Review: ZERO BREEZE Mark 2 portable AC unit
You cool, man?
As the world continues to heat up due to the human race’s inability to temper its reliance on fuel systems that slowly burn us alive, we are always finding ways to cool down.
For the moment, a portable AC unit will have to do. The ZERO BREEZE Mark 2 is one such unit, functionally situational and a luxury for traversing the developed world.
After running a successful Indiegogo campaign, the ZERO BREEZE Mark 2 is now available to the public. As we lean into eternal summer around the country, a portable air conditioning unit sounds kind of nice.
Regardless, it does have its use cases and might not satisfy your imagination as it pertains to such a thing. It’s also got a massive battery on it, which explains that $1,499 price point. Let’s see how cool this thing really is.
The ZERO BREEZE Mark 2 cools all your sweaty crevices
Unlike the portable AC unit that your apartment complex dragged in when the apartment AC went out again, the Mark 2 will not cool an entire domicile. This thing is made for specific sized spaces, generally, outside of one we would consider a regular living space.
It’s designed for travel purposes; the selling points are tents, campers, trucks, boating, etc. This is not something you purchase to cool down an attic or basement. It simply cannot compete with the ambient atmosphere in large spaces, especially ones that trap heat.
The ZERO BREEZE Mark 2 pumps out 2300 BTU of cooling power. It’s quite honest about the limitations of that output in the spec sheet. It mentions that the heat generated by sunlight is 283.6 BTU/sq. ft. in a 25 sq. ft. area (the optimal cooling area handled by the Mark 2).
This equates to 7090 BTU, which is hotter than the Mark 2 can cool. An average car air conditioner pumps out 10,000 BTU. But if there is competent insulation or the sun is down, the Mark 2 can do the job. It’s an odd flex, but at least they’re honest about it
As mentioned, the optimal cooling space is 25-40 sq. ft. with some additional qualifications:
- Humidity at about 50%
- No direct sunlight
- Good insulation
- Ambient temperature no greater than 100F/38C
If these conditions are met, the Mark 2 can reduce the temperature by 9-22F/5-10C. Since I was unable to meet these conditions, having no small space to test the Mark 2, any estimations on relative coolness are just that.
Standing next to the unit or using it to cool my lower half while writing this review is effective. It gets hot in this office. It is a 180 sq. ft. room and outside the optimal range of the Mark 2.
However, I was still able to feel a bit of cold air. So I didn’t have to turn on the floor fan. I would not buy a portable air conditioner for this reason, but it does what it says. It sucks air through one tube, cools it with a compressor, and spits out heated air through another tube.
It should be noted that the refrigerant used in the unit (R134a hydrofluorocarbon) will be banned from use starting in 2024 in most HVAC units and in vehicles starting with 2021 model years, according to the EPA.
Venting, draining, and sounding
The Mark 2 portable AC runs at 52dB, but that doesn’t really register with the brain as to how loud or quiet it is. Basically, it sounds like a vacuum running in another room. A constant hum. Not overwhelming, but certainly there.
It certainly runs quieter than a traditional in-window unit. It’s a small price to pay to cool down your camping trailer or the cab of your semi-truck.
Like any air conditioning unit with a compressor, the Mark 2 generates water waste. It can store water inside for a few hours. Thankfully, there is a drainage tube that can be led outside or into an empty water bottle.
The internal circuits are only waterproof enough to sustain against general use, but not against long-term exposure. The Mark 2 needs to tilt back to drain, or the pipe should drain into something.
Venting didn’t cause a problem when testing because the space was too large for it to matter. If you are using the unit in a vehicle or camper, you will want to place the tubes in the included foam thingy and stick them out a window.
You don’t want that heated air spitting back into the space, creating more work for the Mark 2. This is a standard operation of any portable air conditioner and the reason in-window units are in the window.
That battery though
A massive 18650 lithium-ion battery pack can be docked with the Mark 2. This provides about five hours of use on six hours of charging.
Charging in the car would likely take a bit longer. Your best bet is to get a solar adapter, especially if you are using the Mark 2 for camping since you will be outside anyway.
Capacity runs at 24V 35Ah/840Wh. This doesn’t put it on par with an outdoor portable battery. It does serve well as a 12lb charging station with its USB-A and USB-C ports.
Of course, the more things you charge with it, the less power you’ll have for the Mark 2. But, it’s a good feature to have with a portable AC. Something that you might struggle to be able to plug in when on the go.
Is it cool enough?
As it dropped its temperature output to 59F, the five-year-old declared the Mark 2 to be simply awesome. Then he set it to strong mode (a rocket ship icon) with the included remote control.
The unit also has a light, fan mode, and sleep mode. All this is on the remote control and buttons on the unit itself. The display is bright and visible. Unless you have the extension tube on it, in which case you have to peer down the tube.
It’s not an unwieldy unit, but it’s not something you want to carry around while hiking through the woods. You’ll want to leave it covered in a blanket at the campsite, so the bears don’t steal it.
It’s a bit difficult to adjust the temperature. The temperature controls are the same buttons as the fan speed controls. A longer press changes the temp. However, the display doesn’t change at the same speed you press buttons, so it’s quite the guessing game.
Possibly posing some design issues, it would make more sense to have the fan speed and temperature control buttons separate from each other. It could have easily been an arrow key type layout. This alone creates frustration with the unit that shouldn’t exist.
Final thoughts on the ZERO BREEZE portable AC
Outside of an industrial air conditioner, there aren’t portable units on the market like the ZERO BREEZE Mark 2. It has a unique portable quality that doesn’t exist even with units that bill themselves as portable.
The price point is a bit higher than most so-called portable units. Those units aren’t designed for what the Mark 2 is designed for. Most are designed for closed, in-house spaces. The Mark 2 is designed to be taken with you.
Sure, you could get a tiny air conditioner for under $100, those are basically desk fans. Most portable air conditioners are stand-up units for cooling your feet at a LAN party with the boys. That is another use case for the Mark 2, aim it at your overheated PC in-between camping trips.
The ZERO BREEZE Mark 2 portable AC is available now on the company’s website for $1,499. At the time of writing, that’s the only place you can buy it.
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