How to install a portable air conditioner

Summer is near, which means more days, more outdoor activities, and very hotter temperatures. When it comes to keeping your home cool, those of us who don’t have the glory of a central air system will be moved to two other cooling options – window air conditioners and portable air conditioners. If you’ve chosen the latter, properly setting up your portable AC is an undertaking, but we’re here to help. As the experts at Home Gear, we’ve taken a look at several of the leading portable AC units to assemble a how-to guide for setting up your brand-new portable air conditioner.

Not sure which portable AC to buy? Take a look at our roundup of the best portable air conditioners you can buy right now. What better way to think about window units? We have a roundup for that as well.

Before we begin…

Black & Decker Portable Air Conditioner
  • Your new portable air conditioner may have a handy set of caster wheels to move it from room to room. Convenient, yes, but if you need to quickly leap from hardwood to less carpeted, plan your lift. Most portable AC units can weigh anywhere from 50 to 80 pounds, so it may be a good idea to have a second set of hands for any serious lifting.
  • In terms of placement, you always want your portable AC to be on a level floor and away from obstacles like furniture and other types of home decor.
  • The two most important functions of your portable AC are venting and draining. Whatever room the unit is placed in, you’ll want to make sure there is an outside window. This is because your AC will be collecting hot air from your home and venting it out of your home through a venting hose. Don’t worry when looking for venting accessories, as your portable AC should have a complete venting kit. These usually include exhaust hoses, hose adapters, foam padding for your windows, and more.
  • When it comes to drainage, consider whether your AC will automatically drain into a drain, sink, bucket, etc. or if you’ll be relying on manually emptying the unit’s drainage canister. For automatic drainage, your unit must have a drainage hose. Make sure the hose is connected and placed in an appropriate drainage vessel.
  • You will also want to make sure there is an electrical outlet nearby. If it isn’t, you may want to reconsider where you will put the AC, as daisy-chaining extension cords and power strips can be very dangerous if they ever fail.
  • Consult your owner’s manual, as different units may have different parts and installation considerations.

Step 1: Measure your window

Using a tape measure, measure the width of your window frame/sash. You will need this measurement to know how much foam padding to put in the sill. As important as it may sound, foam padding is key to preventing insects, dirt, pollutants and outside heat from entering your home.

You’ll also want to use the same measurement to determine how long your AC’s window mounting bracket needs to last. If you’re not sure what the bracket is, look for a long, rectangular piece of plastic (or similar material) with a cut-out for your AC’s exhaust hose. If the bracket is expandable, adjust accordingly to match the width of your window. If the bracket is all one piece, you may need to cut it to size.

Once the padding and bracket are in place, lower the window onto the bracket and secure it to the window frame using the safety screws provided by your AC.

Step 2: Connect the Venting Hose

When the AC is on, connect the venting hose first to the back of your AC and then to the window exhaust connector on the mounting bracket. When installing, try to keep the hose as straight as possible for the best air flow. Kinks and odd angles in the venting line can cause a heating backup, which can damage the AC or cause hot air to leak into the room you’re trying to cool.

In cases where it is difficult to maintain a proper seal between the AC/hose or bracket/hose, consider wrapping several rounds of duct tape around the connection point to create a seal.

Step 3: Connect the Drainage Hose (Optional)

If you plan to have your portable AC automatically drain water into a drain, basin, bucket, etc., first connect the drainage hose to the AC and then to the designated drainage receptacle. Keep in mind that not all portable ACs come with drainage hoses, so if you plan to drain water this way, you may need to purchase an additional drainage hose kit, either from the manufacturer or third party company.

Step 4: Ready for Action

Portable Air Conditioner Roundup

Once all the hoses are connected, all you have to do is plug your AC in for power. Make sure you’re plugging into a grounded outlet in case of a power spike or other outlet malfunction. Your AC must have both plugged in Exam and reset Button. press Exam To enable the fail-safe function of the AC. If the unit detects a problem with the power it is receiving, it will cut off the power completely. then press reset To fully power your AC.

Now all that’s left to do is sit down, throw batteries in your portable AC remote (if they’re a must), and enjoy the clean, cool air you’ll be experiencing all summer long.

One last thought: don’t forget to clean the filter

Like dehumidifiers and other air-based small appliances, your portable AC will have some sort of HEPA filter located on the back or side of the unit. While it may not sound like much, this mesh partition helps prevent harmful air pollutants, dirt and dust from entering your home’s air. However, over time, these filters will build up gunk that will prevent your AC from running properly.

Once a month, be sure to remove the filter and wash it thoroughly. This will take a full five minutes, and it will only help your AC run as well as the day you first unboxed it.

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