When it comes to cooling your home, there are many factors to consider. Above certain temperatures, an A/C is the best way to keep cool. Portable air conditioners are a popular alternative to a traditional window unit, and in many cases—be it your area’s housing rules or uncooperative windows—your only option for A/C. Even if you've narrowed the field down to just portable air conditioners, you'll have to keep room size in mind when determining which PAC is the right fit for your needs.
The De’Longhi PACEX390LVYN Pinguino occupies a very definite niche—and excels there. The Pinguino’s specialty is cooling down large rooms. Not only does it pack a lot of cooling power that is wasted in smaller rooms, it also has features specifically designed to help its efficacy in more spacious areas, like a swing function to increase air circulation. The most interesting of these features is the Cool Surround mode, which uses sensors in the unit’s remote to calibrate it based on where you’re sitting (as opposed to the area immediately around the unit). This feature helps the Pinguino keep you cool much more effectively than a traditional PAC might.
About the De’Longhi PACEX390LVYN Pinguino portable air conditioner
Dimensions: 34.3" x 20.1" x 18.3" (H x W x D)
Weight: 83.33 lbs
Cooling Capacity: 14000 BTU
Fan speeds: 3, plus an auto mode
- Dehumidifying mode
- Fan only mode
- Cool Surround: Uses the thermometer and humidity sensor built into the remote control to ensure the device keeps working until the area around the remote (presumably where the user is located) reaches the requested temperature and humidity
- Eco Real Feel: Auto-adjust mode that’s more energy efficient
- Arctic Whisper: Reduces the unit’s noise output by up to 50%
- Swing function: Oscillation mode that increases the air circulation range
- Bluetooth-enabled remote: Allows control of the unit up to 33 feet away, even when you’re not in the same room
What we like
It definitely gets a room cool
To test portable air conditioners, we set up a test chamber with temperature sensors in 11 locations. We began with a heated room, then turned on the PAC to 70°F at the max fan setting, and tracked changes in temperature over time.
As you can see, the room's initial temperature of ~80°F was cooled down to its target temperature of 70°F in under an hour, showing a significant drop in the room's temperature within the first 10–15 minutes. Again, these measurements are averages taken across the whole room. While our testing room was on the small side—about 180 sq. ft.—that's still a lot of air to churn through. We were impressed with the Pinguino's output and speed.
Cool Surround gets the room to ideal conditions wherever you are
This is one of the main features that sets the De’Longhi PACEX390LVYN Pinguino apart from its competitors. In most cases, portable air conditioners only have these sensors in the unit itself. This means that the area around the device will likely get cooled down to your specified settings, which is only desirable if you’re sitting right next to the A/C, and chances are, your part of the room is going to be hotter for longer.
The Pinguino is different, thanks to its Cool Surround system. This feature uses temperature and humidity sensors in the remote to determine when the A/C needs to go into overdrive and when it can relax into maintaining climate conditions. All you need to do is turn it on and then keep the remote with you: The machine keeps working until the area around you hits specified settings, giving you more options for where you park yourself on a hot day. No more sitting with your face in a vent to ensure your A/C is actually cooling you down!
What we don’t like
Getting it up stairs is difficult
One of the advantages of a portable air conditioner is the ability to take it with you as you move from room to room. Compare this to a window unit, which would require a cumbersome uninstallation, you to lug the heavy hardware elsewhere and then reinstall it again—probably more trouble than it’s worth. Some PACs are more portable than others, and the Pinguino is in the former group: We had no issues rolling it around on its casters.
This isn’t so much the case, however, if you need to move the unit up and down stairs, since the Pinguino weighs in at a hefty 83.33 lbs. While lighter than most window units rated for the same space, it’s pretty heavy for a portable A/C. So, if you have stairs in your house, this PAC might not be the best option for you.
What owners are saying
There aren’t a ton of retailers currently carrying user reviews of the Pinguino, but based on what’s available the general consensus seems to be mostly positive. The most common points of praise were its aesthetics, ease of installation, and effectiveness. In the negative reviews, the most common complaints centered around price, noise, and its portability. The most commonly cited quality in both positive and negative reviews was the unit's cooling efficacy, which garnered both effusive praise and heavy condemnation (with a higher frequency of the former).
Reading through the negative reviews for specifics, you get the sense that some of the owners’ issues might be due to not understanding when it makes sense to get a portable A/C versus installing a window A/C (we cover this in our guide to installing PACs if you need a refresher).
The Pinguino is covered by a two-year warranty, which is a welcome upgrade to the standard one-year warranty you see across most appliances.
Should you buy the De’Longhi PACEX390LVYN Pinguino?
Probably. As with any air conditioner purchase, there are a lot of factors to consider. If you know a portable air conditioner is the right choice for you and you’re mainly looking to cool larger rooms, the De’Longhi PACEX390LVYN Pinguino is hard to beat (if a bit of an investment). It looks great, and installation is straightforward. It’s relatively easy to push from room to room, has some serious cooling power, and is outfitted with interesting features you simply won’t find elsewhere. The Cool Surround mode is especially unique, because it makes the Pinguino even better at cooling down large rooms by calibrating the device based on where you’re sitting.
Of course, the extra power and one-of-a-kind features translate into the PAC's main downside: its price. As such, we probably wouldn’t recommend the Pinguino to those mainly looking to cool smaller rooms. This is a device geared towards cooling large areas: Outside of that context, the cooling power and features don’t provide as much value.
If you’re unsure how much power you need, we’d recommend checking out the Energy Star guidelines on the appropriate BTU for your room size.
Meet the testers
Mark Brezinski is a senior writer with seven years of experience reviewing consumer tech and home appliances.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed's core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" articles.
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