When it’s hot outside, staying inside an air-conditioned house is more appealing. Some homes have a window unit or a split-type unit. But for some, a portable air conditioner or PAC is their choice because it is handy and does not need to be mounted on the wall. We've researched to determine whether you can plug a PAC into a regular outlet.
While you may be tempted to plug a PAC into the nearest outlet, don’t do it! You need to consider:
- the size of your PAC,
- floor area where you intend to use the PAC,
- electrical requirements of the unit,
- other appliances in the room,
- and building regulations.
With all these considerations, you are better off plugging it into a dedicated outlet.
We consulted experts regarding the appropriate outlet for a portable AC. Keep on reading this post to find out how you can use your portable AC without causing a short circuit.
What is a Portable Air Conditioner?
As the term implies, portable air conditioners are units that provide cooling, do not need mounting, and do not take up too much space. PACs are classified according to their BTU (British Thermal Unit), which refers to their cooling power. The higher the BTU, the better to provide cooling to the room.
For rooms that measure about 300 square feet, the appropriate BTU would be 7,000 to 10,000. Medium sized-rooms that have 350 to 700 square feet would need a BTU of 11,00 to 14,000.
Those who have used PACs see it as a better alternative for a regular electric fan. It cools the room but not as cold as a window-type unit. But PACs are useful when the place does not have provision for installing a window-type unit. Another good thing about PACs is that you can store them away for a long time, especially when summer is over.
Where Can You Plug Your Portable Air Conditioner?
Your next concern would be to have a power source for your portable air conditioner. Like all electric appliances, you would need to plug it in to get it to work.
Don’t plug your portable air conditioner in the nearest outlet that you see. It’s safer to have a dedicated outlet to prevent short circuit or electrical fires. Consider these points:
- You need a big unit if you will place it in a big room. Aside from the floor area, you should also consider the ceiling height and other available ventilation. In addition, you could assess the average number of people who will be staying in that particular room each day. Get the appropriate capacity of the portable air conditioner so that the room will have an optimal temperature.
- Bigger air conditioning units typically have 110 to 120 volts and would have seven amps or higher. Electrical appliances like these will need their circuits to function properly.
- The other appliances already in the room will determine whether there is a need to get a separate circuit for your PAC. Big appliances like washing machines, refrigerators, or computers would also require higher amperes.
- Building codes may require providing a dedicated electrical circuit whenever applicable.
If the room where you will use the PAC meets these conditions, you need to get a specific outlet for it. In case the room does not have a dedicated circuit for the PAC, you need to get an electrician to install it for you. Make sure that the plug is also compatible with the unit.
On the other hand, smaller PACs do not require a lot of power. For this size, you can plug it into a regular outlet. But according to consumer reports, smaller units are not popular among buyers because of their inability to make a room cold.
What will happen if you plug the PAC in the wrong outlet?
Each circuit has a limited capacity, which means it can only provide power to a certain extent. Common household appliances require low power. There is no issue if you plug it in a regular power outlet. However, PACs require more electricity. If you plug it in a regular outlet, you might cause a short circuit in the room.
Can you plug a portable air conditioner into an extension cord?
Don’t consider using an extension cord for your portable air conditioner, either. This device is not suited to provide the needed power for appliances as big as an air conditioner. Doing so might cause power fluctuation or might start a fire.
Where is the best location for a portable air conditioner?
The best place for your unit is on a hard and flat surface. It should also be about 12 feet away from the nearest furniture or appliance. Most importantly, there should be a nearby dedicated outlet for it.
Do not place the portable air conditioner on top of a table. Children should also not play with it to prevent any untoward incident.
How Do You Install The Vent of a Portable Air Conditioner?
One common belief about portable air conditioners is that they can be moved from one room to another. But the truth is you have to install a vent hose to let the hot air out. It might not be a good idea to move the unit to another place if you don’t have a place to attach the vent hose for it.
Each portable air conditioner comes with a vent hose, hose adapters, and a window kit. To install, start by attaching the vent hose with the adapters. Then, lift the window to accommodate the window kit.
Some portable models come with screws to ensure that the window kit is in place. Once this is sorted, you can now attach the vent hose to the window kit. You can now use the unit.
You will no longer be able to use the lock in your window once you install the window kit. If you want to secure your house, you could get a security window lock while you are using the portable air conditioner.
Your other option would be to attach the unit to a wall vent, which will bring the hot air to other parts of the house. If you prefer this method, make sure that you will not affect any plumbing or electrical wires when you cut a hole in the wall. Use silicone caulk to seal the edges of the cut that you made.
How long do portable air conditioners last?
In general, most units can last for about a decade. PACs have a shorter life compared with other air conditioning units because they are movable and have lesser compressor quality.
You can add more years into the life of your unit if you conduct regular maintenance. Also, getting the appropriate size of PAC will ensure that you will not overwork it.
Can you switch on a portable air conditioner for one whole day?
It is perfectly safe to leave this unit on for a day. You should also know that portable air conditioners automatically switch off once the room has reached the optimal cold temperature.
How do you clean a portable air conditioner?
To keep your unit clean, you need to remove dust frequently. First, you should wipe the unit with a dry and clean cloth. Then clean the vents to remove the dust. Some units have detachable vents to allow you to clean properly. But some owners use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust.
Don’t forget to remove the dust in the hose. You can clean it with water to remove the dirt. Make sure that the hose is completely dry before re-attaching.
What are some best portable air conditioners available?
Tech people and consumer magazines reviewed the models available on the market. Their recommendations are:
Whynter Elite ARC-122DS
Whynter Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner with Heat
DeLonghi Penguino Portable Air Conditioner
These models are efficient in cooling to the room, durable, easy to install, and easy to operate.
Portable air conditioners are useful in cooling a particular room. These are easy to use and do not require too much installation. These may also seem smaller compared with your other household appliances, but don’t be fooled because it requires much power.
For this reason alone, you should not plug it in a regular outlet. Make sure to have a dedicated outlet for it to avoid electrical problems. Remember that the bigger the room and unit you have, the more power it will use. Thus, the need for a specific outlet.
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