, they end up buying something opposite of their initial requirements. If you are not completely sure what you are doing, we are here to provide a comprehensive guideline.

Table of Contents

What is a Portable Air Conditioner?

The term ‘Portable’ refers to the key attribute of this device which is its mobility. When an air conditioner is mobile it does not require any permanent installation. This type of air conditioner is generally regarded as a portable air conditioner. It offers a self-contained cooling system that can easily cool a single room. Most of the time, this type of air conditioner comes with wheels so that you can move them from one room to another easily.

How Does a Portable Air Conditioner Work?

The primary function of an air conditioner is quite simple. It cools your room down. However, the process of cooling is pretty technical and we never really bother about it. As a process, it takes out all the heat from a room into the unit. It then gets cooled down by the condenser coils which are located inside the unit. The moisture from the humid air is removed as the unit condenses steam onto the coils.

In a nutshell, it’s almost as same as a regular air conditioner except you can move it wherever you want. Another thing, people often mistake portable air conditioners with portable air coolers. They are different in terms of functions as air coolers use water and evaporation to cool the air, portable air conditioner, on the other hand, use three major components for cooling, and they are:

  1. Refrigerant
  2. Compressor
  3. Fan 

What is a Window Air Conditioner?

Conventional air conditioners we usually see in our offices or homes are generally regarded as Window Air Conditioners. This is believed to be the most affordable air conditioning system available in the market. Although, modern window air conditioners come with more advanced features, such as heat pump modes and remote control. Therefore they can be expensive for some people. The reason why they are called windows air conditioners is they are mounted on the walls or windows. All the components are located in a single unit assembled in a casing.

How Does a Window Air Conditioner Work?

You must have been wondering for a while how this little box does all the magic in cooling your room down even though the temperature is burning outside. Well, you may never really have bothered to Google about the whole process only because you are not so into science. It may surprise you that it’s not that complicated as it seems to be and the science behind it is quite simple as well. There are eight major components a window air conditioner needs to cool your room down.

  1. Compressor
  2. Fan and Blower
  3. Condenser Coils
  4. Evaporator Coils
  5. Chemical refrigerant
  6. Filter
  7. Thermostat
  8. Expansion valve

The following six steps are how a Window AC works:

  1. Extracting air using a build-in fan and passing them through a filter to remove airborne particles;
  2. Initiating the refrigeration process which involves the refrigerant first taking on and then releasing heat;
  3. Flowing of the cold refrigerant through the air conditioner’s indoor coil resulting in a decrease in the temperature of the air and a rise in the temperature of the refrigerant;
  4. As the refrigerant’s temperature rises, the vapor is created and pushed through a compressor, increasing its pressure and nudging it towards the condenser coil. Thus it loses its heat that is expelled outside and converted into a liquid;
  5. The cold refrigerant is passed through the expansion valve which decreases the pressure of a high-speed liquid and drops the temperature;
  6. As a result of hot air coming into contact with the extremely cold liquid, temperature naturally cools down.

Comparing Portable vs Window AC Units

As we have already discussed here, there is no significant difference between a portable AC and a windows AC in terms of their functionality. However, other aspects may distinguish one from another. In this part of our article, we will compare them both based on some common attributes.

Noise Production

Windows air conditioners are typically noise makers whereas portable air conditioners are relatively quieter for the amount of cooling power compared to a window AC.

Energy Efficiency

When it comes to the question of energy efficiency, Windows AC has an edge over Portable AC. This means you get relatively more cooling power per BTU (British thermal unit) with Windows AC compared to Portable AC. BTU rating is a very important factor to consider while you are buying an air conditioner.


A portable air conditioner thrives when it comes to the question of portability. The rudimentary and most important feature of a portable air conditioner is its portability and there is no other winner here. Windows air conditioner requires lots of work to install whereas you can move your portable ac whichever room you need.

Installation Difficulty

Another area where portable Air conditioners are going to rule again. What a portable air conditioner requires can hardly be called an installation. All you have to do is to clip in the window frame, and press ‘On’.

Windows Air conditioners, on the other hand, would demand a lot of physical labor since they usually weigh more than 50lbs (22KG). You have to get them installed onto a small space, and it might not be something you can manage to do. You might want to leave them to professionals in order to avoid any kind of damaging to your device. Additionally, you should check with your landlord to perform all those drilling activities on the walls if you do not own your home. Doesn’t sound that easy, does it?


Both types of air conditioners require maintenance. In order to keep your electric devices sustainable, you should check their physical status once in a while. When windows air conditioners would require professional help, the portable air conditioners can be maintained by the users themselves. Portable air conditioners may not require permanent installation, but the condensed hot air needs to be vented out of the room via a venting kit.

