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Portable Air Conditioner Venting Options Guide for DIY Users

Josh Mitchell

Written By

Josh Mitchell

Expert Reviewed By

Holly Curell

Last Updated On

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So you've just purchased a portable air conditioner, and the confusion sets in as you read through the venting instructions.

This is exactly what happened to me when I bought my first portable AC, which is why I’ve decided to provide readers with this complete guide on portable air conditioner venting options!

Keep reading to learn about all the options for venting your portable air conditioner, as well as all the steps to do it and enjoy cold air fast!

Key Takeaways

  • Venting for portable air conditioners is important in order to maintain cooling as well as for safe and breathable air.
  • The easiest to vent portable ACs is through a sliding window. But there also DIY ways to vent through casement and awning window types.
  • You can also vent through doors, dryer vents and even wall. These options all have their merits and demerits.

Effective Ways To Vent A Portable Air Conditioner

If you want your portable air conditioner to work as effectively and efficiently as possible (cool air in, hot air out), properly venting the AC unit is crucial.[1]

Luckily, there are plenty of options for venting portable air conditioners with a window and other methods without.
portable AC Venting options

Venting Options Through A Window

Using a window is the most common way to vent hot air produced by a portable air conditioner.

Most portable AC venting kits are designed for sliding windows, but the exhaust hose can be directed out of casement and awning windows as well.

1. Options For Sliding Window Type 

In the summer months, my ideal method for venting a portable air conditioner in my home is through the sliding window in my living room.

I can place the AC unit right next to the window, and after sliding the window open, it’s easy to secure the venting kit into place.

In most cases, window kits are designed for windows that slide up and down vertically.

All you have to do is slide the window up, install the kit, and slide the glass down so that the bottom of the window meets the top of the kit.

From there, tighten the screws that hold the window kit into place, secure the exhaust hose, and install your security bracket if you have one.

Important Note:

In some cases, you might have to trim the window kit down so that it fits within the frame, but this isn't the norm.

Similarly, if the window kit isn’t large enough for the window frame, you’ll have to make some modifications.

My living room window is quite large, so it’s necessary for me to fill the extra opening with a piece of plywood, but feel free to use whatever material you have on hand.

It’s even possible to install a portable air conditioner venting kit within a window that slides open horizontally.

Just flip the kit vertically so that it fills the gap as best as possible, and fill any openings with plywood, insulation, or plexiglass.

TL;DR: Sliding window type are the easiest to vent through since most venting kits are designed for these type of windows.

2. Options For Casement Window Type

Casement windows are designed to open outwards from the frame and open and close by turning a hand crank attached to the hinges.

Unfortunately, most portable air conditioner venting kits included with portable AC units are not designed for casement windows.

Still, that doesn't mean you must rely solely on central air to cool your home!

There are tons of options on Amazon and other retailers for portable air conditioner exhaust kits specifically made for casement windows.

Just be sure to check the measurements of your window opening before deciding on a venting kit for your portable unit.

Another option is to use a standard sliding window kit to attach your portable AC hose.

Unless your window is extremely small, you’ll have to get crafty in order to fill the window gap properly.

Most people use plywood or plexiglass, but I’ve even seen window gaps filled with large pieces of styrofoam.

3. Options for Awning Window Type

Compared to a sliding window, venting a portable AC through an awning window can get tricky. This type of window is hinged from the top, opening outwards from the bottom.

Although it’s great for protecting your home from rain, it’s not so great for venting portable air conditioners.

If this is your only option, though, I suggest using a fabric window seal designed specifically to vent a portable air conditioner through an untraditional window, like an awning.

A fabric seal kit will come with everything you need to vent your portable AC unit, and it’s great for renters since it doesn’t involve any major changes to the home.

If I had awning or casement windows in my home, this is definitely the method I would use!

Most fabric seals are designed with a zipper opening for the vent hose, and they even have velcro edges to easily attach to the window frame.

Every fabric seal kit is different, so it’s best to just follow the instructions that come with your specific kit.

TL;DR: Casement and awning windows are bit trickier, but you can find some specialized venting kits or seal kits for an easy DIY venting through these windows. 

Venting Options Without A Window

portable AC venting option

Although sliding windows are the most effective opening for venting hot air, some people don’t have that option.

The perfect example is using a portable air conditioner in a windowless room.

In this case, you do have a few venting options, including:

1. Through The Door

For sliding doors, door venting is actually very similar to venting through windows. You can even find full sliding door vent kits on Amazon or at your local hardware store.

Utilizing a sliding glass door is a great choice for venting a portable air conditioner without a window.

Of course, you won’t be able to use the door to enter and exit your home without moving the venting kit, so keep that in mind before installing the vent hose.

