14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioners
The actual cooling capacity for any portable air conditioner is much less than its advertised cooling capacity.
The same is true for 14,000 BTU units. The most efficient 14,000 BTU units have an actual cooling capacity closer to 10,000 BTU. The least efficient 14,000 BTU units have an actual cooling capacity closer to 7,500 BTU – almost half of the claimed BTUs.
How does this happen?
The problem is that portable AC units are inherently inefficient. They provide a complete AC system in one compact portable package which makes them very convenient to use. But that convenience comes at the cost of two major inefficiencies.
The first inefficiency is their ducting. A portable AC unit absolutely has to intake air to cool its warmer components. This air gets heated up (as its cooling the components) and has to be removed from the room that the air conditioner is actively working to cool.
The heated air is removed via a 5 inch diameter plastic duct. As the heated air travels through this duct (to be exhausted outside) it heats up the duct. The large surface area (remember it’s a large 5 inch diameter hose) and thin plastic shell of the duct readily radiates heat back into the room the portable AC unit is working to cool.
The second major portable AC inefficiency also has to do with its removal of warm air from the room its actively working to cool. This removal of air creates an area of low pressure inside the room. This causes higher pressure hot outdoor air to get sucked into the room by any means it can find – through air gaps in windows, etc.
In the past, portable AC cooling capacity was measured in very forgiving conditions. Hence why advertised (manufacturer measured) cooling capacity is so much higher than actual cooling capacity.
The Department of Energy recognized this trend and wanted to do something about it. So they compromised with portable AC manufacturers to come up with a new standard for determining cooling capacity. This new standard is a much better representation of the actual cooling capacity for portable AC units.
The new standard is called seasonally adjusted cooling capacity – SACC.
SACC = ACC95 × 0.2 + ACC83 × 0.8
ACC95 = CapacitySD − Qduct_SD − Qinfiltration_95
ACC83 = CapacitySD − Qduct_SD − Qinfiltration_83
Thus, SACC not only takes into account heat added via ducting (Qduct) and heat added by warm outdoor air getting sucked into the room due to pressure differences (Qinfiltration), but it also
- does so at two different outdoor temperatures - 95° F (ACC95) and 83° F (ACC83) and
- puts 20% of the weight of the score at 95° F (ACC95 × 0.2) and 80% of the score at 83° F (ACC83 × 0.8)
The score is weighted in this way to reflect what the DOE believes to be the average use case for a portable AC unit – that it will be used at temperatures closer to 83° F the majority (80%) of the time and temperatures closer to 95° F in brief stints (20%) – such as during a temporary heat wave.
Your particular use case may not be accurately reflected here – you may be planning on using the AC unit at altogether different temperatures. Regardless, SACC is a much more accurate benchmark for actual cooling capacity. It certainly is a massive improvement over the inflated BTU numbers used in the past.
The table below shows the SACC BTUs for all of the most popular 14,000 BTU portable AC units on the market.
|Model||Traditional BTUs||SACC BTUs|
|Black + Decker BPACT14WT||14,000||7,500|
Note how all of these models have approximately the same power draw and exactly the same number of BTUs – 14,000 – under old guidelines for specifying cooling capacity.
In the past, this is the only information you would be given to make a purchase decision. And that decision would be very difficult with only advertised BTUs and power draw to go by.
Today, you have one additional tool to use – seasonally adjusted cooling capacity.
Looking at the table above it’s clear that the LG LP1419IVSM cools much better than the Honeywell MM14CCS, for example.
Why? Because its SACC – a value that represents its actual cooling capacity quite well – is much higher.
Our own testing showed a quantum leap in performance at the 9,000 BTU (SACC) threshold. Units with less than 9,000 BTUs (SACC) cooled the test environment (an approx. 150 sq. ft. space) very slowly and couldn’t achieve a truly cold environment (the best they could do was a room temperature of about 75° F) even after a few hours of run time.
Units with more than 9,000 BTUs of seasonally adjusted cooling capacity (SACC) cooled the test environment very quickly and were able to get room temperature down to 72° F within an hour.
Thus, our testing revealed that there’s a clear separation between 14,000 BTU units with a SACC less than 9,000 BTUs and those with a SACC that’s more than 9,000 BTUs.
Looking back at the table above this leaves us with two clear recommendations in the category:
Both of these units did very well in our testing – they cooled the room fast and to a low temperature.
The other units we tested did much worse:
- Whynter ARC-14S
- Honeywell HL14CESWB
They did not cool the room quickly and not to a very low temperature (below 75° F) within a reasonable time frame (2 hours).
We have yet to test the other models listed in the table above but since they all have a SACC less than that of either the Whynter or the Honeywell we think it’s safe to assume they wouldn’t have performed any better in our testing.
14,000 BTU Units Ranked
The LG LP1419IVSM and NewAir NAC14KWH02 cool much better than any other 14,000 BTU unit on the market? But are they the best 14,000 BTU portable AC units you can buy?
Here’s the thing. Almost all portable AC units have very much the same
they all come with a window kit that’s installed much the same way
they all make approx. the same amount of noise
cooling, drying (dehumidifying), and fan only
Size and weight
they’re all heavy and large
We’ve already shown how all 14,000 BTU units have very similar power draw.
So, the only real differentiating factor between them is cooling capacity. And the LG and NewAir have the best cooling capacity in the category.
Furthermore, our own testing showed just how much of a difference their increased cooling capacity can make.
Remember, portable AC units are inherently inefficient appliances. All portable AC units are underpowered. The LG and NewAir are the most powerful portable AC units you can buy.
To us, they represent the minimum that you should be considering when looking to buy a portable AC unit.
Buying either one of these units gives you the best chance to properly cool
- a fairly large space
- a challenging space – e.g. a room in a climate where it gets over 90° F quite often or a room that’s on a second story (heat naturally rises so second story rooms are naturally hotter)
Buying any one of the lower SACC 14,000 BTU units on the market does not allow you to have the best chance to cool these types of spaces. Instead, they should only be used in
- smaller spaces (less than 150 sq. ft.)
- non-challenging spaces – eg. in a climate where it rarely gets above 90° F
The best 14,000 BTU portable air conditioners on the market are the following
Again, we strongly recommend only the top 2. The rest of the models in this list should only be used for non-challenging use cases.
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