It's quite common to wonder if there is such a thing as a portable air conditioner without exhaust hose venting and where you can buy one wither online or in a physical store locally.
The short answer is that all air conditioners whether portable or fixed need to be vented to the outside to remove the hot air that is produced by the refrigeration process that creates the cool, comfortable atmosphere inside your home.
The longer answer is that there are ventless air coolers in existence, but they are not technically refrigeration-based "air conditioners," as is explained below.
They are also widely available on sale both at online stores and in many local hardware and electrical appliance stores.
Is There a Ventless Portable Air Conditioner?
True unvented air cooling units are evaporation-based swamp coolers (evaporative coolers) that cool the air by evaporation of moisture without any need for compressed gas refrigeration.
Evaporative air coolers provide a usable and very effective ventless portable air conditioner alternative.
Let's take a look at evaporative coolers in a little more depth to see how they differ from air conditioners and why they do not require a vent hose as do portable air conditioning units.
What Are Evaporative Air Coolers?
Evaporative air coolers are portable cooling units that do not require a hose for venting.
This is because they deliver cool air in a space by evaporating water to produce cold moist air that cools the air in a room while adding humidity to the air.
Evaporative (swamp) coolers are very efficient cooling solutions in dry climates. However, they are less effective in areas with high humidity.
Are Swamp Coolers the Same as Self Evaporating ACs?
No they are not. Portable swamp coolers, while having a similar appearance, are not the same as fully self evaporating portable air conditioners.
If you are wondering how to differentiate between a swamp (evaporative) cooler and a self-evaporating air conditioner, here are some pointers:
Self-Evaporating Air Conditioners:
- Use a refrigeration process to create cold air, which produces a lot of heat
- Need to be vented to the outside to remove that hot, moist air from the room
- Dehumidify the air in the room
- Use a lot of electricity to create a cool atmosphere indoors
- Are not economical to run and not environmentally friendly
Evaporative Air Coolers:
- Use moisture evaporation to create cold air, which produces no heat, only cold, moist air
- Do not require venting to the outside
- Humidify (add moisture to) the air in the room
- Use very little electricity to create a cool atmosphere indoors
- Are economical to run and environmentally friendly
Do Ventless Air Conditioners Work?
If the device you are referring to are evaporative coolers, the answer is YES! They do work very well as long as they are used in an area with low relative humidity.
By simply blowing warm air from the room through a moist medium, these coolers evaporate the moisture, trapping the heat from the air and blowing chilled air back into the room. As long as the air they are processing is relatively dry (low humidity) to begin with, they are extremely effective and at the same time very economical to run.
Tip: Always run a swamp cooler with a window opened a crack to provide air circulation and allow excess humidity to escape to the outside and be replaced by dry air from the outside.
If the question refers to traditional, refrigerant-based portable air conditioners, re-read the above about the differences between the two, because portable air conditioners must be vented via an exhaust hose to the outside!
Do All Portable Air Conditioners Have to be Vented Out a Window?
In the same way that air conditioning systems use ducting to vent hot, moist air out of the building, all portable air conditioners need to be vented to release that hot air out of the room.
The simplest and most user-friendly way to vent a portable AC unit is to connect it via its exhaust hose to a conveniently placed window. This is why all portable air conditioners include an easy-to-install window snap kit along with the flexible plastic vent hose.
This brings up a point about portability. Since the AC unit needs to be tethered to the window or wall vent via its vent hose, it cannot be quite so easily moved from room to room unless each room has its own window or wall vent port already installed and ready to be hooked up to.
Can You Use a Portable Air Conditioner in a Room Without a Window?
Yes, it is possible to use a portable, self contained air conditioner in a room without direct window access!
However, it would mean having a fixed vent opening installed in an external wall that matches the dimensions of the unit's exhaust hose in order to connect the hose to it. Unless you have good handyman skills and are not afraid (or skilled enough) to excavate a hole in your wall, you will need to employ a professional builder to do the work for you.
In some homes, especially in bedrooms, there is often a ventillation fan already installed in an external wall and in many cases, this can be used to vent the AC unit.
What Happens if you Don't Vent a Portable AC?
I have personally seen this situation in some homes, where the owner claimed their portable AC wasn't working right and the room was heating up instead of cooling down.
The reason for this was not because the AC wasn't working right.
It was because the owner had not installed the vent hose window kit or even put the business end of the hose out an open window (not ideal, but better than nothing).
To omit the very important step of connecting the vent hose to the back of a portable air conditioner will result in the hot air produced by the unit being sent back into the room via the rear exhaust port while cold air is sent out of the front vent.
Since more hot air than cold is produced, the result is a net increase in the temperature in the room!
This is why it is vital that the hose is connected to the unit's rear exhaust port at one end and the other connected to the installed window vent kit. All that hot air must be vented out of the room and into the outside atmosphere!
Pros and Cons of Portable Air Conditioners vs Evaporative Air Coolers
While there are many advantages to running a portable air conditioner that is correctly installed with its exhaust vent hose connected to a window kit or other external wall vent port, there are also some disadvantages.
Similarly, evaporative air coolers have advantages and disadvantages when compared to portable AC units. Here is a summary of these:
Portable AC Pros:
Powerful air cooling and drying capability
Works in most climates including high humidity
Can be used as a dehumidifier
Portable AC Cons:
Requires a method to vent hot air out of the room (an exhaust vent hose)
Not completely portable because it must be tethered to a window exhaust port
Expensive to run (high electricity usage)
Evaporative Cooler Pros:
Powerful cooling and humidifying
Works well in dry climates with low humidity
Economical and environmentally friendly (low electricity usage)
Evaporative Cooler Cons:
Do not produce cold air in very humid climates
Do not dehumidify the air
Must be run with a window opened a crack to provide air circulation
Depending upon where you live and the local climate, you can either:
- Take advantage of the low running cost and environmentally friendly aspects of an evaporative air cooler to keep you cool in summer if the air has low humidity
- Enjoy the powerful cooling and drying effect of a portable air conditioner if your local climate has high humidity in summer
Either way, a very hot summer season will mean you need some form of artificial cooling for inside your home to make life more comfortable.
You choice of cooling solution is dependent on the level of humidity, where a dry climate favors evaporative coolers, but a humid climate means you are limited to a refrigerant-based air conditioning solution to stay cool and comfortable.
This article has set out the differences between portable air conditioning and evaporative cooling devices and why AC requires a vent hose and a swamp coolers does not.