Frequently Asked Questions About Portable Air Conditioners
Portable Air Conditioners
- What is a portable air conditioner?
- Do portable air conditioners require venting?
- Can't I just let the portable air conditioner run without a vent?
- How do I use the window venting kit? Does it fit my window?
- How long is the exhaust hose that the portable air conditioner comes with?
- How can I extend the exhaust hose?
- Can I vent a portable air conditioner out a dryer vent?
- Do heat/cool models work as well as cool-only PACs?
- Do I need to vent a heat/cool PAC in heating mode?
- Why do portable air conditioners collect water?
- If I use the external drain option, how far can the water drain?
- What type of electricity do portable air conditioners use?
- Are portable air conditioners energy efficient?
- Can I use a portable air conditioner to cool my server room?
- Is a portable air cooler the same thing as a portable air conditioner?
- How can I decide which unit is right for me?
- Is a portable air conditioner the right choice for me?
What is a portable air conditioner?
A portable air conditioner is an air conditioner that is mobile. Unlike window, through-the-wall, or central air conditioning units, portable air conditioners do not require permanent installation. Commonly, these units have caster wheels for easy portability and are 28" to 34" tall.
Do portable air conditioners require venting?
Yes, all portable air conditioners need to vent the hot air they remove from the room. These units commonly come with hoses to vent the exhaust and window filler kits to allow you to properly vent out of most windows. However, you do not need to vent the hot air out a window. The window venting kits also fit most sliding glass doors, or you may make a custom modification and vent the exhaust through a wall or into a drop ceiling. For these applications, you may have to extend the vent hose.
Can't I just let the portable air conditioner run without a vent?
Portable air conditioners are designed to operate with a vent. If you do not vent the hot air that the machine is pumping out somewhere (other than the same room that you are trying to cool), the portable air conditioner will not be able to cool very effectively at all. If one of these machines is run in a room without a vent, the best-case scenario would be that the area immediately in front of the machine would get cooled, but the area behind the machine would get very hot, so the room would not really get cool at all.
How do I use the window venting kit? Does it fit my window?
The window venting kit is essentially a "filler" kit to allow the end of the exhaust hose to vent out the window without allowing hot air from the outside in around the vent hose. The window vent kits fit most windows and glass doors that slide to open (this includes sliding glass doors and windows that slide both vertically and horizontally). These units do not come with a filler kit to fit casement (crank-out) windows, but with a little ingenuity, you should be able to devise some sort of filler kit.
How long is the exhaust hose that the portable air conditioner comes with?
Exhaust hose lengths vary by model, but generally they are 4-7 feet in length. They are made of a temperature-resistant plastic reinforced with metal.
How can I extend the exhaust hose?
You may purchase more exhaust hosing at your local hardware store and either replace the hose entirely or connect the hose provided with the portable air conditioner to the new hose. The new hosing must be the same diameter as the exhaust hose provided with the unit. If you cannot find a similar hose, plastic piping can be used. However, you should note that the longer the exhaust hose gets, the less efficiently the portable air conditioner will cool. Generally speaking, you should avoid making the exhaust hose longer than 9-10 feet unless you devise some sort of exhaust fan to help clear the exhaust hose. Also please note that any 90° or greater turns in the exhaust hose substantially decrease the effective length of the exhaust hose.
Can I vent a portable air conditioner out a dryer vent?
Generally, this is not recommended by the manufacturer, especially if the diameter of the vent hose is greater than the diameter of the dryer vent. A standard dryer vent is 4". Most portable air conditioners have 5" exhaust hoses. Some units have smaller diameter vent hoses and these units may be vented out a dryer vent. However, you should not use the external part of the dryer vent that has flaps, as the compressor is not strong enough to push these flaps open. If you need to cover that exterior opening of the vent, we recommend using a screen.
Do heat/cool models work as well as cool-only PACs?
Yes, heat/cool PACs are just as effective at cooling as regular cool-only models. Heat/cool units take the standard cooling functionality of a portable air conditioner and reverse the cooling process to produce heat, so cooling capacity is not sacrificed.
