Shopping for a ventless portable air conditioner?
You’ve come to the right place.
Ordinary portable air conditioners need to be vented, typically through a window. This allows them to exhaust warm air outside the room.
If you don’t want the inconvenience of setting up a venting hose or don’t have a window to vent the AC through, get a ventless portable air conditioner.
Ventless air conditioners, also called swamp or evaporative coolers, work differently from ordinary portable ACs, and they have some limitations. The biggest limitation is in cooling performance. A ventless air conditioner won’t make a room as cold as an ordinary compressor AC would.
Also important is that ventless ACs work best in hot and low-humidity regions like Arizona and Texas.
What’s In This Buying Guide?
In this in-depth buying guide, we explain what ventless portable air conditioners and how they work. We also review and compare the best ventless portable ACs.
If you are looking for an ordinary compressor-based AC that works quietly, see our reviews of the quietest portable air conditioners.
What are Ventless Air Conditioners?
A portable AC uses a compressor and a refrigerant to cool air in the room. It works much like your kitchen refrigerator.
Hot air taken from the room is exhausted outside through a vent hose. Without the hose, hot air would be blown back into the room and keep it from cool.
A ventless air conditioner is technically not an air conditioner. It’s also not ‘just a fan.’ It’s more of a room cooler. A ventless AC works by blowing warm air over water or ice. As the air evaporates the water, it gets cooler.
The cooler and more humid, the air is blown back into the room.
A ventless AC does not exhaust hot air, so it doesn’t need a vent. But it’s important to make sure you keep the window or door open to prevent humidity build-up.
The cooling performance of a ventless AC depends greatly on ambient temperature and relative humidity. The hotter and dryer it is, the cooler the air that it produces.
If it is too humid, it won’t work well. That’s why ventless air conditioners work well only in some regions of the US.
Use the following map to decide if you are in the optimal evaporative cooler zone.
Even if you are in the right zone – that is, you live in a hot and dry area – don’t expect a swamp cooler to make you chilly. As we mentioned, a ventless AC is most accurately described as a room cooler, not an air conditioner.
Do Ventless Air Conditioners Really Work Without A Vent Hose?
Yes, they do. You may see some compressor portable ACs described as ventless air conditioners. That’s only partially true.
When a portable AC is in dehumidifying mode, you don’t need to vent it (unless it is a tankless AC). But for cooling, you must vent it; otherwise, the AC will be wasting energy trying to cool the room without any success.
But for swamp/evaporative coolers, they do not need a vent hose. The only thing you need to do is crack a window open to keep humidity levels from getting too high.
The 10 Best Ventless Portable Air Conditioner Models for 2020
- Best for small areas
- 13.6”w x 12.2”d x 29.5”h
Luma Comfort EC110S
- Best for areas up to 250 sq. ft.
250 sq. ft.
- 16.10"w x 11.10"d x 35"h
- Best for medium outdoor space/large indoor rooms
320 sq. ft.
- 18"w x 13.8"d x 33.7"h
- Best for large areas
500 sq. ft.
- 22”w x 12”d x 28”h
- Best with filter
175 sq. ft.
- 13.5”w x 15.7”d x 31.5”h
- Best with hose connection
950 sq. ft.
- 17”w x 25”d x 37”h
- Best for garage, workshop or warehouse
6400 - 9700 CFM
3600 sq. ft.
- 62”w x 31”d x 70”h
5 years on parts, lifetime on housing
- Most stylish
120 sq. ft.
- 8.4”w x 7.3”d x 40” h
- Best for camping
- 6.1”w x 5.7”d x 9.1”h
- Best for bedside
- 6.3”w x 11.4”h
Be careful when buying a swamp cooler for a small room. A too-big cooler can quickly over-humidify the room and make it uncomfortable.
Our top recommendation for small rooms is the DeLonghi EV250. WH. It is a compact evaporative cooler that blasts out a lot of cool air for its size.
The DeLonghi EV250.WH is perfect for small rooms like your home office, bedroom, and most living rooms.
The manufacturer has not specified the optimal room size, but considering the airflow (206 CFM), we recommend it for under 250 sq. ft.
You can still use it in a larger room, but keep it close to you to experience the most cooling.
To improve cooling performance, the EV250.WH comes with an ice pack. Freeze the pack in your fridge then put it inside the cooler. Air passing over ice will feel much cooler. Note, however, that the ice melts quickly, so the added cooling effect is only temporary.
The EV250.WH also comes with a washable filter that removes dust and other allergens from air passing through it. So in addition to cooling and humidifying the room, the EV250.WH improves indoor air quality.
