Single Vs Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioners (Comparison Guide)

Summer heat can often be unbearable – which is why it’s good to have an air-conditioning unit in your home. But if you live in a place with design limitations or building restrictions, you may have to settle for a portable air conditioner instead.

When buying portable ACs, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different types available on the market. One way in which they are grouped is according to the number of hoses located at the back of the unit.

If you’re curious about their purpose – as well as the best type to suit your needs – then make sure to read this comprehensive guide on single vs. dual hose portable air conditioner units.

The Purpose of the Hose

Each portable AC unit has a hose that is central to the effectiveness of the system. Its primary use is to remove the hot air from the room, enabling the unit to cool the room. In dual hose portable air conditioners, the other hose is used to get fresh air from the outside to cool the space.

What is a Single Hose Portable Air Conditioner?

Single Hose Portable AC

As the name suggests, a single hose uses one hose to expel the warm air and moisture from your room – which is pumped outside.

In terms of upfront and operating costs, the winner in the single vs. dual hose air conditioner debacle is the former, simply because of its lower price. It’s more ‘portable’ too because it only comes with one hose and is, therefore, easier to install.

Despite these advantages, a single hose model does have several drawbacks. For one, this unit can only cool a small area. Should you use it in a bigger space, you may end up racking up high energy bills.

Unfortunately, a single hose creates negative pressure, which means any opening in the room – be it a small crack or a door left ajar – will draw hot air back into the space. For that reason, single-hose units are often considered less effective.

To make things worse, a single-hose unit may not be as effective in a room with computers or a fridge. That’s because these appliances emit a significant deal of hot air that the unit may find hard to remove.

What is a Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner?

Dual Hose Portable AC

True to its’ name, this portable AC unit comes with two hoses. One works as an exhaust hose that removes the heat and moisture in the room. The other functions as an intake hose, which draws fresh air outside to cool the compressor and condenser.

They are also less portable because you have two hoses to lug around. However, the presence of two hoses means that this unit does not create negative pressure. In effect, it can efficiently cool a room – even larger ones.

Although it may be more expensive, it is the clear winner in the dual exhaust vs. single exhaust portable air conditioner debate. Not only can it cool the room faster, but it also filters air more effectively. That way, you get more than just cool air – it’s cleaner as well.

Single Hose Vs Dual Hose Portable ACs Compared

Apart from the number of hoses, many other things set these two units apart. Here’s a comparison of the features of dual hose AC vs. single hose.

Cooling Area and Power

Contrasting the dual inverter vs single inverter AC units, you’ll see that the cooling metrics are pretty far apart. The two hose model can accommodate 525 square feet, while the single model is limited to 425 square feet.

The cooling power of a single hose AC is only limited to 5200 BTU – which is the measure of the heat it can remove in an hour. Unsurprisingly, the dual hose model has a higher power at 8600 BTU.


As mentioned, a single hose model costs less upfront, with prices starting at about $300.

A dual-hose AC, on the other hand, has a starting price of around $450.

While it’s easy to settle for a cheaper AC model, you should consider other important things – including the space of your room, the size of your window, even the climate in your area. If not, you may end up with a cheap model that doesn’t work quite as well.

Related Article Best ACs for Under $200

Noise Level

Contrary to popular belief, a dual-hose model is typically quieter than a single-hose model. The former only emits a range around 51-52 dB. The latter, on the other hand, is a little noisier at 52-54 dB.

Energy Efficiency

A single-hose unit has an energy efficiency ratio (EER) of 10 – which means that for every 1W it uses, it has a cooling effect of 10 BTU.

On the other hand, a dual-hose AC has an EER of 11.6 (11.6 BTU for every 1W used).

Since a higher EER is better, there is no question that a 2-hose unit is more energy efficient in cooling a room.

Why is a Dual Hose Better Than a Single Hose for Portable ACs?

In this case, two is definitely better than one. Two hoses make a portable AC work more efficiently, cooling your room much faster. So even though two hose models are more expensive, they typically offer the best value for your money in the long term.

How Do Portable ACs Handle Water?

Apart from cooling the room, a portable AC can also help dehumidify a space. How an AC removes moisture from the air depends on its type/design.

  • Fully Self-Evaporative ACs
    This model is entirely evaporative – meaning that the AC acts like a dehumidifier and removes all the moisture from the unity itself. Since it doesn’t require you to empty the water, it’s the best model for those who need to leave their portable ACs running unattended.
  • Partially Self-Evaporative ACs
    This type of portable AC can remove a significant amount of moisture through its hot air exhaust. Although you may have to remove a slight amount now and then, this will entirely depend on the environmental conditions – and how long you run the AC.
  • Gravity Drain/Drain Hose
    This option is a ‘permanent’ drain hose that you can install in all portable AC models. It allows the water to empty to the floor drain with the assistance of gravity. With this, you don’t have to worry about draining your AC manually.
  • Condensate Pumps
    These are separate accessories that can be installed on a portable AC unit. They pump water upwards and out of the unity. They are typically recommended for portable ACs that drain out to a high-set window or opening.
  • Buckets
    A low-tech but effective solution is to use a bucket that collects the water. The downside is that you will need to empty the bucket every so often

People Also Ask (FAQ)

How many years do portable air conditioners last?

A portable AC can last you for as much as a decade. This lifespan can even be longer – especially if the unit is maintained or serviced regularly.

Is there a single inverter hose or dual hose portable AC?

Yes, there are inverter versions of a single hose and dual hose ACs. With this feature, you can save on portable AC power/electricity consumption – on top of the high EER that typically comes with these models.

Can I use a portable AC without the hose?

No. You won’t be able to run your portable AC without an exhaust hose, which is the pipe that removes air and moisture from the room. Without this, the AC will be ineffective because the humidity and the heat in the air will cancel out the unit’s cooling efforts.

Does AC work with windows open?

Technically yes, but you won’t feel any coolness, though! Open windows let the cool air out, which essentially renders the AC’s cooling efforts futile.

To make things worse, this practice can prove disastrous to your AC. Open windows end up increasing the AC’s load in its attempt to meet the set temperature. This can contribute to the unit’s breakdown earlier than its typical lifespan.

Is it better to leave AC at one temperature?

Not at all. While it’s convenient, it can lead to energy leakage. The difference in temperatures can cause warm air to leak to the area with colder air (i.e., the room you’re air conditioning). The best way to avoid this is to change your thermostat at least every 8 hours.


A single hose and dual hose portable AC have many differences beyond the number of houses. A single-hose model is useful for smaller rooms (up to 425 sq ft), while the latter is better suited for more significant areas (up to 525 sq ft). Although single-hose units are cheaper, they’re actually noisier and not that energy-efficient.

In this comparison of dual hose portable air conditioner vs. single, the former is the clear winner. Despite its costlier price, it offers the best value for money in terms of performance and energy efficiency.

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.