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What Air Cooler to Choose: Electric Fan vs. Portable AC comparison?

Did you know that between the years 2018-2022, the global market for portable coolers is estimated to grow by 14%? People are more interested in mobility and why wouldn’t you want that in all your devices? Even if you have a big home, it’s nice if you can have one appliance that you can use in all rooms.

If you’re wondering how to stay cool at night during those hot summer nights, this article should help you narrow down to one particular appliance that will work for you.

Electric Fans: Do They Work?

Yes and no. Fans aid the natural circulation of air but you won’t see a significant drop in temperature. Due to the force of air, you’ll feel like it’s not so warm if you’re in the vicinity of this current and once the fan is shut off, you’ll feel the same warmth of the room. They’re good only as long as they’re working.


  • Ionic air purification. You can find a model with an inbuilt ionizer that emits particles with a negative charge. When they reach in the atmosphere, they attach onto particles with a positive charge — usually pollutants and allergens. The combination forms a dense particle that falls due to gravity. Therefore, this process cleans the air.
  • Wind modes. The commonest fan types have three wind modes. They help with the intensity at which fans produce a breeze. Its speed intensity is predetermined using the timer.
  • Timer. It is commonly found in tower fans. You can program the fan to power down without you having to stand up and do it mechanically. It’s handy when you’re going to sleep.
  • Oscillation. It is the ability of a fan head to move from one direction to another. This helps create an artificial wind in your room that fans out in several directions. Most fans today have a button for oscillation. However, given the design of box fans, they don’t oscillate.

Merits of Electric Fans

  • Good variety of designs and sizes. This property differs from one category to another. So, for example, box fans are on the compact size like their desktop counterparts. Normally, they will have a depth of 20.75x20x4.5 inches.
  • Affordable prices. Electric fans with additional features will cost a bit more. These features include an ionizer and a timer. Also, the brand and material used to determine the price. However, if you are looking for an ordinary fan, nothing fancy, you should get it at a low price.

Demerits of Electric Fans

  • Durability issues. Most electric fans are made out of plastic. Since plastic is liable for faster tear and wear, therefore the fans also wear out faster. Therefore, plastic fans are cheap but also not durable.
  • Fans are not effective. Fans forcibly create a breeze. When this forced-air gets on your skin, it just blows it giving you a cooling sensation. But in reality, fans don’t cool air, rather they just blow the air in its environment.

What about Portable Air Conditioners?

It works by pulling warm air in the room and passing it through a refrigerant. The refrigerant cools the air by condensation. Then, cool air is pushed back to the room while hot air is pushed out of the building through a hose.

Portable AC or Personal AC units can either be single or dual hose. Dual-hose portable ACs take in warm air through one hose. Then it cools it using the refrigerant and exhausts warm air to the outdoors through the second pipe. It is a better option since there is no overprocessing the air.


  • Timer. The timer is a feature present on most portable ACs. It enables you to set the time when the AC should stop or delay the start.
  • Remote control. It is a convenient feature to help you manipulate the AC without affecting your rest or work. You don’t have to keep moving to the device to operate it.
  • Thermostat. It is to enable you to set a temperature that the device should maintain as it works.
  • Dehumidifier. A dehumidifier is to dry out the air. This is handy if you live in a highly humid climate. However, it’s hazardous for people that live in dry climates as it can lead to dehydration effects.

Merits of Portable AC Units

  • They are lightweight. A portable AC weighs about 60 pounds. Its average size is approximately 17x31x16 inches. Therefore, it’s easy to move it from one point to another.
  • Effectively chills a room. A portable AC is able to effectively cool a 12 to 50 m2 room. This is done by the thermostat and refrigerant. They help the device to circulate the whole room with a cool and keep it within the required temperature ranges.
  • Easier to clean. It’s advisable to wash it’s filtered at least two times in a month. The filters usually have a tendency of collecting pollutants such as pollen, dust, and other dirt particles. Therefore, ensure to clean using a bar of ordinary soap and warm water. Remember a dirty filter lowers the quality of air. You can easily clean the filters since they are accessible by anyone.

Demerits of Portable ACs

  • They use a lot of energy.  A portable AC consumes more energy compared to an evaporative cooler. For instance, a portable AC to cool a 350 feet2 room uses 290 Watts hourly. On the other hand, an evaporative cooler requires 15 watts or more hourly to cool the same room. This depends on the model.
  • They use a refrigerant to cool air. A portable AC requires to be maintained by a professional so the refrigerant works well. Refrigerants use an odorless gas. So if it leaks, it can cause poisoning.  The professional ensures the gas is contained inside the device.
  • The exhaust hose requires an outlet. A portable air cooler needs to be placed near a window to provide the outlet for the hose. That’s why they come with a window frame panel. However, this works with sliding windows. If your windows are not sliding, then you require an extra window seal or filler piece.

Similarities Between Fans and Portable ACs

  • Regular cleaning: Fan blades have a tendency of pulling dust and other pollutants when dormant. Therefore, when you engage it, it throws all the gathered pollutants back at you. It can be detrimental to people suffering from respiratory diseases and allergies. Therefore, you must ensure to regularly clean your fan blades using water and soap to avoid these problems.
    In the same vein, filters also accumulate pollutants such as dust and dirt when it’s dormant. Dirty filters will lower the quality of fresh air in a room. Therefore, it calls for meticulous cleaning of filters at least twice weekly. Ensure your clean filter dries properly before you put it back otherwise, it will develop molds.
  • They both dehumidify the air: It can be a pro or a con in different situations. For instance, if you like a humid environment, you won’t like dry air. Dry air leads to dehydration symptoms like skin irritation, itchy and sunken eyes, persistent thirst, feeling dizzy, and constipation. Severe dehydration causes heat stroke and respiratory ailments.
  • They are noisy. Fans emit a manageable amount of sound. However, when you use it for a long time, the noise gets annoying and uncomfortable. This disrupts your sleeping patterns.
    Portable ACs produce a maximum of 65dB of noise. This is safe to our ears. Problems come when you expose your ears to it for a long time. The buzzing sound can be disturbing and hence disrupt your sleeping patterns.

Evaporative Cooler as the Better Alternative

  • Saves energy. Evaporative coolers utilize only a tenth of the total energy used by conventional AC units. It requires energy that is enough to spin fan blades. When the fan rotates, it evaporates the liquid dispersed throughout the pads. Therefore, when you use an evaporative cooler, you will pay less on energy bills.
  • Effectively cools the temperature. When you evaporate air using artificial wind, you effectively cool air. You can experiment with it by wetting yourself and dry by fanning. As the water dries up through evaporation, you’ll feel cooler. On a lighter note, there is no need to get yourself wet in a bid to help your swamp cooler give you fresh cool air.
  • It’s safe. It doesn’t operate any harmful substances and if you buy a high-quality one, there’s no risk having the horrible plastic smell all over your apartment.
  • It is a humidifier. The recommended room humidity varies from 30% to 50%. A swamp cooler allows maintaining the optimal range. Therefore, it protects you from the dry air that causes dehydration and its symptoms. They include pale dry skin, itchy sunken eyes, and prolonged thirst. Prolonged dehydration causes heat stroke and respiratory problems.
  • Simple maintenance. Wash it regularly and you won’t need to worry about its maintenance much. If your gadget has additional filters, they need an upgrade to soapy water. Though always consult with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Don’t require to be positioned near windows. Unlike portable ACs that have to be positioned by the window seal, a swamp cooler works anywhere. Some models that have an in-built battery can actually be carried indoor or outdoor and will work effectively. No restrictions on keeping windows open to allow fresh air.

Wrap up

To choose the best air cooler, you need to assess your climatic conditions, budget, and how much cooling you need. But an evaporative cooler might be your best option compared to other portable air coolers. You can even check in evaporative cooler reviews to ascertain this info more. Considering its other counterparts, it’s the only one with more benefits.

For instance, it’s safe for you, affordable, and easy to clean. Also, It can work anywhere, effectively cools the air, and is energy-efficient. Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, it’s your cooler for all seasons. It’s lightweight hence you can easily move it to your car, picnic, tour, etc.

About the author


Shelly is an avid reader, and the love of reading takes her to content writing eventually. She loves writing on various topics.

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