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RolliBot RolliCool COOL 100H-20 Portable Air Conditioner - My Experience

Categories: OpinionReview

July 6, 2020


This is probably the nerdiest thing I've done in a long time, but I'm doing it for a reason.

Speaking of "nerdy", do you know the origin of that word?  Keep reading.

I live in Las Vegas where it gets kinda warm sometimes, which is fine as long as you stay in an air conditioned hotel or casino (or home).  Unfortunately, my 36-year-old air conditioner crashed last fall and can't be repaired.  Quotes to replace it run from about $6500 and up.  Not do-able for me right now.

I don't mind the heat.  Most of the time, I'm outdoors anyway.  So I decided I'd try to suffer through this summer and deal with a new a/c when I could. 

We had our first two weeks of triple-digit temps near the end of May and early June.  Yeah, it was a little uncomfortable, but tolerable...for me.  Sadly, my dog - my BFF - could not handle the heat so well.  Dogs are okay up to about 90 degrees.  I knew the signs of dog heatstroke, and as soon as I started seeing those signs in my dog, I knew I had to make some immediate changes.

I considered replacing the outside part, but even that was $3200 and up.  And that would just be a big Band-Aid.

As far as Band-Aids go, my next option was a portable air conditioner, but I wasn't too optimistic about that.  Most models can only cool an area up to about 500, maybe 600, square feet.  They usually only go up to 12,000 to 14,000 BTUs.  Using an online calculator, I determined I needed a lot more than that.

My home is a little unusual.  The entrance, living room, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom are all open (the bathroom does have a door).  That's around 725 square feet.  To make it worse, I have 12-foot vaulted ceilings.  I originally thought that would be a factor, and maybe it is, but I'm not gonna sweat it too much since cool air sinks.  I don't really care what the temperature is above six feet.

After lots of research, I had made my choice - the 14,000 BTU Whynter ARC-14S portable air conditioner.  Whynter claims "[t]his unit can cool up to a 500 sq. ft. space."  Not what I had hoped for, but considering my options and lots of reviews, it looked like my best choice.  Unfortunately, this unit is apparently in such high demand, it's difficult to find.  Most dealers are out of stock.  The one unit I did find in stock was priced at $975, more than I wanted to pay.

RolliBot RolliCool COOL 100H-20 portable air conditioner front
RolliBot RolliCool COOL 100H-20 (front)
click to enlarge

Then I stumbled across a brand I had never heard of - RolliBot.  RolliBot is an American company (based in Indiana) which makes robotic appliances such as smart vacuums and smart scales.  They also make several models of portable air conditioners that can, they claim, "cool and dehumidify spaces up to 700 sq. ft."  One model - the RolliCool COOL 100H-20 - caught my eye.  The price, including tax and shipping, was about US$455, well within my budget.  By that time, I needed to place an immediate order for my dog's sake.  I ordered the COOL 100H-20 and it arrived in just a few days.

Before I placed the order, I had read reviews and watched a few YouTube videos.  One YouTube reviewer said the installation instructions were more complicated than the installation itself.  He recommended consumers just unpack it and install it, i.e., it was that easy.  He was right.

I powered it up at noon the same day it arrived.  And here's the nerdy part: I started logging temperature data every hour - forecast temperature, actual outside temperature, inside 10 feet from the unit, inside 25 feet from the unit, and of course, my target temperature.

Here's what I learned:  When a manufacturer or dealer says an air conditioner will cool spaces up to x square feet, that's an extremely vague claim.  There are several variables that affect the performance of any air conditioner.  Here are three that I found:

  1. What is the outside temperature?
  2. What do you consider a comfortable temperature (the temperature setting on the unit, i.e., the target temperature)?
  3. At what distance from the unit will the temperatures be measured?

There are others, for example, the insulation of the space, but I'm not getting into that.

I was surprised, pleased, and disappointed with the performance of the COOL 100H-20, only because I didn't know what to expect until I started analyzing the data.

I used to determine the outside temperature for my zip code.

Inside, I used two thermometers.  The first is on a table in the middle of the living room, about ten feet from the COOL 100H-20.  That's where I spend most of my time.  The living room is "sunken" and seems to hold the cool air in place.  That living area is only about 224 square feet.  The ceiling height there is eight to ten feet, so to calculate cubic feet (which I don't think is necessary), I could average the ceiling at nine feet.

The other thermometer is the central A/C thermostat, in a hallway about 25 feet from the COOL 100H-20.  That area has the 12-foot ceiling height and tends to trap heat.

