Are Portable Air Conditioners Safe (Fumes & Ventilation Explained)

As summer quickly approaches, some central AC systems just aren’t equipped to handle the rising temperatures. That’s where investing in a portable air conditioner can come in handy.

The best portable ACs are extremely effective at cooling a range of room sizes, and best of all, they can be moved between rooms to cater to your cooling needs.

There are a lot of benefits to portable air conditioners, but safety always comes first. Here we’ll explore whether or not portable air conditions are a safe cooling option for your pets, your kids, and your home in general.

Are Portable Air Conditioners Safe to Use?

Jumping right into the “how safe are portable air conditioners?” question, the answer is a resounding yes. There are very few risks to using a portable AC, and there have been no health issues linked to portable cooling. So yes, they are safe.

However, it’s still important to understand how a portable AC works in order to use it as safely as possible. The cooling process starts by drawing in warm air from the surroundings, cooling that air with the help of a compressor, and expelling it back into the room to drop the temperature.

There is some warm air still leftover after the process, so this is vented out of the back of the unit or vented out through ducting hooked up to a window. The main risk associated with portable ACs is the heat factor – that warm air needs to go somewhere, so just make sure to place the unit far enough away from the wall and follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly for venting the hot air out through the window.

Portable ACs & Your Health

As of now, there have been no health issues associated with portable ACs. In fact, investing in a portable unit can actually benefit your health, especially for those suffering from allergies or asthma.

That’s because an air conditioner doesn’t just cool the air; it also works to remove moisture and dehumidifies. Cooler, drier air means less risk of mold and other allergens in the home, and it means that you and your family can breathe more comfortably while also staying cool.

In addition to dehumidification, most portable units offer an air purification and filtration process as well to eliminate harmful airborne particles like bacteria, viruses, smoke, dust, and even pet dander. They do this by using either a carbon filter or a HEPA filter, but you can take air purification a step further by investing in a whole house air purifier.

Portable Air Conditioners & Your New Born Baby

Now we’ve established that portable ACs are indeed a safe addition to the home, but are portable air conditioners safe for babies? Installing a small portable AC in a nursery is perfectly safe, and it can actually provide a lot of benefits for a newborn.

There are, however, some precautions you should take when using a portable AC unit in a nursery (or around babies in general). First, make sure the unit is set to an appropriate temperature, ideally somewhere in the low 70s. Next, make sure the stream of cold air is not directed at your baby, and have the AC out of reach to eliminate the risk of accidents.

When using an AC for a baby’s room, it’s recommended that you dress your infant in light clothing and use a cap to cover the baby’s head and ears. Most importantly, always make sure the unit is in good working condition – a poorly serviced AC can have a negative effect

Portable ACs and Babies

Portable Air Conditioners & Your Dogs

Loving pet owners often wonder, “are portable air conditioners safe for dogs, cats, and other pets?”

The answer is yes; portable air conditioners are a safe addition to homes with pets. Even if you have a curious dog who will likely inspect the unit as soon as it’s installed, the best portable ACs come with safety features to reduce the risk of accidents, like automatic shut-off and tip-over prevention.

Considering the thick fur coats worn by our dogs at all times, it’s no surprise that dogs tend to run warm. Because of this, they’re more at risk of overheating, so buying a portable AC for the home can help minimize that risk. You might even consider buying a dog house air conditioner if your pooch spends a lot of time outside.

Portable ACs and Dogs

Safety Tips When Installing a Portable AC

Just because portable ACs have been deemed a safe investment does not mean you can let safety precautions slide, especially during the installation process. Always refer to the owner’s manual provided by the manufacturer for setting up the unit.

Here are a few more ways to safely perform portable AC installation:

  • Place the unit in areas where it is free of water and rain.
  • Place the unit in areas with an allowed temperature range according to the manufacturer.
  • Install the unit in non-sloping areas (on a flat, solid surface).
  • Place the unit in an area that can withstand its weight.
  • Keep the unit 18 inches / 45 cm away from walls for unobstructed airflow and proper venting.
  • Place the unit in non-flammable gas areas

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Do portable air conditioners give off carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is highly toxic, but the good news is that you don’t have to worry about CO emissions from your portable AC. Carbon monoxide can only be created from fuel-burning devices like cars, generators, gas stoves, and furnaces. Portable ACs generally run on electricity, so carbon monoxide is never a risk.

Is it safe to leave portable AC on all day?

While it may be safe, it’s not recommended. Portable ACs aren’t the most efficient, so leaving the portable AC on all day is a sure-fire way to spike your energy bills. It’s best to turn the AC when you need it, or at the very least, set it to Auto or Eco mode.

Can portable air conditioners catch fire?

As is the case with any device powered by electricity, there’s a small risk of fire when a portable AC isn’t installed or used correctly.

According to Hunker’s guide on fire in an air conditioner, “routinely maintaining your air conditioning unit and having it inspected at least every 12 months will help you catch problems with the unit before those problems result in a house fire.”

What is the healthiest temperature to keep your house?

According to Provincial Heating, a California-based HVAC company, the healthiest room temperature range “will go from 20 – 24 degrees Celsius (68 – 76 degrees Fahrenheit). Depending on a number of other factors, you may prefer one temperature over another.”

Is it unhealthy to keep your house cold?

Keeping the home cold has been proven to be bad for your health.

The Center for Sustainable Energy says that “problems and diseases linked to the cold range from blood pressure increases and common colds, to heart attacks and pneumonia. Besides poor health, cold-related illness causes absence from work, social isolation, and sleep deprivation.”


So are air conditioners worth it from a health perspective? We think so! It’s safe to say that portable air conditioners are 100% safe. Just make sure to take the proper safety precautions while setting up and using the unit, and perform the proper maintenance to keep it running smoothly – and safely!

Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with DIY and improving my family home. HVAC topics can be tricky for homeowners so I decided to share my knowledge on the subject. When I am not working on DIY projects, you can find me at the beach or my local coffee shop.