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Portable Air Conditioner Buying Tips

Portable air conditioners provide efficient cooling for smaller areas, and some of today's more energy-efficient models can even handle larger spaces with ease.  The key to purchasing the right portable air conditioner is to correctly determine how much cooling you need.  Many consumers make the mistake of assuming that more power is always better, but this isn't always the case.

The Importance of BTUs

If  you purchase a portable air conditioner with a higher BTU rating than needed, the unit will cycle off too quickly and not properly remove humidity from the air.  Moreover, a portable AC with an insufficient number of BTUs will not adequately cool a room.  That's why experts often advise consumers to pay close attention to a room's floor plan in order to figure out how many BTUs the space requires.

How to Size a Portable Air Conditioner

Calculating a portable AC unit's BTU requirements is simple.  First determine the room's square footage by multiplying its length by width, then look to the chart below to get a general idea of how many BTUs you need.  We've also included some portable air conditioner recommendations based on room size to make your purchasing decision easier:

Portable Air Conditioner Sizing Chart

Square Footage

Required BTUs

Recommended Models

100 - 200

7,000 - 10,000

Soleus KY-80

150 - 250

8,000 - 11,000

NewAir AC-10100H or NewAir AC-10000E

250 - 350

9,000 - 12,000

Soleus PH3-12R-03

350 - 450

12,000 -16,000

Soleus LX-140

Please note that the numbers listed in the above portable AC chart are estimates based on typical room conditions in a moderate climate.  Certain exceptions may apply, and if any of these are applicable to you, increase or decrease your BTU requirements as needed:


Second Story Homes and Very Sunny Areas: Add BTU amount by 10%


Shaded Areas:  Reduce BTU amount by 10%


Each Additional Person Over 2 Persons in a Room:  Add 600 BTUs


Kitchens:  Add 4,000 BTUs

For more details on sizing a portable air conditioner, see our portable air conditioner sizing guide or take a look at our portable air conditioner buying guide for more product recommendations, comparison charts, and other portable AC information.

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