Thursday, 21 March 2013

Portable Air Conditioners: Vent Free and Portable

One of the great things about a portable air conditioner without exhaust hose pipe venting (vent free) is its amazing portability, versatility and usability in keeping you cool when the weather gets hot. It's a huge advantage over other kinds of portable unit that by their very nature need to be vented to the outside. That's even in a room that doesn't have an accessible window.

When you read this article, you'll discover the common sense benefits of choosing a truly vent free space cooling option that really will keep you feeling nice and cool in the hot summer months.

Why Normal Portable Air Conditioning Units are Not so Portable

With regular mobile, room air conditioners, their portability is actually pretty limited to places where there is an easily accessible external wall outlet to the outside. That's because they produce a hot air exhaust which is a by-product of the heat exchange system that allows them to create chilled or refrigerated air to keep you cool.

In most cases, there won't be a customized outlet for fitting the hot air exhaust venting pipe to. So it will usually end up being poked out of an open window or door, meaning some of its benefit is lost thanks to there being some hot air from outside that's allowed to get in!

Some users have places they habitually use and block up the openings with cushions, strips of thick foam rubber or other insulating material, but it never looks very good. However you do it, you will have to find a means of getting that hot exhaust air out of the house, because if you don't it will simply blow into the room creating a net heating effect!

Which is exactly what you do not want!

When Vent Free Means Vent Free!

Truly ventless air coolers are of course the types of device called evaporative coolers, commonly known as "swamp coolers". These units cool the air by evaporating moisture through some loose knit, porous material that is kept wet thanks to being partially immersed in a reservoir tank of water.

A regular fan blows air through the material, evaporating the moisture and creating a cooling breeze that can effectively reduce the air temperature in a room by as much as thirty degrees or more. Because there is no compressor to run or refrigeration process to exchange hot air for cold, there is no hot exhaust air produced, meaning there is nothing that requires a venting hose or exhaust pipe.

Swamp coolers literally take room temperature air and blast it through a wet membrane to produce cold, humidified air. With no other mechanical workings inside them, they use very little power, making them far cheaper to run than regular room air conditioning units.

So that's how they work and what gives them true portability in every sense of the word.

Which Windowless Vent Free Air Cooler Models Are Best?

Update for 2016: There are some really awesome evaporative air coolers available to buy this year. They are already proving hugely popular with customers at Amazon, so let's take a look at my personal "Top 3" of the best selling units currently and compare them:

Honeywell CL30XC Portable
Evaporative Air Cooler

best vent-free portable evaporative cooler on sale
Visit Amazon for Details

The Honeywell came up tops for me personally as it's a great looking, compact model that packs a pretty impressive output rating for the price. It can cool a space anywhere up to 320 sq ft by an amazing 25 degrees Fahrenheit or greater depending on the room's humidity level.

A generous 7.9 gallon water reservoir means the necessity of refills are few and far between. For me that's important as it can provide a long period of constant cooling. Easy glide wheels make it a cinch to move around to where I need it and it's very cheap to run. Great value from a great mobile cooler!

NewAir AF-1000W

top ventless portable air conditioner without hose pipe exhaust windowless

Visit Amazon for Details

You're going to love this powerful unit from NewAir that can cool any room up to 300 sq ft by as much as 25 degrees F. It has a big 5.3 gallon water tank to give you several hours of cooling before it becomes necessary to refill with water. The cooling pad incorporates a filter for clean and cool air.

The unit is on durable, easy roll casters so moving between rooms is easy. There's a 10 hour timer and easy to use remote for convenience. This model is really great value for money and running costs are super cheap too. Remember, evap coolers work best in climates with 40% humidity or less.

Hessaire MC37A 2200 CFM

best portable air cooler vent-free currently available
I included this Hessaire MC37A 2200 CFM 3 speed evaporative cooler to my top three trio for 2016. It's relatively new to Amazon and other online stores and is already getting a lot of very good (five star) reviews from purchasers.

So what can this baby do? Well, it can cool up to 750 sq ft by 15-20 degrees in dry climates. According to the manufacturer, it has a patented axial prop that is claimed as more energy efficient and able to push cool air further. It has an oscillating fan feature for better air circulation, a timer and an auto shutoff if it runs out of water.

Note: Hessaire MC37A is currently unavailable with no projected return to the store. I've kept the review text below but I removed the link to the online store out of courtesy to my readers:

I chose these three models based on their build quality, cooling effectiveness and price. They are all on sale this year at affordable, entry-level prices with discounts you can take advantage of when you click any one of the special links situated below each image (or click the image itself).

