Can You Lay A Portable Air Conditioner On Its Side?

Conserving space while feeling cool and comfortable has never been more achievable because of portable air conditioners. If you live in a small apartment or have a tiny bedroom, you might be wondering if you can maximize your space better if your portable AC is laying on its side. We've researched whether you can safely lay a portable air conditioner on its side for your ease of location options.

It is not a good idea to let your portable AC lay on its side because it may incur internal damage such as permanent compressor failure. Air conditioners require condensation and adequate oil to function -laying on its side will cause these to spill. If transporting it requires laying sideways, you must first stand it upright for the same amount of time it has been sideways before switching it back on.

Your portable AC should only work in the same position it was built in order to maintain structural integrity and machine function. Here, we will be elaborating on the technical aspects of keeping your unit in peak condition even after years of usage. Stay with us!

A portable air conditioning unit in the living room, Can You Lay A Portable Air Conditioner On Its Side?

Why you should not lay your portable air conditioner sideways

Unlike fixed window air conditioning or central units, portable air conditioners can be moved from one room to another—a perfect choice for smaller spaces that can retain a cool temperature easily.

A portable air conditioning unit to the living room

Of course, you would still need to vent the unit—either through a drop-ceiling, a dryer vent, or a wall—but this task can easily be done. The portability might tempt some people to try placing it in other positions that would suit their spaces better, but this will most likely damage its compressor and lose its ability to cool and dehumidify the air around you.

Compressor Failure

Your compressor is the most important part of your air conditioning unit. Without the compressor, the entire unit is rendered useless. The compressor is responsible for putting pressure on the refrigerant, which expels the cold air into the room.

Spilling of Oil

A slight oil spill is another risk of laying your portable AC unit sideways. That oil is supposed to lubricate your compressor and remove heat by interacting with the oil sump, bearings, and the shaft—forming an oil supply system that makes your unit function properly.

With that oil removed, your compressor will not run smoothly and might even be at risk of being severely damaged.

Condensate Spill

If you position your unit in other ways apart from the way it was intended, drops of water will gather on the floor. If your portable unit is partially evaporative or fully evaporative, it should have a self-evaporating technology that expels the condensation through a hose.

Not letting your AC sit upright will compromise this feature and possibly break the machine.

What is an AC condensate?

Condensation happens in the unit when the warm air interacts with evaporator coils, making its temperature drop and convert into liquid. The condensate then drops into the pan and is expelled outside. As the air cools inside your home, some moisture can also gather which should also be released into the pan.

How to properly store your portable AC unit

You will need to properly store your machine the right way if you want it to last for a long time in mint condition. Here are ways you should winterize your portable air conditioner.

A white portable air conditioning unit

Unplug the power cord

Turn off the unit and secure the cord with tape or a string. Some units even have a compartment where you can safely store the power cord.

Separate the window kits

Window kits are responsible for venting hot air from the compressor. It has an extendable hose and a slider which you will need to unscrew from the ports. If your unit has a storage unit, you can place the hose and remote control inside it.

Drain the tank

Portable air conditioners have lots of moisture since it sucks in the humidity as it cools the room. To protect the compressor from water damage, or the fan motor from corrosion, you need to drain the tank. Make sure that the tank is completely out of water before storing it.

Clean the filters

Eliminate the risk of mold and mildew by cleaning out the filters located at the back of the unit. Storing it for a long time will give bacteria the chance to thrive, so it is better to disinfect it before storage.

Clean it using a pressure hose and a soft brush and thoroughly dry before putting back into the unit.

Portable AC Unit Storage Tips

  • Keep away from direct sunlight
  • Avoid rooms that may drop below freezing temperatures
  • Keep in an insulated or enclosed area
  • Store in a box covered with a tarp
  • Keep the cords and remote nearby or inside the unit

How to avoid compressor failure

A small white portable air conditioning unit placed well in the living room

Check for leaks

The refrigerant can leak, making it an environmental hazard, which you will need to fix immediately. Be alert on sudden temperature changes, like when you notice that the AC is no longer puffing cold air. Letting your unit leak will cause the refrigerant to work harder than necessary, eventually damaging the compressor.

Get the right replacement parts

If some parts of the AC have lost their function, make sure you get the right parts that work with the compressor accurately. Getting the wrong parts will risk a strain on the system and damage the compressor entirely, making the repair more expensive and time-consuming.

Remember that one faulty repair job can have a domino effect that will ruin your unit more.

Keep your coils clean

AC coils can be covered in grime and dirt over time as it works with the unit’s system. When it gets a thick layer of debris, it might prevent the normal expelling of heat and make the compressor work twice as much. This stress can lead to compressor failure, so be sure to regularly clean the coils to keep your AC running.

Prevent contamination

Prevent bacteria and mold from breeding in your portable unit and regularly sanitize. Technically all parts, from the coils to the ducts, are at risk. Do not let any major buildup happen since this can strain the refrigerant and harm the compressor.

Keep the unit well oiled and lubricated

Ensure the smooth running of your portable AC by keeping it supplied with an oil lubricant. You can avoid expensive trips to the repair shop by regularly checking and replacing the oils. Remember the most basic rule that any machine needs to be well-oiled in order to keep functioning.

Avoid overheating

Ensure that the suction lines are free from blockages that can increase pressure and simultaneously the temperature, which results in overheating. The compressor will be at risk of damage if the heating goes unaddressed, and it will take more time for you to fix that than if you just cleared out the suction.

Do not put too much refrigerant

If you send your portable AC to the repair shop, you need to make sure that they do not put in too much refrigerant as this can also damage the compressor. Too much liquid can make the excess seep into the compressor which will lead to water damage.

Water is known to kill the compressor, so it is better to avoid this by getting your unit fixed by an experienced repairman.

Only keep your portable air conditioner in a clean environment

Portable AC units will make you want to bring it anywhere, regardless of how clean the place may be. However, if you want your unit to have a longer life and be at peak condition, do not place your AC unit in a dusty room where it can accumulate dirt, dust, and debris. These can ruin the machine and lead to long-term operating problems.

What type of electricity suits a portable AC unit?

A portable humidifier and air conditioning unit in the bedroom

One of the advantages of this unit is it does not need any special wiring or an extra power source to work properly. A standard plug for a residential home is the only thing you will need to power up the machine.

Can it cool multiple rooms at the same time?

It depends on the machine’s British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating, as well as the air circulation. A unit with a high BTU can cool a large space with minimal hindrances, but it may have trouble cooling if you are separated with walls, and there are no more available vents—more so if the unit has a lower BTU rating.


A portable air conditioning unit in the living room

Portable AC units are a convenient and affordable solution for temperature control. However, you should position it in a way it was intended to be kept to avoid expensive problems and to make it benefit you for a longer time.

If you enjoyed reading this, check out these articles about the six types of air conditioner and how to fix a leaking air conditioner

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