Outdoor Portable Air Conditioner Installation Tips

It’s nearly impossible for an outdoor area to be as insulated as an indoor area. So a portable air conditioner cannot be as efficient as one used indoors. Yet these can be the best outdoor cooling solution for certain situations.

Installation Tips for Efficiency and Comfort

Follow the installation tips below to get the very best cooling you can from your unit outdoors.

Dual hose portable air conditioners are less attractive than single hose units but are much more efficient.

  • The more enclosed your outside area, the more efficient your portable air conditioner can be. Keep doors, windows, and other openings closed as much as possible to keep more hot air from coming inside.
  • Keep the opening around the exhaust hose(es) as air tight as possible. The exhaust hoses push hot air out of the room. Keeping the opening tight around the hoses with prevent it from sneaking back in.
  • The hoses may be unattractive, but they are vital to the efficient running of your A/C. Set up your portable air conditioner as close as possible to the opening around the exhaust hose. The shorter distance the hose has to run, the less the unit has to work to push out the hot air. Keep the hoses in good condition. Mend any cracks or tears (duct tape is great for this) and make sure they are tightly connected to the unit.
  • Keep noise levels to a minimum by setting the unit on a soft pad.
  • How does your unit handle the “condensate” — the moisture that is removed from the air? It may have a tank or pan that collects the water which will need to be emptied from time to time. This can collect quickly on humid days so keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overflow. If your unit does not have a sensor to alert you when it’s full, set a timer on your cell phone to check it.
  • Allow about 18 inches / 45 cm clear space around the unit for air flow.

Installation Tips for Safety

Outdoor structures that have access to electricity make the setup of a portable air conditioner fairly simple. If your area doesn’t have access to electricity and if usage is only temporary, consider whether an outdoor-rated extension cord is all that’s needed. Make sure its amperage rating is the same or more as your portable air conditioner. Perhaps a generator would make more sense if the distance is too far for an extension cord. If you’ll need it set up permanently, consider asking an electrician to set up the wiring for you.

You have to be extra careful when setting up and using any electrical appliances outdoors. There are simply more hazards outdoors than indoors. Following are some precautions to consider before choosing an installation site for your portable air conditioner. Please review these points carefully since improper installation could reduce the cooling capacity, damage the unit or even cause personal injury.

  • Do not use in areas where it will be exposed to rain or water unless it is specifically rated for safe use in wet environments. See the safety ratings section of our electrical safety tips page.
  • Do not use in areas where the temperature or humidity are outside the allowable operating range for your unit. You can get this information by contacting the retailer or manufacturer.
  • Do not install a portable a/c in sloping areas. The unit may move or topple over even if the casters are locked.
  • Install a portable air conditioner only in areas that can withstand the weight of the unit. Smaller units may weigh well under 100 lbs (45 kg), but the big units of 5-tons and more can weigh over 500 lbs (227 kg).
  • Allow 18 inches / 45 cm of unobstructed airflow around the ends of the hoses.
  • Do not use in areas where leakage of flammable gas may occur, or in an atmosphere of excessively corrosive gas or vapor.
  • Make sure any connections that are outdoors are waterproof. Seal with electrical or Teflon tape if necessary.

Other Outdoor Cooling Methods

If you have a more open outdoor area that needs cooling, consider outdoor fans, misting systems, or misting fans which combine misting systems and outdoor fans into a single unit.

Swamp coolers (desert coolers) use a similar technology as misting systems (evaporation cooling), but in a contained unit. They are sometimes called air conditioners, but use a different technology than true air conditioners.

Outdoor shades are a nearly universal solution that combine well with every other cooling option.

Take a look at our comparison page to learn which outdoor cooling solutions may be best for you.