How Does a Portable Air Conditioner Work

Portable air conditioners are fantastic devices that can provide effective cooling for your home or office. These small cooling unit models can sit in the corner of your living room and provide a constant flow of cool air during those scorching hot days.

But how does a portable air conditioner work? These devices are relatively complex, but they do have a simple operation that we have explained below. We have also provided a range of tips for your benefit so you can get the most from your AC unit and use it properly – enjoy!

Understanding Portable Air Conditioners – The Three Basic Functions

To understand portable AC units, we can break their function down into three main processes: pulling hot air from the room, cooling the hot air, and venting excess hot air. This trio of processes forms the cornerstone of how air conditioner units work. We look at these air conditioner features below:

1. Pull Hot Air From the Room

Firstly, the portable air conditioners must have warm air to cool. Without a constant intake of warm air, the portable AC unit has nothing to cool! Inside the air conditioning units, there is a fan. This intake fan spins incredibly fast and draws hot air from the room where the air conditioning unit is positioned.

For the fan and whole cooling system to work, the portable air conditioner must be plugged into a mains power outlet. Typically, a 115 to a 120-volt outlet is needed for the power source. This is also something you must bear in mind when choosing an air conditioning system – the amount of electricity it will use and what it will cost.

The keys to this first process are the hot air and the fan. Hot air typically contains moisture and is humid. It is this moisture and humidity that air conditioners use and gets rid of as part of the cooling process.

Generally, the hot air is drawn in through a large vent grill on the front of the air system. Also, behind the intake air vent, there is an air filter. As they eliminate dust, germs, and other objects like hair, filters are a crucial component of air conditioning. Without a filter, the air that is being cooled would be dirty and could cause health issues.

2. Cool the Hot Air Into Cold Air

Once the hot humid air has been drawn into the portable AC unit, it must be cooled. This process is achieved by condenser coils. Condenser coils and the compressor serve a dual purpose. First, the coils and cooling pipes cool the hot air.

This is achieved via a refrigerant that runs through the cooling pipes. To generate the cooling power, however, there must be a compressor. The compressor compresses the refrigerant. Without this process, the refrigerant wouldn’t work.

3. Push Excess Hot Air and Moisture From the Room

The excess heat and moisture that is removed from the air via the cooling process must obviously go somewhere. If it simply stopped inside the system, portable air conditioners would not work.

As a result, all portable air conditioners have a vent hose. This is a large circular tube that the excess warm air can travel through. The exhaust pipe or drain hose must be vented somewhere else and not in the same room where the portable AC unit is located.

draining a water drip tray The most common place for hose units to be positioned is out of a window. However, you can place hose units into a dryer vent, through a ceiling, or a designated hole in your wall to the outside. This is something you must consider when buying a portable air conditioner – where will the exhaust hose and hose system go, and do you have a proper exit point for it to vent?

Also, excess moisture must go somewhere too. Some portable air conditioners are self-evaporating. This means they have ways in which the moisture is evaporated. Alternatively, most air conditioners work on the premise that you have to occasionally empty a water drip tray.

4. Circulate the Cold Air Around the Room

Finally, the cold air that has been stripped of moisture and heat must then be circulated around your room. This is simply done by an output fan. The cold air is gradually circulated throughout your room to lower the overall temperature.

Different Types of Portable Air Conditioner

Now that you understand how portable air conditioners work, we can look at the different types of portable air conditioners.

Single Hose

The most common type of portable air conditioners is single-hose models. This type of unit has one exhaust. It takes warm air in from the room, pushes it through the cooling and condensing system, and then vents the excess warm air outside. These are less effective, however, since the air is being taken from the room, it can cause an imbalance in pressure. As a result, this can reduce the overall effectiveness of the unit as it has to work harder to take the air in.

Dual Hose

More efficient models are the dual hose variation. These portable air conditioners utilise the same processes; however, they have one difference. These portable air conditioners work by taking warm air in from the outside via one vent (instead of from the same room as the single-hose model).

