Back in 2019, as part of my review of the Zero Breeze Mark II portable AC device, I invoked the holy name Tim Curry and one of his most amazing roles, Herkermer Homolka, in the 1995 camp classic Congo. (“It’s the lost city of Zinj. Which I’ve been looking for all my life.”) Shit with the talking gorilla and the fist-sized diamonds that just lay around the ground in the jungle, for me this was a movie about how to hold you cool when you’re out in boonies.
As I commented three years ago, the Zero Breeze Mark II was a partial manifestation of the portable air conditioners seen in that movie. But at 26 pounds with the battery plugged in, and at a price of $ 1,599, the bulky device was not practical for casual or mobile use. It was best suited for more stationary tasks such as cooling enclosed truck bearings or permanent structures such as a hot shed.
Recently, the company contacted me to say that things had changed with the Mark II, that the Mark II device I originally reviewed was actually a prototype, and that the final version is waaaaay better now. “In the future, the new generation of off-grid air conditioners will be more efficient and used in more scenarios,” wrote a vague and nameless rep at the company. “Now we are very pleased that Mark II is not only being used for motorhomes, truck stops, motorhomes, etc., but we are also getting feedback from very specific people.”
I do not know what any of it means, but I said I would look at the updated product to see what has happened to it over time.
In the big picture, not much. This is not a Zero Breeze Mark III, but rather a Zero Breeze Mark II.1 release, with some minor cosmetic upgrades and a number of new features that enhance its usability. Otherwise, it is basically the same product as before.
Let’s start with what hasn’t changed much. The overall design remains identical, a silver-colored gearbox-meets-snowblower design that still measures about 20 by 13 by 8 inches. A solid 35-Ah / 840-Wh battery attaches to the bottom of the device so you can take it with you on the go. As with the original Mark II, the battery still needs to be connected to the fan with a small pigtail cable, a confusing and unnecessary complexity. When I weighed the system with its battery back in 2019, I gained a total weight of 26 pounds. Today’s weighing came in at a surprising 30 pounds, which is even 1.5 pounds heavier than the unit’s stated specifications.
As for the changes, the biggest one is visible right when you unpack it: The new Mark II can still operate without a battery through its A / C adapter, but you no longer need an additional power adapter to charge the battery. The same power adapter can operate both devices. No, you can still not charge the battery and operate the air conditioner at the same time, but eliminating the need for two separate adapters is an excellent solution.
A few new accessories come in the box, including a drain pipe so that condensate does not drip over your tent and a third pull-out ventilation pipe over the original pair. Two of these pipes can be used to direct hot exhaust to the open air; the new third tube attaches to the cold air outlet and lets you direct it to another place so you do not have to sit right next to it (still loud, but maybe a little quieter) Mark II to be in the cold air blowing zone . The battery pack also includes a USB-C port for charging personal devices, in addition to two USB-A ports and a 12-volt DC connector.
But the best news is that Zero Breeze still works pretty well, though I could not discern any real functional difference from before. If you do not mind the noise, the system can blow cold air at a fairly healthy cut, and the less space, the more efficient the cooling. A thermostat on the front shows the temperature of the air coming out of the unit and it drops surprisingly quickly below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Battery life seems to have improved a bit, based on my testing with the new device. I ran the device from a fully charged cell and got over four hours of operating time at maximum power before the device started to go out, compared to about 3½ hours on the 2019 device. Turn down the output level and of course you can stretch the driving time a bit.
All of this brings us to the big question, and it’s the same as before: Who should use this thing? Glamping sounds much more acceptable when climate control is on the table, but much less acceptable when your yurt is filled with the corresponding noise from a pair of hair dryers. The $ 100 price reduction since 2019 reduces at least some of the sting caused by all the rackets.