window air conditioning units

Do Portable Air Conditioners Need to Be Vented out a Window?

Cool air during warm weather is a high priority for most of us, though not everyone has the luxury of central air conditioning. To deal with the discomfort of excessive heat, people often turn to portable air conditioning units. This can be a great solution, but it begs the question of how to vent out the warm air created from running a portable air conditioning unit. In this article, we’ll cover this question thoroughly to give you an optimal experience with your portable AC unit.

If you’re looking for the best ventless air coolers, check out this guide, or learn about the best portable air conditioners, best window air conditioners, and best swamp coolers.

Is It Necessary to Vent Your Portable Air Conditioning Unit?

It’s very possible to run your portable air conditioning unit without venting out the hot air that it collects. However, that negates the cooling effect of the air conditioner.

The main purpose of air conditioning is to cool a warm area. To do that, air conditioning units use a cooling agent called refrigerant that absorbs the heat from the air, using a fan to redistribute that cool air. At the same time, this process creates heat that needs to be vented somewhere, usually moved as exhaust.

If that warm air isn’t vented outside, it’ll stay in the same area, cancelling out the new cool air. With no outside ventilation, you’ll end up feeding your unit recycled hot air. That’s why you need to use a hose to vent that warm air from a portable AC unit outside.

So is there a solution without an exhaust hose?

Portable evaporate coolers (also called swamp coolers) are a cooling solution that don’t require much ventilation. They require less energy than air conditioners but aren’t as powerful and only work in areas with low humidity.

Small evaporative air coolers, often called ventless air coolers, can be used as personal cooling devices but don’t pack the same punch.

How to Vent a Portable AC Unit

Most portable air conditioning units are easy to install and include a kit that helps you vent the warm air it receives. You’ll need to install your unit near a window to give it a proper place to vent. For casement windows or sliding windows, you may need an adapter.

Attach the hose to the unit and direct it toward the window. Extend the adjustable window kit to the proper length for your window’s area and close your window over it to secure it in place. Then, simply connect the other end of the exhaust hose to the opening that leads outdoors. Unless you have a window unit, you won’t normally need to remove the screen. You’re now ready to use your portable AC unit!

Location Information

When venting your AC unit, it is important to find the best location to allow for proper circulation and to avoid the intake of contaminated air. The bottom of the exhaust hose should be at least 8 inches above or below horizontal surfaces, such as the ground or the roof. This will help avoid blockages from snow or leaves.

The intake should be at least 25 feet from sources of air contamination such as garbage receptacles, sewers, loading docks, or steamer areas. Staying far away from contaminated air sources will minimize the uncomfortable odor that accompanies these types of areas.

When installing your AC unit, you’ll also want to avoid areas where birds, rodents or other animals are likely to build their nests. Waste from animals or rodents may cause health and breathing concerns if it’s circulated through your venting system. It can also disrupt proper operation of your system and can be overall unsanitary.

Be mindful of wherever you choose to install your unit to avoid hazardous areas.

Taking these suggestions into consideration when installing your portable air conditioning unit will allow you to enjoy the comfort of your unit without unnecessary drawbacks. Adhering to these tips will also extend the life span of your unit so it’ll continue to serve you well for years to come.

Still have questions? Ask an HVAC expert directly via chat or phone.

Published on 2018-10-05 by Ben Travis

Last updated on 2020-06-08

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