Ignore the fact that portable air conditioner units may resemble “R2D2”, you need to make your decisions based on real facts some of which are presented here.
First thing you need to do is search the Internet for information and you will find that people voice similar concerns. The major concerns are those of price, energy consumption, noise levels and venting.
Keep in mind the amount of hours you will be using your portable air conditioner unit and then look at the Energy Efficiency Rating (or EER) or the units. Basically, the higher the EER rating the more energy efficient the unit will be. EER ratings of 8 for example, are at the low end of energy efficiency but these tend to be the older models. The average rating today appears to be around 12 which is good.
Looking at noise levels, portable air conditioner units that deliver 14,000 Btu’s or less normally tend to noise levels around 50 decibels. To compare, this is similar to the noise that most refrigerators will generate.
The jury is still out as to whether a dual hose unit is superior to the single hose formation when it comes to venting. While a single hose unit will drain some of the cool air it produces from the room, a dual hose system will help eliminate this problem. However, a dual hose system tends to be slightly less efficient for reasons such as the use two internal fans.
Portable air conditioner units tend to have one of three methods of disposing of the water extracted by the dehumidifier module. 1) Automatic evaporation will eliminate the need for any drains or reservoir pans but just how reliable this system is will vary from model to model. 2) Some models will use a direct drain via a hose attached to the unit which can be a problem unless the unit is used near a drain or a bucket! 3) You can simply empty the reservoir yourself.
The price of your unit should be looked at in conjunction with efficiency, as a highly efficient unit will offset any higher price over time. A cheaper model that is not as efficient, over time, will cost more. Remember that portable air conditioners are usually more inefficient than comparable window units although they cost roughly twice as much.
Portable air conditioner units do have at least one big advantage, you can move them where they need to be and store them away when you don’t.