Pros: Compact size, powerful A/C, remote control, programmable thermostat and timer...
Cons: Needs a window vent, electricity hog...
Three years ago, my wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. And although she's been handling it well for the most part, and she tolerates the injected medication well, there's one thing that will drop her energy level to near zero--and that's summertime heat. If she gets too hot, it can not only sap her energy, but it can also trigger an "episode," potentially leading to permanent neurological damage. Living in Northern Utah, we generally have about two weeks above 100 degrees each summer--and another month or so in the upper 90's. Even though it's a "dry heat," which is nice, it's still enough to overwhelm the evaporative cooler we use for our house. In 2006, my parents found an old window electric A/C unit, and we used that for two years. This last summer, we decided to buy something a little more modern, and went with the Haier HPRB07XC7. For the months of July and August, we kept the Haier in our bedroom, and it was a lifesaver.
This portable air conditioner retails for anywhere from $250 - $350--we bought it on clearance at Target for just under $200. Even though we only really used it for about six weeks on a daily basis, it held up well for this first summer season, and we anticipate using it for several years to come. It's a convenient size for even small bedrooms, just over two feet tall, 18" wide, and just over a foot deep. It's an attractive unit, silver and white, with rounded edges and a streamlined design. Our bedroom is about fifteen by fifteen feet, and the 7000 BTU/hr output was enough to keep the room cool for hours on end. "Cool" of course is a relative term--when it's in the upper 90's, we could bring the temperature down to about 75 degrees in our room--which is about where we needed it to be. There's also a Dehumidification function, which we've only used a handful of times--Utah doesn't get humid often, and when it does, I don't know how much this little unit will fix it.
The setup was simple, with no specialized tools needed. At 70 lbs the A/C unit is heavy, but has casters on the bottom that help move it from room to room relatively easily. The product images on the package just show the unit chilling away in the center of a nicely furnished room, with no indication of the exhaust hose coming out the backside. It does have an extendable hose that needs to be mounted to a vent and placed in a window--all of that was easy enough, but belies the product packaging. In any case, it's less obtrusive than the window-mounted A/C unit we had used the previous two summers, so we didn't mind.
The Haier HPRB07XC7 has a reliable thermostat and digital display, showing both the current temperature and the goal temperature. You can either set the temperature manually or via remote, and the remote also includes a 24 hour timer that can be used to shut off the unit after you go to bed. It operates relatively quietly--for an insomniac like me, it actually makes for a nice white noise machine--but it's not so loud that you can't watch television, listen to music or have a conversation in the same room. The three fan speeds, combined with the cooling unit itself, provide enough cooling power to help you chill out even on the hottest of days.
We still use the evaporative "swamp" cooler--many houses in these dry states do--and we'll continue to use it. The Haier is an electricity hog, so we try to avoid using it except on the hottest days, or the hottest time of day. It's not something you'd want to leave running 24/7 for the energy costs alone.
We purchased this more for my wife's health than for any other reason--and we did see an increase in her energy level once it was installed in our room. That bedroom became a kind of oasis for her during those hottest weeks of the year, and the Haier was a big part of that. We're looking at getting Central Air in the next five years or so, but until that time, we're looking at less expensive ways to help her out. This was a good purchase for us, and although we don't wheel it around from room to room much, it's nice to know that we could if we needed to. If the summer heat is intolerable for you or a family member, check stores now for their A/C units--they're probably on sale or clearance for the winter. And they just might save your life.