What is a Portable Air Conditioner (PAC)?
A Portable Air Conditioner (PAC) is most comparable to a window air conditioner unit, but rather than inserting it into a window frame, it is constructed with wheels and can be locomoted from room to room. Similar to window units, PACs must release excess heat to the outdoors. Newer portable air conditioners are built with an easy-to-install window kit and exhaust hose that can be quickly installed into your window or door (door may need extra door extension kit). You can choose from a range of PACs, from those built to cool down small bedrooms to powerful units that tackle large spaces. Additionally, some models convert into dehumidifiers for wet seasons and heaters for winter.
How does a portable air conditioner vent to the outdoors?
Most PACs arrive with an exhaust hose and a window kit. The exhaust hose is approximately 4 ft. long and extends from the back of your unit to a window or sliding door. The window kit contains a sliding panel that can be extended or trimmed to fit your window opening. Our standard window kit is sized to fit window frames up a 49.6” and can be used in horizontal slider windows or single- and double-hung windows. A sliding door accessory can be purchased separately, enabling your PAC to be connected to a sliding doorway.
How do portable air conditioners differ from other forms of air conditioning?
The core difference between portable air conditioning and other forms of air conditioning – such as central air or window AC – is its ability to locomote from room to room. When summer arrives, you can choose the specific rooms in your home to cool down, and this can lead to cost savings. Rather than cooling down the entire home as you would with central air, or purchasing multiple units as you would with window AC, you can switch between the rooms you most occupy. Additionally, the installation process is easier than window units since it does not require the same heavy lifting.
How portable is it – can I carry it around my home?
Although these units are referred to as portable air conditioners, they can be quite heavy to lift. Most PACs are constructed with smooth-gliding caster wheels that roll evenly across the floor and from room to room. However, you may need assistance getting the heavier models up and down the stairs.
Are there any restrictions in placing a portable air conditioner?
Your PAC must be connected by the 4 ft. exhaust hose to a window or door. The exhaust hose can neither be too tightly extended nor too tightly coiled, so you’d need to place the unit within a 20” to 40” distance from your venting outlet. As with any air circulation unit, avoid tightly enclosed spaces to ensure effective airflow.
Do portable air conditioners require manual drainage?
All portable air conditioners convert hot air into liquid condensation. Some portable units collect the condensation into an internal tank or funnel it out through a drainage tube. These systems require frequent attendance. More advanced units convert the condensation into water vapor and evaporate it through the exhaust hose and into the outdoors, eliminating the need for manual drainage. These units are described as having an auto- evaporative or self-evaporating hose. In climates with acute humidity, these self-evaporating units may still accumulate a small amount of condensation inside the unit and need manual drainage.
How many BTUs does my space need?
A BTU (British Thermal Unit) is a standard unit of energy that measures the amount of heat per hour an air conditioner removes from a room. The larger the room, the higher the BTU requirement.
Below, are some general guidelines. However other factors - such as the number of open doorways, a south-facing window with continuous sunlight, or a room with high occupancy – can require a unit with a higher BTU rating than the average guidelines.
|Room Size in sq. ft.||BTU|
Do PACs need specific electrical requirements?
PACs use regular household 115/120 V power. However, because they are large-draw appliances, you may need a dedicated circuit so you don’t overload your electrical system. Never use an extension cord or power adapter to power a portable air conditioner.
Do portable air conditioners consume a lot of energy?
Air conditioners, including portable air conditioners, are complex machines and heavy power users. However, energy savings can lie in your usage of the technology. Choosing to cool down a single room with a portable air conditioner rather than switching on whole-house central air could result in significant cost savings.
How loud are portable air conditioners?
Most portable air conditioners measure around the 50 dBA range. That's the sounds of a dishwasher or a quiet, urban street.
What’s the difference between single hose or dual hose units?
In a dual hose system, one hose is constantly cooling the room while the other hose is constantly extracting hot air – as opposed to a single hose system which is doing double duty. This makes dual hose units faster and more efficient in their cooling power. On the other hand, they tend to be louder and consume more electricity than single hose.
Are PACs only beneficial during the summer season?
Depending on the model, portable air conditioners can also convert into dehumidifiers, extracting humidity without the cooling feature. This can be useful in the colder, wetter seasons if your space is prone to mold or mildew. Some PAC models are also equipped with a heating element, transforming the unit into a secondary heating source for winter.
What is the typical operation routine for a portable air conditioner?
Once your portable air conditioner is connected to your window, you can simply plug and play. Different models will have control options, like multiple fan speeds, timers, fan-only mode or dehumidifier mode. Drainage will depend on your model too: some require manual drainage while others have an auto evaporative hose.
Can I vent a portable air conditioner out of a casement or crank window?
Unfortunately, a casement or crank window frame cannot support the window kit.
Can I vent the portable air conditioner through a sliding door?
Yes, you could vent your portable air conditioner out of a sliding door. You’ll need to purchase a window kit accessory designed for this greater width.
Should I remove the insect screen after installing the window kit?
The air flow will work better without the obstruction of the insect screen. We suggest removing the screen.
Can I use a portable air conditioner in a room without a window?
No, the heat needs a way to exit the room. If the unit does not release the heat, it becomes equivalent to a fan, recirculating the same hot air around. That's why venting is necessary: the exhaust hose is removing heat so that your space becomes cool.
Can I vent the portable air conditioner into another room?
The exhaust hose extracts the heat from your current room to the outdoors. Technically you could exhaust the hose into an adjoining room—however, that room will accumulate all the heat that is being extracted.
Can I add an extension to the exhaust hose so it can reach further?
Only use the installation kit provided by the manufacturer. Most manufacturer's warn against the extension of the exhaust hose. Improper installation could void any existing warranties. Furthermore, the longer the exhaust is, the less effective it will be in removing the heat from your room. We don’t suggest it.
How can I improve the performance of my portable air conditioner?
Several factors can affect the performance of your portable air conditioner. Foremost is whether your unit’s BTU is suitable for your space. An inadequate BTU will not result in cooling. Other factors can affect performance, too: rooms with large open doorways or within open-plan spaces; rooms with poor insulation or high ceilings; south-facing rooms with copious direct sunlight. If any of these are the case, see if you can tighten up the insulation and overall boundaries, and add light-colored window coverings. Another factor is room occupancy. Crowded rooms will be hotter and require a more powerful unit to cool down.
My portable air conditioner is not cooling down my space. Why?
Run through this troubleshooting checklist:
- Check your unit’s BTU with your square footage and ceiling height.
- Determine if your room has many openings – doorways or windows.
- Determine if your walls and flooring are poorly insulated.
- Does your room receive a lot of strong, direct sunlight?
- Is your room often crowded?
What is the typical maintenance routine for a portable air conditioner?
Routine cleaning is an excellent way to prolong the life of your portable air conditioner. Periodically, wipe down the exterior with a damp cloth so it doesn’t accumulate dirt or grime. Weekly, remove and empty out the internal condensation collection tank, rinse and wipe down to prevent any buildup of bacteria. Portable air conditioners usually are equipped with dust filters or active carbon filters. Depending on the model, these may be washable in warm water or may need to be replaced seasonally.
Can a PAC cool more than one room?
A portable AC is designed to cool one room efficiently and the room size depends on the BTU cooling capacity. If you need cooling in another room you can try adding a fan to help circulate the air into other rooms. However, this may reduce the cooling effect of the original room as the cooled air must be spread across a larger area that may be bigger than it was designed for.
Will my air conditioner work in all seasons? Is there an option of a heating mode?
Yes, some PAC models are equipped with a heat pump allowing you to use your air conditioner all year round - even during the winter. The heat pump reverses the cycle of air so that cold air is expelled outside through the window exhaust hose while warm air is pumped into your room. The adjustable temperature range for the heating mode is between 61°F and 77°F (16°C and 25°C).
It is important to note that a heat pump is different from an electric heater. Heat pumps become less effective as the ambient temperature becomes colder. Portable ACs that have heat pump function are recommended for use as a heater only when ambient room temperatures are 50°F (10°C) or warmer. Therefore, they are not recommended as the main heating unit in rooms located in colder, more northern cities. However, in rooms with less extreme cold temperatures, they make a great heating companion and consume less electricity than conventional electric heaters.
What added benefits does my portable air conditioner offer?
Portable Air Conditioners are easy-to-use handy devices that can be moved around from one place to the other with ease. A portable air conditioner will naturally reduce humidity indoors, which is perfect for hot, humid summer weather. An additional fan mode can help circulate air throughout the room even when you have turned off air conditioning cooling.