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Is There a Portable AC Unit That Doesn’t Need a Window?


Many consumers are slowly liking a portable AC unit more than the usual window-type and split-type systems. Portable aircon are great options for people who rent apartments, or those who want easy access to an air conditioning unit.

While the unit can be moved anywhere in the house, it still needs proper ventilation for the exchange of warm and cold air. Most portable ACs need to be placed near a window because the warm air will be disposed of outside via an exhaust hose.

But what if your landlord doesn’t allow the use of portable exhaust ducts for ventilation? Is there a portable AC unit that doesn’t need a window?

Ventless Portable AC Unit

Aside from the advantage of being portable, it can also be a ventless air conditioner. Ventless portable AC units don’t require any type of ventilation system such as an exhaust hose or a ductwork system.

This type of air conditioning system uses evaporation as the main concept to cool a room. It doesn’t use a refrigerant to cool the air inside the house. Evaporative cooling relies on the fact that water has a high degree of evaporation. This means that it takes quite some time for water to heat up before it evaporates thoroughly. It can absorb a huge amount of heat before you can feel the temperature of the water rise.

For instance, seawater or pool water feels hotter when you do night swimming than during daylight. The reason is that it can absorb a huge amount of heat before you can feel the temperature of the water rise.

How Does a Ventless Portable AC Unit Work?

As previously discussed, ventless air conditioning uses the concept of evaporative cooling to cool a room. It’s commonly known as evaporative coolers or swamp coolers. This type of AC unit can come in different sizes. Some require a direct connection to an outlet, while others can be plugged into a power source via a USB cable or run via batteries.

The unit has a water tank inside that evaporates water droplets, which cool the air after it becomes gaseous. The water reservoir is housed in an open tank at the base of the device. It has a low center of gravity as a result, which helps keep it from toppling over.

A ventless portable AC unit also has a fan, but unlike a standard air conditioner, it works alongside a pump. A cooling pad is loaded with moisture by a fan and pump that draws water from a reservoir onto the pad. Cooler air comes out from the AC unit afterward.

Is a Ventless Portable AC Unit Good in Maintaining Cool Temperature?

A ventless portable AC unit works best in a low humidity environment. Too much humidity might warm the water in the reservoir quickly, and as a result, cool and fresh air can’t be maintained for a long time.

In fact, a quick 30-degree drop in room temperature is possible with an evaporative cooler. Swamp coolers repeat this cycle until the humidity is too high to allow water to evaporate. 

The amount of air that evaporative coolers deliver to the home in cubic feet per minute (CFM) determines their rating. Most models fall within the 3,000–25,000 CFM range. Depending on the climate, manufacturers advise providing enough air-moving capacity for 20 to 40 air changes per hour.

Advantages of a Ventless Portable AC Unit?

Setting aside the obvious fact that they’re portable enough to be placed anywhere in the house, what are the advantages of ventless portable air conditioners?

Fool-Proof Installation

Installing a portable AC unit depends on which room you want to place it in. Whether it’s ventless or not, you need to ensure that it’s near a power outlet, so you can plug it easily. Only connect the device to your outlet directly, otherwise, an extension cord may cause a short, trip a circuit breaker, or overheat and pose a fire risk.

Easy Maintenance

While it’s a relatively low-maintenance unit, you still need to check if it’s in good condition from time to time. For instance, its air filters need to be changed if the built-up dirt is too much or if it starts to smell. Always make sure that there will be no leaks from the water tank, as it may short circuit the AC. Much like a standard aircon, contact an HVAC expert if your unit is not functioning properly.

User-Friendly Features and Affordable

Some ventless portable AC units have a feature that lets you add ice cubes to the water tank. This increases the cooling capacity of the unit, and the cool air will be felt more quickly. If you want a more soothing experience, you can add essential oils of your choice to increase productivity or prolong relaxation.

The fan speed can also be adjusted to slow, medium, and fast and some models have a built-in thermostat. There are units that use a more advanced air filtration system like ionization filters. In addition, newer models have a digital user interface and can be controlled remotely.

Moreover, the average market price for ventless portable aircon ranges from 6,000php – 24,000php. This depends on the brand model, size, and added features.

Sustainable and Energy-Efficient

The majority of continuously operating ventless portable air conditioners use between 90 and 160 watts per hour. Comparatively, central air conditioning systems use about 3,500 watts per hour, while window units use about 500 watts per hour.

Aside from being energy efficient, they also lower the carbon footprint of your household since they rely on the natural cooling effect of water. In comparison to a central HVAC system, evaporative coolers don’t use any refrigerant and emit no harmful gases.

Are there any Disadvantages to Using a Ventless Portable AC Unit?

Every climate has a different way that evaporative coolers operate. Swamp coolers probably won’t work for you if you live in a humid environment. The air is already moist and cannot absorb much more moisture. They work best in drier environments with little moisture in the air. Their cooling capacity is also limited to a small space or at best to one room only.

In addition, don’t expect them to produce cold air as quickly as a standard AC unit because they rely heavily on water to cool a single space. The length at which they can maintain cool and refreshing air inside the house depends on how much water their reservoir can take. To ensure that they operate effectively throughout the day, make sure to keep the water tanks full.

How Can I Choose the Right Ventless Portable AC Unit for Me?

Choosing the right air conditioning unit for your house is not easy. It needs careful planning so there will be no time, money, or space wasted on the wrong unit.

Ventless air conditioners must have a high airflow setting because they also rely on the amount of air that can get in the system for the water to cool. However, having an AC that has high airflow means that the fans will have to rotate faster. This usually leads to a noisy AC unit, despite not having an air duct or exhaust panel.

A good balance between airflow and noise levels is desired when designing these ventless coolers. A cooler that produces 1000+ CFM of airflow and doesn’t require any venting is rather useless if it makes 70+ dB of noise. Only very quiet or quiet ventless AC-like units are included in the table of the top ventless coolers below.

Final Thoughts

portable AC unit

A ventless portable air conditioner is a good choice to stay fresh and cool, without having to spend so much time in installation alone. It’s perfect for rented places, because, unlike most portable AC units, it doesn’t require a ventilation system via a window, ceiling, or even through the wall.

It still functions much like other air conditioners, apart from using a cooling agent to cool the air. Moreover, ventless ACs still have a fair share of maintenance needs that you shouldn’t overlook.

JP Reyes

JP has been in the aircon industry for almost as long as he has been alive. As a child JP would help his tatay fix aircon units at their junk shop in Cavite. After graduating UP in the early 2000's, JP then started his own Aircon servicing business and within 5 years had 10 shops in 8 different cities. Fast forward to today and JP brings all his experience and expertise online to give readers trustworthy advice and reviews about Air-conditioning buying, servicing, cleaning and repair in the Philippines.

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