When temperatures rise and the great outdoors become unbearably hot, there’s no replacement for a good air conditioner. And when it comes to this essential appliance, bigger isn’t always better. The marketplace has many smaller, more compact options, some of which are even portable and battery powered!
Mobile air conditioning units can be used to cool your living space as well as other places, like a tent or treehouse. Today, we’re going to check out a few of the best battery air conditioners on the market. Here’s what you need to know about this cool, convenient appliance.
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How Battery Powered ACs Work
These appliances use a variety of different means to achieve a cooling effect. One common way is to use a container with cold water or ice and a 12V fan; the fan siphons the cool air from the water source and projects it out into the living space.
More complex versions function without the need for a cold water source. They use a USB connection or conventional outlet (110 or 220 volt) to function in much the same way that a window-installed air conditioner would, by drawing in warm air from a space and expelling cold air. Units like these generally need a ventilation hose, drain tube for condensation, and require some installation.
Pros and Cons of Battery-Powered Air Conditioners
Battery operated A/C units have advantages and disadvantages just like their more conventional counterparts. These are the most significant ones:
To begin with, here are the advantages:
Battery-operated units are usually more reasonably-priced than the plug-in versions. Forget about paying for installation, an HVAC guy, and all the other costs that come with central air. Why bother, when you can stay cool with a small, low cost, battery operated unit?
Hassle-free Set Up
Most folks won’t have much trouble setting up a simple battery operated A/C unit. And if you do run into trouble, no worries, they usually come with easy-to-understand instructions!
There’s no need for central cooling when you can easily take your compact battery operated A/C unit with you wherever you go. And good luck bringing a window unit on a camping trip – although that’s entirely possible with many portable air conditioners.
Of course, there are disadvantages as well:
Battery operated A/C units are best for small spaces; they simply aren’t designed to cool an entire dwelling – unless you have a small studio, in which case this might be exactly what you need.
How Much Cooling Can We Realistically Expect?
In many cases, battery operated air conditioners do have enough juice to do the job, but you probably want to know more specifically how much cooling power they actually have.
That fluctuates according to which unit you’re talking about, but those listed below can substantially reduce temperatures in spaces ranging from 50 to 250 square feet. Their cooling power can run from 500 to up to 1,100 BTU.
To give a more concrete example, an average tent for four people would measure around 50 square feet, easily cooled by a battery powered air conditioner.
That’s not too shabby when you take into account that the mobile A/C units generally depend on 12V batteries that can provide five-plus hours of use on a single charge, obtained by plugging the unit into your car.
The practical mobility of these units also varies with their weight. Most are between 20 and 30 pounds, but more powerful units can tip the scales at 70 lbs. The retractable handle that comes with some units may contribute to the weight.
Some of these units also come with some nifty perks. Several of them can also function as coolers for drinks and food at the same time that they cool a space – but not every brand offers this, so you should check in advance.
And of course, cooling capacity will largely depend on ambient temperature. Some companies say that their air conditioners can reduce temperature by as much as 35°F, but that might not hold true in Death Valley on a sunny day.
Still, battery operated A/C units are great for camping, travel, and emergencies, thanks to their handy mix of cooling power and mobility.
Most battery dependent A/C units are not designed for day-in, day-out home cooling. What they do provide is the capacity to cool things down when conventional air conditioning is not available, whether the power goes out or you’re far from an outlet.
When an outlet is available, a traditional plug-in air conditioner will always be more powerful. It’s important to keep in mind the fact that portable units won’t be able to cool spaces of 300 or more square feet.
Think about the power source, run time and cooling speed needed, and price – these are the most important things to consider when shopping around.
If you can find a light, mobile air conditioner with enough power to meet your specific need, you’ll be on track to significantly improve your summertime quality of life.