The EV250.WH has an easy to use control panel and display on top of the unit. You can also use the included remote control to select mode (cooling, fan-only, etc.), adjust fan speed, and set an auto-off timer.
Limitations & Complaints
The 1.19 gallon tanks are rather small. You’ll get about 5 hours out of one tank, meaning you’ll have to refill it frequently, especially during hot days when you want to leave it for most of the day.
A hose connection would have been convenient for continuous filling.
Surprisingly quieter than what we’ve come to expect from swamp coolers, the DeLonghi EV250.WH I a great choice for small spaces where a loud fan can be annoying.
The Luma Comfort EC110S evaporative cooler is another great choice for small rooms and spaces. It is powerful enough to cool the room without making it muggy.
The Luma Comfort EC110S has a tower design that improves the distribution of cool air throughout the room. The oscillating fan also ensures you feel cool no matter where you are in the room.
For the best cooling experience, use the Luma Comfort evaporative cooler in a small space of 250 sq. ft. or less.
The Luma Comfort EC110S cooler has powerful airflow (500 CFM) that cools the room quickly. On the downside, this uses a lot of water. You’ll need to refill the 1.76-gallon tank frequently, especially if you set the fan speed on high.
You can reduce water consumption and noise level by selecting one of the other two lower fan speeds.
The Luma Comfort EC110S comes with a remote control for convenient use; no need to keep standing up to adjust the setting. It’s also easy to move from room to room, thanks to the free-rolling casters.
Limitations & Complaints
One downside of compact swamp coolers for small rooms is their equally compact water tanks. The 1.76-gallon tank in the Luma Comfort EC110S doesn’t last long. And since it doesn’t have a hose connection, you’ll have to refill it frequently.
Tip: If you want all-night cooling, select the lowest fan speed. It’ll consume water at a slower rate.
Another limitation of the Luma Comfort EC110S is the lack of an air filter. Unlike some evaporative coolers, the Luma Comfort EC110S does not purify the air. If you have allergies, consider getting an air purifier as well.
The Luma Comfort EC110S is a great choice for looking for a fast-cooling swamp cooler for a small space.
3. Best for Medium Outdoor Spaces / Large Indoor Rooms: Honeywell CO30XE Indoor Outdoor Portable Evaporative Cooler
One advantage of getting a ventless portable AC is that you can use it outdoors without consuming more energy.
A swamp cooler is perfect for cooling down a porch, gazebo, or the pool deck.
The Honeywell CO30XE evaporative cooler is designed for use in both indoor and outdoor spaces. It can cool spaces up to 320 square feet and is outdoor-rated to ensure it can withstand the elements.
Fair warning, the Honeywell CO30XE is loud. That’s because it pushes out a lot of cool air. With an airflow of 525CFM, it cools a large area in no time.
The large 7.9-gallon tank lasts anywhere between 4 hours and 10 hours, depending on humidity, ambient temperature, and fan speed.
If you don’t want to keep refilling the tank, there’s an option to connect a hose for a continuous supply of water.
On those extra-hot days, fill the ice compartment with ice for faster cooling.
If you plan to use the Honeywell CO30XE indoors, we recommend it for large rooms to avoid humidity. It’s also not as loud in a large room.
For outdoor use, it’s perfect for the porch, pool deck, a backyard BBQ, or any other outdoor sitting space. When the outdoor, noise level is not an issue. You also don’t have to worry about too much humidity.
The Honeywell CO30XE is outdoor rated to ensure durability. It’s made with UV resistant materials and comes with a GFCI plug.
Other features include remote control and a timer that you can set for up to 7.5 hours.
Limitations & Complaints
As we mentioned, the Honeywell CO30XE is loud. The noise can be especially distracting in a small room. If you were looking for a bedside swamp cooler, this is not unless the sound of a fan puts you to sleep.
Another issue is that the Honeywell CO30XE lacks a filter, which can be a problem if you have allergies.
The Honeywell CO30XE is an effective and energy-efficient way to cool down an outdoor space. It’s also perfect for large rooms.
The Hessaire MC18M evaporative cooler is rated for spaces up to 500 square feet, making it perfect for large rooms and outdoor areas.
The Hessaire MC18M has 1300 CFM of airflow. It moves more air than most swamp coolers, which makes it a great choice for large spaces.
It can actually make you too cold if you use the cooler in a small room.
The Hessaire MC18M is ideal for outdoor use, but only covered outdoor areas such as the porch or a gazebo. The manufacturer says it’s not designed for extreme outdoor use. It doesn’t even come with a GFCI plug.
