How Do Portable Air Conditioners Work?

how to portable air conditioners work

Portable air conditioners enable us to enjoy the benefits that the standard air conditioner brings along but in locations that are far detached from the mainstream. To appreciate them better, you need to know the inner workings of the device altogether.

Our discussions hereunder endeavor to showcase the inner workings of this wonderful gadget. At the tail end of our discussions, we are pretty confident that you shall have the insight you need to make the most of it well also.

How Do Portable Air Conditioners Work?

Before we delve into discussing the workings of this machine, it is important to know the parts and components that make it up. A typical portable air conditioner comprises five main parts. These are the refrigerant, compressor, condenser coil, expansion valve, and the evaporator coil.

They play the following roles:

Evaporator coil – Picks up the ambient heat and transmits the same to the inner fluids. The coils thus form the core of the conditioning unit as it is the one that performs the task of reducing the ambient temperature.

Expansion valve – Liquids generally tend to expand when heated. If and when they do so, they tend to overwhelm the systems. The evaporation valves exist to care for this extra size.

Condenser coil –It exists in the air conditioning units that are placed outdoors. The coil receives the high-pressure refrigerant that emanates from the compressor that exists inside the conditioning unit.

Compressor – Pressurizes the refrigerant and in turn ups the temperature thereof. This way, it aids in the seamless transfer of the heat energy to the place where it is eventually dissipated.

Refrigerant – Also called a coolant, this is a special kind of fluid that exists in the coils. Its role is to transmit the heat energy from the room to the cooling chamber. In doing so, it maintains your room in a state of complete coolness.

Having known about the basics of an air conditioning unit, we now launch deeper to discuss how it operates. A typical air conditioning unit operates on the exchange principle. Simply put: it draws in hot air, process or cool it, and then dispel or evacuate the same via an exhaust duct.

To do this, the unit draws in hot air from the return vents that are located inside your home. These vents suck in hot air from the room inside. It transmits the same to the refrigerant that eventually picks the heat via the evaporator coils.

These coils are generally very cold. On picking the heat, they absorb the same and eventually become hotter. Moreover, they also transmit excess heat levels to the exhausts that eventually channel out the same to the environment outside.

As soon as the heat levels of the refrigerant hit a particular threshold, it discharges the same to the compressor. The compressor thereafter pressurizes the same and subsequently heats the refrigerant. This refrigerant further absorbs the heat energy and in doing so, contributes to bringing down the ambient heat.

This heated refrigerant passes through the condenser coils. While in these coils, the fluid is fanned to keep it cooler than the ambient temperatures. When fanned, the heat transfer to the outdoor is facilitated.

A refrigerant thereafter travels back to the expansion valve. While here, the liquid depressurizes and cools down. The cycle repeats over and over again until all the heat is extracted from your rooms. Many conditioning units have a fixed length of time, mainly for 8 hours.

Apart from merely cooling your interior rooms, the air conditioning unit also performs other extraneous chores. Of these, the moisture removal stands tall. To tackle this role, the appliance draws out moisture from the air. This moisture collects in a reservoir that is then drained through several means and ways.

Obviously, these pieces of equipment require some power to operate. Many sources of power exist for their use. These are the mains electricity, gas, batteries, and solar energy, to name but a few!

It is important to find the right power for your equipment. Being portable, the equally remote sources of power are recommended for their operations. The solar, wind and rechargeable batteries are the most reliable sources to look up to. They are the ones that provide the power needed at the locations needed for the job.

Operational Technologies

Like any other piece of equipment, the portable air conditioning units also exist in many shades and forms. These differences are mainly determined by the technologies they operate with. It is necessary to know the technologies that they operate in to understand them in finer details:

Manual Technology

These kinds of conditioners are operable by the input of human brawn alone. They are subsequently simpler to operationalize on account of this. This is the technology that adorns many of the apparatus you find in the homes and small-scale installations.

Gravity Drain and Condensate Pump

Next, come the gravity drain and the condensate pump technology. This one is a little bit more complicated than the manual technology. These are accessories that are attached to the system and are subsequently used to operate the system chiefly by removing the residual moisture. It is mainly found in large scale installations.

Self-evaporation Technology

A self-evaporation technology also comes in handy. Thanks to this technology, the gadget automatically evaporates the moisture that is left behind after a conditioning task has been accomplished. This moisture pumps out via an exhaust pipe. It negates the need to put in too much of your effort and attention.

Reversible Models

Lastly comes the reversible models. These double up as heaters over and above cooling your interiors. In summer, they cool the air in the rooms wherein they are installed. Then, in the winter, they flip and heat your room instead. You want to prioritize this as it saves you time, money, and effort.

To find the right one, you have to factor your expertise, the nature of the room you intend to use the same and the cost implications. As a general rule, you should look out for the one that is most comprehensive as it saves effort, time and energy. You might require expert advice and support to go about this role.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. 1. Do all portable air conditioners have to be vented out a window?

A. YES, they have! It is important to vent out all the portable air conditioners to allow them to dissipate the hot dirty air out in the environment. The lack of this vent will only serve to suffocate you and render your cooling undertakings of no consequence. You have to similarly make them larger and more effective.

Q. 2. Do you have to put water in a portable air conditioner?

A. NOT really! These air conditioning units are designed to operate independently of the water as they suck out heat from the air without the use of any liquids at all. Nonetheless, they do leave behind some residual vapors or moistures which you have to drain out lest they compromise the entire system.

Q. 3. Is portable AC good?

A. YES, it is! It enables you to enjoy the benefits that come along with the cooing without necessarily having to fix the item fully in your rooms. Many of them are also simpler in scope and hence easier to comprehend and operationalize. That they consume a limited level of power input makes them a plus!

Q. 4. How long do portable air conditioners last?

A. Many portable air conditioners last 10-15 years. The exact length of time they last are however dependent on the make, material construction, and the frequency with which you use them. It is necessary to ascertain the length of time you want to use yours, first and foremost before embarking on a purchase.

Q. 5. Can you use a portable air conditioner in a room with no windows?

A. NOT really! Many units require that you vent out the exhausts. Only the rooms that have windows can facilitate this role. It is possible though to vent out the exhausts through the chimneys and other openings in your room. You may want to leverage these alternatives also in your use of the gadgets.


Now that you know how the portable air conditioner operates, we now urge you to use it with the utmost confidence you probably ever can manage. As you may already see from the discussions above, the gadget is not that complicated. Even a person with fairer skills will indeed find it useful.

It is worth noting also that the precise working mechanism may differ slightly from one brand to another. You should hence pay some time and effort to get to know how yours operates. That way, you will be able to pay better attention and appreciate it in better ways.

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