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Portable Air Conditioners: Vented vs Ventless

Portable air conditioners provide a great option for cooling a room, while remaining flexible enough to be moved to other spaces. Unlike fixed wall or window ACs, their portable nature allows them to be used where necessary, or even packed up and moved out of the way when not in use.

In this article, we discuss the two types of portable air conditioners, and which best suits your needs.

What is a Portable Air Conditioner?

As the name suggests, a portable air conditioner is a compact AC unit that can be moved. 

It works by pulling in the hot, humid air from the room using a fan. The air is then passed through a series of coils that cool down the air while removing the excess humidity through a condensation process. It then circulates the cooled air back into the room or space.

What are the Two Types of Portable Air Conditioners?

Vented Portable AC

The vast majority of portable air conditioners are vented – that is, they use a hose to vent out the hot air and moisture generated by the cooling process.

They do this by being connected to a portable AC window kit, where the hose is able to expel the hot air and water vapor.

Ventless Portable Air Conditioner

A ventless portable air conditioner, also known as an unvented portable air conditioner or hoseless portable AC, is exactly what the name says: it doesn’t require a hose or vent to expel the hot air and moisture away from the room. This is because it uses an evaporative process to cool the air, in contrast to traditional AC units. 

The standard air conditioner uses refrigerant to absorb the heat from the hot air and pump it outside the house using exhaust and blower fans. Meanwhile, a ventless portable AC uses water in place of refrigerant to cool the hot air. It does this by pumping water onto pads where the hot air passes, causing the heat to transfer from the air and into the water.

Strictly speaking, a ventless or hoseless portable AC is not really an air conditioner in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, they are better known as evaporative air coolers or swamp coolers.

Vented vs Ventless Portable Air Conditioners Compared

Portable AC Type

Requirements Pros



Nearby window

Window AC kit


Higher cooling capacity

Better suited for hot and humid climates

Needs more installation parts and space

More energy-intensive

Ventless Water tank topoff

Periodic cooling pad replacement

Less installation requirements

Requires less energy

Not ideal for humid climates

Needs more periodic maintenance

Vented vs Ventless Portable Air Conditioners: Which is Better?

A regular vented portable air conditioner excels at cooling spaces in hot and humid climates. However, it is harder to install, requiring a nearby window and window vent kit, and ample space for the hose to run. But once installed, it needs very little maintenance apart from periodic cleaning and making sure the hose and window kit stay secure.

A ventless portable air conditioner or evaporative cooler requires little in the way of installation – simply plop it out in the room and plug it in. However, its evaporative cooling nature makes it less ideal for homes in humid climates. The evaporative process also calls for more periodic maintenance, such as topping off the water tank and replacing the cooling pads.

When it comes to cooling, the vented portable AC is able to cool the air to lower temperatures. But this comes at a cost, requiring more energy compared to the energy-efficient swamp cooler.

In the end, ask yourself these questions:


Vented portable AC

Ventless evaporative AC
Do you have a nearby window and hose space?


Do you live in a location with lots of humidity?


Do you prefer lower cooling temperatures or lower bills?

Lower temperatures

Lower bills

Are you okay with monthly maintenance?


Will you be moving the AC unit often?


Mickey Luongo

Mickey is the resident heating and air conditioning expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry.

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