For places like your backyard or pool deck, we recommend the Honeywell CO30XE reviewed above.
The Hessaire MC18M comes with two modes: cooling and fan-only. Each mode has two fan settings: HI and LOW. So you can adjust the airflow and level of cooling to suit your comfort needs.
The 4.8-gallon tank is good for about 3-4 hours of cooling, depending on the fan speed setting. If you don’t want to keep adding water, there’s an option to connect a hose for continuous fill. A float valve keeps the tank from overfilling.
The Hessaire MC18M also comes with casters for easy mobility. Two of the wheels lock to keep the cooler from rolling away.
Limitations & Complaints
The most common complaint from customers was about refilling the tank. The door to the tank is hard to open and close.
Also, the Hessaire MC18M has no timer. You can’t set it to turn off automatically after some time.
If you live in a hot and dry area, cooling a large space with a traditional AC can be expensive. In contrast, the Hessaire MC18M keeps you comfortable cool at a fraction of the cost.
If you have allergies or asthma, look for an evaporative cooler with a filter. Otherwise, the cooler will be blowing dust and allergen-filled air in your face.
The Honeywell CS10XE evaporative cooler uses a washable active carbon filter that removed allergens from the air and odors.
The Honeywell CS10XE is a compact ventless portable air conditioner designed for small rooms up to 175 square feet. It’s perfect a bedside cooler for your home office or for a small living room.
It comes with a 2.6-gallon tank that lasts between 6 and 8 hours, depending on humidity and fan speed.
If you are using the Honeywell CS10XE in your bedroom, you can set the auto-off timer (up to 7.5 hours) to have the cooler switch off automatically after you sleep.
Unlike most ventless portable ACs, the Honeywell CS10XE comes with a filter. And not a basic mesh filter like in some coolers, but a high-quality active carbon filter.
A carbon filter traps smaller particles and can filter out odors as well.
The filter in the Honeywell CS10XE is washable, so you do not need to replace it often.
The cooler itself is small and light for easy portability. Casters at the bottom make it easy to push the cooler around on the floor.
Limitations & Complaints
Like most swamp coolers, the Honeywell CS10XE can be noisy, especially when you set the fan speed on high. When using it at night, turn down fan speed to make it less noisy.
The Honeywell CS10XE is a great choice if you are looking for a ventless portable air conditioner that works as an air purifier. Though the CS10XE cannot replace a dedicated air purifier, it’s perfect for rooms with mild to average air pollution levels.
Constantly adding water to a cooler can be tedious, especially on those hot days when you want to keep the cooler on all the time.
The best alternative is not to get a cooler with a larger tank (you’ll get 6-8 hours' tops), but a cooler that doesn’t need any topping up. Some ventless portable ACs like the Hessaire MC37M have an inlet where you can connect a garden hose that keeps the tank constantly full.
Cooling a large space with a ventless portable AC requires a lot of water. Even with a 10-gallon tank cooler, you’ll find you are only getting 4-5 hours of cooling before you need to refill it.
If you want to cool a large space without the inconvenience of frequent refills, the Hessaire MC37M evaporative cooler is a great choice.
Instead of adding water to the tank every few hours, you simply hook up a garden hose to keep the tank full. A float valve keeps the tank from overfilling.
The Hessaire MC37M has extra-powerful airflow of 3100 CFM, enough to cool a space as big as 950 square feet.
The Hessaire MC37M is perfect for large open style living areas, sunrooms, and open basements. You can also use it outdoors. However, note that the cooler is not outdoor-rated, so try to keep it shaded.
You can set the Hessaire MC37M’s fan speed to one of three levels. You can also turn the pump off to enjoy a fan-only mode, which is perfect when it’s cooler, and you just need to get the air moving.
Casters provide easy mobility while a built-in cup holder provides a convenient place to place your drink.
Limitations & Complaints
As we’d expected for a swamp cooler this powerful, customers say the Hessaire MC37M is noisy. Selecting a lower fan speed helps especially at night.
Though a bit more expensive than most ventless portable air conditioners, the Hessaire MC37M offers plenty of cooling power for your money. The hose option ensures you spend less time fiddling with the cooler and more time relaxing.
Cooling a garage, workshop, or warehouse requires plenty of power. We recommend the Cool-Space AVALANCHE-36-VD, the most powerful ventless portable air conditioner among our pick.
It has up to 9700 CFM of airflow and can cool spaces as large as 3600 square feet.
