The Frigidaire brand and reputation has a value separate from the original company – it’s been bought and sold many times, owned by parent companies as diverse as General Motors and a sewing machine company. The brand is currently owned by Electrolux.1
Trivia: The term “fridge,” used in many parts of the US, is a shortened form of the brand, Frigidaire.2
While many of the Frigidaire product line is either manufactured or assembled in the US (most notably their central air systems) the portable air conditioners are not. They are manufactured in Mexico.
Frigidaire has a full line of portable air conditioners. They range from the smallest, at 5,000 BTUs, up to a heat pump that puts out 12,000 BTU in cooling mode and 4,000 BTU when run as a heater. Although there are at least ten products mentioned in the line, only six were outlined at the Frigidaire website.3 It appears that other models are being sold exclusively through retailers.
All of their units are portable in the sense that they sit on the floor with wheels. However, to function properly, they require access to outside venting, as well as an electrical outlet. Venting is accomplished through a hose to exhaust hot air to the outside of the room so units need to be within a recommended five feet of a window that opens. Vent hoses are built into a frame that fits the window. This set-up is the norm for portable air conditioner units.4
- FRA053PU1 — MSRP $349.00, capacity 5,000 BTU. Weight with empty tank 64lbs. Dehumidification capacity 1.1 pts/hr. Recommended application: 215 sq. ft. EER rating, 8.5.
- FRA073PU1 — MSRP $379.00, capacity 7,000 BTU. Weight with empty tank 64lbs. Dehumidification capacity 1.2 pts/hr. Recommended application: 310 sq. ft. EER rating, 8.5.
- FRA093PT1 — MSRP $399.00, capacity 9,000 BTU. Weight with empty tank 75lbs. Dehumidification capacity 1.2 pts/hr. Recommended application: 425 sq. ft. EER rating, 8.9.
- FRA09EPT1 — MSRP $449.00, capacity 9,000 BTU. Weight with empty tank 76lbs. Dehumidification capacity 1.2 pts/hr. Recommended application: 425 sq. ft. EER rating, 8.9. This unit also has a heating function which delivers 4,100BTUs.
- FRA123PT1 — MSRP $499.00, capacity 12,000 BTU. Weight with empty tank 77lbs. Dehumidification capacity 1.5 pts/hr. Recommended application: 640 sq. ft. EER rating, 8.7.
- FRA12EPT1 — MSRP $549.00, capacity 12,000 BTU. Weight with empty tank 79lbs. Dehumidification capacity 1.5 pts/hr. Recommended application: 640 sq. ft. EER rating, 8.7. This unit also has a heating function which delivers 4,100BTUs.
All models run at a rated 56 dB noise level, about the level of normal conversation.5 Units also come with a one year, full warranty and a five year warranty on “sealed systems.” This generally refers to parts such as motors, coolant loops and other, non-user replacement items. Filters vary for these units and include a regular, washable filter as well as an anti-bacterial mesh.
Frigidaire brands are available across the US, by mail through the internet and at several big box stores. WalMart carries a selection as well as Best Buy. Regional retailers also carry this brand. Test prices between 7,000 BTU units gave this ranking:
- Best Buy, $300.00
- WalMart, $280.00
- AJ Madison, $300.00
Because prices are close among retailers, shipping and returns becomes an influential part of the equation. It may be best to spend a couple dollars more if you can buy locally to obtain filters and warranty work locally when those arise.
There are three areas where customers were less than satisfied with the Frigidaire line of portable air conditioners. In order of importance, they were price, noise, and capacity.
Price – Portable air conditioners cost as much as twice that of traditional window mounted air conditioners for a similar cooling capacity. This is because it is more expensive to add the additional components – a blower fan to remove hot air, a catchment system for water build up and a durable, wheeled casement that is also attractive. Those used to a window unit are often displeased when their more expensive portable only delivers the same amount of cooling. For this reason, where a fixed window unit will do, that is the better buy.
Noise – Complaints about noise were surprising, since these units are rated at only 55 dB. It may be a function of the type of noise they produce, rather than the volume. Looking at one of the user manuals6, there is a section right in the front (pg 4) on noise. It describes all the different areas that noise can occur in the unit, from gurgling due to coolant through to “high pitched chatter” from the compressor. The end result may be that even though the overall noise level is low, the different sounds may be irritating to consumers. One other consideration is vibration. These units are quietest when on carpeting – wood or tile floors tend to magnify vibration noises that occur.
Capacity – Unfortunately, consumers continue to purchase air conditioners of all types without understanding the cooling capacity and how to match an air conditioner to their needs. While the manufacturer’s suggestions on square footage are a useful guide, too often these numbers do not reflect what consumers experience in actual use.
There are many factors in play – ceiling height, number of occupants, room use, other heat generating appliance, the difference between outside and inside temperatures, air flow, humidity and others. The best strategy is to use a BTU calculator to figure out a reasonable number before shopping7. Too much capacity is always better than too little.
Positives – Those who purchased the proper size and understood the limitations of a portable air conditioner were pleased with the quality and reliability of the Fridgidaire units. Several wrote with interesting applications where no windows were available – in one case a computer room where the unit was vented into a crawl space. Others liked the weight/mobility aspects – even though the units themselves are heavy, the castor system is adequate, even for carpeting, to move units easily.
Typical reviews can be found here.8
↑ Back to Top