Why portable heat pumps are so popular? The main reason is their simplicity and mobility, combined with efficiency. These portable systems are plug-and-play, they do not require expert installation and could be removed from the room at any moment. The units are designed for local cooling, dehumidification, fan function and heating.
So, what are the differences between the models, or how to choose the best one?
An average portable heat pump is about 30 inches high and 20 inches wide, mounted on caster wheels. It looks very similar to portable air conditioner. There is an exhaust hose, too, to be directed outside the room.
The first outer difference you see is that some heat pump units have one hose and others have two (intake and exhaust hose). Without going into details, double hose units are faster and more energy efficient then single units. Indoor air quality is better. Expectedly, the prices are higher. Although a single hose unit may be convenient to your needs, the advice is to buy a double hose one.
What about a hose installation? The manufacturer has provided a standard window venting kit to do it yourself. Panels attached are suitable for sash windows. Take a look what is in the box and compare to your window size and design.
You may move a portable heat pump from one room to another, but unit is fixed during its operation. Hose length is not determined randomly and it is not advisable to try to change it. Therefore, plan position of the appliance in your space before buying.
The most important feature of portable heat pumps is the heating and cooling power, expressed in BTU/h. You will find 8.000 BTU to 16.000 BTU cooling power models. Choose one that fit the size of the space you want to cool or heat. Units with 12.000 BTUs can cool a room up to 400 square feet.
Compared to electric, oil and gas heaters, heat pump heaters are energy efficient and eco friendly. It uses three times less power to achieve the same effect as electric one, for example, but to emphasize once again, only if temperatures are not extreme. You will be the most satisfied if outdoor temperature is not below 10 Celsius.
When we are talking about efficiency measures and indicators, unfortunately, you will rare find the numbers in specifications, so it would be hard to compare models. Portable appliances are not labeled as Energy star qualified products, but if you see Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) number, the very best portable air conditioners have it above 9.9.
Check dehumidification power (in pints per day or or hour units) and options. Some portable heat pumps are tankless, meaning humidity is vented out exhaust hose. With auto evaporation, it is not necessary to remove water.
The additional functions and equipment are next to check and some of them are very useful. Portable heat pumps may include timer, safety function, LCD display panel with touch sensor, thermo control, ozone-friendly refrigerant, ionizer, washable pre-filter, carbon air filter and/or antimicrobial filter, fan speed control, swing air direction control. Remote control is understood.
Finally check the product warranty. It is generally no longer than one year.
Portable heat pumps are recommended for small rooms, workshops, offices, or as a supplement to the other heat source. They are good solution where it is not possible to fix a wall-mounted unit or if it is too expensive to install one. Although the manufacturers claim that you could cool and heat a 500 square feet room and larger with 12,000 BTU portable heat pump, take this with a grain of salt. Their real performance depends on the insulation, climate, humidity, room ceiling height, nooks and furniture... and the price you are ready to pay.
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