While this might sound like a cost-effective solution because you get both a heater and an air conditioner, there are some considerations to take into account before you make a purchase. There are a number of positive as well as negative factors to consider about these types of units.
Question #1: What are the advantages of this type of unit?
By far the biggest perk of going with these portable units is that they are, in fact, portable. If you need to move it from room to room, it is pretty easy to do. Though these units generally weigh 60 to 80 pounds, they do come on wheels or casters that make it easy to roll them from room to room.
If you live in a multi-story house, however, it probably isn’t realistic to think that you will be able to move it from one floor to the other due to the weight of the machine.
If you plan to just keep the unit in one room, then you can leave it there year round to use it for cooling during the summer and heating during the winter. This means that you have one less home appliance to worry about.
Question # 2: If I get a portable AC unit with the heater, is the cost higher?
Yes, but the cost is pretty negligible. Generally speaking, a portable air conditioner with a here costs about $40-$50 more than one without heater.
By the way, if you’re looking for a good space heater for your room, it’ll run you about that same amount. So if space is an issue and you want to limit the number of appliances that you have in any given room, a portable AC with the heater might be a good choice.
Question #3: How much heating do these units provide?
This is important to keep in mind. Many people assume that a portable air conditioner that can cool it 400 ft.² room will also be able to heat a 400 ft.² room. This is generally not the case. The heating capacity for your unit depends on the type of heater that is included in it.
There are two different types of heaters that are used in portable air conditioners these days. The first one relies on the cooling compressor running in reverse mode. So essentially that air conditioner uses the same compressor to create heat instead of cold. This is the best type of heater to get in a portable air conditioner unit.
When you’re shopping for these units, you can figure out if the portable AC comes with the reverse heat mode by looking for the wording on the description for the unit. It should say something along the lines of “10,000 BTU heating, 9000 BTU cooling.” Donna make sure that the BTUs for heating and cooling are roughly the same. That is the tip off that the heater is using reverse mode.
The second type of heater available is electric heater encased inside the AC unit. You will know that the unit is electric heater if the heating capacity is listed in watts as opposed to BTUs. An electric heater inside the portable air conditioner is limited to running to 1500 W (just like a regular space here).
The biggest problem with the electric heater inside a portable air conditioner is that it’s heating coverage is pretty limited. In fact, if 1500 W heater can really only warm up about 150 ft.². So if you are planning to buy portable air conditioner for a much bigger room, the electric heater will simply not adequately heat it.