Should I Buy a Portable Air Conditioner or an Evaporative Air Cooler?

Should I Buy a Portable Air Conditioner or an Evaporative Air Cooler?

Portable ACs and evaporative air coolers (aka swamp coolers) are an effective and affordable way to keep cool all summer long. Plus, they’re so easy to install; no heavy lifting needed. They’re an excellent alternative for rental homes that don’t allow window AC units.

However, they’re not perfect for every situation. Let’s dive in Q&A style to determine whether a portable AC or an air cooler is better for your home.

Q: I don’t have central AC, which one should I get?
A: Both can be effective depending on the environment you use them in:

Air coolers are ideal for hot and dry climates like the Southwest and Midwest regions of the U.S., where overall humidity is less than 50%. Air coolers use the natural process of water evaporation to provide a cool, refreshing breeze and the temperature reduction is higher when the air is dry. This process adds moisture to the air as it cools which can be a welcoming solution to irritating dry air caused by desert climates or by over-air conditioned rooms.

A portable AC cools single rooms at a time in almost any humidity, helping to save energy compared to cooling an entire house or apartment with central AC. Portable AC’s do require a window to exhaust air out of, so it’s ideal only if you have a window to connect it to.

A portable AC can also alleviate the stress and potential safety hazards of installing a bulky window unit. Plus, it’s easy to move from room to room; run it during the day in the home office and in the bedroom at night.

Q: I have central air. How can a portable AC or air cooler help me?
A: Extend cooling and save energy by running a portable AC or air cooler with central air.

A portable AC or an air cooler can prevent waste and lower your energy bills. Rather than cooling the entire house, just cool the room you’re using. By strategically using a portable unit, you can save big!

Also, an air cooler will add moisture into the air stripped dry by the central AC. Keeping your body cool and your sinuses from drying out!

Q: Which one will cool my basement?
A: Neither are recommended.

Air coolers and portable ACs are generally not recommended for basements as they need window access. Air coolers need an open window for cross ventilation. Portable ACs connect to a window to vent out hot air.

Q: I want to stay cool outside on my patio! What cooling solution is best?
A: An outdoor evaporative cooler is one of the best outdoor cooling solutions that won’t throw wet mist all over your patio and furniture. Choose a brand like Honeywell for outdoor coolers as they are outdoor rated and safe for more rugged weather conditions.


An outdoor air cooler turns your back patio into an enjoyable space for the whole family. Create a safe space for the kids to play outside and enjoy sweat-free BBQs. With effective outdoor cooling, the possibilities are endless!

Pro shopping tip: An air cooler needs to be outdoor rated for safety & longevity.

All Honeywell outdoor air coolers are outdoor rated meaning:

  • Certified by ETL to meet strict UL* outdoor appliance regulations.
  • GFCI safety plug for extra protection against any potential electrical shock.
  • Rugged UV-resistant plastics prevent fading or cracking.
  • Waterproof to withstand the elements.
  • Aluminum heat-proof fan blades withstand extreme temperatures; unlike, cheaper plastic blades.

Q: Which one is best for my garage or shed?
A: These are awkward spaces to cool, but if you keep the doors/windows, an air cooler would work well.

garage opruimen

Evaporative air coolers are not designed for enclosed spaces, but if you plan to run it with the garage door open, this is the best option for staying comfortable in the middle of a heatwave. A standard fan just blows warm air around, but the air cooler evaporation tech will reduce temperatures with refreshing airflow.

In theory, a portable AC could bring instant cooling to your garage provided there is a window and your walls and doors are well insulated from outside heat. In general, garages and sheds are difficult spaces to cool down. For more info and inspiration, see how this customer set up his Honeywell portable AC in his garage.

And don’t forget, appliances by a trustworthy brand like Honeywell are safe, reliable, and works as advertised.
Here’s to a cool and refreshing summer!

Written by James Posso

My Home Climate | How can you cool your home?

IMPORTANT: All our products are EU plug type C.

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