Window unit vs portable airA window unit is a small, entirely self-contained  air conditioner that is installed in a window using a installation kit for trim out. They have garnered a poor reputation because of their unattractive appearance and cooling inefficiency. When compared to a portable air conditioner, the traditional window unit performs admirably.

The traditional window unit does one thing really well: cooling one room. Depending on the size of the room (and the height of the ceiling), a window unit is hard to beat at cooling one room. Noise generated depends entirely on the model, but in general, window units are more quiet than their portable counterparts.  Another huge advantage of a window unit is affordability. Most window units that cool less than 400 sq/ft are priced under $400.

Portable air conditioners are almost entirely self-contained with an exhaust duct and drain hose being the only exceptions. An exhaust tube must carry the heat generated away from the room usually through the ceiling or a window and water condensate must be carried away as well. Overall, portable air conditioners are much more attractive in design and have the obvious advantage of being mobile. Any place, any time, a portable air conditioner will cool a small space quickly.


Here is how window units and portable air conditioners stack up against each other :

Window Unit

Ability to Cool 90%

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Aesthetics 50%

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Portable Air Conditioner

Ability to Cool 70%

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Aesthetics 100%

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Window Unit Pro’s

  • Very Affordable – Oftentimes half the cost for comparable portable unit
  • Cooling Performance
  • Usually more efficient
  • Little to no maintenance

Portable A/C Pro’s

  • Sleek, Attractive Design
  • Easily Stored in winter
  • Flexible Applications

Window Unit Con’s

  • Very unattractive
  • Some apartments/condos prohibit window units
  • Sometimes difficult to setup

Portable A/C Con’s

  • Price
  • Most models require constant attention for draining
  • Efficiency
  • Cooling Power/Performance
  • Most models are noisy
Article Summary
Window Unit Air Conditioner vs. Portable Air Conditioner
Article Name
Window Unit Air Conditioner vs. Portable Air Conditioner
The clunky eyesore or the leaky noise machine in the corner? It's actually not that bad anymore...