The Pros and Cons of the Whynter Arc-12sd Air Conditioner

Whynter 12sdImage Source

This 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner has tons of positive reviews. I am not surprised. Whynter makes reliable air conditioners and consumers know this and look to them when making a purchase.

I wanted to see what all of the hype was about, so I have spent a considerable amount of time looking into the positives and negatives of this model. While there are numerous great features of the Arc-12sd, no product exists without a few drawbacks. I will explain all of pros and cons of this unit so you can decide if this is the right one for you.

If you are interested in a specific question, click below, or keep reading to discover all of the pros and cons.

What is the size of this unit?

The Arc-12sd is a 12,000 BTU unit which means it can cool a room up to 400 sq. ft. It measures 34 x 20 x 16 inches and weighs 71 pounds. Thankfully you don’t have to do any heavy lifting when moving it from room to room. It comes on caster wheels so it can easily be wheeled wherever you need it.

This is not the largest portable air conditioner on the market but definitely on the bigger side. Some reviewers found it hard to make space for it, but others made the best of it and said it is like having their own R2-D2 in the room. If having your own cooling robot in the house sounds pretty good, then this size will suit you just fine.

How does the Arc-12sd vent exhaust?

With a dual hose unit, there are two exhaust hoses connected to the machine and vented out through the window. One is used to bring in outside air to cool the internal components of the air conditioner and the other expels the hot, humid air to the outside. The dual hose feature is preferred by many users because it provides more efficient cooling and improved air flow.

A single hose unit only has one hose to exhaust the warm air outside. Since it is not pulling in air from outside to cool the internal compressor, it has to grab it from somewhere. It uses up some of the recently cooled air in the room to do this.

Also, the air that is vented to the outside has to be replaced so it ends up sucking in hot air from other parts of your home which defeats what the air conditioner is trying to accomplish. An expert in the field said, “A single hose air conditioner is the worst way to cool a room short of leaving your refrigerator door open.”

Like all portable air conditioners, the dual hose unit will need to be ventilated out a window with the included window kit. The kit can be expanded to 60 inches wide to accommodate most windows. The negative is that it must be placed near a window, but this is an inconvenience of any portable air conditioner and not unique to Whynter products.

Does this portable air conditioner need to be drained?

This model has Whynter’s Auto Drain technology so it is self-evaporating and eliminates most of the condensation by venting it out the window. The small amount of remaining moisture drains into a water tank. When the water tank is full a light will appear on the screen notifying you to empty it.

In low humidity areas, you may go all summer without draining it. Alternatively, high humidity locations will naturally experience more moisture and may need to drain it daily or weekly. Again this depends on the humidity in the air and how long/often you are running the air conditioner.

Unfortunately, when the water tank is full, the compressor automatically shuts off. This means if you do not want to go without air conditioning, you may have to take time to empty it at an inopportune time or check it regularly to ensure the tank is not full. No one wants to wake up hot and sticky in the middle of the night and have to hassle with emptying the water tank.

Also, the manual drain port at the base of the unit is located in a very hard to reach place with only about a one inch clearance. The user manual recommends placing a plate under the unit to catch the water when you pull the plug on the drain port; however, this is usually ineffective in catching all of the water and spills happen. This can be very frustrating.

A way to avoid this would be to purchase a condensation pump and attach it to the top auto-drain port. This takes care of the moisture so you don’t have to drain the tank. The pump does require a bucket or drain where it can send the water after moving it out of the air conditioner. Another option is to direct the hose out the window so that you don’t have to empty the drainage tank or a bucket. Having to purchase this pump is an extra expense and inconvenience, but it will solve this design issue.

How much noise does the Arc-12sd make?

The Whynter Arc-12sd is relatively quiet and operates at 56 decibels. The portable air conditioners on the market that advertise quiet features are usually 55 decibels and below. If a quiet air conditioner is of upmost importance, read the review I wrote on the quietest air conditioners for every room size and tips on how to stay cool with minimal noise disruption. While the Arc-12sd did not make the list, I have to say that it is right in range with the quietest portable air conditioners I found.

