Will a Portable AC Save Me Money?

Since Magic Touch Mechanical is an AC Company in Mesa, AZ (a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona), where temperatures can reach as high as 120F degrees in the summer, we know having a working air conditioner is an absolute necessity.

When a home air conditioner repair or replacement installation is needed in Phoenix, homeowners do not have the luxury to wait weeks, or even days to find a solution, they need it now! While there is no shortage of air conditioning contractors near Phoenix to choose from, for some homeowners the issue is the unexpected cost of a major AC repair or new AC unit. NOTE: For homeowners in that situation we, and many other HVAC companies offer financing and monthly payment options but that is for another article.

Will a Portable AC Save Me Money?

Often times this situation leads to researching cheap air conditioner solutions like portable air conditioners, window air conditioners, and even fans. All of these options can provide temporary relief, in-fact, Magic Touch provides portable air conditioners and fans to our clients who are waiting for a central air conditioner install, or major AC repair to be completed.

But, the question many people ask is; will a portable AC save me money by using it to “spot cool” vs. running a larger central AC unit? The answer varies depending on where you live and what time of year it is.

I grew up in Long Island, NY in a home built in the early 60’s. While all homes there have central heating systems, rarely were they built with central air conditioners. We, like most others in our neighborhood, survived the summer with a few window air conditioners that we only used on the hottest of days. In that case, the answer is, yes; it is less expensive to spot-cool occupied areas of a home than to cool the entire home with say a 3-ton central air conditioning unit. However, the same cannot be said for the home I live in now in Mesa, AZ.

In 2016, temperatures in Mesa exceeded 110 degrees for more than 30 days, and temperatures stay over 100 degrees for months here. In these “extreme” temperatures, the opposite is true; it costs more money to try to cool a home with portable and window air conditioners than to cool with a larger central air conditioner, and here’s why:

  • Portable air conditioners are much less efficient (SEER Rating) than modern central air conditioners.
  • The “heat gain” aka “heat load” is higher near Phoenix than anywhere else in the country. Portable air conditioners just can’t keep up with the heat entering the entire home or building.
  • Air conditioning works by removing heat from a room. Portable air conditioners need to exhaust that heat through a window. This is a much less efficient way to remove heat than a central air conditioning condenser which is already located outside.

If spot cooling to save money is something you’re interested in, a better solution may be a multi-zone ductless air conditioner, or a single zone ductless air conditioner as “auxiliary cooling”.

Ductless air conditioners are typically the most efficient type of cooling systems on the market today – many exceeding 30 SEER! (Some, not all. Be wary of Chinese and Mexican manufactured models being sold online as they do not use the same compressor technology as the one a HVAC Contractor would install).

More information about ductless systems can be found on our website. If you are interested in finding out how much a ductless air conditioner costs, installed, this blog article will tell you everything you need to know.

Will a portable air conditioner cool a garage or sunroom?

Another common question we hear is; will a portable air conditioner cool my garage? The answer here varies as well.

There are a few questions you need to answer to even consider a portable air conditioner for your garage or Arizona Room (sun room). These include:

  • Where will you vent the condenser air? Does your garage have a window that opens? If not, are you willing to make a permanent hole in your garage wall for venting the hot air?
  • Do you have someplace to drain the condensate without causing possible damage to your home or foundation?
  • Is your garage insulated? Do you have an insulated garage door?
  • Do you have room for a bulky portable and all the hoses connected to it?
  • Do you have power near where you would locate your unit? (Extension cords should not be used)

Typically, when someone calls us for an estimate to cool a garage or enclosed patio, I will explore different options with them, but often refer them back to ductless air conditioning, aka mini-split air conditioners – although every application is unique.

If you need air conditioning repair in Mesa, AZ or are interested in a new AC unit anywhere near Phoenix or the Phoenix-Metro area, contact magic touch mechanical today to schedule a free consultation!