A portable air conditioner functions similarly to a central air conditioning system or a window unit. It releases fresh air and expels hot air from an indoor space.
Because it is light in weight, a portable air conditioner is convenient, simple to use, and can be moved around easily.
Portable air conditioners – unlike central and window units – do not have to be installed. A tube is used to expel warm air. One end of the tube is connected to the unit and the other end is extended through an opening like a window, doorway, or mail slot.
Like other types of air conditioners, a portable unit contains refrigeration chemicals and includes a compressor, a condenser, and an evaporator. But unlike central and window models, the compressor and condenser are located inside the interior space that is being cooled.
The refrigeration chemicals reach the compressor as a cool, low-pressure gas. The fluid is squeezed as it passes through the compressor. The molecules within the chemical are pushed closer together. The tighter the molecules are packed together, the higher its temperature and its energy.
The chemical exits the compressor and enters the condenser as a warm, high-pressure gas. As the gas passes through the condenser, it is cooled and transformed into a liquid. The refrigerant then passes through a small, narrow opening and into the evaporator. As its pressure drops, it is transformed back to its gaseous form. The cool air that is produced is released into the interior space and the gas returns to the compressor where the cycle repeats.
Portable air conditioners come equipped with a receptacle that collects excess condensation. It can be emptied manually or a hose can be used to drain the liquid outside, down a storm drain, or into a sump pump.
A portable air conditioner works best when it is placed near an opening rather than in the middle of the room. The closer the unit is to the opening, the more warm air will be expelled outside. It also is advisable to insulate the exhaust tube with towels or rags. This will prevent the tube from radiating heat into the room during operation.