Air Cooler vs Portable Air Conditioner – Which One Works The Best?

Last Updated on 14 May, 2024 by Sourav Roy

Air Coolers and Portable Air Conditioners; to the uninformed eye, these appliances may appear one and the same. However, there are some distinct differences between them- most notably, how they cool air.

Air Cooler vs Portable Air Conditioner

In this article, I’ll go into the Air Cooler Vs Portable Air Conditioner debate and explain how each device works while discussing the benefits and drawbacks of each.


Air Cooler Vs Portable Air Conditioner


Air Coolers

Air Cooler

Let’s start with Air Coolers first. These devices provide cooling through evaporation. They primarily use a fan and water-soaked process to get rid of heat. The fan draws in hot air and forces it over the water-soaked pad. This reduces the air temperature, similarly to how our bodies cool down when coming in contact with water. Afterwards, the cooled air is blown out into the room.

Advantages Of Air Coolers

  • Less expensive compared to Portable Air Conditioners.
  • They’re easier to maintain.
  • They don’t emit any sort of gases harmful to the environment.
  • Low energy consumption; most models use very little electricity; they use less than 100-50 Watts.
  • Much easier to install.
  • Low noise levels.
  • Usable both indoors and outdoors.

Drawbacks Of Air Coolers

  • Not ideal for large spaces; they won’t work well at all for any rooms a little over 300 sq. Ft.
  • An extra effort needs to be put into choosing the capacity of the water tank; a lower than adequate capacity will greatly impact performance.
  • They don’t offer precise temperature adjustment as air conditioners do.
  • The water storage is required to be refilled constantly.
  • Most models can’t reduce more than 3-5°C of heat.

When should you buy an air cooler?

When should you buy an air cooler

You should use an air cooler if the heat in your area isn’t particularly high. You’ll get decent cooling without wasting much energy. This kind of appliance is also a much better choice if portability is an important factor- after all, you can even use it outside if you want to.

Recommended Reading: How to increase the cooling of Air Cooler? 7 Tricks that will cost you nothing


Portable ACs

Portable Air Conditioner


Portable ACs are fairly recent technology, and they have a cooling system that’s significantly different from an Air Cooler. They use the same mechanism that full-sized Window AC or Split ACs do; they take in the hot air from the room, cool and dehumidify it using a refrigerant, and release the cooled air back into the room.

Advantages Of Portable Air Conditioners

  • They cool the room far more effectively; they can reduce heat by 10°C.
  • More precise temperature adjustment settings.
  • They’re not reliant on a water tank.
  • Some models come with a “reverse cycle” mechanism that can provide heating instead of cooling.
  • Better performance in unusually humid areas.
  • Less need for maintenance.

Drawbacks Of Portable Air Conditioners

  • They cost significantly higher than air coolers.
  • They use up a lot more electricity.
  • As they use refrigerants like normal ACs, some models can harm the environment.
  • More effort and time are needed for installation.
  • Noise production is much higher than in air coolers.
  • They can only be used indoors.

When should you buy a portable air conditioner?

When should you buy a portable air conditioner

If you live in an area with high humidity levels, need a large room to be cooled or simply need more cooling than an air cooler can offer, you can go for Portable ACs.

Do note, though, while these ACs can offer much more area coverage than air coolers can, they still can’t handle very large rooms particularly well. If you need to cover a large area, it’s better to go for full-sized best AC instead.

Recommended Reading: How to reduce AC power consumption? Tips & Tricks


Air Coolers Vs Portable Air Conditioners: Comparison Table

Air Coolers Vs Portable Air Conditioners Comparison

Here’s a brief table comparing the main differences of the two devices.

FactorPortable ACs Air Coolers
PricingExpensiveLess Expensive
Power ConsumptionHighLow
HeatingAvailable In Some ModelsNot Available In Any Model
Environmental ImpactHighMinimal
Ease Of InstallationProfessional RequiredEasy
Maintenance NeededOccasionallyDaily
Noise LevelsHigh For Most ModelsLow
Area CoverageLargeSmall
Cooling EfficiencyDecentBetter Than Standard Fan
Area Of UsageIndoors OnlyBoth Indoor And Outdoor Use


Frequently Asked Questions

This section of the post will give you detailed answers to some of the most common questions asked about these appliances.

Can these cooling devices dehumidify the air?

Air Coolers can’t dehumidify the air, but Portable ACs can do a far better job. That’s what makes them so good for humid places. If you live in a coastal area, you’ll be better off getting the latter.

Why are Portable ACs not good for outdoor use?

Portable ACs aren’t as easy to move around as air coolers are. Plus, they’re effective in closed spaces, with all outside air sources closed off. They also need a window or exhaust pointing outside to vent hot air.

Is an Air Cooler the only good option for night use?

I can see why you’d think that, considering the noise levels. Primarily, yes. Portable ACs can produce noise as loud as 50dB. Although, good models make much less noise, around 40dB. Some of the highest-end models can even go down to 20dB, as they come with a specialised night mode feature.

Can Portable ACs offer light fan cooling like Air Coolers can?

Yes. Some Portable ACs come with a fan mode that offers the same kind of air a standard fan does, without any added cooling.

Do Air Coolers need constant maintenance?

Yes, they do. In fact, we have a guide on cleaning Air Coolers. Check it out here.

Recommended Reading: Top AC brands in India(2024) and what you should expect from them



So, between Air Coolers Vs Portable Air Conditioners, which one wins? There’s no obvious answer. They’re both good for different purposes. Air Coolers are good for light cooling and use less power, while Portable ACs can provide much more powerful cooling.

It really all comes down to your needs. If you need something for a small space that can be moved around easily, go for an Air Cooler. If you need stronger cooling power in general, go for Portable ACs. I hope this post helped you learn more about these appliances.

That’s all. Stay healthy and stay cool; I’ll see you in the next post.


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