Do I need to vent a heat/cool PAC in heating mode?
Since heat/cool portable air conditioners work to heat a room by reversing their cooling process, a vent is still needed to remove cold air from the room for effective heating.
Why do portable air conditioners collect water?
As portable air conditioners cool the air, they also dehumidify it. The water they condense out of the air is dripped into some sort of internal reservoir or exhausted out the exhaust hose. Most portable air conditioners collect some or all of the water they condense out of the air internally. These portable air conditioners also have an option to accept a drain line for a continuously draining connection.
Another option is a new line of portable air conditioners called "No Drip" that exhaust the water back into the air. These are a more attractive option for people who do not want to hassle with emptying a bucket or tray.
If I use the external drain option, how far can the water drain?
None of the portable air conditioners that we carry come with drain pumps- they all come with gravity drains. This means that the water can drain "down hill", and as far away from the machine as gravity will take it. Commonly, the drain line is run to the outside or to a large bucket that is then periodically emptied. If you would like a drain pump so you can drain the water to somewhere farther away or "up hill", we do offer a separate pump.
What type of electricity do portable air conditioners use?
All of the portable air conditioners that we carry operate on 115 Volt/ 60 Hertz. This is standard household voltage. These units come with a "three prong" grounded plug.
Are portable air conditioners energy efficient?
A good rule of thumb is to look at the Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of the air conditioner you are purchasing. The higher the EER, the more energy efficient the air conditioner.
To look at energy efficiency another way, consider this: A portable air conditioner allows you to cool one area. If you have central air and you want just this one area cooled, you would have to lower the temperature of the entire house as well. So, if you have a home or apartment and you want to keep just a single room cool, a portable air conditioner can save a lot of energy.
Can I use a portable air conditioner to cool my server room?
Although these are not industrial machines, this is an excellent use for a portable air conditioner. Even with central air, computer server rooms have more robust cooling needs than other parts of the building tend to require. A portable air conditioner works well to boost the cooling in a server room
Is a portable air cooler the same thing as a portable air conditioner?
No. An air cooler uses water and evaporative cooling to lower the temperature of its airstream, often by as much as 12°F. However, air coolers will not lower the temperature in a room- they only make it feel cooler in the airstream provided by the unit. Additionally, you must add water to evaporative coolers for maximum effectiveness, and they do not need to be vented.
What size room do you need to cool?
If you get a unit that doesn't have enough capacity to properly cool your room, it will probably run all the time and not lower the temperature as much as you would like. On the other hand, if you get a unit that is substantially too powerful, it will run for too short a time, quickly bringing the room to the desired temperature and the compressor will shut off. Under this scenario, the compressor may not run long enough to properly dehumidify your room, and your room will be the desired temperature, but you may have a higher humidity level than you'd like. Also please note that the room sizes that each machine is rated for are approximations and high levels of sun, high ceilings, or the presence of people, computers, machinery, and the like will increase the cooling burden in the room. Also, most portable air conditioners have different fan settings to help alleviate the problem of too much cooling power.
Are you going to move the portable air conditioner from room to room?
If you are moving a portable air conditioner often, you should consider the cooling needs of the different rooms that you will be using it in and try to get a model that bridges your needs well.
Consider whether you want a unit that drips all the moisture it collects, a unit that exhausts all the moisture, or one that combines the two approaches.
A portable air conditioner that drips all condensation will need to be emptied more often, but it will exhaust warm, dry air. A unit that exhausts all moisture will never need to be emptied, but the air it exhausts will be moist, and should not be vented somewhere that this moisture would create a problem (such as a dropped ceiling). These units also tend to be a bit more expensive. Finally, a unit that combines these approaches will not have to be emptied of water as often as a model that drips all its moisture, but it will still exhaust a somewhat moist air stream.
Is a portable air conditioner the right choice for me?
Portable air conditioners are great for specialized applications where central air or conventional window air conditioners are unfeasible or too expensive. If you have an area that needs cooling, but conventional air conditioners won't work for you, a portable air conditioner could be the answer you are looking for.