The beauty of a portable air conditioner is that you can relocate one without lifting it, and you don’t need to block half your window to use it. This makes portable ACs a better cooling choice than window units, especially those who live in a homeowner association neighborhood or an apartment complex. However, a mobile unit does require outside ventilation.
Portable ACs Need Ventilation
Air conditioners produce cold air, but they also generate heat in the process. This heat must be directed somewhere other than the room where the AC is located; otherwise, the room won’t stay cool. Central air conditioner systems vent the heat through a home’s ductwork while window units get rid of the heat via the grille on its backside.
With portable air conditioners, the heat also goes outside of your home or apartment. These ACs use an exhaust hose that’s routed through a window, a door or a wall. However, a window is the easiest and most commonly used escape route for the heat produced by a portable air conditioner.
Exhaust Hose Setup
Almost every portable air conditioner manufacturer throws in an exhaust hose installation package with the AC. This package consists of the hose itself and an adjustable slider for the window. If the slider doesn’t have a hole for the hose, the kit will also have filler foam to seal the opening in the win. Most kits fit standard windows, including double-hung windows.
However, casement windows can prove challenging. For these windows, you can go to a big box hardware store to get a cheap piece of Plexiglas cut to size with an exhaust hole cut too. You also have the option of cutting a hole through an exterior wall and caulking the space around the hose as long as you choose a spot with no pipes or wires.
Modifying the Exhaust Hose
Even though exhaust hoses are stretchable, the maximum length of the average exhaust hose is about 4 or 5 feet. This means a portable AC must be placed close to a window. Although it’s tempting to put a longer hose on the AC to avoid rearranging furniture, doing so could lock up the compressor and overheat the air conditioner.
Forgoing the use of an exhaust hose leads to efficiency problems. The heat that would normally be routed out the window will be released into the room. In turn, the portable AC must work harder to cool the space, which may lead to premature failure of the unit.
Single-Hose Versus Dual-Hose Portable ACs
Portable air conditioners come in one of two exhaust configurations – single-hose or dual-hose. Like the name suggests, single-hose portable ACs come with one exhaust hose. This type of unit draws in the air from the room and cools it. The cool air is pushed back into the room while the hot air travels through the exhaust hose.
A dual-hose unit uses one hose for putting cold air into the room and another hose for releasing hot air out the window. Dual-hose portable air conditioners don’t need to work as hard to cool an area, making them great for spacious rooms. However, these ACs tend to use a little more electricity than their single-hose counterparts.
Condensation buildup happens no matter what kind of air conditioner you have. Like hot air, condensation must go somewhere. All portable ACs have a way to manually drain condensation whether it’s with a collection bucket or a drain plug.
Many portable units also offer continuous drainage. Some models automatically send condensation through the same exhaust hose through which the heat travels. However, drainage via a dedicated line is the most common automatic method. These portable air conditioners are equipped with a connection for a tube or garden hose. The other end of the tube can be secured to a drain or threaded through an opening in the nearest window, utilizing gravity to release the condensation.