How Do Portable Air Conditioners Work and Types

Portable air conditioners are movable units of cooling devices that are usually designed with wheels to ensure movability. They are much easier to install than standard AC units and are a better option than ceiling fans when peak summer shows up.

They are mainly known for performing two tasks: cooling down one of two rooms, and getting rid of the humidity in small areas. Therefore, only the word “portable” shouldn’t be emphasized when it comes to portable air conditioners. There’s much more to these efficient machines. 

How Do Portable Air Conditioners Work?

A portable air conditioner draws hot air from the room into the machine, cools the air, and then evacuates it back into the room through the exhaust duct.

For the process to take place, there are three key components that every portable air conditioner has: a refrigerant that cools the air, a compressor that compresses the refrigerant, and a fan to swirl the air. 

Apart from these, the compressor coils play a huge role (which you will see below). One thing you need to keep in mind is the compressor coils tend to get dirty which makes the mechanism of the portable air conditioner harder.

This is because when the compressor coils are dirty, the refrigerant is unable to absorb sufficient heat from the room the portable air conditioner is placed in. 

Here’s a step-by-step portrayal of how a portable air conditioner works:

Step 1:

The fan spins around and draws in the hot air from the room into the machine. 

Step 2:

The cold coils inside the portable air conditioner then condense the hot air, extract the moisture, and convert the heat to the refrigerant. These coils are also known as evaporator coils because they help to turn the refrigerant liquid into a gas. 

Step 3:

The converted cool air is then dispelled into the room. 

Step 4:

Moisture gets collected from the air which either needs to be vented out at this point or removed from the bucket manually. 

Step 5:

The refrigerant is being compressed in the compressor coils and the heat is released through the exhaust vent. And the cycle repeats.

What Are The Different Types Of Portable Air Conditioners

1. Single Hose Units

Single hose units are the most common type of portable air conditioners that are ideal for small areas. These machines have a single hose which is usually installed through a wall or window.

Although they are the most common ones they may not be the most efficient because they make hot air rush in from outside the room even through cracks creating a negative pressure in the room. 

2. Dual Hose Units

Dual hose units are more difficult to install than single-hose units. However, they are more effective. These machines use one hose to draw in hot air and the other one to release cool air into the room it is installed in.

Therefore, they do not cause any negative pressure in the room. Dual hose units are effective in large areas as well. Although they are more expensive than single-hose units they ensure higher energy efficiency and offer quicker cooling.

3. Windowless Portable Air Conditioners

As the name suggests, these portable air conditioners do not have to be placed on the windowsill as you can just connect them to the window using a single hose. However, they are not that effective in really hot climates because they take a long time to cool the room. 

4. Ventless Portable Air Conditioners

These portable air conditioners have a reservoir which has to be filled with water. When the machine is processing the hot air the moisture is collected in the same reservoir. Then, the collected water is evaporated to reduce the temperature of the room.

How Can You Improve The Efficiency Of Portable Air Conditioners?

While you need a high-performing portable air conditioner in hot climates or small rooms, there are ways you can improve the efficiency of the machine as well. The most important thing is to vent the unit correctly so that it provides its peak performance.

The placement of the unit plays a vital role as well because this will ensure the optimal cooling of the space it is placed in. For the placement to be ideal, you should consider the area where it’s placed as well as the capacity of the machine. 

Also, you must clean the portable air conditioner periodically to prevent dust getting accumulated over time. And last, but certainly not least, you must keep all the entry points in the room closed while you’re running the portable air conditioner so that it doesn’t continuously draw hot air through any cracks.

Portable Air Conditioners FAQs

Q. Do you need to vent portable air conditioners?

A. Yes. Portable air conditioners must be vented because it accumulates warm air. 

Q. Is a portable air conditioner noisy?

A. The noise created by a portable air conditioner is quite similar to that of a window AC unit. However, you can find out how noisy it would be based on the decibel level. Most of them will have a rating between 48dB and 60dB, where the latter is similar to the noise created during normal conversations.

Q. Are portable air conditioners environmentally-friendly?

A. To determine that you should look at the Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) on the machine. The higher the rating the more environmentally-friendly the machine is. 

Final Words

Portable air conditioners come in handy when you live in a small apartment with tiny rooms. Unlike a window unit that needs to be placed on the window sill, you can place portable air conditioners wherever you prefer. They are just like mini-fridges on wheels.

So if you live in a tight space and you want to keep your windows free, consider getting a portable air conditioner because not only do they cool down the room but they also dehumidify it.

Featured image credit: Phovoir

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