RolliBot RolliCool COOL 100H-20 portable air conditioner typical daily chart
Typical daily chart (this one for July 3, 2020).
click to enlarge

I recorded temperatures at each point every hour from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. starting on June 15, 2020 through the present (currently, July 6, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.)

I'm not going to dig any more into BTUs, square feet, ceiling height, etc.  What ultimately matters is whether this portable air conditioner can keep my home cool.  Well, it can and it can't.  We'll have to define "cool" first.  The chart below will help define that.

Outside Temperatures

The average daytime outside temperatures in Las Vegas during the summer range from around 80 degrees F (27 C) to about 105 F (41 C).  High temperatures can easily reach 110 F (43 C).  The record high is around 117-118 (47-48 C).

My Comfortable Temperatures

I'm comfortable in the mid 80s (29 C).  My dog is okay with that, but anything above that and I'll need to watch him carefully.  If the outside temperature is below 85 or so, I generally don't use air conditioning.

I set the temperature (target) setting on the COOL 100H-20 to 77 degrees.  I know the COOL 100H-20 won't meet that, but I had a problem when I set it closer to my comfortable temperature in the mid-80s.  The spec plate on the COOL 100H-20 shows 11.5 amps.  I know basic volt/amp/watt formulas, but that's about the extent of my electrical knowledge.  As the unit cycles on and off to maintain a specific temperature, there seem to be a power surges.  The unit's 11.5 amps plus the 5-12 amps of my other work space electrical devices (computers, monitors, printer, entertainment center, TV, etc.) would sometimes exceed the 20 amp circuit breaker, causing the breaker to trip.  So I set the target temperature low so the COOL 100H-20 wouldn't cycle on and off.  Bad decision?  Maybe.

Distance from the A/C Unit

Since I spend the majority of my time in the center of the 224-square-foot living area, about ten feet from the COOL 100H-20, that's what I focused on most.

What the Data Shows

The chart may look like a bird's nest at first, but you won't need to focus on each point.  I included two trendlines - one for the 10 foot distance averages (the navy blue line) and one for the 25 foot distance averages (the red line).

RolliBot RolliCool COOL 100H-20 portable air conditioner data chart
Summary chart
click to enlarge

Across the bottom is the range of outside temperatures recorded during the survey period (June 15 to July 6, 2020).

In the chart, there are six colored lines depicting the maximum, average, and minimum recorded inside temperatures at the two distances (10 feet and 25 feet) for each outside temperature, plus two black trendlines for the two average lines (again, 10 feet and 25 feet).  The colored lines show 1) at 10 feet, the minimum (olive), maximum (aqua), and average (navy) temperatures for each outside temperature, and 2) at 25 feet, the minimum (purple), maximum (orange), and average (red) temperatures for each outside temperature.

For example, at 97 F (36 C) outside (go to 97 across the bottom), I can expect the inside temperature at ten feet from the unit to be somewhere between 80 and 86 degrees (27 to 30 C) (move up to the olive and aqua colored lines).  The average is just short of 84 F (29 C) (the navy colored line).  The trendline shows a bit more than 84 F (29 C).

Basically, up to an outside temperature of 107 F (42 C), I can keep my little work area between 83 to 88 F (28 to 31 C).  We haven't had temps above 107 where I live yet, so I'll see what happens as the summer heats up more.

RolliBot RolliCool COOL 100H-20 portable air conditioner rear
RolliBot RolliCool COOL 100H-20 (back)
click to enlarge

So based on this, what do you think?  Can the RolliBot RolliCool COOL 100H-20 cool my 725-square-foot living space?  RolliBot claimed "up to 700 square feet", so I wouldn't expect it to cool 725-square-feet with 12-foot ceilings.  So to answer the question, I say no.  But I can say that the RolliBot RolliCool COOL 100H-20 can reasonably cool my 224-square-foot work space - an open area within that 725-square-foot space - to a temperature that's tolerable for me and my dog up to an outside temperature of 107 F (42 C).  (Whew!)

Overall, I'm happy (so far) with the RolliBot RolliCool COOL 100H-20.  Will it last?  Only time will tell.  And what will happen at outside temps of 115 F (46 C) and higher?

Film at eleven.

Oh yeah, the origin of the word "nerd".  At some time in the past, at some college or university somewhere, as the "cool" guys would go out, party, and get drunk, some started referring to a student who stayed in and studied as a "knurd" - "drunk" backwards.  Over time, the word was most commonly spoken, not written, so the common [mis]spelling became "nerd".  Astound your friends!

"If you can't say something nice, let's hear it!"   — Joan Rivers

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