How to Install a Portable Air Conditioner

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Updated May 18, 2023

Learning how to install a portable AC unit is easy, and so is installing it, as long as you follow a few simple steps.
Find a good spot near a window. Attach the hose to the back of the AC unit and stretch it to the window. Use the window kit to seal the window. Plug in the AC and adjust the settings. Remember to clean the filters regularly for optimal airflow. Portable AC units, like the Friedrich P12B dual hose portable room air conditioner, are great for small rooms or for supplementing the cooling power of a standard window unit. The best air conditioner is the one that most efficiently and quickly cools your space, and sometimes having one you can easily move will help you cover all your bases during the hot summer months.


  • Leave at least a few feet of space around any portable air conditioner for the most efficient and effective operation.
  • Evaporator coolers don’t require ventilation and can be very effective in smaller rooms, as long as humidity won’t be an issue.
  • You can use the included adapter to connect a unit’s ventilation hose to a window, but you may need to buy additional plexiglass and sealing tape to connect it properly to a sliding door.

Installing a Portable AC Unit

Portable air conditioners installed in crank windows, except for evaporator cooler models, use the same refrigerant air cycling method to cool a room as window mounted and HVAC systems, with the notable difference of being mobile and easy to move. This is true, especially if you’re trying to figure out how to install a window air conditioner in a mobile home.

A hose is connected to the unit and extends out of a window or wall vent, usually on an exterior wall, to expel hot air from the home. Materials used for portable air conditioner hoses vary from lightweight plastic to more durable options, such as silver foil.

Insider Tip

Most portable AC units that aren’t evaporator coolers come with adapters for connecting their ventilation hoses to windows or sliding doors.

Since they’re not installed permanently or semi-permanently into windows, walls, or duct systems, installation is fairly simple. That said, there are a few basic things you have to do in order to get the best performance out of your top-rated dual hose portable A/C unit. All you need is an exhaust port, a window or wall opening for the portable air conditioning unit, and some duct tape to secure it.

Provide Plenty Of Breathing Room

A portable air conditioner needs several feet of clear floor space for proper airflow and efficient operation. Make sure any other electronics or moisture-vulnerable furnishings are at least a few feet clear as well. An air conditioner running in a small, cramped space will be a lot less effective, increasing energy costs and decreasing cooling power. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that the room has adequate air circulation and that humidity levels are adjusted for optimal comfort. This helps maintain the quality of air in your space, as good air circulation supports better airflow and temperature regulation.

Once you make sure the surrounding environment is suitable and you set up your efficient AC unit like the one in our Whynter portable air conditioner review, you’ll be on your way to saving on energy costs.

Make Sure The Seal Is Good

Unless you’re using an evaporator cooler, you’ll have to provide ventilation with a tight seal that doesn’t let air in around the edges of the unit. If you’re using a standard window for ventilation, you’ll need an adapter kit, which should come with your unit. A vent kit can include foam strips to help seal the window and provide proper ventilation, so be sure not to skip this step. Although a window is preferable for efficiency, you can install it using a sliding glass door. In this case, purchase some plexiglass and sealant tape to make sure the seal is tight.

STAT: More than 80% of people who buy a portable AC unit use a window for ventilating it. (source)

A Word About Evaporator Coolers

Evaporator coolers, or swamp coolers as they’re sometimes called, are a popular alternative to refrigerant-based portable coolers. They’re lightweight, easy to move, and fairly effective. However, because they use cooled, evaporated water molecules to cool a room, they add considerable humidity to the air and sometimes double as humidifiers. If you’re going to use one, be sure there’s nothing in the room that moisture or excess humidity could easily damage. Swamp coolers are also usually best used in arid climates with little humidity. If the idea of swamp coolers adding humidity doesn’t sound appealing to you, stick with portable units like the air conditioner we feature in this Shinco air conditioner review.


Evaporator coolers create a lot of humidity, so running them in a room that has any moisture-sensitive appliances isn’t advised.

While you’re at it, ‌look at how to install a slide-out chassis air conditioner You may also want to look into how to find the BTU of an air conditioner or how many watts a portable AC use.


Do portable air conditioners need a water supply?

Only evaporator coolers need a water supply. Evaporator coolers use moisture to cool the air and have a refillable water reservoir. Standard refrigerant models do not need water.

Can you vent a portable air conditioner through a dryer vent?

Generally‌, no. Manufacturers usually warn against this because the dryer vent is almost always on a different side than an air conditioner exhaust hose and would need to be jerry-rigged to be functional, which is both unsafe and ineffective.

How can I cool a room with no windows?

The easiest and most inexpensive way would be to purchase an evaporator cooler, which typically either uses water from a built-in reservoir or from a water line running through the roof to cool the air with cooled, evaporated water molecules. If you need or want to run a standard refrigerant model and live in a humid climate, for example, you could custom-build a vent hole in a wall or ceiling, though this can be cost and labor prohibitive.

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