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:

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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 many stores.

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 (above 50%), where an air conditioner should really be used instead.

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).

The Hessaire MC18M is available from Amazon via various sellers on Amazon. At the time of publication, they are available from the Amazon US website.

Click this link for alternative US-based stores such as Sylvane

Do you want a cooler with more power to cool a larger indoor space?

This one is for you:

Hessaire MC37M Evaporative Cooler, 3,100 CFM

With almost three times the air moving output of the smaller model above, this powerhouse of a cooler can move 3,100 cu ft per minute to provide you with a real blast of cold air anywhere you need it.

The MC37M from Hessaire is equally at home outdoors on a patio or porch as it is indoors cooling you down on a hot summers day.


Manual controls may sound like a step backward in tech terms, but this is actually a much easier way to control a swamp cooler like this. Just three simple rotary controls are all you need for:

With no fiddly digital controls or remote to lose down the back of the sofa, this cooler is one of the easiest to operate in its class!

A large 10.3 gallon water tank allows the unit to run for 3-4 hours, or you can hook it up to a standard hose for continuous operation. Powerful airflow cools up to 950 sq ft indoors.


While it only weighs 40 pounds when empty, it can be heavy with a full 10 gallon tank of water. So if you need to move it, it's easier to do it when it's empty!

There is some self-assembly involved yourself upon delivery. This basically means attaching the wheels, while everything else comes pre-assembled.


For indoor and outdoor high-power cooling in low-humidity areas, this cooler is one of the best around.

Remember that swamp coolers require a little more attention than air conditioners, such as adding a little anti-bacterial liquid to the water tank every so often (bleach will do) to prevent unwanted smells.

If you look after yours, it will look after you and your family during hot, dry weather keeping you cool and refreshed when you need it without any concerns over energy usage.