Similar to a window kit, a sliding door vent kit comes with everything you need to vent a portable AC unit. Once you have your kit, here’s exactly what to do:

  • Attach the exhaust hose to the back of your portable air conditioner.
  • Secure the other end of the hose through the opening on the sliding door vent kit.
  • After opening your sliding door, place the kit in the ideal position. Close the door so that the edge of the door lines up with the edge of the kit.
  • Once the kit is securely wedged between the sliding door and the door frame, adjust the height of the kit so that it covers any gaps. Because this kit is designed specifically for use within sliding doors, it should be able to adjust to the exact height of the door frame.
  • If the kit doesn't fully cover the door opening, cover any remaining gaps with another material, like plywood or plexiglass. Still, like I said, you shouldn't have this issue if you confirmed the dimensions of your door opening with the maximum dimensions of the kit.

TL;DR: You can find specialized through the door venting kits. Just remember that your door may become difficult to navigate through if a kit is installed. 

2. Through A Drop Ceiling

Nowadays, not many homes are designed with drop ceilings.

If you live in an older home or apartment building, though, there’s a chance that you’ll be venting a portable AC through a drop ceiling.

A drop ceiling is just a secondary ceiling panel that's hung below the main ceiling.

The space between the drop ceiling and the main ceiling is perfect for venting hot air. I recommend using this area for your portable air conditioner exhaust hose.

If you don't have a window or sliding door leading to the outside, but you do have a drop ceiling, by all means, use it!

Here's exactly what you need to do to vent hot air from your portable AC unit through drop ceiling venting:

  • Remove a panel in the drop ceiling to create an opening for the portable air conditioner exhaust hose. Try to do this in the corner of the room so the AC unit doesn't have to sit in the middle of the floor space.
  • Once the panel is removed, you can easily create a hole in the material to fit the size of the exhaust hose opening.
  • With the panel still removed from the ceiling, place the end of the hose through the hole. Secure the other end of the hose to the portable AC unit.
  • Carefully replace the panel back into the drop ceiling. I recommend using adhesive foam around the hole opening to prevent any air gaps. This will also keep the hose in place and keep it from falling from the ceiling panel.

3. Through A Dryer Vent

While I don’t recommend using a dryer vent hole to vent a portable air conditioner, it’s an option for those who don’t have another choice available.

The main reason this isn’t my go-to venting method is that most dryer vents are too small for portable air conditioning unit hoses.

Standard dryer vents are 4 inches in diameter, and most portable air conditioners use exhaust hoses that are between 5 to 6 inches wide.

However, there are exceptions, like portable air conditioners from DeLonghi.

In this case, dryer venting is perfectly fine as long as you're OK with having your portable AC unit close to the laundry room.

Here’s exactly how to vent a portable air conditioner through the vent used for your dryer:

  • Locate your dryer vent - you'll probably have to slide the dryer away from the wall - and give it a good cleaning by removing any build-up or debris.
  • If the external opening of the dryer vent contains a flap (many of them do), the exhaust from the portable AC won’t be strong enough to open the flap. In this case, remove the flap and replace it with a screen.
  • Once the screen is in place, attach the end of the portable AC exhaust hose to the dryer vent screen. You can secure it into place using duct tape or an adjustable clamp.
  • Test the venting method by turning the AC on and ensuring that the hot air is vented through the dryer vent.

TL;DR: While not recommended, venting through a dryer vent can be a viable option if there is no other choice. Just make sure the exhaust hoses are the same size.

4. Through A Wall

Because I'm currently a renter, wall venting isn't a viable option for me since this method requires cutting into drywall.

However, if you're a homeowner, by all means, pull out the power tools to create a wall vent!

Cutting a hole in a wall may not sound appealing to you, but it's actually a great way to vent a portable AC efficiently.

You can do this through an exterior wall or even through a wall that leads to a garage door or storage space, like an unutilized closet.

Before cutting into drywall to wall vent your portable air conditioner, it’s important to understand the layout of your home.

You’ll definitely want to be aware of wiring and plumbing to avoid cutting into the wrong thing.

Using a jigsaw is best for this, but you can also use a small hand saw. Here's exactly how to vent your portable air conditioner through a wall:

  • After finding the ideal location for wall venting, hold the end of the exhaust hose against the wall surface. With it securely in place, use a pencil to outline the hose hole - you might need someone to help with this.
  • Once the circle is drawn, use either a jig saw or a similar tool to cut into the drywall. If you don’t have power tools, feel free to use a manual hand saw - this will just require some extra time and a bit of elbow grease.
  • After making the hole, secure the end of the exhaust hose into place. To keep it from moving, seal the edges with silicone caulk or use duct tape to keep everything in place.