Everything about the Cool-Space AVALANCHE-36-VD cooler is big, from the 36” fan that drives air around the room to the 8” thick pads that cool the air.
Even the tank is bigger than any we’ve ever seen. It has a capacity of 46 gallons, good enough for about 8 hours of cooling. You can also connect a garden hose, so you don’t have to keep refilling the tank.
The cooler itself is also big. It’s heavy, too. Even with the casters, you don’t want to keep pushing it across the floor. Find a spot for it, ideally somewhere with plenty of ventilation, and let it sit there.
Cool-Space AVALANCHE-36-VD is made in the USA to guarantee the best build quality. Instead of the usual 1-year warranty, it comes with a 5-year warranty on parts and a lifetime warranty on the housing. That’s how well made it is.
Other features include adjustable fan speed, low-water shut off to protect the pump and remote control.
Limitations & Complaints
Though the Cool-Space AVALANCHE-36-VD comes with casters, it’s still a lot of work to move it from place to place. It weighs 295lbs and about 381lbs once you fill the tank with water.
The industrial-grade Cool-Space AVALANCHE-36-VD is perfect for large and open work areas like workshops, garages, and commercial spaces.
To be honest, most ventless portable air conditioners are too boxy for our tastes. For something that’s going to be prominently placed, a nice design wouldn’t hurt.
If you prefer a stylish yet practical swamp cooler, we recommend the Air Choice evaporative air cooler. It is a tower-style cooler with a contemporary design and a modern LCD control panel.
If you are looking for a swamp cooler that’s a bit less boxy and more modern, we think you’ll love the Air Choice evaporative cooler.
It looks like a tower fan with vents on the side and a wide base. The LCD control panel at the top looks modern and is easy to use. The white finish also looks great.
Air Choice is designed for small spaces up to 120 square feet. It’s perfect as a personal cooler for your home office or your bedroom.
You can select three wind modes and three wind speed settings. You can also choose whether to run the cooler on ‘wet’ mode or the dry fan-only mode.
The 70° oscillating fan ensures even distribution of cool air.
Unlike most ventless portable ACs, the Air Choice cooler operates quietly even at the highest fan speed. Select the sleep wind mode, and it becomes almost silent, helping you fall asleep with no distractions.
The Air Choice cooler weighs only 9lbs, so it’s easy to move from room to room. It also comes with remote control and an auto-off timer.
Limitations & Complaints
If you are looking for a powerful ventless portable AC for a mid-size or large room, this isn’t. The Air Choice cooler works best in a small room up to 120 square feet or as a personal cooler next to you.
The Air Choice evaporative cooler is not all looks. It also cools small spaces quickly and efficiently, without making a racket.
Despite the word ‘portable’ in their name, most ventless portable air conditioners are not something you’d take with you camping.
They are bulky, heavy, and need to be plugged in.
If you are going camping somewhere you expect the weather to be hot and dry, we recommend taking the Batlofty rechargeable portable AC with you.
At 2.2lbs, it won’t be a hassle to carry. And with a 5,000 mAh rechargeable battery, you don’t have to worry about plugging it in.
Just because you are sleeping outdoors doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable. The Batlofty cooler lets you take the comforts of home wherever you go.
It’s a portable personal swamp cooler that produces a cool stream of humid air. By adjusting the fan speed settings (most users suggest the lowest speed), you can also get it to emit a cooling mist.
The Batlofty cooler is perfect for placing next to your camping bed. At home, it’s perfect as a desk or bedside cooler. On the go, you can use it in hotels or even in a car.
The 700ml tank gives you around 12 hours of cooling before you need to add more water. The 5,000 mAH battery is good for nine continuous hours of cooling. It recharges in 3-4 hours using the included USB cable.
You can recharge it from a power bank, laptop, car charger, or wall adapter.
Limitations & Complaints
To reiterate, Batlofty is a personal space cooler. It will not cool a room, even a small room. To get the most out of it, locate it close to you so that the cool breeze reaches you.
If you are going camping in the western US, especially one of the states in the southwest, the Batlofty persona evaporative cooler will make the days and nights more bearable.
KUUOTE is another good choice if you are looking for a personal ventless portable AC. It’s particularly good as a bedside cooler thanks to its quiet operation, built-in timer, and the 7-color night light.
KUUOTE’s compact size fits perfectly on your bedside cabinet. It can help you sleep faster and better if you are a hot sleeper or live in a hot climate.
You can also place it on your desk when working or studying to keep you cool.
You can add either water or ice to the tank. Ice produces a cooler breeze. If you want an aromatic experience, feel free to add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil to the water.
