It can sometimes be a chore browsing through selections of vented or ventless portable air conditioners. Lowe’s, Amazon, Home Depot are all examples of places you might find a suitable unit. Portable ACs come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and powers. If you have ever considered the difference between a vented or ventless portable air conditioner, or a single or dual hose portable air conditioner, then you are not alone. Companies sometimes forget about educating consumers about the ins and outs of the portable AC unit; occasionally they can become distracted by sales. The term “ventless portable air conditioner” is actually a misnomer. Ventless air conditioners are not technically air conditioners, as they utilize water—via cooling pad and water tank—in order to lower the temperature of a given area. In contrast, the “vented” portable air conditioning unit takes hot air from inside a room and transports it outside, usually through a portable AC exhaust hose. These are usually the two different types of portable AC units you might find. Otherwise known as the swamp cooler, evaporative cooler, portable air cooler, or hoseless portable air conditioner, the ventless portable air conditioner has many names while the vented portable AC is typically known as just a portable air conditioner. But before we can delve into the categories of different portable ACs, we first need to resolve pressing questions such as:
• What is a portable air conditioner?
• How does a portable air conditioner work?
Then we will continue into the vent versus ventless portable AC debate, where we will answer more specific queries like:
• Do all portable AC units need to be vented?
• Is there any portable air conditioner without a hose?
• Do ventless air conditioners work?
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What Is a Portable Air Conditioner?
Put simply, portable air conditioners are devices used to cool down a specific room. There are many areas and ways to utilize portable AC. Compact and easy to maneuver thanks to their wheels, portable AC units can be placed in virtually any apartment, bedroom, or home office. There are a variety of powers, models, shapes, and sizes of portable ACs, but the best portable air conditioner is the one that fulfills all your requirements. You do not want a unit that will drown out video conference calls? Opt for an 8,000 BTU portable AC unit, as these possess lower cooling power and should therefore have a lower noise level. Need something that will cool a 300 square foot home gym? Perhaps you need a 14,000 BTU unit, which will cover a 500 square foot and should cool your room with ease. Portable air conditioners are a great way to cool particular rooms or areas that are prone to overheating, and are more cost-efficient than turning on central AC.
How Does a Portable Air Conditioner Work?
Portable air conditioners work by sucking up hot air from a room and transporting it outside via the portable AC vent hose, otherwise known as the exhaust hose. Units will consequently pull moisture from the air as well, decreasing humidity as well as temperature. The water will then exit in one of two ways: either via portable AC hose or via self-evaporation. Vented portable air conditioners work through the use of coils, compressors, refrigerants, and fans working in tandem to cool hot air. For the single hose portable air conditioner, the fan inside of the unit draws in hot air from the room. The hot air is then cooled by the refrigerant inside the condenser coils, which also work to pull the moisture from the air. Cool air flows back into the room, while heat and water vapor are transported out the back of the portable AC unit via exhaust hose. One of the drawbacks of the single hose portable air conditioner is that this process creates negative pressure inside the room. Picture it like inhaling through a straw on an empty juice box. The pressure from the air being sucked out means that air must be drawn elsewhere, whether it is through holes in the bottom or the open area around the straw. Likewise, the single hose portable air conditioner must also take air from leaks in the room such as cracks in doors, windows, or other vents. This causes the unit to work harder, which can result in a hotter, less efficient unit. For the dual hose portable air conditioner, no negative pressure is generated, as the two hoses work in opposition to draw in and expel air.
One hose takes in hot air from the room, cools it, and delivers it outside while the other hose captures air from outside to internally cool the unit. A disadvantage of the dual hose system is that these portable air conditioners are typically more expensive, due to the increased performance of the unit. Both the single hose and the dual hose air conditioner have their pros and cons, sometimes dependent on the make and model of the unit. With these specifications on how the portable air conditioner works, as well as the differences between the single and dual hose units, we hope you have a clear idea on the basics of portable AC.
Do All Portable AC Units Need to Be Vented?
No, not all portable AC units need to be vented. There are multiple types of portable air conditioners. Yes, portable air conditioning units with hoses need to be vented. When the portable AC unit takes in hot air, it does not just magically cool it without any repercussions. Heat and moisture are necessary byproducts of the cooling process. Whether it is a single hose or a dual hose system, the unit needs a way to transport all the hot air outside, or to another room. Therefore, if the portable air conditioner is not properly ventilated, the unit will release the hot exhaust air back into the same area. This renders the entire process unnecessary and useless. However, you do not necessarily need to vent a portable AC unit out of a window. Though window venting kits are so commonplace that they are typically included with the portable AC unit, you can also vent through doors, walls, and ceilings. Sliding doors and non-traditional windows may take a bit of finesse in order to get a good fit for your exhaust hose, but anything is possible with a little hard work and brainpower! However, manufacturers do not recommend attempting to replace or lengthen your hose because it decreases efficiency. Likewise, experts do not suggest venting through dryer vents, as the portable AC exhaust hose is often sized at 5 inches, while dryer vents are usually 4 inches. This difference allows for a less-than-perfect air seal and will reduce the effectiveness of your portable AC unit.
