Haier 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner HPB08XCM review

This is a review of the Haier 8,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner HPB08XCM which I purchased refurbished off of Ebay for $185. You can also buy this unit for for much more money at places like the Home Depot or Target. Even though this is a refurbished model, I really can’t tell that it’s had much use before and could very well be new.

I bought this unit for my bedroom in a 1-bedroom apartment. The entire apartment is about 700 ft² while the bedroom is in the 200s. I live in Phoenix and summer is fast approaching. I wanted to use this AC to keep my room cool while I was in it and let the rest of the apartment stay warmer. Using the central AC to cool the whole apartment to below 80° during the summer increases my electric bill from $50 to $200 or more per month. Hopefully this portable air conditioner will reduce my monthly electric bill enough to compensate for the up front expenses.

The good news is this air conditioner is effective at cooling down my room. It takes a few minutes for the compressor to turn on after powering on the unit, but once it’s on the cooling effect is immediately noticeable. My temperature gun says the air coming out of the vent is about 50° and can get lower after prolonged usage. The fan also blows the air out in a V direction. So to get the most direct air you would want the front of the unit to be pointed 45° away from you.

The one thing I was curious about for this air conditioner was if it could actually cool down my entire apartment, in short: no. If I leave my bedroom door open to the full 700 ft² of my apartment the cooling effect outside of my bedroom was basically limited to the lower two feet of air space. The higher air elevations were still quite warm. I consider myself much much more heat tolerant than a typical user. During the day I rarely set the AC to lower than 85° and I don’t think this little AC could even manage that for the whole apartment. The exception is at night when the outside temperature is about the same or less than the indoor temperature. This portable AC can cool down the entire apartment at cooler outdoor temperatures, but not really any more efficiently than the central AC I already have.

When the AC is running continuously it draws about 700 watts from the wall. There are listings that say this device has different Cooling modes and fan speeds, but they are basically irrelevant. You can cool your room at 700 watts with a low amount of fan noise or a high amount of fan noise. That’s basically it. There are also “dehumidifier” and “fan only” modes which I doubt anyone would have any reason to use.

The primary concern with this unit is in the heat vent setup. There really aren’t any directions on how to set it up, but if you know the principles of how it works it’s easy to see what you need to do. Air Conditioners are heaters that also make a small amount of cool air. If you do not vent the hot air outside your room will only get warmer. This is why leaving your refrigerator door open will always make your kitchen warmer instead of cooler. It’s basic entropy. The vent tube leading from the Haier portable air conditioner to the outside world via the window leaves ample opportunities for the hot air to escape back into your room. Each component of the vent is attached by “jamming it together” leaving plenty of gaps around the edges for air to escape. While it probably will still cool your room if you use it as-is, it will not be nearly as efficient as it could be and your energy bills will still be high.

The solution I made to increase the venting efficiency was to use a combination of: plastic wrap, plastic bags, garbage bags, Styrofoam, and duct tape to seal up as much of the thing as possible. I shaped some Styrofoam around the window paneling edges along with some duct tape to better seal out the Phoenix summer air. I also used plenty of plastic wrap and duct tape around the vent on the window side to seal the junction areas. I put a large black garbage bag around the whole thing and threw used shopping plastic bags in there to better insulate the tube.

On the AC unit side I put duct tape around the vent: affixing the tube to the unit without gaps. Originally the tube was barely connected and would pop out with the slightest force. Losing the tube connection quickly causes the AC to increase the room temperature. While these changes definitely make the unit less “portable”, it works more efficiently over all.

The noise level is about equivalent to a large box fan on “low” setting. You could easily sleep through it since it is white noise. Although, you can hear when the compressor turns on which woke me up the first couple nights, but I’ve since acclimated to it. There is no reason to use the “high” fan setting on the device which is much more noisy.

There is an extremely bright blue LED for the mode select. At night, it clearly illuminates my entire bedroom. I like to keep it covered with something very opaque, like a moues pad.

The manual briefly says this, but you’re not supposed to turn the unit on until after 24 hours have passed after it has been tipped on its side. If you get this unit delivered then it very likely was not always upright during transit. It’s also hard to get it out of the box without tipping it over. Let it sit for a while before turning it on so the internal oils settle in their proper locations.

In summary this AC unit is a good buy only under certain conditions:

  1. You know you’ll have to get crafty with securing the exhaust tube.
  2. You can’t use a more efficient window unit. My apartment complex frowns on having anything visible from the outside.
  3. You’re not trying to cool down an area more than 300 ft².
  4. You don’t need the room to get super cold.

Otherwise I’m sure you’ll be happy with this unit and content with your more comfortable living space.