The warm air is cooled like normal, and it is then vented back outside via a separate hose. Because the warm air is being taken from outside, there is no imbalance in pressure. As a result, dual hose portable air conditioners work more effectively and offer faster cooling. They do obviously take up more space due to the two exhaust vents.

Gravity Drain

Some units utilise a gravity drain to remove the excess moisture and water from the units. This is typically a separate drain hose that is attached externally to the air conditioner. In most instances, the drain system comes with the units, and you will not need to purchase them separately.

As you would expect, this system uses gravity to pull the water downwards. The water drops down and filters outside the AC into the drain tray. The benefit of this type of system is that you can attach the hose outside to an existing water drain. If you can do this, it would remove the need to continually empty a water tray and make the AC easier to use.

Fully Self-Evaporative

You can also get self-evaporative air conditioners. This model has a process that allows it to evaporate the moisture via the same exhaust hose that the hot air is vented from. This removes the need to continually empty a water tray from inside the unit. This kind of device is popular because it needs a lot less care.

How to Use Your Portable Air Conditioner Effectively

To finish, we have provided some basic air conditioner maintenance tips. Although you may now know how does a portable air conditioner unit work, you must understand how to maintain it, too! If you care for your AC unit properly, you can increase its effectiveness and longevity.

1. Check, Clean, and Replace the Filter Often

checking the filter of an ac The filter is a prime area for dirt, bacteria, and microbes to gather. Think of the filter as a barrier. The hot air from the intake pipe is pushed through and hits the filter. Clean air particles pass through into the cooling section. However, any larger particles simply hit the filter and stay there.

Over time, the filter will become dirty. If you do not clean and replace it, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Also, it can reduce the effectiveness of your portable air conditioner and cause the circulated air quality to decline.

2. Regularly Clean and Empty the Water Tray

Most portable air conditioners have some type of water tray. This is where the excess moisture from warm air is collected. Periodically, you must empty the water tray, and clean it. If you simply leave the tray, it could overflow. It is never sanitary to leave standing water for long periods as this can gather bacteria and also become a nest bed for mosquitos.

3. Avoid Placing the Unit in Direct Sunlight

You may think the positioning of your portable air conditioners is not important, but it is! The main thing to remember is that you must not place your portable air conditioners in direct sunlight. If you do, the sunlight could cause the unit to overheat. This could result in its motor burning out, and it could stop working.

Also, the intake fan will take on excess heat. As a result, the cooling system will have to work harder. This could reduce the effectiveness of the machine. Therefore, place the air conditioner in a shaded area, away from other heat sources and direct sunlight.

4. Make Sure the Exhaust Hose is Positioned Properly

The venting process is incredibly important, and you must give thought to the positioning of the exhaust hose. As a bare minimum, the exhaust hose must not be placed in the same room as the portable air conditioner. If you do this, you will basically circulate the same warm air around the room!

The best way to position a hose is with it venting into the outside. This ensures that the hot air is completely removed from your house.

What You Need to Know

Before buying a portable air conditioner, here are some things you may want to consider.

Are portable air conditioners noisy?

They are certainly not quiet. The fan and various processes inside the AC units do generate noise, and it is virtually impossible to find a silent portable AC unit.

Can a portable air conditioner cool more than one room?

Generally no. Some of the more powerful AC units can cool multiple rooms, but these are not really portable. Most small air conditioners for home use can only cool one room.

Are portable AC models better than window units?

Both have their pros and cons. Window units are fixed and come with an installation kit. But they offer better cooling power. However, they can be unsightly, too. On the other hand, portable units can be moved into different locations. Also, they are generally much cheaper.

Can I use a portable air conditioner in a room without a window?

Yes, it is possible, but you need to make sure you have another means for the air to leave the room. This can be through a pet door, a hole in the wall, or through the ceiling.

Ready to Install One?

Knowing how does a portable air conditioner work is vital in ensuring that your unit performs efficiently. Make certain to position it correctly and that the hoses are in the proper place to keep the air in your home cool and clean.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *