Informational Guide

How To Make a Portable AC Quieter

Learn how to make your portable air conditioner quieter with our easy guide. These steps will reduce home noise levels and allow for more comfort when cooling.

by Josh M

Portable air conditioners are certainly a huge convenience in that they can be moved around to where you need them most, can be used in any type of home, and don’t require installation, among several other factors.

However, they’re not exactly known for being the quietest of appliances. If you want to reap all the benefits and learn how to make your portable air conditioner quieter, then don’t go anywhere because we’re about to share all the secrets with you!

Why exactly does having a quiet AC unit even matter? It turns out there’s a ton of reasons why! Let’s go through each one.

  • Silent AC units are highly efficient
    It makes sense, right? It’s just like with cars: a clunky engine probably isn’t going to perform as well as a quiet, smooth one. Noisy air conditioners often translate to less energy-efficient air conditioners!
  • Low-noise ACs are better quality
    Sure, they may be a bit pricier in upfront costs, but you’ll end up spending less, overall. While not a rule, more high-quality air conditioners are usually made with more premium parts that are more efficient to cool the area in question and produce less noise.
  • Peace of mind
    This kind of goes hand-in-hand with our next point. Noisy ACs can not only be annoying but have a negative effect on your well-being! With a noisy model, you can rest easy, figuratively and literally, knowing that you and others in your home aren’t in harm’s way and that your AC is in good shape.
  • Better Sleep
    Who doesn’t want to get better sleep? While many of us appreciate some white noise in the background (babies especially), when it gets up into the upper 70dB range, it can increase stress levels, interrupt sleep, and even lead to serious health issues! Having a noisy AC unit simply is not worth all that.
Portable Air Conditioner & New Born Baby

Why is My Portable Air Conditioner Making Noise?

While we ideally don’t want our AC to be noisy in the first place, if it is, then there are some steps you can take to fix it.

How many decibels for a quiet portable air conditioner? Try to get it operating below 60dB, though the best models are no louder than 35dB.

If you want to know how to quiet a noisy portable air conditioner, look at the steps below to narrow down the issue!

Problem with fans

It’s natural for fans to make some kind of noise, but shaking/rattling or strong humming noises can indicate that your fans need cleaning or more regular maintenance.

Open up the AC unit’s cabinet and find the fan, getting rid of any grime, dust, and debris located on the blades. You may even find that it’s not necessarily that the blades are dirty, but that insulation has broken off and is getting moved around by the fan, thus causing noise.

If you don’t see any dirt or debris, then make sure the blade hasn’t come loose. If it is, then simply grab a screwdriver or wrench and tighten it up. Also, make sure the blades are straight, as those that are bent can create noise and make for less efficient cooling.

Needs lubrication

If the motor is making a noise like humming or even grinding, this is a sure sign that it needs lubrication (SAE 10 oil). If yours has an unsealed motor, you can place this in the oil ports yourself, and that should do the trick.

Loose screws

If you’re hearing a portable air conditioner rattling noise, then it may be due to loose screws caused by the vibration generated while the AC is in use. The good news is this is super easy to fix with a screwdriver and costs nothing to solve.

Clogged coil fins

Coil fins can get clogged up with dirt and dust, causing the AC unit to run noisily. The easiest way to solve this issue is by taking out your vacuum with a brush attachment to remove it and leave them clean again. These coils can also become bent over time, resulting in a humming noise. A fin comb is a tool made just for this and can straighten it out, but you can also have an HVAC tech do this for you as well.

You should service your HVAC regularly – ideally every 6 months or so. This will keep it running optimally with minimal issues.

What Do the Unusual Sounds of Your AC Mean?

You probably have a pretty good idea of what an air conditioner should sound like, so if you start hearing some wonky noises coming from it, it’s helpful to know what is causing it and how to fix it.

  • Rattling Sound
    This is typically going to be caused by a loose fan rotor. In this case, the safest situation would be to simply turn off the unit completely and call an HVAC tech.
  • Louder Humming Sound
    Humming is expected when an AC is running, but if you notice that yours is abnormally loud, it may be dirty inside the unit. If it’s super loud, this could indicate a more serious issue, like the starting capacitor is failing, which warrants a visit from an HVAC technician as well.
  • Squeaking Sound
    Squeaking usually isn’t any cause for concern and typically means the unit needs to be cleaned free of debris and dust or requires a bit of lubrication.
  • Grinding Sound
    Grinding, on the other hand, is usually serious. It could mean an essential bearing is failing, a dual shaft motor is breaking down, and other issues that require immediate attention. You guessed it: this also means an HVAC tech needs to come over.
  • Hissing Sound
    If your AC unit produces a hissing noise, you need to get off our website and get on a call with your HVAC specialist now. Sometimes it could be due to a minor issue like an air leak, or a serious one, like a refrigerant leak. Don’t play the guessing game, though – just call them up.
Portable AC - Single Hose

6 Tips on How to Make a Portable AC Quieter

If you need tips on how to quiet a noisy portable air conditioner, look no further. The following tips are here to ensure that you can rest easy knowing your AC unit is effective and safe.

1. Place the unit on a carpet

This is a quick and easy fix that most of us can do. If you have your AC sitting on hard flooring like tile or hardwood, then this can generate noise due to the vibration against it. Moving it to a softer surface like a carpet or rug can allow it to operate properly without the added noise. Wooden floors are actually a great noise conductor, and even a simple rug can help dampen it.

2. Relocate the AC unit remotely

Moving the unit to an outdoor space lets you relocate it, so the air is moved into the room through hoses instead of the cooled air coming directly into the room from the AC. However, this is obviously a much more cumbersome solution that many may not need or want to take on. Alternatively, buy a smaller-sized AC unit that won’t take up much space.

3. Place the unit on a non-slip mat

These are meant to keep the unit in place, so even while operating, the vibrations won’t cause it to move around. A large amount of the vibration is also absorbed, so you can just place this mat on top of your hardwood/tile flooring without damage or unnecessary noise.

4. Wrap air conditioner in a blanket

This can also help to minimize noise and vibration. Just make sure that you keep all airways open, so airflow isn’t compromised.

5. Check if it’s level

This may seem like a more obvious one, but it’s surprisingly easy to miss! If your portable air conditioner is sitting slanted a bit, this can reduce efficiency and up the noise level. If you aren’t sure, grab a level or download a level app on your phone to check. Window air conditioners suffer similar problems but they need to be installed on a slight tilt to function correctly.

Check out our favorite quiet window AC units here.

6. Keep it out of direct sunlight

Of course, this isn’t going to be feasible for everyone, but if you can, try to keep your AC in the shade and even vent it out of a sliding window. Being in the sun makes the unit warmer, which means it has to work harder to keep your home/room cool. This not only results in bigger utility bills but more noise, too.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Are portable air conditioners quieter than window units?

If we were to compare both types based on their cooling power and relative noise, then yes, portable air conditioners are the quieter of the two.

What is the best noise level for portable AC?

Anything at 55 dB or lower is ideal. Of course, this will depend on the size and power of the unit.

What does 52 dB sound like?

It sounds like light traffic or a normal conversation – enough to notice but not so much that it should cause a disturbance.

Why are portable air conditioners so noisy?

The thing is, portable ACs are an all-in-one kind of deal. The compressor, which generates almost the entirety of noise produced by an air conditioner, is built right into the casing of portable units, which can cause more noise.

What is the quietest portable air conditioner on the market?

The quietest model for small-to-average-sized households is definitely going to be the Haier Portable Electronic Air Conditioner. However, if you have a bigger home, then the Friedrich ZoneAire PH14B Portable Room unit is an incredibly quiet option that anyone would love to have!

Conclusion

Now that you know just about everything you could ever need to about noisy portable air conditioning units and how to fix them, are you feeling more cool and confident? We hope that we’ve been able to answer any of the questions you have so you can rest easy knowing your AC is working for you instead of the other way around.

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.

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