Portable Air Conditioners

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A portable air conditioner (AC) is a self-contained, refrigeration-based product that, similar to a room air conditioner, removes latent and sensible heat from the ambient air in a single space such as a room. However, unlike a room air conditioner, it is not permanently installed in a wall or window. It is typically designed with wheels to allow it to be readily moved, since residential units may weigh 50 to 90 pounds and are generally between 28 and 36 inches tall, and commercial units are even larger. Some units also include options for operating as a dehumidifier and/or heater, with heating means provided by either an electric resistance heater, or by operating the unit as a heat pump. Water that is condensed from the portable AC may be collected in a bucket for manual removal, drained through a gravity hose, or evaporated and exhausted with the condenser process air.

If DOE issues a final determination that portable ACs are a covered product, DOE may prescribe test procedures and energy conservation standards for portable ACs. DOE will determine if portable ACs satisfy the provisions of 42 U.S.C. 6295(l)(1) during the course of any energy conservation standards rulemaking.

Recent Updates | Standards | Test Procedures | Waiver, Exception, and Exemption Information | Statutory Authority | Historical Information | Contact Information

Recent Updates

DOE published a notice of proposed determination regarding portable air conditioners. 78 FR 40403 (July 5, 2013). For more information, please see the rulemaking page.

DOE published a notice of data availability regarding test procedures for portable air conditioners. 79 FR 26639 (May 9, 2014). For more information, please see the rulemaking page.

Standards for Portable Air Conditioners

There are currently no Standards for Portable A/C Units

Test Procedure for Portable Air Conditioners

Current Test Procedure

Available Test Procedures

There are currently at least three portable AC test procedures applicable to products sold in North America, all of which appear to be harmonized at least to some extent. Note that none of these test procedures factor in the thermal load added to the conditioned space due to the heat losses from the typical uninsulated ducting, which could contribute to the significant difference between rated and field-measured EERs discussed in a later section.

ANSI/AHAM PAC-1-2009 "Portable Air Conditioners." This test procedure covers portable ACs with air- or water-cooling, and contains provisions for testing units with different ducting configurations. It excludes, however, air conditioners that are computer or data processing room air conditioners within the scope of ANSI/ASHRAE-127-2001. Cooling mode testing is conducted in accordance with ANSI/ASHRAE 37-2005 “Methods of Testing for Rating Unitary Air-Conditioning and Heat Pump Equipment.” The metrics incorporated in this test procedure include:

  • Single Duct Capacity, Dual Duct Capacity, Spot Cooling Capacity, and Water Cooled Condenser Capacity
  • Single Duct Energy Efficiency Ratio (SD-EER), Dual Duct Energy Efficiency Ratio (DD-EER), Spot Cooling Energy Efficiency Ratio (SC-EER), and Water Cooler Condenser Energy Efficiency Ratio (WCC-ERR)

The test procedure notes that dual duct cooling capacity and EER are comparable to the cooling capacity and EER of window (room) air conditioning units of equivalent rating. It also measures standby power in what we would consider inactive mode according to IEC 62301 2007 CD, which is a committee draft version.

ANSI/ASHRAE 128-2011 "Method of Rating Unitary Spot Air Conditioners." This test method was adapted from CSA C370-09. CAN/CSA 370-2013 “Cooling Performance of Portable Air Conditioners.” Information suggests that this has been harmonized with AHAM PAC-1.

Waivers, Exceptions, and Exemptions

There are none at this time.

Statutory Authority

Title III of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 6291 et seq.), sets forth various provisions designed to improve energy efficiency. Part A of Title III of EPCA (42 U.S.C. 6291–6309) established the "Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products Other Than Automobiles," which covers consumer products and certain commercial products (hereafter referred to as “covered products”).1 In addition to specifying a list of covered residential and commercial products, EPCA contains provisions that enable the Secretary of Energy to classify additional types of consumer products as covered products. For a given product to be classified as a covered product, the Secretary must determine that:

  1. Classifying the product as a covered product is necessary for the purposes of EPCA; and
  2. The average annual per-household energy use by products of such type is likely to exceed 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. (42 U.S.C. 6292(b)(1))

For the Secretary to prescribe an energy conservation standard pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 6295(o) and (p) for covered products added pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 6292(b)(1), he must also determine that:

  1. The average household energy use of the products has exceeded 150 kWh per household for a 12-month period;
  2. The aggregate 12-month energy use of the products has exceeded 4.2 TWh;
  3. Substantial improvement in energy efficiency is technologically feasible; and
  4. Application of a labeling rule under 42 U.S.C. 6294 is unlikely to be sufficient to induce manufacturers to produce, and consumers and other persons to purchase, covered products of such type (or class) that achieve the maximum energy efficiency that is technologically feasible and economically justified. (42 U.S.C. 6295(l)(1)). Portable ACs are movable units typically designed to provide 8,000-14,000 Btu/hr of cooling capacity for a single room. In contrast to room ACs, they are not perma

    Historical Information

    DOE has not previously conducted an energy conservation standard rulemaking for portable ACs. If, after public comment, DOE issues a final determination of coverage for this product, DOE may prescribe both test procedures and energy conservation standards for this product. With respect to test procedures, DOE will consider a proposed test procedure for measuring the energy efficiency, energy use or estimated annual operating cost of portable ACs during a representative average use cycle or period of use that is not unduly burdensome to conduct. (42 U.S.C. 6293(b) (3)) In a test procedure rulemaking, DOE initially prepares a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) and allows interested parties to present oral and written data, views, and arguments with respect to such procedures. In prescribing new test procedures, DOE takes into account relevant information including technological developments relating to energy use or energy efficiency of portable ACs.

    Helpful Links and Contact Information

    Helpful Links

    Find tips and guidance for making your home, workplace, or vehicle more energy efficient visit EnergySavers.gov.

    Contact information

    For more information related to the regulation of this product, please email: