Air conditioners are meant to keep you cool and comfortable during summer (or all year round, if you’re in the tropics), when the heat and humidity is too much for you to bear. With how hot it gets due to the worsening climate, having an AC is more of a necessity rather than a luxury. And now that working remotely is the norm due to the pandemic, it’s important to keep cool in your home, so you can boost your productivity and avoid heat-related illnesses!
It’s important to buy one that’s efficient and worth the price, since they ramp up electricity bills upon use. Just like how you’d only buy the best portable tri-fuel generator and extension cord out there for your home or a high-quality cassette toilet for your RV, you should also invest in a cost-effective unit.
Yes, we have a bunch of articles, including ones on stationary 15,000 BTU units as well, however, that’s not what we’ll be focusing on here.
A good one worth the money is something that can do its job anytime, anywhere—this is exactly what a portable model is!
A portable air conditioner (PAC) is a free-standing, compact, self-contained system that can cool you down anytime, anywhere. Unlike most in-room options that are heavy and bulky, these have a lightweight and ergonomic design, which makes installation a breeze. All you really need is enough space on the floor to situate this stand up air conditioner on, a power outlet or extension cord of the right wire size, and a nearby window to install its venting system. Moreover, they have added features that make handling easier, such as wheels and handles, so you can reinstall it from one room to another with little to no fuss! There are even small or mini models that you can carry around for your camping needs or install in your RV if you’re trying to take some load off your engine to avoid malfunctions in the idle air control valve.
This is the perfect addition to a solo room with one window to spare, capable of cooling your room without taking up too much space. However, if your sole window is too narrow to accommodate a venting system, you can opt for a casement or vertical window option, which can fit into narrow openings and sliding windows!
But what if your room’s sole window is inaccessible, preventing you from installing the exhaust hose? What if there are no windows at all? Would you still be able to use a portable one in a windowless room?
Do all portable units have to be vented out a window?
Air conditioners are able to remove hot air and produce cool, dehumidified air because these units evaporate the heat and dissipates it outside through an exhaust hose, via the venting system. In a nutshell, this is it works:
- An AC takes in hot/room temperature air from the room and condenses it into a liquid to evaporate the heat out of the air.
- The resulting cooled down liquid is processed to become cool, dehumidified air, which is then released into the room.
- The heat, in the form of hot air, goes into the venting system and is released outside through an exhaust hose.
For floor models like portable ones, the venting system is installed separately in a window. On the other hand, window and through-the-wall models both consist of only one whole unit, with their vents facing outwards of the window. Thus, all types —yes, even portable models —can only function properly and eliminate heat if there is a functional venting system in place. This system is an integral part of the hot-cold air exchange outlined above; if it is not vented properly, it would not be able to do its job.
If all air conditioners must be vented outside a window, then what are these so-called “ventless air conditioners”?
What is a ventless one?
In truth, they can’t truly be “ventless,” not even portable models. Most of the time, these devices that people mistake as ventless are actually evaporative coolers. Even though these devices differ from portable ones with regards to machine structure and mechanism, it became the norm to dub them as “ventless air conditioners” because they look quite similar to portable models. They’re all portable, compact, free-standing units that aim to cool you down amidst the heat. Imagine a portable model without its window vent kit—that’s what an evaporative cooler looks like!
Since both terms are used interchangeably in the real world, we’ll do so in this article as well. Just don’t forget that what we’re referring to are actually evaporative coolers!
Do they work well?
These devices create a cool airflow by harnessing and automating the process of evaporation—thus, the name “evaporative coolers.” All of these do not require venting, unlike ACs. The system generally consists of a water tank, a water distributor, a thick evaporative pad, and fans. First, the evaporative/cooling pad absorbs the cold water from the reservoir. Then, hot, dry air is drawn into the unit by a fan and passes through the wet pad. The hot air triggers the evaporation of the water molecules in the pad, which generates cool air. This is because when water turns into gas (evaporation), the highest energy particles leave the water first and it causes a drop in temperature inside the cooler, thereby generating cool air. Finally, the fan blows the resulting air into your room.
In a nutshell, they use cold water and the evaporation process to generate cool air, which is why there is no need for the hot-cold air exchange that happens within units that require venting.
Bear in mind that unlike true ACs, these all have the same capacity/power, which is 0 BTU. Meaning, the cooling effect that they have solely relies on the gust that they produce from the cold water in the tank; they cannot remove heat nor dehumidify the air. Only air conditioners can fully convert all the hot air indoors into cool, dehumidified goodness. But this does not mean that ventless coolers cannot help you with the heat! All you have to do is pick one that stays true to its name; an evaporative cooler with high airflow and an ice tank for water source can effectively cool you down!
Although they have the advantage in terms of cooling power, they have an upper hand in being able to operate well even in windowless rooms. Since these devices do not rely on actual conversion, you do not need to vent them at all. What’s even greater is that they are much more affordable and are incredibly portable (that’s why they’re mistakenly called ventless portable ACs)! Just like PACs (minus the venting system), you can situate it anywhere on the floor, as long as it’s near a power outlet.
So, if you want an affordable, ventless, and ductless, device that you can carry anywhere with you, opt for a portable evaporative cooler. You can beat the heat anytime without having to worry about tedious installation processes, windows, and vents!
What is the best model without a hose?
As mentioned, there are some features that a portable cooler must have for it to be worth your money. With the crazy number of options available in-store or online, picking the best portable, ventless model can be quite daunting. To help speed up your canvassing, let’s outline some of the features that you must look out forr.
|Things to look for|
|Air flow||Water and ice tank|
- Airflow -– the higher, the better
Since a ventless cooler relies on the air that it pumps out to lower the temperature, it’s a given that a unit with a higher airflow can deliver a much more effective sensation. Look for a ventless portable model that has a capacity of at least 500 CFM. But if you want a model that can cover more area, pick a unit with a higher capacity. For example, the one from Luma Comfort can cover areas of up to 650 sq. ft. due to its high airflow capacity of 1,650 CFM.
- Water and Ice Tank -– the colder, the better
The cooler generates cold air via the water from its tank; thus, the colder the water is, the colder it feels. Some units have reservoirs that can only handle water, while some have tanks that can house both water and ice. Pick the latter one for a more refreshing burst of soothing, cold air! An example of an evaporative cooler that has an ice water tank is this portable air cooler by hOmeLabs.
- Tank Capacity -– the bigger the capacity, the longer the operating time
Once the tank runs out of water or ice, the air it will produce will no longer be as cold. Thus, if you want one that has a long runtime and is guaranteed to last through your sleep, pick a unit that has a capacity of around 5-10 gallons. You’ll also notice that ventless portable models with high tank capacities have higher airflow, such as Hessaire’s model that boasts 3,100 CFM and 10.3 gallons tank capacity.
However, ones with large tank capacities can be quite bulky and heavy (especially when the tank’s full), so bear in mind that this somehow lowers the portability. But we find that the perks outweigh the cons of the weight, since you don’t usually move it around once it’s operating already. So, if you want one that’s neither too big nor bulky, pick a model with mid-size capacity (around 2-5 gallons).
- Low Noise Operation -– the lower the decibel, the better
One annoying downside of some units that have high airflow is that they can get quite noisy, which isn’t ideal if you’re using it in your bedroom or office. However, there are a lot of models out there that have both low-noise operation and high flow rates. Brands are continuously aiming to achieve the best balance between noise level and airflow, and nowadays, there are units that maintain low-noise operation even at the highest fan setting!
To ensure that you can preserve the quietness of your room whilst cooling down, pick one that has a noise level of 65 dB or less. Make sure to investigate if the advertised decibel level is not exceeded by the cooler when it’s running at the highest speed. Some brands lure buyers into thinking that theirs can operate quietly, only noting the noise level of the unit when it’s at the lowest fan setting.