KuulAire PACKA43 350 CFM

top rated vent-free evaporative air cooler portable
I've kept my review paragraphs and image of this model on the page as a comparison and in the hope that availability returns, as right now it's getting harder to find one.

Here is a good workhorse cooler that can chill a room anywhere up to 175 sq ft by up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit while staying frugal with the minuscule amount of power it consumes. A large capacity, easy fill 4 gall water reservoir means this baby can run happily for several hours before it needs refilling.

Big on features and big on convenience, this model has a remote control so you don't have to get up out of your seat to change the settings. Fully portable on easy glide wheels, it's a pleasure to move from room to room.

Please note: I have taken down the link because the product is no longer available on sale at the recommended vendor (Amazon) or other similar online stores.

Major Disadvantage

The only downside is swamp coolers are not effective in areas that already have high humidity in hot weather. In that case the evaporating cooling effect is diluted by the amount of moisture already present in the air and the net cooling effect is greatly reduced depending on the level of humidity.

It is really important that you understand, these portable vent free air coolers are NOT air conditioners without venting exhaust hose pipes and will not make cold air in a humid room. If you are not sure what the humidity level of your air is locally, you can usually find out online via Google or check with local weather stations.

Please do NOT buy one of these units if you're unsure if your air is dry enough for them to work well. You'll only end up returning it when it doesn't live up to your expectations!

Getting Maximum Efficiency from Your Evaporative Cooler

Here is a great tip: One thing you can do to ensure your evaporative air cooler keeps working at its most efficient in keeping you cool indoors is to make sure the air in the room stays dry. Here's what you need to do:

Crack a window open a little and place your cooling unit close to it. Also, crack the door open a little and you'll set up a cross draft that will take the moist air produced by the unit out of the room.

I know it defies the logic of keeping the hot air out and the cold air in as with air conditioning. But doing this will ensure the air does not get too artificially humid in the room you're cooling because of the way these machines work.

Don't worry, you'll still have a nice cool room and the air blasted out of your cooler will stay colder as long as the cross-draft is there to take away the moisture. Try it and see for yourself!

Economical Air Cooling System

This is an excellent way to fend off the heat of summer without spending a whole load of money on electricity running a power hungry AC solution. Without the need to run a refrigeration setup, evaporative cooling units are very economical to run in terms of extremely low power usage.

They are kind to the environment and are a real no-brainer for folks living in dry climates that don't like to throw money away on AC if it is not really necessary. You can read more about this money-saving aspect of these devices in other articles published here.

At the end of the day, if you live in an area of low summer humidity and need a cheap cooling solution that is really portable and can go with you from room to room without needing to be vented to the outside, you might want to take a closer look at a swamp cooler as your solution. It can make a really effective low cost way to stay cool and comfortable during the hot weather.

Comparing the Best Portable Air Conditioners

If you have read this article this far and feel a little downhearted because you happen to live in an area of high humidity, all is not lost. You still have the option of regular AC in a portable unit, you just don't get to share on the highly desirable savings in running costs.

There are some models that, while not as spectacularly inexpensive to run as swamp coolers, can still be economical when compared to running a larger fixed, central system in your home or office. Just so you don't feel left out of the equation, I have included two of what I consider the best and most economical to run room AC models for you to take a look at if you want:

Honeywell MN10CESWW

top honeywell portable air conditioner

Visit Amazon for Details


This is a great 10,000 BTU portable AC that comes with a remote control, three fan speeds and an automatic timer. One of the main features of this model is its dehumidification capability that can remove as much as 79 pints from the air per day by evaporation without needing to be emptied, which is a real time and hassle saver.

What I like about this model is that it is very affordable to purchase (it's currently offered with a big discount but you'll need to grab one at the low price before they remove the deal). Running costs are average for an AC of this size but it is eco-friendly with no CFC gases and it can cool a room up to 350 sq ft bringing the temperature down to a comfortable level surprisingly fast.

It comes in pure white, black and silver or plain black to suit your tastes and has its own window venting kit that's pretty easy to install yourself. It runs fairly quietly on the low setting and only draws 9.5 amps in power.

If you want to find out more and read some of the hundreds of customer/purchaser reviews, click on the image or link below it to visit the relevant page at where all is revealed (including the latest discount price offer).

