Portable v Fixed Air Conditioning

A question we get asked a lot during the summer months...which is better, portable or fixed air conditioning?

The answer depends on each individuals needs and if it is a question you are currently asking yourself, then hopefully the following will help you.

Portable Air Conditioning


A portable air conditioning system is a compact unit that can easily be moved around from room to room without the need for any permanent installation, or an air conditioning specialist.

It uses the same technology as a fixed AC system by absorbing heat from the air and expelling it outside (please see our "How Does Air Conditioning Work" article for more information on this).

The portable systems usually sit on the floor and has an extendable flexible duct that can be hung out of an open window for the heat to escape.

Who May Use Portable Air Conditioning

  • Someone looking for a short term cooling solution
  • Someone looking to add supplementary cooling to an already air conditioned environment
  • Someone in rented accommodation who may not have permission for fixed air conditioning to be installed
  • Someone looking for a more affordable cooling solution

Pro's of Portable Air Conditioning

  • Much cheaper in initial price than fixed air conditioning
  • Can be relocated easily to different rooms
  • Suitable for rented properties or listed buildings
  • No installation costs - these can be fitted easily by anyone

Con's of Portable Air Conditioning

  • Can look untidy due to bulky size
  • Not as reliable as fixed air conditioning systems
  • They tend to be quite noisy
  • They are not as powerful as fixed systems
  • Generally (unless a large hole is drilled) would require an open window to hang the flexible ducting out of

Fixed Air Conditioning


Although fixed air conditioning can be removed and reinstalled elsewhere, this is usually costly and can be disruptive, which is why these systems are considered a permanent installation (the clue is in the name!)

Unlike portable air conditioning systems, fixed systems have more components and require a certified F-Gas engineer to carry out the installation with the specialist tools and equipment needed.

Fixed air conditioning systems require an indoor fan unit and an outdoor fan unit to be installed, and they have a pipe and cable which interconnects the two parts (unlike portable air conditioning which is an all in one system).

Who May Use Fixed Air Conditioning

  • Someone looking to cool/heat larger or multiple areas simultaneously
  • Someone looking for a tidier, more aesthetically pleasing option
  • Someone looking for a permanent cooling/heating solution
  • Someone looking to take advantage of the heating benefits of air conditioning

Pro's of Fixed Air Conditioning

  • Many shapes and designs to suit your requirements
  • They are much quieter than portable air conditioning systems
  • Larger systems available for much larger rooms and areas
  • Multi systems are available so you can heat/cool multiple rooms from one system
  • They can be installed in or above ceilings, or at a high or low level on a wall
  • They usually come with much longer warranty lengths, reliable aftercare and with spare parts available
  • Suitable for both domestic and commercial use

Con's of Fixed Air Conditioning

  • The initial cost of the systems are higher than portable air conditioning systems
  • Requires an F-Gas trained engineer to carry out the installation
  • The installation process can be more disruptive than a portable system

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