May 20, 2022
Family enjoying AC in Drexel Hill, PA

A portable AC is an excellent way of cooling a single space or room. For many people, this is a good choice for cooling a room addition, a workshop, or a home office. Since they are portable, they can be moved easily from one location to another whenever needed. This makes them ideal for people who want to cool different areas of a house.

Portable air conditioners are simple to use. They are much easier to install than other types of air conditioners because they come prepared right out of the box. Portable AC units are also incredibly convenient and more effective than regular fans. In this article, we will cover how portable air conditioners work.

Basic Components of a Portable AC Unit

Defining the functions of the critical components of a portable AC unit is necessary in order to understand how the device operates.


This is a chemical compound that absorbs heat. The refrigerant’s role is to cool the evaporator coils by absorbing heat. The refrigerant’s heat is released through condensation. This creates a cooling effect.

Evaporator Coils

The evaporator coils are typically copper or aluminum and are incredibly cold because they contain refrigerant. Their purpose is to absorb heat from the warm air entering the unit.


Once the refrigerant absorbs heat in the evaporator coils, the compressor changes the refrigerant’s state from a liquid to a gas by increasing pressure on the refrigerant.

Condenser Coil

The pressurized, hot, and gaseous refrigerant is passed to the condenser coil, which cools down the refrigerant. The role of the condenser coil is to dispose of the refrigerant’s heat by condensing it into the form of water, which is disposed of by draining it out.

The Expansion Valve

After the refrigerant is cooled in the condenser coil, it’s too warm to go back into the evaporator coil to cool down and absorb heat from the hot air. This is where the expansion valve comes in. It cools the refrigerant to its original temperature by decreasing its pressure, making it icy cold and a liquid.

The Basic Operation of Portable Air Conditioners

The key point of portable AC units is to cool the hot air in a room by absorbing heat from it. Portable air conditioners usually carry out three tasks:

  • They circulate air via a fan.
  • They dehumidify the air.
  • They lower the ambient room temperature.

Portable AC units lower the air temperature of a space or a room by using the same concept as any other air conditioner. The portable AC unit collects warm air by pulling it inside the unit using a fan. The air then passes through a set of evaporator coils that are cooled using cold refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the hot air, cooling it. A fan blows the now-cold air back into the space or room. The process is repeated continuously until the unit’s power is turned off.

How Portable Air Conditioners Dehumidify

The second job of a portable AC is dehumidifying. The dehumidifying process works in conjunction with the cooling process and draws moisture out of the air. However, you can set many portable AC units to work in ‘Dehumidify Only’ mode, sometimes called “Dry Mode,” which is more energy-efficient.

As warm air passes through the evaporator coils, it’s stripped of the unwanted moisture in various ways. Leading portable ACs evaporate unwanted water, and the gas is vented outside. Alternative water disposal methods entail using a built-in pump to drain the water using a hose or collecting the wastewater in a tray that must be emptied.

Rely on the Professionals

When choosing the most suitable portable AC for you, it’s essential to remember that not all models and sizes work in the same way. They all perform a similar three-step process, but they handle these tasks differently. To maximize your comfort and the efficiency of your portable AC unit, you should consult a professional AC technician to ensure you choose one that suits your needs.

At O'Brien Heating & Air Conditioning, we are a dependable heating, cooling, and indoor air quality company serving the Greater Drexel Hill, PA area. We are accredited by the BBB with an A+ rating, and we’re a Lennox Premier Dealer. You can count on us for a variety of HVAC-related services. Whether you require installation, maintenance or repair, you’ll receive the best service from our highly-trained technicians. We also handle duct cleaning and water heaters.

Contact us today for more information about our services.

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