Pros: Solves air conditioning requirements for nearly any home. Keeps things cool.
Cons: Takes up floor space and has to have the water emptied from time to time.
When we finally found a nice home we could afford several months ago, we had just one problem with it: the house had no central air. I knew this was going to be a problem when the weather turned warm and it was a big concern for me. I tried to do a lot of background research on a solution to the problem, but there was a huge lack of information. Finally, I picked the model that was obtainable with the least amount of complaints:the Danby Premier 12000 BTU portable air conditioner.
We went to Best Buy for the unit. The box weighs around 75# and is quite bulky. It's about 4 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide and deep, made of recycled cardboard, and banded with those handy plastic zip-tie-styled bands that make things easier to grab hold of. It would fit easily into the backseat of most cars, although I am doubtful that it would fit into small trunks.
Upon cutting the zip ties, the cardboard just slides up and off the unit, making it very easy to unpack, the bottom of the packaging is Styrofoam that has an underling of cardboard. The unit is wrapped in Styrofoam and plastic. Inside of the box is also a window venting kit, a draining hose and a remote control.
There isn't much to setting the unit up. The directions really do need some work, because they are pretty much useless. We did manage to figure it out, but we are not mechanical people. There are no step-by-step instructions, but there are a few pictures. The manual for the unit seriously needs some work. Still, it only took about 30 minutes to set the whole thing up.
There are two venting hoses made of sturdy plastic. These are flexibly "scrunched" and work like the bendable part of a bendy straw. They are each about 7 inches across. These are not soft. When you bend them they stay in position. These attach to the unit, then go the window venting system, which is basically three wide, flat pieces of sturdy plastic that fit together to telescope to the appropriate length. They look a little bit like plastic boards that are about 8 inches wide, 1/8 inch deep and can extend from about 27" to about 7 feet tall. In other words, you could vent it out of a screen door if you so desired.
One of the venting boards has two round holes cut into it. These are obviously the ones you have to use as part of the extends. From the outside, you click vent covers into the holes. The hoses attach to the holes from the inside. The extender can be screwed in place, although we just pushed the window tight to seal it in place. We have went through wind and thunderstorms with it like that and it stays in place quite well. However - the plastic is thick, but not insulated. In order to get maximum cooling efficiency it is mandatory to get weather stripping to line the sides of the unit for the best fit (otherwise you may have very small gaps in spots). I also recommend using the Styrofoam board insulation cut to fit the plastic. This is easily cut and glued to the plastic and will provide much better results.
OPERATION AND THE UNIT:
The unit itself is very efficient. It is less noisy than a unit in a hotel room, but not by much. It can be used as a fan, an air conditioner, a dehumidifier, or all three. The temperature for the air conditioner is digitally set to maintain a temperature. The fan has three speeds. There is a timer which will allow you to run the air conditioner at certain times. Lights on the top let you know which functions are operating and at which levels, when to empty the water and when the unit is on. A digital read-out lets you know what temperature the unit is set to.
The unit is fairly large. It takes up about the same space that a narrow end table would. It is about 19" wide, 3 feet tall and 19" deep at the base. While the unit itself is not so deep, you have to accommodate a few extra inches for the hose sticking out. My measurements are a little generous to accommodate.
The unit must have the water drained from it periodically. The company provides a drain house, but drainage is through a little tap and it isn't all that convenient. How often the unit must be drained depends on your house, the time of year, the humidity, etc. I would recommend expecting once every couple of days.
It effectively cools the half of the house that I expected it to, which covers a 19 X 15 kitchen, a 15 X 18 living room and a hallway. I use a second fan to assist blowing it around, but it is doing a very good job so far. The unit, without the insulation, had the house down to 65 degrees on an 87 degree day in less than an hour. It has yet to be tested on days closer to 100, but so far so good. It uses environmentally friendly coolant as well.
The unit can easily be moved from room to room. Caster wheels on the bottom are very well made and easily slide over thick carpet.
It's a simple, straightforwards little gadget with the ability to turn on the different functions as well as the unit. You can adjust the fan speed and the temperature, but cannot program the timer.
The unit is not as good as central air, so don't expect it to be. It takes up space, which is a pain. It also requires more maintenance than a central air unit does, because you have to empty the water from time to time. However, the unit is much more attractive from the outside of a house than most air conditioners and it creates a solution to a problem for houses that do not have traditional windows. The unit is pricey, but can be moved from room to room. It does a pretty good job at cooling things down and I've grateful for a quick, effective solution to the summer heat.