When summer arrives many apartment dwellers head off to the local big box appliance store for a window unit AC. But in recent years there's been a wider range of more affordable portable wheeled units that allow you to place your cooling unit anywhere there's an outlet and a window without the need for permanent installation, perfect for renters in small spaces. We recently tested out the NewAir AC-10000E 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner, a small self standing portable air conditioner...
So let's get to the most important detail: does the NewAir AC-10000E cool down a room fast? Oh yes, it's like feeling the icy exhale of winter itself once you setup the unit and turn it on full blast. At 10,000 BTU this model literally blows away our 7000 BTU Sears Kenmore window air conditioner. Installation is fairly simple, though the large extendable window hose kit can be a bit ornery to direct in the right direction; screwing it into the back of the AC unit takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of pulling the hose fully from its compacted form, it's a breeze (pardon our myriad of unintentional puns). The hose is to exhaust heat and any excess moisture, with a sliding window kit which fits some, though not all, windows (our window was too large for the kit to full cover).
The NewAir AC-10000E is rated to cool an area of up to 300 sq. ft., which seems right on the mark from our tests, considering our studio apartment's living room is about that size and we could feel an almost immediate change in interior temperature at full blast after just a few minutes. Which brings us to the issue of sound: this sucker is loud. At full blast, you definitely know the unit is on, no if's, and's or but's. We tended to keep it on at full blast then turn it off once we hit a comfortable range, using the provided remote control (which provides access to the 2 fan speed setting and various cooling modes). A 12-hour programmable timer allows you to setup the unit to blast cool your room while you're away, and turn off after a set amount of time. Very handy and makes managing your energy bill in check easier.
Our biggest gripe is this unit isn't all too easy on the eyes or something you'd proudly want visible, though admittedly similar in appearance to most budget priced stand alone units. It's sort of like one of those old tech droids found inside the Jawa sandcrawler in Star Wars, both in size and appearance. A little bit of industrial design would go a long way in making this an even better value, as the unit is very nicely priced at $299 (with an extra 5% off all online orders using "Cool" at checkout). But as homely as it looks, the wheels afford the option of hiding your air conditioner when not in use, or the ability to wheel ole R2 into the corner of your bedroom away from sight. If performance, portability and price are tantamount in your search for an air conditioner, the NewAir AC-10000E is a fair option, especially for quickly cooling down bedrooms, small offices and personal spaces under 300 sq. ft. We'd love to see next year's version with an Energy Star designation and a new decor-friendly design (they should take a peek at the air conditioner designs over in Korea ). But when it comes down to it, when you're being cooked alive in your room, design often does take second seat to performance and the AC-10000E certainly does a good job of chilling your room down quickly.