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How to Select a Portable Air Conditioner

Ask This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey walks host Kevin O’Connor through the choices in air conditioners.

4 Things to Consider When Buying a Portable AC:

  • Window air conditioners install in a window and vent hot air and condensate directly out of the back of the unit.
  • Portable air conditioners sit on the floor and vent through a flexible duct. They need to be emptied to drain the condensate.
  • Evaporative coolers cool by using ice and water. They leave behind humidity.
  • Newer air conditioners may include smart functionality to allow control from a smart phone.


Window and portable air conditioners are available at home centers.

Swamp coolers are available at home centers in the American Southwest, but are not recommended in other regions as they add humidity to the air.

The smart phone-controlled air conditioner is the Aros, manufactured by Quirky.