It’s important to find evaporative coolers that can filter out harmful particles prior to releasing it. Comfort and safety must be your top priority, so it’s a must to have cool, clean air! Pick one that has a filter, so you can prevent respiratory diseases or asthma attacks caused by allergens, such as cat and dog hair, dust, etc.
To save money, opt for a unit that has a reusable filter. With this, you can simply remove the filter whenever you need to clean it, eliminating the need for new filters monthly. This would lower your monthly cost and carbon footprint!
A lot of them nowadays have advanced, smart settings and user-friendly interfaces that make operation a lot easier. Pick a model that has user-friendly settings, such as auto-shutdown, adjustable fan controls, timer, filter indicator, remote-control, etc. These eliminate the need for tedious stuff like waking up in the middle of the night to turn it off or getting out of your seat to change the settings when you’re busy with work.
- Energy-saving -– higher rating, the better
It’s no secret that adding another appliance in your home will ramp up the bills, especially if you’re using one that consumes a lot of energy. Although standard models consume more energy than ventless coolers, the latter can still add quite a bit to your electricity bills.
Thus, it will be best to pick a unit that is energy-saving and efficient. Look for a brand or model that is Energy Star certified; meaning, it is efficient and consumes the lowest amount of energy possible. The higher the rating, the more energy-efficient it is.
With all the brands out there in the market, both in physical stores and in online shops, picking a trustworthy brand will be quite a maze for you. Thus, here’s a list of some of the trusted brands that offer high-quality and sturdy appliances that can last for a long time:
- It’s no secret that Frigidaire is the master when it comes to energy-efficient devices, such as ACs, refrigerators, and coolers. After decades of producing and designing numerous types of appliances, with a special focus on cooling appliances, it’s certain that you’ll find a high-quality model among Frigidaire products that will suit your needs perfectly.
- Hessaire is a company that specializes in designing and manufacturing ventless coolers, always providing great solutions for years. They have a lot of mobile/portable options and mini split models that allow you to enjoy a refreshing breeze at home. Check out Hessaire MC37M, which is their most popular model.
- Homelabs is a genius designer of various product lines, portable evaporative coolers, dehumidifiers, purifiers, refrigerators, and more. This brand has been the go-to of many homeowners due to their good service and the affordability and quality of their appliances. We’ve also featured this brand in our other articles, a testament to how great of a brand hOmeLabs is!
- This brand provides a lot of environment-friendly and cost-efficient appliances. Honeywell has a wide variety of products to choose from, with small, affordable units that can handle a bedroom of around 100-250 sq. ft. and some more heavy duty units that can handle bigger areas of up to 850 sq. ft.
Tools and guides that you may need for your portable ventless cooler and other appliances
When it comes to appliances, sometimes, mishaps cannot be avoided and warranty cannot cover everything. Thus, it’s better to have tools on hand whenever you need them, especially if you already know your way with electrical appliances. Why spend money on easy electrical work if you can do it yourself? In line with this, here are some tools, guides, and charts, that can help you with your daily handywork:
- MIG vs. TIG Welding – A quick yet comprehensive article on MIG and TIG welding, with some
- SAE to Metric Conversion Chart – All types of home renovation need accurate measurements! Make sure to convert measurements properly by using this chart.
- Amp Wire Size Guide & Chart for Circuit Breaker, Fuse, Socket, etc. (70-600 Amp)
I hope this buying guide has helped you decide which option is the best pick among countless others in the market. However, as mentioned, bear in mind that evaporative coolers cannot convert hot air like true ACs do. It’s not as easy as converting shoe sizes, lad! If you want a powerful model that doesn’t require an exhaust hose, try looking at ductless options, such as split-type ones. These rely on a pair of indoor and outdoor units, which eliminates the need for ductwork.
If you need more guide articles to make home living easier, whether it’s about saving your cucumber plants’ leaves from turning yellow or getting rid of fruit flies, drain flies, and gnats in your home, feel free to check out the main page of the blog! And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, leave a comment down below so we can help!