How to Select a Portable Air Conditioner | Ask This Old House

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Ask This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey walks host Kevin O’Connor through the choices In air conditioners
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1. Window air conditioners install in a window and vent hot air and condensate directly out of the back of the unit.
2. Portable air conditioners sit on the floor and vent through a flexible duct. They need to be emptied to drain the condensate.
3. Evaporative coolers cool by using ice and water. They leave behind humidity.
4. 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 (

About Ask This Old House TV:
Homeowners have a virtual truckload of questions for us on smaller projects, and we’re ready to answer. Ask This Old House solves the steady stream of home improvement problems faced by our viewers—and we make house calls! Ask This Old House features some familiar faces from This Old House, including Kevin O’Connor, general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, and landscape contractor Roger Cook.

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How to Select a Portable Air Conditioner | Ask This Old House


Victor Fols says:

I have the same Frigidaire unit you showed and it cools like a dream. It’s pretty light too.

mri says:

Great video

Ben Dutta says:

Been wondering if anyone knows. I live in an apartment building that still has the old wall heater. It’s a metal cage about 5ft tall and 3 inches depth from the wall. It’s no longer operational. I have the same portable ac unit in this video, the one on wheels with the exhaust tube. Can a wall heater be used to exhaust the heat out with the tube? Just wondering because looking to have a more slick cooling look in my place with less things sticking out the window

Sharon Ducci says:

If you’re interested in putting central air-conditioning which I’ve already got a new furnace and separate heat zone in the basement but I would like to have its own blower for just the air conditioning if possible and it would be central air because all the vents are and everything is done I also have the rods put in for the air-conditioning already installed into the new furnace. If you want a project and it’s a decent price give me a jingle. But only from this platform no other contractor should try to reach me.

MyOtherNewName says:

Your thoughts on the portable unit. Why do they use cool air in your house to cool the coil going outside? I’ve seen double hose units but have never looked at one close enough to know if those types take care of that issue.

Mary Buford says:

These are truly great. You can get one smaller than indicated they work so well. 250 dollars at home depot , ez to install. Fyi the portables with one hose.

Rei Lea says:

My Media lasted 4 weeks and died. Piece of crap. Cost $240

Pollos says:

Hi do you know where I can buy a dual hose AC in Sweden?

grathado28 says:

lol that is the worse description of how an ac works ever lol

Bobby Dick says:

why there is not thermostat on a 5,000 btu AC ? I hate it when it runs for nothing.

Had It All says:

Y2022, no ventless AC? I have central AC for 1800 Sq ft condo, place is cool at ac set at 73 summer, I just put Duct cleaning in, was that a good idea? Did sealant screw up vents? I also revamped ac inside closet and serviced outside maintenance, it's 98 degrees last night central FL heat index. HOT, & bedroom is only warm room, I have dehumidifier set up when I shower, so what's the deal ? Westerly side of home, white building, but no neighbors above, no AC either. Do I just crank AC to 68 at night? Or can I get a room AC Ventless system?

Jeremy Presgrave says:

Can I put this in an 8 by 8 storage building and run it off an extension cord my dogs are outside dogs and my dogs and I would like to get them some type of way to cool off

Eye on art says:

My daughter bought portable and it goes down only to 61 degrees and is not worth it

John A. DiMeglio says:


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