Portable Air Conditioner, No Vent?

I hear about a lot of people that want a portable air conditioner, no vent required or exhaust hose to connect to a window fixing kit for hassle-free cooling.

The idea is appealing and desirable for certain, but where can these elusive devices be located?

The reality is that air conditioners, because they produce waste hot air during the production of cold air, need a way to exhaust that hot air out of the building.

Air Conditioners

portable air conditioner no ventWith fixed appliances such as central systems and mini-split zone AC units, the unwanted hot air is exhausted through ducting to an outside condenser unit. Window units are already fixed to the window and have their outlet facing the outside.

However, portable units have no fixed means of exhausting the hot air they create, so they make use of a flexible hose that connects to an installed window port (fixing kit) or custom-made, through-wall opening.

So what are the ventless portable air conditioners that we see advertised and how do they work?

The reality is these particular devices are not traditional air conditioners at all, but are in fact evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers. They look like portable AC units, but they work in an entirely different way.

Evaporative Air Coolers

A more economical way of keeping cool during summer for people lucky enough to be living in areas that enjoy low humidity climates is to choose appliances or systems that employ evaporative cooling technology instead of installing air conditioning.

There is a very good reason for this.

Evaporative coolers are very frugal when it comes to energy consumption, with a typical appliance using around 1/20th the energy of comparable AC unit. This really does make them a very economical yet completely viable alternative to AC.

You can find out more about these surprisingly powerful cooling devices right here. Discover how to stay cool during the hot summer months without having to wait in anticipation for the expected hefty seasonal utility bill that always seems to accompany a long season of heavy AC use.

Air Cooling Without Air Conditioning

no vent portable air conditionerEvaporative (sometimes called "swamp") coolers work differently than air conditioners to produce the cold air that creates a comfortable indoor climate you can relax in.

While AC employs the energy hungry refrigeration process to create cold air, evaporative coolers create cooling by evaporation, often having nothing mechanical inside them other than a regular fan inside them to push the air through and out into the room.

This means that they generally use below 200 watts of electricity compared with 2,000-3,000 watts used by AC of similar output capability. This can represent a substantial saving in hard dollar cash when your next utility bill arrives in your mailbox!

Vent Free Portable Air Conditioners

Evaporative coolers are often mistakenly referred to as portable vent free air conditioners since they look similar and blast out a jet of chilled air while not needing the length of plastic exhaust hose pipe trailing out the back as typifies portable air conditioners. You may be wondering why portable ACs need this often cumbersome and ugly venting hose and swamp coolers don't.

The answer is pretty simple when you understand how the two kinds of appliance work to produce the coolness they are needed for. Here's an abridged explanation to help you get it without all the technical details that would bore the pants off you!

Air conditioning uses a compressor and refrigerant gas setup to make cold air in a similar way to your domestic fridge does, only on a much bigger scale. The process uses a lot of electricity because there's a lot of processing going on under the hood.

Swamp coolers only have a water tank that keeps an absorbent membrane wet so that air is drawn through it, chilled on the way through and blasted out the front by the fan. Since the fan is the only energy consuming component under its hood, the swamp cooler uses a fraction of the electricity an AC unit of similar size and output does.

Buying a Swamp Cooler

We don't currently stock swamp coolers but we can recommend a popular online store where you can buy them at a discounted price and have them delivered to your home. My top choice is Sylvane, an electrical appliance store that I've discovered is one of the best for competitive price, free delivery and excellent after-sales service -- a point that some other online stores fail on.

See below for our top brand/model recommendations:

Hessaire MC18M 1,300 CFM Evaporative Air Cooler

I'll start with a smaller cooler in the Hessaire range. I chose this brand because it is manufactured in the U.S. using high quality components resulting in quality built coolers that are durable, reliable and effective at keeping you cool when you need it.

As you can see from the image (right) this is a nice looking swamp cooler as well as being surprisingly powerful for the price you'll pay at Sylvane.

Rated at 1,300 cubic feet pre minute (CFM) airflow, this model can cool an indoor space of up to 500 sq ft as well as cool you down outdoors on your patio or wherever you need some chilled air to make a hot day more bearable.

This cooler is super easy to operate, with no complicated electronic gadgetry to fiddle with. Just simple manual controls to turn it on, off, set the fan speed (high or low), set it to cool with water or fan only and adjust the louvres to set the direction of the airflow.

For the water supply, you can choose to simply fill the generous 4.8 gall tank and turn it on to run for up to 8 hours. Or you can hook it up to a garden hose for continual water fill, for example when using outdoors in high temperatures.

For all its simplicity of operation and quality build, the unit is compact and only weighs a mere 16 pounds (without water), making it easy to move around on its wheels or to carry using the handy handle on top.

What could possibly make this cooler any better? Well, it's super-cheap to run, using only 85 watts max to power its pump and fan at full power!

Compare that to the 1.5kW-2kW power consumption of a regular portable air conditioner (that's around 20x as much!) and you have a very economical way of keeping cool for a great price.

Just remember that this is an evaporative cooler and NOT an air conditioner. It will not perform as well in humid conditions, where an air conditioner should really be used.

Check with your local weather station that the local air humidity levels are low enough (preferably below 50%) to be sure before you decide to buy this Hessaire cooler (or any other evaporative/swamp cooler).

Note: As a Sylvane affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.