Whynter ARC-14S

best mobile room portable air conditioner

Visit Amazon for Details

This is a more powerful machine and naturally costs more than the model above, but if you need greater cooling power for larger spaces, this is probably the best model in its class in terms of overall costs (including running costs). It is CFC free, so more eco-friendly than other units yet it still manages to cool rooms up to 500 sq ft with its 14,000 BTU rating.

What helps make this unit more efficient is its dual hose setup with separate intake and exhaust pipes that connect to the outside for better airflow. It also has a dehumidifying function capable or removing up to 101 pints per day that is evaporated and expelled to the outside via the exhaust hose along with the unwanted hot air.

Power consumption is surprisingly low for an AC of this power, drawing only 1250 watts (10.8 amps) max. There is a remote control and timer with auto-shutoff and auto-restart features and the stylish platinum and black finish looks good in any setting.

Remember, these last two featured units on this page are true AC models and as such must be vented to the outside via their flexible exhaust ducts. That's to allow the hot air they produce to escape to the outside and not compromise their cooling capacity inside the room.

If you happened to skip to this part of the page by mistake and missed the info about the type of free standing, portable air conditioner without exhaust hose pipe venting that you came here to see, all you need to do is scroll back up the page (or click the "TOP of PAGE" link below to read all about them!



  1. I guess from the point of view that I can the max from my swamp cooler in summer, I'm lucky to live in a real dry climate. I bought a Sunpentown cooler a few months back and its amazing and so cheap to run compared to my old (retired) aircon unit. Great article by the way, thanks!

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  3. Thanks for sharing your insight! As a small business owner I have experienced first-hand the rising costs of hvac equipment including air conditioners. Therefore, it has been more and more difficult to stay comfortable when temperatures are sweltering hot. That's why I've been searching for other supplemental cooling options to help keep the office cool without using a huge amount of company expenses.

  4. would this work in florida in a room with between 50-65% humidity? I am desperate. I cant get the kind that goes out the window and these ppl i live with refuse to run the ac and for some reason room i am in is twice as hot as rest of house.

    1. These swamp coolers will work in medium humidity but their air cooling effectiveness will be reduced. Sounds like you need something to help and this might be better than nothing, certainly better than a regular fan.

  5. Portable AC's are best suited in those areas where the climate is not that hot or who don't want to install an windows AC. If you compare it with a Windows AC then they lag behind in a lot of things like less efficiency, more expensive and more noisy. If you want a good cooling effect in high temperatures than windows AC is what you should opt for.

  6. I think evaporative coolers are amazing. I have three of these in my home and together they keep all the places really comfortably cool that are used mostly by the family. That's the main living room where everyone watches TV (I have a big swamp cooler in there) and the two bedrooms. I keep a window cracked in each room to provide some cross ventilation and that stops the air in the rooms getting too moist. Been running evaps for five years now with no regrets. I calculate I save enough on my energy bills annually to pay for a great vacation for my family every year. That's when it really hits home how useful these things are!

  7. Coastal Cooling1 July 2015 at 01:37

    These little units can be great for keeping one room of a house rather cold. Great post!

  8. I've rented a little garret room in Paris for July and August with three sets of double doors opening into the room (not sliding). It does NOT have air-conditioning There is presently a record setting heat wave in Europe (101 degrees) on Saturday when I arrive. Summer humidity in Paris is between 35 and 70. My landlord said "we'd" figure out an "air cooler" when I get there. I see it's probably too humid for a swamp cooler and the door windows are not conducive for venting hot air out. suggestions anyone?

    1. It's not that evap coolers don't work in humidity, they're just not quite as effective.

      I have been stuck in similar situations and even a giant metal mixing bowl of ice parked in front of a regular fan will provide you quite a lot of respite from the heat.

      Your best bet is going to be paying attention to the natural daily heating and cooling cycle. Everything open when it's cool, shut it all up tight and turn your "air cooler" on when it's hot. (I live in a valley, it's not worth opening the house until almost 9pm, but I don't need to close it again until about 11am when the sun is high overhead).

  9. I live in Florida and I would like to use it in my car garage. Would it work?

  10. Hello,nice post regarding portable air condition. Portable air condition is easy and flexible to use. On the other hand, with the portable air conditioner you can do the installation on your own. There’s not going to be any electrical issues, because as portable units they are specifically designed to use any regular electrical socket. Thanks for the post.