The KUUOTE portable cooler has three fan speeds, letting you adjust the level of cooling. You can also set a timer and turn on the 7-color night light.
Limitations & Complaints
As with any other personal cooler, manage your expectations. The KUUOTE portable AC is designed to cool the space around you only. It will not make the whole room cooler.
Hot, dry air can make it harder to fall asleep. KUUOTE cools you down and makes the air more humid and easier to breathe. The night light is a nice bonus.
Buying Guide: How to Choose a Ventless Portable Air Conditioner
Sizing a Ventless Portable Air Conditioner
Unlike compressor-based portable air conditioners, ventless coolers are not sized by BTUs. Rather, you consider airflow.
The more powerful the airflow, the larger the room a ventless AC can cool, and the faster it’ll bring down temperatures.
Airflow is given in CFM or cubic feet per minute.
A quick way to calculate how much CFM you need is taking a room’s volume (cubic footage) and dividing it in half.
Say you want to cool a 100 sq. ft. room with 9ft ceilings. The cubic footage is 900 sq. ft., and the optimal CFM for a ventless cooler is 450 sq. ft.
Maximum Square Footage
An easier way to choose the right size cooler is to check what the manufacturer recommends. Most ventless portable air conditioners will have a maximum room size listed.
It’s usually around 250 sq. ft. for small and mid-size air conditioners, 500 sq. ft. for bigger coolers and 700+ sq. ft. for large and industrial swamp coolers.
However, calculating a room’s cubic footage is still the most accurate way of choosing the right cooler size. That’s because some manufacturers can be a bit too optimistic about the size of the room; their air conditioner can cool.
Tank Capacity and Hose Connection
Tank capacity is not something you need to worry about when buying a portable compressor AC but is very important for a ventless cooler.
The water tank capacity determines how many hours of cooling you can enjoy before you need to refill the tank.
A bigger tank saves you the trouble of constant refills. You can also leave the cooler all night without worrying it’ll run on an empty tank (which can damage the pump).
Most small and mid-size ventless portable air conditioners have tanks large enough to last 6-10 hours, depending on indoor humidity and fan speed.
Large ventless portable air conditioners have large tanks. But because they drive more air, the tank lasts about 4-6 hours depending on fan speed and relative humidity.
That’s why most of them also offer the option of connecting a garden hose for continuous flow. That way, you can keep the cooler on all day without having to refill it.
Indoor or Outdoor Use (Or Both)
Unlike compressor ACs, ventless ACs can be used in an open area without electricity. But before you get a ventless cooler for your patio or backyard, check if it is outdoor rated.
Coolers designed for outdoor use have UV-resistant materials, a GFCI plug, and other weather-protection design elements.They are also typically big and powerful, with enough airflow to cover at least 500 sq. ft. of open area.
How easy will it be to move the cooler from room to room? Look for a ventless cooler with casters, especially if it’s a big and heavy cooler.
If you plan to use the cooler in multiple rooms, find a lightweight one.And if you want a cooler, you can use on picnics, in the car or when camping, it should be even smaller and lighter.
Ventless portable air conditioners are generally noisier than their compressor-based alternatives. That’s because ventless coolers rely on moving a lot of air over water to cool down a room.
If you hate noisy appliances, look for a small ventless cooler. Smaller coolers tend to be quieter because they move less air. Turning down the fan speed will further reduce the noise level.
You can also try a personal swamp cooler like Batlofty or KUUOTE. The fan is almost silent, even when the cooler is right next to you.
Control Panel & RemoteFinally, check what kinds of settings and options the control panel offers. Here are the most important ones.
Ventless Portable Air Conditioners Pros and Cons
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there ventless portable air conditioners?
Ventless portable air conditioners refer to evaporative or swamp coolers. They cool the room without requiring a venting hose.
How do ventless air coolers work?
A pump soaks thick pads with water. A fan then passes warm air over the pads. As the warm air picks up the moisture, it cools down. The fan distributes the now cooler air around the room.That’s why ventless air coolers are also called evaporative coolers.
Do ventless portable air conditioners need to be drained?
No, unless you are draining the water tank to clean it. Ventless coolers do not collect moisture. Instead, they add moisture to the air. So they don’t need to be drained.
Is a ventless portable air conditioner worth it?
It depends greatly on your location. If you live in a state with a hot and dry climate like that of Arizona or California, a ventless cooler can make the indoors cooler without making the room muggy.But if you live in a place with high humidity (over 50%), a swamp cooler won’t cool you as effectively. It can actually make the room uncomfortable by increasing humidity.