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Venting a Portable AC Properly

Venting a Portable AC Properly

Portable air conditioners are fairly simple to operate, but they do require some minor setting up when in use.

The ventilation aspect of a portable A/C unit is an important and unavoidable one. Before going into how to properly set one up, it’s important to first know why the ventilation is needed.

Why Ventilate Your A/C?

Portable air conditioners have to vent out hot air as a part of the cooling process going on inside the unit. The resulting hot air needs to be directed out of the space being cooled, otherwise you are sending the created hot air right back into the room, which is obviously counter-productive to your goals of using the air conditioner in the first place.

Types of Ventilation Systems

When it comes to the ventilation system type with portable air conditioners, you have two choices: single-hose, and double-hose.

With a single-hose unit, the portable air conditioner takes in the air from the room and cools it, which is then followed by releasing the majority of that air back into the room. Some of this air is used to cool down the air conditioner, which gets blown through the air conditioner's one exhaust hose and outside of the room.

Portable AC with Single Hose

Dual-hose systems work a bit differently. As with the single-hose, the unit draws in the room air, cools it down, and releases it back into your the room. However, intake hose pulls in air from outside to cool down the unit, rather than using the same air like the single-hose system does. That air is then let out through the second hose.

What Difference Does This Make?

The single-hose uses the same air in the room for everything, which creates a negative air pressure in the room. The dual-hose portable unit does not create the negative pressure, which generally makes it more efficient than a single-hose portable unit, and also creates a more comfortable atmosphere.

The tradeoff to this is that a dual-hose portable air conditioner usually makes use of two internal fans, which may lead to a slightly higher energy usage. Regardless, higher-end portable air conditioners usually have a dual-hose system.

Where Can I Vent?

The key word in portable air conditioners is the portable part, so naturally that means you can set your unit up in a few different places within your property when venting it.

Windows

The vast majority of portable air conditioner users prefer to vent the hot air outside through a window. Most units come with a kit to help you do just that. This is done by opening the window enough to fit a bracket in, and connecting the hose to it.

Doors

If you have a sliding glass door that leads outside, you can usually set up your ventilation system in the same way you would a window. The concept is the same, only with an extended bracket installed vertically.

Door Venting

Walls

Some air conditioner users may opt to instead direct the hot air to either another room, or another part of the home, which is most often a garage or storage room. The installation process is a little more complicated, but can be done if you have a basic knowledge of a few tools.

How to Vent Properly

The first step to venting properly is first deciding where you will be using the unit the most in the first place. This is usually near a window, so we’ll start there.

Window Installation

As we said earlier, most units come with a window install kit. The basic window kit usually includes a window bracket, one or two vent hoses, and the vent hose adapters. The length of the average vent hose extends 4 to 5 feet, so you need to install yours close to a window.

(Note: Don’t pull on or try to extend the hose, you may damage it or void the warranty.)

Begin by attaching the hose connectors or adapters, and then insert the hose (or hoses). After doing so, open the window enough to fit the bracket from your install kit.

Extend the window kit to fit inside the length of your window. You may need to trim the window bracket to give it a precise fit for your window. Once the kit is in the window, close the window back down to hold it in place. Some units even come with screws that will help keep it in place.

Now that the bracket is installed, connect the vent hose from the unit to the window kit. The air conditioner is now ready to go.

Sliding Door Installation

If you are using the unit in a room with a sliding door, the installation for the ventilation system will be essentially the same. The only difference is that the sliding door will be longer than a window, so you’ll need to purchase a different bracket, or more bracketing for the door.

The bracket can be installed where the door is opened. If you are going to be using the door with the bracket installed ,you can actually use velcro strips inside the door frame to keep the bracket from moving when you are going in and out.

Wall Installation

If you wish to vent your unit through a wall, you’ve got a little more work ahead of you. You’ll most likely need a jigsaw that can cut a circle in the wall. Be sure that you have measured each side of the wall in the same spot so that the holes line up. Cutting the holes lower towards the ground is recommended.

AC with Wall Hose Exit

Cut your holes in the wall, leaving just enough room for the hose to get through the wall sections. Insert the hose into the wall all the way through after attaching it to the unit. You can help to secure the hose in place by using velco strips, or by adhesives

About the Author Tom Hanson

HVAC technician in Phoenix, AZ for over 10 years.

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