As we already know, a portable air conditioner removes water from the air and uses most of them to cool the AC. This unused water is collected in a drip tray and this water needs to be emptied or drained away. Although some of the newer models remove the condensation through the vent exhaust which is better and more convenient than the old drip tray one.

Floor Space

Given the fact that a window air conditioner has nothing to do with the floor, it has to be the undisputed champion in this area.

Portable AC, on the other hand, takes a significant amount of floor space. If you have a spacious room, this might not be a big issue, but when your room is relatively smaller, this is certainly going to be a major concern for you.

Although there are many newer versions of portable ACs available in the market that would look like a key part of your room rather than looking like a disturbance. 

Best Rooms Suggestion for Portable Air Conditioners

As we have already discussed how portable air conditioners are likely to take lots of your room space. Having said that, using portable air conditioners in a smaller room would make it look messy. If you have a bigger room, this should not be an issue for you. You can use them in any room you want, it’s totally your call.

What Are The Best Rooms for Window Air Conditioners?

Before you buy a window AC, you must take the size of your room or the size of your AC into consideration. If you buy a window AC that is too small for your room, your AC is likely to struggle in cooling it down. In the same way, if you buy a relatively big AC for your small room, your room would get cool very quickly and your AC will struggle in removing enough humidity from the air.

A window air conditioner needs 25 BTU for each sq. ft. For instance, if your room is 300 sq. ft. in size, you would need a window air conditioner that has a cooling capacity ranging from 7500-8000 BTU. You can consider which AC you should buy by following this calculation.

Ceiling height and the size of your windows and doorways should also be taken into consideration. 

Why Choose a Portable AC Unit?

A portable air conditioner offers few more additional features that a window AC does not. However, you still might be wondering if buying a portable AC instead of a regular window AC is worth your money or not. Let’s take a look at why you should choose a portable AC:

  1. Mobility: If you think you don’t need your AC only for one room, and occasionally you need to move it from one room to another, portable AC is the best option for you. 
  2. Natural light: A portable AC is not going to block your whole window, as a result, you can open your window occasionally to get some fresh air or sunshine inside. If you think you are a natural light lover, a portable AC unit would suit you the best. 
  3. Cost optimization: The price of electricity in your area may play a vital role here, but having a portable air conditioner will help you optimize your energy cost.
  4. Restrictive home: Some apartments or houses might impose restrictions regarding making any change in their interiors. Portable Air Conditioners can be a good solution in this regard. 
  5. Humid climate: By dehumidifying your space, a portable air conditioner can make your home even more comfortable.

Why Choose a Window AC Unit?

Windows air conditioners are still the first priority for many people when it comes to cooling systems. There are many reasons why you can choose windows air conditioners. Let’s take a look.

  1. Minimum Cost: Windows air conditioners are relatively cheaper in price and they can be quite energy savers too. Although it might be dependent on the brand you are choosing. 
  2. Easy Installation: When people might have different opinions in this regard, but if you take a deeper look, installing a window air conditioner is not that complicated to install as it seems to be. All you need to do is to leave it to a professional for once and you can live in peace the rest of the time. 
  3. Maintenance: Window air conditioners need minimum maintenance. Unnecessary water from all the evaporation does not need to be emptied from the tray manually like portable air conditioners. 
  4. Space saver: Unlike portable air conditioners, this has nothing to do with your room’s floor. This means regardless of the size of your room, you can have it instilled. 
  5. Multi-functional: There are many window air conditioners available now in the market that work for both cooling and heating. Some even come with air purifying features. If we talk from a multi-functional prospect, it’s a win-win situation here. 

Pros and Cons of getting Portable Air conditioner Units

Let’s take a look at some of the major pros and cons of portable air conditioner units.


  • No need for any installation
  • Easily moveable
  • Expense optimizer
  • Can be kept hidden


  • Can be unwantedly noisy at times
  • High energy consumption
  • Manually emptying tray water
  • Less effective in bigger rooms

The Pros & Cons of Getting a Window AC Unit

Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of Window AC Units.


  • Less expensive to own
  • Less noisy
  • Automated water draining
  • Energy efficient


  • Heavy installation
  • Not easily moveable or relocatable
  • Might face restriction from the landlord
  • Not supported to all windows

What if you have no windows?

It’s quite difficult to use a window AC unit when you don’t have a window. A hole in the wall can be used as a substitute for a window. But the best solution for this problem is to buy portable AC units to avoid digging holes in the wall.


We have discussed most of the key factors about windows and portable AC units in our entire article. We hope that would help you to get rid of all your portable vs window air conditioners dilemma. Make sure your money is well-spent on these electric devices.

We, (Dominic and Ignatius) are the editors of Elegant Home Pro, we are Senior Air Quality and Comfort Specialist. We do in-depth research and analysis for high-performance home products with reputation and reasonable preferences to make your day-to-day exertion at ease.

Leave a Comment