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Old 06-20-12, 10:05 PM   #1
Daox
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Default Mini split vs portable A/C unit

At some point I would like a form of A/C in the house. I don't plan on using it a ton. I normally use box fans in my upstairs windows to suck out the hot air and cool down the house during the night. We also have and use our ceiling fans when we're in the room. This works really good except when two things happen. #1 it doesn't cool down at night. For the past couple of nights it has only dropped into the mid 70s at night and it has been in the low 90s during the day. This simply doesn't allow the house to cool off enough to be comfortable. Right now its in the mid 80s in the house. #2 is that its humid here in Wisconsin in summer. This makes those mid 80 temperatures very sticky and feel hotter than a dry 80 degrees. 80F I don't think would be bad at all if I had a dehumidifier. To sleep, we do have a small 6k window A/C unit that easily keeps our bedroom cool when things get this hot. So, this brings me to looking at my options.

The first thing that came to mind was a mini-split. I don't think I'd really need a large unit at all. My 1st floor is probably 900 sq/ft at most.

The next option down is a portable A/C unit. Something like this. Amazon is selling that 14k btu unit for $450. This seems incredibly reasonably priced considering a Sanyo 9k mini-split goes for almost $1k and you have to pay someone to charge the system.

I realize that the mini-split is probably a nicer option. It'll definitely be quieter and more efficient. I guess I'm looking for other input on the topic though. Is anyone using these portable A/C units?

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Old 06-21-12, 09:29 AM   #2
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Based on the 14k and 1250w that would suggest the unit is 11.2 EER but there is no real rating and their power ratings could be at more ideal conditions that what a normal EER rating is set at. There is a possiblity that this is close to a 10.7 EER unit but, as far as I know, I don't think energy star rates portable A/C units so you don't have any verification of efficiency. Usually you can take a window A/C and check it against either the energy star site or a product with an energy star rating on its box. ..or take a reputable brand mini-split and check it against the AHRI Certification Directory variable speed mini-split directory. Interesting that there is now an LG heat pump that puts out 9k cooling with 28 SEER, 16.4 EER, and heating at 6500BTU/hr at 17f and 11kBTU/hr 47f at 12HSPF. This is very similar to the Fujitsu 9k and 12k units. It might cost more to buy and install but depending on what you are using to heat and your electric and gas rates, going to a ductless mini-split might be a consideration depending on your cooling and heating loads. I've been strongly considering one of these smaller super efficient ductless mini-split units for most of the heating and cooling season outside of the few hottest days of the month and for the periods where we get below freezing(the gas in my area is extremely cheap at 65c/therm this winter and 11c/kwh electricity so mini-splits make less sense for me at the point where they would start defrost cycling).
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Old 06-21-12, 07:19 PM   #3
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We've had a couple of awfully hot nights/mornings in a row here, too. Fortunately, that doesn't happen often.

I only need the A/C during the hottest 2-4 weeks of the year, and then usually only five hours a day. Considering how seldom I use it, it's hard to justify spending more for something nicer. Ymmv, but a $160 window A/C meets my modest cooling needs.

Btw, the Whynter portable AC claims 14kBTU/hr and 500 ft². Perhaps that's based on a house with a higher heat load than mine. I find that my 6kBTU/hr window A/C has no trouble keeping up with the cooling needs of my ~400ft² living space.
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Old 06-21-12, 08:09 PM   #4
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I went with mini splits for several reasons. My windows are too small to acomodate a casement shaker. Second, installing through wall units are cheap looking (thinking of resale value) and are impossible to seal up properly. Also they are noisy and inefficient. Third, they will also heat my house.
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Old 06-22-12, 09:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daox View Post
At some point I would like a form of A/C in the house. I don't plan on using it a ton.
Is that an HVAC joke?!

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Originally Posted by Daox View Post
#2 is that its humid here in Wisconsin in summer. This makes those mid 80 temperatures very sticky and feel hotter than a dry 80 degrees. 80F I don't think would be bad at all if I had a dehumidifier.
My first response is anecdotal...

I constantly haunt thrift stores, partly for bargains, but also because thrift stores act as a museum of failed products. Even though they are pretty new, I see a load of portable A/Cs in the thrift stores... but I have NEVER seen a mini-split in the thrift store.

My next response would be that you should compare EER numbers if you can. Then you'll be comparing apples to apples.

Third is that you can use a mini-split (if it has HP functionality, too) for heating during the shoulder seasons. I don't think that a ASHP would help much when the temp gets below about 5F, depending on the model.

You might also consider running a de-humidifier and fans. If you can get the humidity into the comfort level, your fans might be all you need.

My experience with a mini-split has been very positive, in terms of reliability and efficiency, and not to forget, they are really pleasant to use... virtually no noise or draft.

This is just being me, but when I see a portable A/C, I see right through the cover, as if I had X-Ray vision, and think of all the useful parts I could use for something else.

I say go with the mini... I think you'll be happy with it.

-AC

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