There is not a silent air conditioner but that is the trade-off for having a cool, comfortable living space. I have lived without air conditioning in past summers, and I simply would not want to be without it now. Most owners agree that the noise is bearable but you will have to turn up your TV a few notches.

What are the positive features on this model?

This unit comes with a 24-hour programmable timer which is very useful for controlling when the air conditioner turns on and off even when you are not home. Set the timer for it to turn on 30 minutes before you arrive, and you will be entering a cool space rather than a hot and sticky room.

It also has an automatic restart feature. In the case of a power outage, this unit will power on and resume cooling at the same temperature setting. Not only is it convenient so you don’t wake up at night to an overheated room, but it might also be important if you are away and have pets at home.

This portable AC is environmentally friendly and energy efficient. It uses ozone-safe R-410A refrigerant and lead-free, RoHS-compliant parts. Also, it has an energy efficiency ratio of 10.9. Portable air conditioners with ratios over 10 are both energy efficient and cost effective.

Are there any negatives about this model?

Yes, the major drawback is the LED screen. The lights are colored but there are no labels explaining what they mean. You have to read the user manual and to know why there are purple, blue and green lights on the display. It does come with a remote that may make it a little easier to change the settings.

Also, numerous users complain that the lights are too bright. One even said that it caused him difficulty falling asleep and that this was more annoying than the noise the machine makes. While not ideal, those bothered by this found a work-around and placed something over the lights to block them.

How do Whynter’s other 12,000 BTU portable air conditioners compare?

Whynter Arc-12sdhImage Center

The Arc-12sdh is almost identical to this unit except that it comes with an 11,000 BTU heat pump. This feature allows you to use it year round which can be a major plus. To heat the room it operates as a reverse air conditioner and will still need to be vented out a window. You won’t have to move or reinstall the window kit. It can also save you money on your electricity bill to run the heat mode instead of your furnace. One user estimated that he saved $100 a month on his winter heating bill!

The drawback is that when the temperatures drop below 41 degrees, the unit can no longer be operated with the vent out the window because it is too cold. Essentially, it is pulling in air to warm and when the air outside is too cold, it cannot warm it. If you live in Minnesota a traditional space heater is going to be better option, but someone in California will find this works well to ward off the chill in the winter.

The other 12,000 BTU model is the Whynter Arc-12s. This unit is different from the other two I have mentioned, so I will just cover the major attributes and disadvantages of this model.

whynter ARC-12sImage Source

The smaller footprint of this model is desirable because it may fit in a space in your home or office where larger portable air conditioners cannot. At 31 x 17 x 15.5 inches, it is about three inches smaller in height and width than the other two models.

Another positive is that it consumes less power than the other models. The Arc-12s uses 1080W / 9.5A while the Arc-12sd and Arc-12sdh use 1100W / 10.5A when cooling.

I see three possible negatives of the Arc-12s. The first is minor and that is that it has a smaller dehumidifying capacity than the Arc-12sd. This unit only dehumidifies 91 pints/day and the other 12,000 BTU models can handle 96 pints/day. This is not a significant difference though.

The second is that it does not have the heat function. This may or may not be a drawback for you depending on whether you really need a unit with this capability.

The big difference with the Arc-12s is that is a single hose model. As previously described, this method of air intake and exhaust is not as efficient as the dual hose method.


Whynter provides a one year limited warranty and a three year warranty on the compressor. This is a decent warranty but the Honeywell and DeLonghi products I have reviewed provide better warranties for their portable air conditioners.

The aspects that I really like about the Arc-12sd is that it is a quiet, dual hose portable air conditioner. The majority of people who own and review this model speak very highly of it and that is saying something because most people only take the time to write a review when they are dissatisfied with a product.

What I dislike, are the annoying LED lights on the display and the design of the drainage tank. Though I think with the adjustments mentioned, these issues can be made tolerable.

This model has a few trade-offs, but, overall, it is a good product for the price. The Arc-12sdh is also a good option if you like the Arc-12sd but want the heat mode feature too.

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