How Much Power Does A Portable Air Conditioner Use? [By BTU]

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Portable air conditioners typically draw power from electrical sources to supply spaces with sufficient cooling. Now you’re wondering how much electricity a portable AC unit uses. Also, will the power requirement change with varying BTUs? We researched for you and here’s what we found.

Portable air conditioners typically use 940 to 1,650 watts, depending on the BTU. Interested buyers should keep in mind that the electricity used may vary based on certain factors like the current settings and the cleanliness of the cooling unit.

It’s also important to understand the difference between amps and wattage to help finalize purchasing decisions. Continue reading as we talk about this dissimilarity in more detail. We’ll also tackle the estimated wattage of portable air conditioners in greater depth as you read through this post.

Modern smart grid residential digital electricity meter, How Much Power Does A Portable Air Conditioner Use? [By BTU]

What's The Difference Between Amps And Wattage?

Amps, which is short for amperes, is the quantity of current or power drawn from a source of electricity. On the other hand, Watts is a measurement of power.

Moreover, the correct amount of amps, along with the voltage, is needed to know the watts consumed. For example, a 3-amp device connected to a 12-volt power source consumes a total of 36 watts.

The measuring tools are also different when looking at amps and wattage. Amps generally use an ammeter but measuring volts typically require a multimeter to get the correct reading.

Electricity meter measures

Check out this digital multimeter on Amazon.

How Many Watts Does A Portable Air Conditioner Use?

Air conditioner portable

Generally, portable air conditioner wattage falls within the range of 940 and 1,650 watts. This collection is also typically higher than the power usage of fairly standard window AC systems.

For example, an 8,000-BTU window air conditioner may consume 800 watts of electricity. However, a portable AC with the same amount of BTU might draw 940 watts of power.

The reason for this higher power draw is that portable air conditioners often have a lower energy efficiency rating (EER) than window units.

Here’s a list of some estimated power draws (in watts) for different portable AC units to help give insight into the amount of electricity needed to run these cooling systems efficiently:

  • 8,000 BTU: 940 watts
  • 9,000 BTU: 1,060 watts
  • 10,000 BTU: 1,180 watts
  • 11,000 BTU: 1,300 watts
  • 12,000 BTU: 1,410 watts

Take note that BTU stands for British thermal unit, and it’s a measurement used to help calculate the cooling prowess and efficiency of an air conditioning system.

In turn, a powerful portable AC like a 12,000-BTU unit can bring comfortably cold temperatures in a fairly large space compared to an 8,000-BTU AC.

Check out this 12,000-BTU portable air conditioner on Amazon.

What Causes Portable AC To Consume More Electricity?

Portable air cooler and humidifier on casters in domestic living room

A portable air conditioner may consume more electricity than usual because of certain factors like:

Water Leaks

The existence of a water leak decreases the cooling system’s efficacy to run at normal serviceability. Water leakage may occur in portable air conditioners if their interior water storage system fails.

Like other air conditioners, portable ACs typically condense warm air to convert into cold air. However, this process also produces water vapor. Take note that an efficient AC unit should collect the excess moisture in a reservoir that should drain without significant human intervention.

We also discussed other reasons for portable AC water leaks in one of our posts. You can check that out to also know the possible solutions for these issues.

Incorrect Settings

Increasing the portable AC unit’s cooling prowess manually may also cause an upsurge in electricity usage.

Users may take advantage of their model’s automatic cooling function or only increase the appliance’s airflow when necessary. A good start is to set the unit’s thermostat at 78 degrees Fahrenheit and go lower in small increments as needed.

For more information about the ideal temperature settings for portable air conditioners, read our post on that topic.

Dirty Filters

Since portable air conditioners gather warm air from their surroundings, these appliances can also inevitably collect unclean substances.

Thankfully, the AC's filter should block the dirt, dust, and other filthy particulates from spreading across indoor spaces. However, this component will become dirty over time, inhibiting the cooling unit from providing cold air efficiently.

How To Save Electricity Using Portable Aircon?

Reduce energy consumption sign

Homeowners can use different techniques to ensure their portable air conditioners don’t consume more electricity than intended. Some of these electricity-saving methods are:

Prevent Water Leaks

Owners can take note of the following preventive measures to ensure their portable air conditioners won’t leak water:

  • Pay attention to the humidity. Humid locations may make portable air conditioners collect condensation faster than usual, which would then demand frequent water draining.
  • Use ‘Dry Mode.’ With this feature, the portable AC unit can help remove humidity without condensing a significant amount of warm air.
  • Check the vent hose’s position. An incorrect installation may prevent the appliance from draining water efficiently.
  • Drain the tank when an error code appears. Generally, the letters ‘FL’ will appear on built-in displays to alert users to remove the collected water from the appliance’s reservoir.
  • Ensure the drain plug and cap are closed and secured. A loose closure can make water escape from the system through this outlet.

Watch the video below to understand more about how to prevent portable air conditioner leaks:

Clean the Filter

Focused on dirty filter

Before attempting this task, check your owner’s manual to learn how to expose the air conditioner’s filter.

Keep in mind that different portable AC models typically use distinct builds and designs. Therefore, don’t use more force than necessary to remove components or you might bring permanent damage to them.

Also, wear a respirator and a good pair of gloves for this task. You’re going to work with dirt and other unclean substances, and exposing parts of your body to these objects may introduce health issues.

After making the necessary preparations, follow these steps to clean your portable air conditioner’s filter:

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Remove the air conditioner’s cover encasing the filter. Then, take out the filter from the unit.
  2. Use your protected hands to remove the layer of dirt and dust from the filter.
  3. Use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the loose debris.
  4. Rinse the filter under warm or room temperature water to help eliminate stubborn dirt.
  5. Let the filter air dry before reinstalling it and the AC’s cover.
  6. Turn on the portable air conditioner to test if this process restored its optimal serviceability.

You can also watch the video below to learn more about cleaning a portable air conditioner. Watchers should be wary because the person in the video mentioned that he didn’t clean his portable AC unit for years. The accumulated filth might make some viewers queasy upon seeing the buildup.

Cool One Room at a Time

Attempting to bring cozy cold air to different rooms with one cooling unit will demand more additional power drawn from the electrical source. Look at the BTU of the portable AC as this measurement will help you determine the recommended space to use with the appliance.

Here’s a short list of portable AC BTUs and the ideal room size to operate them:

  • 8,000 BTU: 200 square feet
  • 12,000 BTU: 400 square feet
  • 14,000 BTU: 500 square feet

Take note that the numbers mentioned above are only estimations and don’t indicate that a portable air conditioner will function optimally for these room dimensions.

Environmental factors, such as decorations and walls, may reduce the cooling efficiency of these portable air conditioners and require more power than expected.

Use Smart Features

Some portable air conditioning units have smart features to help regulate the temperature levels in indoor spaces.

One feature to look out for is a programmable timer, wherein the cooling unit will set the temperature to a specific reading upon reaching a particular time. Certain models may also allow users to take advantage of these smart energy-saving remotely through connected mobile devices.

Take note that some of these smart portable air conditioners require a smartphone connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the appliance for the remote functions to work.

But certain models may work using Bluetooth technology, although both the air conditioner and the mobile device should be fairly near each other to access the features remotely.

Check out this smart portable air conditioner on Amazon.

Final Words

Portable AC units generally draw 940 to 1,650 watts of power. Furthermore, the amount of electricity drawn usually depends on elements like usage and the appliance’s BTU.

However, owners should also pay attention to their cooling systems as some issues, such as dirty filters, may cause these appliances to draw more electricity than usual.

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