Can A Portable AC Be Used Outside? What You Need to Know

Last Updated on January 1, 2024

Outdoor Patio

Portable air conditioners are cooling appliances that allow mobility higher than other types of AC units. You could move it and cool different rooms of your home. You might be wondering what when some day you require a cool breeze of air outdoors. Can a portable AC be used outside? How is it different to being used indoors?

A portable AC may be used outside for cool breeze of air. However, using your unit outdoors is inefficient and ineffective. In case you do this, keep the exhaust hose in opposite direction and as far as possible from unit to prevent active mixing of cool and warm air.

Portable air conditioners are designed to be used indoors. So of course the operation outdoors would not be close to what you were able to achieve indoors.

But here is the thing, outdoor cooling is different to indoor cooling. We cannot achieve a definite temperature we want outdoors until it’s a tent, camp or a closed definite size room. So unlike indoors, the goal when using any cooling source outside in the open is mainly to get that cool breeze of air.

We can achieve that with a portable AC but it comes with some strings attached and some problems. This article specifically covers that. There are other cooling options that you can use. They are more convenient and suitable to be used outdoors.

Where Do You Plan to Operate It Outdoors?

Contrary to other air conditioning types portable ACs have higher mobility and flexibility. In fact, in most air conditioning types mobility is pretty much negligible. However, you can move portable ACs from one room to the other conveniently. Venting them though is a necessity due to the refrigeration cycle on which they operate.

Portable ACs operate on vapor compression cycle. The principle is to expel hot air through vent hose. In very simple terms, they take heat from your room and expel it. That is why venting is necessary when using them.

But venting in portable AC is flexible compared to window AC units that have fixed position and no flexibility in venting. Due to this movability and flexibility of operation you may think of using your portable AC outside. But where and why do you want to do that?

Scenario 1: Using Your Portable AC Outdoors in A Closed Environment

If you are using your portable AC outdoors but the goal is to cool a container, tenet, encampment, RV or someplace that is enclosed, then you may go with portable AC. In fact, this is a great idea and portable AC is the good choice to get the job done.

Portable AC Outdoors For Camping

The major challenge when using a portable AC outdoors in a closed environment is power. You will have to use generators to operate your portable AC. The size of the generator depends on the power of your portable AC.

The BTUs or tonnage will provide you with the information that which size generator has to be used. But the size of the generator should not be exactly what is required for your AC unit. It has to be somewhat higher than that so you can also operate other appliances too.

Scenario 2: Using Your Portable AC Outdoors in an Open Environment

Now consider the second scenario, when you wish to run your portable AC in the open. Enjoying beverage on your house patio and inhaling fresh air or grilling. These times can become really relaxing when you feel a cool breeze of air consistently that keeps your body cool.

Now Is portable AC a good cooling option for outdoors? Absolutely not. But is it applicable? Yes, somewhat.

Using your portable AC permanently for cooling outdoors is not a good idea. It does pretty less at the expense of a lot of energy consumed. And what you get is a cool airflow that can be replaced by so many other appliances available in the market, that are way more efficient and suitable for these situations. Well, there is more to come about them afterwards.

If you are using your portable AC pretty rarely, that energy usage is very small when compared with estimated monthly usage, then portable AC is an applicable option as high energy consumption is the biggest factor.

Bypassing the demerit of energy usage now the goal is to maximize the cooling effect of your portable AC outdoors. During the operation outside hot air is rejected from one side and cool air from the other in the same environment.

If these two temperature airflows are released close to each other then this would nullify their effects. Heat will be transferred from the cool air to hot air resulting in a stream of air that reaches you at the same temperature as the external environment. Only a miniscule amount of cooling will reach you.

So my advice is to not remove the vent hose from your portable AC. Just keep the vent hose on. Keep it in the opposite direction to the front of your unit. Have as much as separation between the two air streams as possible. This would prevent active mixing of the airflow at two temperatures and increase cooling effectiveness of your portable AC.

Keep in mind, do not increase the length of vent hose than dictated by the manufacturer. Use the same hose that came with the portable AC or of an equivalent dimension. Not using the recommend size would not disrupt the operation significantly but it is something that reduces cooling effectiveness.

I know portable AC are mobile appliances and you can take advantage of that. But do remember portable ACs are still designed to be used indoors. So if you do have to use them outside sometimes, know how this is different to other recommended ways? what are the demerits of doing that? How can you improve your cooling effectiveness and Is it really worth it?

Recommended Cooling Options For Outdoors

Spending time outdoors is very beneficial for your health. It reduces stress and improves concentration, memory and clarity. Spending some time in the sun helps prevent vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is important for bone growth and stronger immune system.

So it is a good idea to enjoy outdoors for a while in the day. We usually forget about its importance. Especially now-a-days when so many people just move from a room in their home to a room in office and vice versa. Outdoor activities can be improved quite a bit with an effective cooling source.

Anyways if you ask me about outdoor cooling, anything that operates on vapor compression cycle is designed for closed spaces. Go with options that cool by the phenomenon of evaporation.

To cool your patio, deck, camp or outdoor living space, either go with a misting fan or better with an evaporative cooler.

Misting Fan

It is a very simplistic but effective way of cooling outdoors. Basically, they have several misting jets and a fan that is operable at different speeds.

Water is pressurized through the jets to break into tiny droplets. The fan blows air and droplets that accompany air undergo evaporation during their travel and result in cool flow of air. You will be able to feel the mist too. It is great for open environment especially in hot and dry environments.

If you do want to get one, check out Lasko 7050 Misto Outdoor Misting Fan. It has three speeds and ability to cool air down to 25-degree C. Click here to give it a look. Hope you enjoy it.

Evaporative Cooler

Evaporative cooler uses same principle as the misting fan. The difference is that the evaporation of water to make air cool is somewhat passive. It has cooling pads with large surface area that absorb water. The fan pulls air through them so evaporation carried out is larger.

Due to passive functioning, unlike misting fans with pressurized misted water, they provide a more freshening and better distributed flow of air that has reduced droplets and cooler air.

This is the best option for outdoors in most cases. With regions that have low humidity it is effective indoors too. If you want to go with an evaporative cooler for enjoying your outdoors experience, give BREEZEWELL Evaporative Cooler a look. Click here to check specifications.

When indoors, maintaining adequate humidity is a concern. So you have to be careful when using appliances that operate using phenomenon of evaporation of water. However, when outdoors, humidity is slightly affected in just the local region of operation.

So evaporative coolers and misting fans are great outdoors. In fact, when humidity is relatively low they are perfect options for cooling outdoors.

In Short

A portable air conditioner can give you a cool breeze of air outdoors. However if you do use it outside, only do temporarily. It will be very inefficient and cooling will be far less compared to the power consumed.

You can improve the cooling by keeping the vent hose opposite to the direction of cooling and far away from the cooling outlet. The best options for outdoor cooling are misting fan and evaporative cooler.