How to Choose a Portable Air Conditioner for Your Home

Portable AC Exhaust and Venting

All portable AC units have an insulated exhaust hose to vent hot air out of the room. The exhaust is usually vented outside through a window but can sometimes be vented to an attic or crawl space. When pricing portable air conditioners, be sure to include the cost of the exhaust hose and window adapter kit, if not included.

Instructions on how to vent a portable AC unit through a window
Options for venting a portable AC unit through a window.

Portable AC units also need a way to dispose of the moisture removed from the air. There are several options:

  • Drip Bucket: These AC units condense the moisture into a bucket or pan, which has to be emptied once or twice a day.
  • Drainage Hose: Some portable air conditioners have an optional drainage hose that can route the water out the window or into a drain, so you don’t have to empty a bucket.
  • Self-Evaporating: These portable AC units release moisture in the form of water vapor that’s mixed with the heat exhaust, so there’s only one exhaust hose and no buckets to empty. Only use a self-evaporative unit if you’re venting to the outdoors, never vent moist air into an attic or crawl space.


  1. There are two different BTU ratings on each unit. Of course the higher of the two is the one that’s touted loudly on the packaging and the lower of the two is in smaller print a ways down. What I want to know is why are the two numbers so far apart ? Mine says 8000 BTU / 5500 BTU. Is it a “peak” vs “average” or “continuous” like with generators ? Or something else ?


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