If you are attempting to place a portable air conditioner in an area that has no windows or viable venting options, an alternative choice is the ventless air conditioner. Luckily, you do not need to vent a “ventless” portable air conditioner. Without hose venting, the unit employs a system of evaporation in order to cool the air in a room. This is where it gets the name evaporative air cooler, because of the way it uses water to release moisture in the air, therefore cooling it. Like the vented portable AC unit, its ventless counterpart sucks up the heat from a room.
Unlike its relative, though, ventless AC does not push out hot air as a result of the cooling process. Put simply, because ventless portable AC units do not use hoses to expel hot air, they do not need to be vented. Ventless ACs do not have to rely on hoses or windows in order to work. Because of this, in fact, the ventless air conditioner is easier to transfer and can be placed in a variety of areas. The only limitation is the size of the room (as ventless units have less cooling power) and the reach of your power outlet.
Is There Any Portable Air Conditioner Without a Hose?
Now that we know why ventless AC units do not need to be vented, we know that there is indeed a such thing as a hoseless portable AC unit. Hoseless ACs are otherwise known as ventless air conditioners. This is because they do not need to vent hot air out of the unit, rendering the exhaust hose unnecessary to the portable AC unit (hoseless does not equal less efficient, though!). Therefore, how does a ventless portable air conditioner work? A ventless portable AC unit works by using evaporation to simultaneously cool hot air and flood it with moisture. This process cannot be initiated without first having a water source for the unit to draw upon. Ventless portable ACs commonly have a cooling pad and water tank that you can refill whenever using your unit. The first step in ventless portable air conditioning is the same as normal portable ACs: an internal fan will gather hot air from a room. That is where the similarities end. The hot air then crosses the cooling pad, which is pumped with cold water, and therefore captures heat while moistening the air. The cool, vapor-heavy air is then funneled back into your room, effectively lower the temperature.
Do Ventless Air Conditioners Work?
You now know that ventless air conditioners indeed work, just differently than vented AC units, but you may be pondering the extent of their capabilities. Just know that there are a couple of factors that play into the efficiency of your ventless AC unit. The first and arguably most important consideration is whether or not you live in a humid climate. As ventless air conditioning units cool by pumping moisture into the air, if there is already an abundance of humidity, your unit will not cool an area adequately. Ventless ACs are better suited for dry, hot areas such as deserts, and are ill-fit for humid climates such as the tropics. Some secondary factors you may need to consider are its required maintenance and lowered efficiency. A ventless portable air conditioner demands more maintenance, as the water tank needs to be refilled and cooling pads replaced. The unit may also perform at lower cooling levels than the normal portable air conditioner and should therefore only be used for smaller areas. Despite these drawbacks, the ventless AC unit excels in certain aspects. The unit’s hoseless capabilities allow for a multitude of advantages.
Assembly is quick and effortless, as less parts are required. No need to fumble with a window venting kit or exhaust hose! Because it does not need to be vented out of a window, wall, or ceiling, the ventless air conditioner can also be placed anywhere and is easier to transport than its “portable” counterpart. The days of positioning your portable air conditioner in accurately ventilated areas are no longer required. Another pro is that ventless air conditioners are more energy-efficient than portable air conditioners. Using less energy reflects well on the electricity bill, and as an added bonus, is better for the environment.
In this article thus far, we have broken down exactly what a portable air conditioner is, explained the difference between single and dual hose air conditioners, defined ventless ACs and their features, along with dividing a vent from ventless portable air conditioner. Ventless ACs, or portable AC units in general, have so many nuances and specifications that it is enough to make anybody’s head spin. Ventless air conditioners lower temperature through the process of evaporation, releasing water vapor into a room. This allows them to require no vents or hoses, use less energy, and be transported with ease. However, they cannot be used efficiently in humid environments and have less cooling power. The portable AC, on the other hand, requires hoses and ventilation in order to transport hot air. They cool air rapidly, excel in humid climates, and require less maintenance. Consequently, they use more energy and must be ventilated. With their own set of advantages and disadvantages, only you can decide which unit works best. Ventless portable air conditioner or not, we firmly believe we have given you a clear idea exactly how portable air conditioning works!