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Portable aircon vs split unit

Ready to start heating or cooling your house? But should you choose a portable aircon or a split air conditioner? Which one is the best? In this article we give you the right answer.

Portable aircon vs split air conditioner: which one is the best?

We get the question often, which one is better? A portable aircon vs split air conditioner? In this blog we are comparing a Midea portable aircon 12.000 BTU & Daikin Sensira 12.000 BTU split air conditioner. We have purchased both units ourselves.

How portable is a portable air conditioner?

Our Midea just out of the box.

When opening up the Midea portable aircon we noticed how heavy it was, but for us that can be a good sign of quality. However the unit is not placed on wheels so that makes it not that suitable for people with back problems or the elderly. The unit came with the tube to exhaust the air and a simple windowkit. After some youtubing we found out how to properly install the unit as information was quite limited. Setup took us slightly above 2 hours, as several tools were required. We would recommend to purchase an additional window seal kit to avoid losing air.

Our biggest gripe was with moving the unit. We wanted to switch it from one bedroom to another, but the bulky unit was not easy to move around. Additionally the windowkit supplied didn’t fit the other bedroom’s window.

Obviously the Daikin Sensira is not moveable at all as it was fixed in one room.

Conclusion: portable is not portable. In the end this is just an air conditioner without an outdoor unit, but we would definitely not label it as portable.

Cooling & heating performance

Both the Midea & Daikin are able to cool & heat your room, however the capacity is different.

Midea’s databook states their capacity in cooling is 12.000 BTU hour, the same for Daikin. However in heating the capacity for the Midea drops to 10.000 BTU while Daikin’s unit is able to generate 13.500 BTU which is almost 36% difference in capacity. The portrayed capacity of the unit of Midea is under the assumption that you can perfectly seal off your window.

After testing it was clear that the split unit reached the targeted temperature much faster than the portable unit as the split unit’s airflow is almost double than our portable aircon.

Conclusion: Daikin split unit is clearly the winner.

Which one is the quietest?

One of the disadvantages of a portable air conditioner is that the compressor is placed inside your room. This compressor tends to make the most noise, which is why we would never recommend placing a unit inside your bedroom (unless you live next to an airport with planes leaving every minute). Midea only mentions their sound power in their catalogue which is about 65 dBa, however soundpower is really not a great measure to compare units. We found a similar unit in Europe with a soundpressure level of 51 compared to the split unit’s 26 dBa. In reality, you couldn’t hear the split unit while the portable was making the noise of an airplane

Conclusion: No discussion, if you want comfort go for a split unit which is practically inaudible.

Which one is the cheapest to buy?

We have purchased our portable aircon for 6.499 ZAR online, ofcourse there is no installation cost if you do it yourself. while the Daikin Sensira retails for 17.999 including installation.

Conclusion: Portable aircon is clearly the winner.

Which one is the cheapest to run?

Conventiently the portable unit doesn’t show any seasonal efficiency values (in this blog we explain why it so important). The Midea publishes an EER of 2,6 while Daikin Sensira has a nominal efficiency of 3,3. This means purely from a nominal point of view the split aircon is 25% cheaper to run. However we tested a week in running conditions and the differences were an astounding 58%.

Conclusion: If you care about your energy bill, the split option is the only way to go.

Final Verdict: Portable aircon vs split air conditioner

Although the portable airconditioner is cheaper in initial purchase, running the unit costs alot of money in terms of electricity. On top of that, the portable unit does not have the same capacity in heating as a split unit. Additionally the portable aircon carries the compressor inside, which means you have to be ready for alot of noise which really impacts the comfort. As the portable unit has to be installed with a window kit, it’s clear that you should go for an installed split unit for the ultimate in comfort and a lower energy bill.

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