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Published on August 27th, 2011 | by Greg


Hot? Cool? Solve Both With The Portable DeLonghi PAC 130HPE

One weird thing about San Fran­cis­co- de­spite the com­plaints of Mark Twain and many oth­ers, it’s gen­er­al­ly pret­ty nice around these parts. Sure, we’re based in the Mis­sion, the sun­ni­est of the lo­cal mi­cro­cli­mates. And yes, the South Bay and East Bay are prob­a­bly even nicer. But we don’t strain in­to the high tem­per­a­tures that plague much of the coun­try, and while we might need some heat­ing to stay cozy ev­ery now and then, it won’t be snow­ing or even get­ting frosty but on the rarest of oc­ca­sions.

These mean that we don’t have much need for con­stant­ly run­ning air con­di­tion­ers, nor do we have the sort of heat­ing is­sues that you might find in the Mid­west or the East Coast. But that doesn’t mean that we nev­er need a unit- it’s just hard to know which one we will need, and the on­ly thing for cer­tain is that Bay Area res­i­dents won’t need much of ei­ther type of tem­per­a­ture ad­just­ment for long un­til the weath­er swings the oth­er di­rec­tion. We re­cent­ly need­ed a de­cent-sized unit for our of­fices, which were ut­ter­ly un­equipped for cli­mate con­trol, but we want­ed a portable unit that could hide un­ob­tru­sive­ly and han­dle both heat­ing and cool­ing du­ties. We want­ed, in short, the De­Longhi PAC 130H­PE.

A prod­uct big enough to have not one but two sites to it­self de­serves some tech­ni­cal ex­am­i­na­tion. The most im­por­tant mea­sure, as al­ways, is the BTU count- and this air-to-air unit of­fers up 13000 of them. Dur­ing cold­er times, it can al­so crank up to 3800 watts of heat­ing pow­er. We most­ly have been us­ing the A/C func­tion, but did test the heat­ing el­e­ments a bit. Set­up was pret­ty easy, once the unit was un­packed and out of the box, and hauled in­to place. An ex­haust hose and win­dow brack­et are in­clud­ed, though our par­tic­u­lar lo­ca­tion re­quired a bit of ex­tra work we have pri­mar­i­ly swing-out win­dows. Af­ter some wor­ry­ing, we found a way to vent through a small­er win­dow. We liked that there was no drip tray to wor­ry about, or re­al­ly much con­den­sa­tion at all- the unit re­cy­cles mois­ture and han­dled it pret­ty well.

One of the most frus­trat­ing parts of any air con­di­tion­er is the noise- and un­for­tu­nate­ly, the PAC 130H­PE (part of their Pin­guino line) isn’t qui­et. Three modes are avail­able, of­fer­ing a trio of fan speeds, but none that al­lowed us to fall asleep near­by the unit eas­i­ly. It cer­tain­ly wasn’t a grat­ing noise- just a con­sis­tent hum. We liked the pow­er of this unit- it is rat­ed to han­dle a 450 square foot room- and though we weren’t try­ing to over­come South­west sun­shine, we man­aged a com­fort­able five-de­gree drop with­out wait­ing too long, in a room about 400 square feet. The unit’s in­struc­tion man­u­al seemed to chide us a bit- sug­gest­ing that we turn off heat sources and block out the sun to help pre­vent heat. We took the ad­vice, and pri­mar­i­ly used the Smart func­tion to let the unit de­cide what was best for us.

What was good for the room, though, wasn’t great for our backs. De­spite the built-in han­dles, and the de­cent wheels (which can lock), the unit still weighed over 70 pounds. ‘Portable’, we sup­pose, but def­i­nite­ly not some­thing you want to move around all that of­ten. Get­ting it up a flight of stairs proved to be a bru­tal task, re­quir­ing us to call in folks from be­yond our writ­er’s pool- most of us aren’t ex­act­ly bulky. And once in place, we were sad­dened that the vent can­not be redi­rect­ed- it blows air in a fixed di­rec­tion. The re­mote con­trol was handy if not at­trac­tive, as was the on-board LCD screen with a 24-hour timer that al­lows you to set­up your de­sired hours of op­er­a­tion.

Heat­ing op­er­a­tion wasn’t as im­pres­sive as the size might sug­gest, but that’s per­haps be­cause it didn’t seem di­rect­ed for the best ef­fi­cien­cy. A small space heater can get clos­er to you, and point di­rect­ly at you, so if you aren’t try­ing to heat or cool a larg­er area, then you might be bet­ter off with one of those. The same was true to a less­er ex­tent of the de­hu­mid­i­fi­er func­tion- oth­er spe­cial-pur­pose mod­els that we’ve test­ed have done a bet­ter job, in a small­er and cheap­er pack­age. But there was no ques­tion that this unit could han­dle it well (and rel­a­tive­ly qui­et­ly). One func­tion that it didn’t of­fer was an in­ter­est­ing omis­sion- air pu­rifi­ca­tion, some­thing that is of­ten miss­ing from A/C units but would be handy.

Over­all, this unit might be overkill for some folks, and not enough for oth­ers. It suf­fers a bit from try­ing to do sev­er­al things, but that’s a good part of why we liked it- for our pur­pos­es, it was per­fect, of­fer­ing a blend of heat­ing and cool­ing in the right place at the right time. If you’re suf­fer­ing from a heat wave and 100 de­gree plus tem­per­a­tures, this isn’t the unit for you (and we sug­gest mov­ing here). The same is true if you are freez­ing. If you are try­ing to leave it in one place for good, con­sid­er a more per­ma­nent so­lu­tion; the same if you want some­thing tru­ly portable to take around reg­u­lar­ly. But for the folks in be­tween, with an apart­ment or good-size room that could just use some ex­tra heat­ing or cool­ing and who like the abil­i­ty to shift the lo­ca­tion or eas­i­ly hide it in a clos­et, the De­Longhi PAC-130H­PE. At $600 or so in­clud­ing ship­ping, we can’t sug­gest it for ev­ery­one. But it so far has held up well, and though it won’t be giv­ing the Rab­bit Air any com­pe­ti­tion in looks, it gets mul­ti­ple jobs done nice­ly.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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