Back in 2019, As part of my review of the Zero Breeze Mark II portable AC unit, I referenced Tim Curry’s holy name and one of his best characters, Herkermer Homolka, in the 1995 camp classic Congo(“This is the lost city of Zinj. I’ve been looking for it my whole life.”) Never mind the talking gorillas and fist-sized diamonds strewn across the jungle floor, for me this is a movie about how to get out keep calm.
As I reviewed three years ago, the Zero Breeze Mark II was part of the portable air conditioner in that movie. However, at 26 pounds with the battery attached and costing $1,599, this bulky device isn’t suitable for casual or mobile use. It’s best suited for more stationary pursuits, such as cooling an enclosed truck bed or permanent structures like a thermal shed.
Recently the company contacted me to say that things have changed with the Mark II, the Mark II unit I originally reviewed was actually a prototype, and the final version is much better now. “In the future, a new generation of off-grid air conditioners will be more efficient and used in more scenarios,” wrote a vague representative of the company. “Now, we’re delighted that the Mark II is not only being used in RVs, truck stops, campers, etc., but we’re getting feedback from very specific people.”
I don’t know what that means, but I did say I’ll check out the updated product to see what happens over time.
From a macro perspective, not a lot. This is not the Zero Breeze Mark III, but the Zero Breeze Mark II.1 version, with some minor cosmetic upgrades and some new features that improve its usability. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same as the previous product.
Let’s start with not much change. The overall design remains the same, with the silver tackle box combined with the snow blower still measuring approximately 20 x 13 x 8 inches. A massive 35-Ah/840-Wh battery attaches to the bottom of the device for easy portability on the go. As with the original Mark II, the battery still had to be connected to the blower via a small pigtail cable, a baffling and unnecessary complication. When I weighed the system with batteries in 2019, my total weight was 26 lbs. Today’s weigh-in is an astonishing 30 pounds, even 1.5 pounds heavier than the device’s stated specs.
As for the changes, the biggest one is when you unbox it: the new Mark II can still run without a battery via its A/C adapter, but you no longer need a second power adapter to charge the battery . The same power adapter can operate both devices at the same time. No, you still can’t charge the battery and run the air conditioner at the same time, but not having two separate adapters is a good solution.
A pair of new accessories are included in the box, including a drain tube so condensation doesn’t drip into your tent, and a third retractable vent tube in addition to the original pair. Two of the ducts can be used to get hot exhaust air outside; a new third duct connects to the cool air output, letting you direct it elsewhere so you don’t have to sit on the (still big but probably quieter) Mark II next to it for access to the cool air jetting area. In addition to two USB-A ports and a 12-volt DC outlet, the battery pack includes a USB-C port for charging personal devices.
But the best news is that the Zero Breeze still works well, although I can’t discern any real functional difference from the previous one. If you don’t mind the noise, the system blows out cool air with a very healthy clip, and the less space you have, the better the cooling. The front thermostat showed the unit’s air temperature, which dropped to below 60 degrees Fahrenheit at an alarming rate. Based on my testing of the new device, battery life seems to have improved slightly. I ran the device from a fully charged battery for over four hours at maximum power before the device started to wear off, compared to about 3½ hours in 2019. Of course, by turning down the output level, you can extend the run time.
All of this brings us to the big question, as before: who’s going to use this thing? Glamping sounds more tolerable when the climate control is on the table, but even more unbearable when your yurt is filled with the equivalent of several hair dryers. The $100 price cut since 2019 has at least reduced some of the sting from all rackets.