Summers in Los Molinos, California, can be sweltering. Your home or office may be equipped with central air, or you may rely on a portable air conditioner to keep your home cool. In this guide, we will discuss how portable air conditioning units work and the steps you can take to make them work more efficiently and longer.
How Do Portable Air Conditioners Work?
Portable air conditioners work by pulling hot air from an area and transferring it outside of the home. The AC unit has a motor that cools the air circulated through the room. The AC unit will also remove excess humidity from the air and push it out of the room through a hose outside the window.
The primary purpose of your portable air conditioner is to remove heat from the room and transfer it outside. Three key components allow your portable air conditioner to accomplish these tasks.
First, you have the refrigerant, which facilitates the heat transfer. The compressor compresses the refrigerant, changing it from a liquid to a gas. A fan will move the air over the air conditioning coils to transfer heat and humidity.
The fan will suck hot, humid air from the room being treated into the air conditioner. The hot air gets cool inside the air conditioner thanks to the condenser coils. The condenser coils also extract humidity and moisture from the air by cooling it until it becomes water vapor.
The hot air from the room is transferred to the refrigerant that runs through the air conditioning coils. This heats the refrigerant, causing it to transform into a high-pressure gas that travels through the AC unit.
The moisture collected from the air evaporates or is collected by a system that removes the humidity outside. The compressor is compressing the refrigerant, facilitating heat transfer. The heat created by the compressor and other components is also vented outside. This is why your portable air conditioner will have an exhaust hose.
The Importance of Keeping the Condenser Coils Clean
Condenser coils can get dirty. The dirt and grime on the condenser coils can create insulation that prevents the refrigerant from absorbing the heat from the indoor environment.
If the coils get dirty, the compressor must work harder to cool the air. This could cause the compressor to overheat and eventually break down.
The principles that apply to portable air conditioners apply to all sizes of air conditioners. The difference between a portable AC and a mini-split or a central air conditioning unit is that with a portable AC, all of its components, including the fan, evaporator coil, and condenser coil, are in one small device.
Dual Hose Versus Single Hose Portable Air Conditioners
A key part of a portable air conditioner’s ability to cool down the room is its ability to vent hot air from inside your room outdoors. Your air conditioner will have one or two exhaust hoses to accomplish this.
A portable air conditioner with just one hose will suck air from a room and use that air to cool down the system, including its compressor and condenser coils. However, since the air used by the system has been removed from the room that it is cooling, negative pressure can build up in the room.
A portable AC unit with two hoses will use one hose to suck in air from the outside and cool the unit’s compressor and condenser coils. The other hose serves as an exhaust to remove the heated indoor air outside. As a result, dual hose portable air conditioners do not build up negative pressure in a room like their single-hose counterparts.
Can I Make Changes to the Exhaust Hose on a Portable Air Conditioner?
You may want to reposition your air conditioner to a part of the room farther away from your window. However, portable air conditioners come with an exhaust hose of a predetermined length. Can you extend the hose on your portable air conditioner to give yourself more options for the unit’s placement?
No. At Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, we do not recommend you modify the hose length on your portable air conditioner. The hose has been manufactured to be a specific length that allows the machine to operate efficiently. If you extend the portable AC hose, you may void your warranty, overheat your device, and make it work less effectively.
Where Should You Place the Vent/Exhaust Hose?
Most people will vent their portable air conditioner by sticking the exhaust hose out a nearby window. Typically, portable AC units are equipped with a window kit that will sit in a traditional windowpane.
While it is possible, it is harder to vent your AC unit if you have sliding glass windows. Standard portable AC unit exhaust hoses are not long enough to fit the entire height of a sliding glass door. If you are adamant about using a sliding glass door, talk to your portable AC manufacturer about getting an extension kit. Or you can use Styrofoam or plywood to fill the empty void covering up the open area. Regardless of the window type you use, check the owner’s manual to ensure that you follow their guidelines.
Why Do Portable Air Conditioners Drip Water?
As mentioned, in addition to removing heat from your home, your portable air conditioner also extracts moisture. Some portable air conditioners require you to drain the water that is collected. Portable units have various ways of dealing with condensation and humidity.
Entirely self evaporative air conditioning units are the most popular because they require little to no maintenance. A fully self evaporative model is the most convenient option. They evaporate the moisture automatically from the exhaust hose at the same time. It removes the hot air. With these models, you will rarely need to empty water collected from an internal tank.
Other models will use a gravity drain with or without a condensate pump. With this style of portable AC, there is a drain hose attached to the unit. Gravity pulls the water down that has collected on the coils. The water drains into the drip hose and ends on a nearby floor outside.
Portable Air Conditioning Requirements
Portable air conditioners are prized for their flexibility and ease of setup. For your AC unit to work, you will need a window or some other opening to the outside where you can connect the exhaust hose. You will need a 115/120-volt power outlet. Portable AC units that use 14,000 BTUs or more and may require their own circuit and a different size outlet. AC units will put a heavy load on your home’s electrical network. Keeping your AC unit on a separate circuit from other high-energy devices is essential to avoid overloading the circuit.
Expert Heating, Air, and Plumbing Services in Los Molinos, California
For more than four decades, we have dedicated ourselves to providing the best plumbing and HVAC services throughout the greater Sacramento area. At Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, we are proud to be fully licensed and have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Whether you need HVAC installation, maintenance, or repair or are looking for comprehensive plumbing services, contact us today. We look forward to helping you make your home a comfortable place to live in.