Portable air conditioners are very common in the Chicagoland area and many homeowners want to know How Does Portable Air Conditioners Work? Our heating repair South Shore Chicago company is here to help! These AC units function by sucking hot air from the surrounding environment into the unit. The portable AC’s motor then cools the air for circulation around the space. Portable air conditioners push warm air and surplus moisture through a window hose.

How Does Portable Air Conditioners Work?

The primary function of a portable air conditioner is to extract heat from a room and transfer it outside. A portable conditioner must have three main components for this procedure to work:

  • Refrigerant (to cool the air)
  • Compressor (to compress the refrigerant)
  • Fan (to move the air)

Here’s how a portable air conditioner works when those three components are combined:

  • The fan rotates, drawing hot and humid air from an indoor room into the portable air conditioner.
  • The condenser coils inside the unit cool down the hot air. By condensing the water vapor onto the coils, this technique also absorbs moisture from the humid air.
  • As hot air is conveyed, the refrigerant in the coils heats up and changes into a high-pressure gas.
  • Moisture is evacuated by a self-evaporative system or an internal buck that must be emptied.
  • The compressor must compress the refrigerant throughout the process for everything to work. Furthermore, the heat generated by these components must be evacuated to the outside. Because of this, portable air conditioners have an exhaust hose.


Unclean condenser coils prevent refrigerants from absorbing as much interior heat. Dirty coils make the compressor work harder, which might overheat and fail. All air conditioners work similarly, which is interesting. A portable AC unit combines all components into a single device.

Compared to a central air system or even a good ductless air conditioner, which has two independent units: an indoor evaporator put inside the room and an exterior compressor that cycles the refrigerant, this is a bargain.

Portable Air Conditioners with Single vs. Dual Hoses

You’ve just learned how to use portable air conditioners to cool a room. One of the processes in the process is venting hot air from the components to the outside.


Portable air conditioning devices will have one or two exhaust hoses on the back.

If your portable air conditioner has only one hose, it will draw air from the room and use it to chill the system (i.e. compressor and condenser coils). However, because the room’s air is being withdrawn, this operation may result in some negative pressure.


If your portable AC unit has two hoses, one will draw in air from outside to chill the compressor and condenser coils, while the other will exhaust it to the outside. Dual hose portable air conditioners, unlike single-hose machines, do not produce negative pressure due to their design.

Is it Possible to Extend the Exhaust Hose on a Portable Air Conditioner?

Extending the hose on your portable air conditioner is not a good idea. The hose is designed to be a specified length for the machine to run as efficiently as possible. Extending the hose may cause your unit to overheat, voiding the manufacturer’s warranty.

Exhaust Hose Venting

The most frequent approach to vent the exhaust line of a portable air conditioner is through a window. As a result, most portable air conditioners come with a window kit that fits standard-sized windows. Using a sliding glass door to vent the exhaust line is far more complicated.


Standard window kits are frequently not long enough to reach the full height of a sliding glass door. You have two options for mounting your portable air conditioner to a sliding glass door:

  • If an extension kit is available, buy it.
  • To conceal the open space, fill the empty void with styrofoam or plywood. 

Read the owner’s manual no matter which installation technique you choose.

Is It Mandatory To Drain The Water From A Portable Air Conditioner?

Some portable air conditioner types require you to empty the water. But there are different ways to go about it.


As you know, one of the primary functions of a portable air conditioner is to remove moisture from the air, making it less humid. Condensation and moisture are dealt with in a variety of methods by portable air conditioners.

The Model with Complete Self-Evaporation

These are the most convenient portable air conditioners to own. Self-evaporative portable air conditioners work by automatically evaporating moisture from the exhaust pipe together with the hot air. You will rarely have to drain any gathered water from an inbuilt bucket with this model (or tank).


Because of the low maintenance required, this style of a portable air conditioner is one of the most popular. Avallon, DeLonghi, and Whynter are some of the leading brands with entirely self-evaporative systems.

With or Without a Condensate Pump, a Gravity Drain

This type of portable air conditioner has a drain line. Usually, these drain hoses come with a portable air conditioner when you buy them. Gravity, as the name implies, draws the water down and out of the portable AC unit, allowing it to trickle outdoors.

Connect the hose to the gadget and run it to a nearby floor drain. Connect a condensate pump to the drain pipe if you don’t have a floor drain. A condensate pump drains water into a sink or out a window.

Bucket for Collections (or Tank)

The internal collecting bucket is a third alternative for draining water from a portable air conditioner. Moisture removed from the air will accumulate in this tank over time, and you will need to empty it.

How Does Portable Air Conditioners Work?

To complete this process, just turn off the portable air conditioner, then remove the collection bucket and empty the water. Finally, replace the bucket on the unit to get it back up and running.

Requirements for a Portable Air Conditioner

Different brands of portable air conditioners will require different items, but the majority of them are simple to install. The purpose of a portable air conditioner is to remove heat and moisture from a room while also cooling it. 


This requires the following:

  • A window or other outside access through which to connect the exhaust hose.
  • The unit must fit next to the window or opening.
  • A 115/120-volt electrical outlet Portable air conditioners that utilize 14,000 BTUs or more are an exception. These air conditioners may require a different-sized outlet on their circuit.


As you are undoubtedly aware, any air conditioner will consume a significant quantity of electricity. High-energy devices should be on a separate circuit to avoid overloading.


Additional specifications for your specific brand and model can be found in the owner’s manual for your portable air conditioner or by your local HVAC repair company Chicagoland experts. If you’re considering a portable ac unit call (708)748-1946 for more assistance and learn about How To Change An Air Conditioner Filter now.

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