TL;DR: This is a viable option for homeowners who do not mind cutting a whole through their walls. 

5. Through An Unutilized Chimney

If you have a non-functional, unutilized chimney and fireplace, this extra space is perfect for venting a portable air conditioner.

Just remember, you can't use the fireplace/chimney if you do decide to use it for venting warm air from your portable air conditioner.

For anyone lucky enough to have a cozy fireplace in the home, here's exactly what you need to do to exhaust air produced by portable ACs:

  • Give the chimney and/or fireplace a good cleaning before hooking up your portable air conditioner to prevent the risk of blockages.
  • Secure the venting hose to the back of your portable air conditioner according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Place the other end of the hose into the fireplace or chimney. You can even place the entire unit in the fireplace as long as there’s sufficient space.
  • To seal gaps and prevent air leakage, insulate around the hose and ensure the opening is pointed upwards towards the chimney opening.

TL;DR: An unused chimney can be great option for venting. Beware that the fireplace will be rendered useless if you opt for this option.


Why You Need To Correctly Vent Your Portable AC

Not all portable ACs require venting, such as an evaporative cooler. Still, for those that do, you must vent the AC unit correctly.

First off, an air conditioner that isn't properly vented won't be able to cool a room efficiently or effectively.

The hot air produced by the AC unit needs to exit the room using one of the methods I've listed above. If it doesn't, that defeats the purpose of using an AC in the first place.

Secondly, proper venting is essential for safety reasons. If you fail to exhaust the hot air, the unit can overheat, which can be a serious fire hazard.[2]

TL;DR: Venting is important for proper functionality as well as to maintain health air.


How To Use A Portable Air Conditioner Vent Kit

Most portable air conditioners that require venting come with a complete vent kit included with the appliance.

This makes the process of venting the device fast and easy, especially if you’re using a standard window kit.

If you are using a window kit, it will most likely include window brackets, at least 1 vent hose, and vent hose adapters.

It should also have an instruction manual outlining the step-by-step process for correctly venting the AC.

Here’s a basic guide on how to use a standard window venting kit:

  1. 1
    Start by attaching any hoses/adapters to the portable AC unit.
  2. 2
    Place your portable AC near a window - remember, the closer to a window, the better! A shorter hose length means more efficient operation because the hot air has less chance of escaping back into the room.
  3. 3
    Extend the window adapter kit (it should be adjustable) to fit snugly within the window frame. If the window is smaller than the kit itself, you can trim it using a utility knife. More durable kits can only be trimmed with a power tool, but this isn’t common.
  4. 4
    For traditional windows that slide up and down, simply open the window and place the kit within the opening. Extend the kit until it fits snugly within the width of the window opening.
  5. 5
    The kit should include screws for securing it into place. Tighten the screws before installing a security bracket (some kits come with extra security measures to prevent break-ins).
  6. 6
    Once the kit is in place, attach the vent hose to the back of the AC if you haven't already. Then, connect the window adapter to the end of the hose and finish by plugging the hose into the window kit.

Useful Safety Tip:

If your kit doesn't have a security bracket, I suggest buying one on Amazon. This will prevent anyone from taking advantage of a window that's open for AC venting, keeping your home safe and sound.[3]


FAQs

Is There a Portable Air Conditioner That Doesn’t Need to Be Vented?

Yes, there are some portable air conditioners that don’t require venting. These are typically marketed as “ventless” portable air conditioners or evaporation coolers, and they work by evaporating water to cool the surrounding air.

What Happens If I Don’t Vent My Portable Air Conditioner Properly?

If you don't properly vent your portable air conditioner, chances are, it won't do much to cool the space.

Because it will be pumping warm air back into the room, the AC unit will consume energy without lowering the temperature. At worst, it might even raise the temperature of the room!

Can You Vent a Portable Air Conditioner Through a Screen?

Yes, you can vent a portable air conditioner through a screen, such as a window screen. Just be sure to secure the hose into place using duct tape or another strong adhesive.

How Long Are Portable AC Exhaust Hoses?

The length of portable AC exhaust hoses can vary anywhere from 4 to 7 feet. The exact length of your hose depends on the portable AC make and model you choose.

Can I Extend My Portable AC Vent Hose?

Yes, extending a portable AC vent hose is possible, but it's not recommended. Extending the hose length can lower the device's efficiency rating and even void the product's warranty.

References: 

  1. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/room-air-conditioners
  2. https://www.nsc.org/community-safety/safety-topics/emergency-preparedness/fire-safety
  3. https://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/articles/5-home-security-tips-for-protecting-your-family-and-valuables
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Josh Mitchell

Founder

Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

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Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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