If you’re looking to cool a room or small space, a portable air conditioner can do the job. It effectively cools the air, circulates it, and removes excess humidity. We’ll now answer the question, “How do portable air conditioners work?” in more detail to help you decide on whether to install one.
A portable AC is typically a single freestanding unit with wheels or casters at the bottom. It has a fan that pulls in hot, humid air from the room. Inside the unit, heat is transferred to refrigerant running through the condenser coils. At the same time, water vapor condenses on the coils, removing humidity. The refrigerant turns into a high-pressure gas that eventually releases the heat that’s absorbed from the air.
Moisture that is collected by the system is removed by emptying an internal water reservoir. But many portable air conditioners have an exhaust hose that vents moisture and heat outside. Depending on the model, it may require a separate window venting kit, or it may direct exhaust through an existing air duct.
Some portable ACs use a single hose that removes warm air and moisture. Others have a dual-hose configuration; one hose pulls in fresh air from outside (to cool the compressor and condenser coils) and the second hose pulls excess warm air and moisture from the unit and releases it outside. A dual-hose unit can often cool a room more quickly without creating negative pressure.
Depending on the model, a portable air conditioner can be remotely controlled, operate in fan mode only, or cool a room to a set temperature. Units with a timer can start or stop depending on the time of day. Other products can dehumidify the air without being set to cool, while others move side to side to help distribute cool air.
The installation requirements will vary depending on the model you purchase. Most units are easy to set up. Just remember to consider the following requirements:
Portable AC units are designed to be vented out a window. This is how portable air conditioners work. Hot air must be vented somewhere; if that’s not a window, a hose can be directed up a chimney or through a hole in the wall. However, it’s not recommended to change the length of the hose, as it’s designed specifically for that machine (doing so can overheat the unit or void the warranty). If you must run the hose through a sliding glass door, purchase an extension kit suited for the model and use styrofoam or plywood to fill the void around the hose.
The drainage method depends on the unit. If you have a self-evaporative, portable AC, moisture will evaporate out of the exhaust hose. Some systems have a gravity drain that eliminates water that’s pulled down and out of the unit by gravity. A condensate pump can be used to collect water so you can dispose of it. If your portable unit has a collection tank, it will collect moisture inside. To empty it, turn off the AC, remove the collection bucket, and empty it before placing it back in the unit.
Maintaining a portable AC is simple and can help it work better and last longer. First, unplug the unit to eliminate any shock or fire hazards. Then follow these tips to care for your portable cooling system:
A portable air conditioner can be a convenient and effective way to stay cool, depending on your needs. It’ll cool a room and vent heat and moisture out a window when properly installed and maintained. However, it’s just one of many options for cooling a home or office. NexGen provides professional air conditioning services in Southern California and high-quality central, window, and packaged units as well as ductless mini-split equipment and heat pumps.
Our licensed technicians help install, repair and maintain all system components. They can also provide advice on the right type and size of the system for you. Our team will fully explain all your options. If you have additional questions or want to schedule service, call NexGen at 833-729-9735 today.