How Long Can You Run a Portable Air Conditioner Continuously?

Investing in a portable air conditioning system can be a great solution to hot, humid summers spent at home or in the office. These machines can keep you efficiently cool for years if cared for correctly.

Are you concerned about the cost to run a portable AC? Read this guide to discover how long you can run air conditioners.

Why It’s NOT A Good Idea to Run a Portable AC All day?

While it may seem tempting just to run your AC all day, every day, it may not be the brightest idea. How long can you run a portable air conditioner?

Most people run their portable ac units anywhere from 5-12 hours at a time. Each conditioner goes through 15-minute cycles 2-3 times an hour. With regular care, maintenance, and rest cycles, most AC units can keep up service for ten years or so.

Running your machine constantly for an extended period will strain the parts, waste money and electricity, and decrease its overall lifespan.

In some cases, the portable air conditioner may become unsafe with prolonged use. That being said, some people do run their ac all day for a few days during heatwaves. So, can your run a portable AC all day? You can run it continuously for a short period, say a couple of days, if you have the money to pay those bills.

Can Portable AC Run All Day

Factors That Impact How Long Your Air Conditioner Runs

Temperature Outside

The temperature outside the house is just as vital as the temperature inside. If the outside is hotter than the inside, then the heat will seep into the bricks and make your conditioner work for longer. If it’s very humid outside, your conditioner will be running for longer as well.

Thermostat Settings

Suppose you keep your thermostat low during the peak heat and humidity of summer. In that case, your portable air conditioner will most likely be working harder and longer to cool your home down.

Related Article How to Reset an AC Thermostat

Size of Your AC

If your air conditioner is too big, it will keep short-cycling and be ineffective at removing humidity in your home, rendering it useless. If your conditioner is too small, you will encounter the opposite. If you experience no change after 20 minutes, it may be too small for your space.

State of Your AC

The more your care for your air conditioning unit, the longer it will last. If your machine is dirty or not well serviced, the portable air conditioner running cost will increase over time. This is because it works harder to cool your home.

The Size of Your Room

The larger your room is, the longer your conditioner will have to run to cool it down. Make sure to get the right size conditioner for your home to prevent wasting money and energy.

Home Insulation Levels

Insulation plays a vital part in regulating the temperature of your home. If you have little to no insulation, then heat can seep into your home easily. This causes your conditioner to work for longer to cool your room down.

Common Portable Air Conditioner Mistakes

  1. .Wrong selection of portable AC
    Different types of air conditioning units suit different environments, often coming with specialized features, timers, and modes.
  2. .Disregarding the BTU ratings and the size of the room
    An AC’s BTU measures the unit’s capacity. The higher the BTU, the longer it can run. Getting a weaker unit for ample space will shorten its lifespan considerably.
  3. .Not factoring in the “Energy Efficiency Ratio” (EER)
    Read the product description carefully before purchase to ensure that your desired unit can deliver proper satisfaction levels for your home.
  4. .Ignoring the venting requirements
    An AC unit’s venting system is essential to proper function. Make sure that the unit’s venting system works with your home to prevent the unit from overheating.
  5. .Failing to care for the power considerations
    Check the unit’s power requirements before purchase, and ensure that you have the correct sources at your disposal beforehand.
  6. .Overlooking the change of filters
    Not changing the filters often enough causes the system to work harder to perform at a basic level, compromising its effectiveness and lifespan.
  7. .Setting the thermostat too low
    Think of your thermostat as a helper for your AC unit. The thermostat should be gradually adjusted every week or so to take the strain off your ac unit.
  8. .Positioning the thermostat and vents poorly
    Keeping your thermostat and vents away from direct sunlight ensures that they do not take incorrect readings to prevent proper function.
  9. .Opening windows and doors
    If you open windows or doors while using the portable ac, you are simply letting cool air out and warm air in. This means that you will waste energy and money unnecessarily. Find a quiet AC unit that will allow you to keep all windows and doors shut.
  10. .Cooling empty rooms
    If you are not going to be in a particular room for more than an hour, there is little point in wasting money and electricity cooling that room.
  11. .11. Failing to drain the unit
    All AC units create condensation that is either sucked out of the system or placed in a reservoir. This reservoir needs to be drained often enough to be function optimally.

How To Extend The Life Of Your Portable Air Conditioner

Place the Portable AC on the Right Location

Putting your portable AC by a door or window, in direct sunlight, or in empty rooms is a fast way to waste energy and money. Keep those windows and doors closed, and close the curtains or blinds while in an AC room to help remove unnecessary strain.

Portable AC Location

Use the Right Power Source

It makes sense – give your air conditioning unit the right power type and level, and it will function correctly. Using the wrong power sources will waste your time and stop the ac from working correctly. Most smaller models tend to use standard voltage requirements but always double-check with the manufacturer.

Regularly Change the Filters

Set a reminder to change the filters as per the manufacturer’s recommendation to avoid your air condition unit overheating due to extra strain. You may be able to find reusable filters if you need to save money.

Store Properly during Winter

Frost, mold, and other elements can get into your air conditioner’s parts and damage them over time while in storage for the winter. Make sure to store it in a sheltered, dry place while not in use.

Turn off unnecessary electronics

All electronics give off heat while in use; some big examples include PCs and ovens. Turn off anything you aren’t using to prevent the room temperature from increasing over the course of the day.

Regularly clean out the vents and parts

Clogged vents and parts mean that your ac unit has to work even harder to lower your room temperature. Clean it regularly to prevent any added strain or clogs in the future.

Start your machine before dawn

As the sun rises, it heats your house’s bricks, which then heat your home’s inside. Start your AC in your bedroom at night to keep the bricks cool.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Is it OK to spray water on your air conditioner while running?

It can be OK, depending on the parts. The condenser often needs a regular spritz of water to keep it clean and function properly for as long as possible.

Do portable air conditioners run out of freon?

That depends on the individual model. If your unit runs out of freon, it is possible to find replaceable coolant or recycled freon where necessary.

Related Article How to Check Freon Levels

Can a generator power our portable air conditioner?

It can work for some portable air conditioning units. Check the product description and BTU carefully before purchase to be sure. There may also be hacks online that can help.

Do all portable air conditioners run with water?

Most air conditioning units produce condensation that is either removed via a vent or stored in a reservoir. If your unit has a reservoir, you will need to empty it regularly. Some portable AC units have self-evaporating features.


Knowing how to run a portable air conditioner correctly will help you keep it working for years to come. Remember to give it a hand to prevent it from overheating or straining itself to extend its life.

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.