Can A Portable AC Be Left ON All Day? Is it Safe?

Last Updated on January 1, 2024

You may find yourself in an area and that time of year when weather is hot and humid. Conditions may be unbearable in your home during the day. Air conditioning in this state is a must to be able to keep going. I certainly would run my portable air conditioner all day long. But is it OK to do that?

Portable Air Conditioners can be left ON all day long but doing this has demerits. Portable AC with no inverter technology, relatively larger or smaller compared to room size would cause very high energy consumption if operated for entire day. Prolonged operation wastes global energy resources and may even effect environment directly If your portable AC uses harmful refrigerants.

Well, your portable AC may not completely shutdown or have permanent damage. But it still may not be a good idea running it this long.

There are different scenarios. In fact, in some cases, you can take very simple measures to cool you home to make it bearable. So you will only have to run your portable AC when you are available. You do not have to use your AC for large portion of the day. In fact, not using any electrical appliance for that matter for most time.

Can A Portable AC Be Left ON All Day? Why It Is Not A Good Idea?

It is not necessary that you are staying in your home while running your portable AC. May be you are at work and you want a cool and comfortable room when you come back. So that is why you turn your portable AC on just before going to work.

High Energy Consumption

Experts say it might be a good idea to leave your air conditioner ON all day long. However it highly depends on the type of unit you have. Instead of being efficient it may actually result in high electricity bills and recurring maintenance.

For example, in case of portable ACs many units available in the market are non-inverter. This means that they simply switch ON and OFF during the operation and do not adjust power usage depending on the cooling that has been achieved.

In other words, if you have non-inverter portable AC set a at a low cool setting it will turn OFF when the temperature is achieved and turn quickly back ON when the temperature exceeds the desired value.

This will result in constant intermittent operation of your portable AC resulting in high electricity bills instead of the efficient working we expected.

Be Careful in Sizing Your Portable AC

It is highly inefficient to operate a portable AC all day if it’s larger or smaller compared to the room.

If your portable AC is smaller than the space to be cooled it will keep working for most time resulting in high energy consumption.

If it is larger than the size of the cooling space then it will keep turning ON and OFF resulting in high energy consumption. The phenomenon is called short cycling. In short cycling the operation of an AC is so inconsistent that it never reaches its peak efficiency.

Despite cooling, an AC also functions for removing humidity from air. A larger AC will also undermine its ability to dehumidify the internal environment.

Increased Maintenance and Reduced Life

Every AC, whether a portable or window, requires maintenance. This allows your portable AC to function properly, increase its performance and efficiency. In fact, just by doing as little as keeping your filter clean can have a prominent effect on your unit’s efficiency.

Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.

The more you operate your portable AC, the quicker it will require maintenance. This is especially true if you are living in a region that has dusty environment.

When you run your unit all day long then you will have to clean filter more often. For portable AC’s that do not have self-evaporative technology, condensate pan will fill up earlier and require emptying more often.

Portable ACs also have an average life for which they can last. Generally, it is up to 10 years. You can actually double this lifetime by using it less often and with low cooling load.

Reduction in Dehumidification Capability

Primary role of an AC is to lower the temperature of the room by ejecting cool air into it. Besides lowering the temperature your AC also performs another important function i.e., dehumidification.

When air comes in contact with the evaporator coils of your portable AC water vapors in it condense due to temperature below dew point. As a result, humidity in air is extracted as water in condensate pan (usually expelled through vent hose).

Now consider the scenario in which portable AC is operated for an entire day. It turns OFF when the desired temperature is achieved and turns back ON when the temperature gets higher.

For sure energy is wasted during the process. But to be specific what effect will it have on dehumidification?

The operation of your portable AC is conducted for small intervals. This does not give sufficient time for humidity in the air to condense. Practically dehumidification process will significantly reduce due to this lack of sufficient operation.

Harmful Effect on Our Environment and Global Energy Wastage

Most of the energy that is used up in the World primarily comes from fossil fuels. Three-quarters of global greenhouse gases come from energy. Carbon emissions are hurting the environment and have a significant role in climate change. Though renewables are added consistently to the list of energy sources but it’s not enough.

CO2 Emissions by Fuel Type

Due to this enormous growth in energy intake each year there is no option but to rely majorly on fossil fuels. In 2019, 84% of energy generated was purely form fossil fuels. Yet still 13% of the population do not have access to electricity and 40% do not even have clean fuels for cooking.

Earth is our home an we are responsible for it’s protection and keeping it healthy. We may pay higher for our electricity bills and resolve the problem. But this is just the temporary solution. At the back end a lot is at stake.

Other Solutions to Normalize In-home Environment

There are other measures that you can take to keep your home at a relatively comfortable temperatures for most time in the day.

There are various methods to do that. I have wanted to tell you some which I really like.

Scheduled Activation of Your Portable

There are smart portable air conditioners available in the market. They can be operated using wireless applications. So when you are about to come to home you can turn them ON some time before. In this way when you arrive home you will have a already cooled room to rest.

It is not necessary that your portable AC has the ability to operate using wireless means. It just needs to have an option to turn ON at a specific time.

Shading and Insulating Windows

About 30 percent of heat enters your home through windows. If you could reduce this heat it can have a prominent effect on internal environment of your home. Shades, window films and heat-insulating curtains can help you a lot with that.

Taking Good Use of Fan

Many fans have the ability to operate in counter-clockwise mode. If you have an option to do so, use it. During the normal operation, air is pushed in the direction of fan. Counter-clockwise operation will have a wind-chill effect, giving a cooling sensation due to pulling.

There is another hack that you can use. Place a bowl of ice at the level and in the direction of your fan at an angle. This will allow a cool breeze to be spread in your room.

Turn on Exhaust Fans in your home

Turning on exhaust fans in lavatories can have the same pull effect as wind-chill effect. Doing this will circulate air in your home and direct it outdoors. This will drop internal temperature of your home.

Cross-Ventilating your Home

Cross-Ventilating is a process that allows displacement of warm air by cool air, naturally. All you have to do to activate this process is to open windows situated opposite to each other. Using a fan can assist this ventilation.

Passive Cooling with Shade Plants

Trees extract water from soil through their roots. They then disperse this water in the environment using the processes of evaporation and transpiration. In fact, this phenomenon is called evapotranspiration. Using cool shade plants can significantly reduce temperature of your room.