Monday, July 21, 2008

Air Conditioner Follow-Up (and a note about portables)

I previously described my travails in shopping for air conditioners. I thought I'd follow up.

I did pick up a couple of
Sears Kenmore 76081s, and they work fine. Just what you'd hope for from powerful window units, the only surprise being that they're fussy to install as they must tilt outward (to keep water from pooling in the unit), and, as an apparent precaution, they refuse to mount happily unless they're at just the right angle.

For my main living room, I ordered a 
Royal Sovereign ARP-5012XH from Costco online, and it was a wretched experience. I sprang for express shipping (at significant expense), it took a week to get out of the warehouse, shipped via ground (not express) from west coast, and was returned by UPS before it ever got to me because damage was found. I only know all this because I was tracking via UPS; Costco never notified me of any of this, and refused to answer any of my inquiries...not even one addressed directly to the the VP in charge. And because they'd ran out of these units by the time anyone started paying (slight) attention to my issues, I was summarily refunded, sans apology, and left air conditioner-less. I'll never order from Costco Online again.

So I ordered, from Amazon, the
Royal Sovereign ARP-5012X. Because I'm an Amazon Prime customer, shipping was free. The unit works well and is good looking, but what they say is true: portables don't cool as well as window units. Why? Window units pump lots of air, and do so via a very noisy fan, which is located outside the window. Portable units are entirely indoors, so they must be quieter, and therefore don't pump as much air, cool though that air might be.

This unit cools my large living room somewhat, but can't get it down to 72 on a hot day. If you'll read reviews of portable air conditioners, you'll see the same being said of all of them: they can't take a room down to a target temperature, they merely make a dent in the heat.

Here's the trick. Start 'em early. I crank up my unit in the cooler morning, and it manages to more or less stay on top of things all day (I help by closing window blinds). If I were to start the unit in the thick of a 95 degree afternoon, it wouldn't stand a chance. The other trick is that you can put most decent portables into a dehumidifying mode, which is a lot cheaper to run (you'll feel less guilty leaving it on when out of the house), and it does make a big difference. Especially if, like me, you own a piano, which should never suffer high summertime humidity levels.

And, as I said in my last post on the topic, don't even think of buying a single-hose portable unit (this one's got two).

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