Is There A Portable Air Conditioner Without Hose? (Hoseless AC Explained)

A portable AC unit without a hose would be perfect. With a hoseless portable air conditioner, you wouldn’t have to worry about how to vent the unit out of the window. A portable air conditioner without a hose sounds too good to be true:

And it is.

A portable air conditioner without a hose is a pipedream. All portable AC units on the market (there are 1,000+ different models) come with a hose. And that hose has to be vented somewhere. If you don’t have a window in the room where you would like to use an AC or just hate the sight of the portable AC exhaust hose vented through a window, you of course want a portable air conditioner without a hose.

None exists.

You can’t get a portable AC unit without a hose. It’s just not physically possible (a hoseless portable AC would break the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics). That, however, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to provide cooling for your room/s.

portable air conditioner without hose
Portable AC units without a hose don’t exist. Hose is the integral part that enables the very heat exchange that is essential for adequate cooling.

Here’s why:

You don’t really have the non-existing portable AC unit without a hose to provide cooling. There are two alternatives to these hoseless portable air conditioners that go around the need of venting an AC unit through a window. These two alternatives include:

  1. Ventless air conditioners. These are AC-like units that provide cooling (based on evaporation, not refrigerant cycle like ACs) without the need to be vented. We usually refer to them as evaporative coolers or ‘ventless air conditioners’.
  2. Venting a portable AC unit without a window. You don’t necessarily have to vent a portable AC unit through a window. It’s the most common way, yes, but you can vent it through a door, wall, dryer vent, even in the attic, and so on.

To properly illustrate why a portable air conditioner without a hose is a pipedream, we are going to look at exactly why a hose is so important. We will also look at what happens if you run a portable air conditioner without the hose attached.

Further on, we are going to check the alternatives – ventless AC units and venting portable AC units without a window – to help you cool your home in much the same way you would with a hoseless air conditioner (that, again, does not exist).

Why A Portable Air Conditioner Without Hose Cannot Exist?

The exhaust hose is not just a feature of portable AC units; it’s their essential part.

The basic principle of every air conditioner is that it cools some space. To achieve cooling, we need to transfer heat out of that space (usually outdoors). In the case of portable air conditioners, the exhaust hose not only facilities but entirely enables this transfer of heat.

For one place to be cooler (indoors), another place has to be hotter (outdoors).

air conditioner heat exchange via a hose
Mini split AC is a great illustration of the connection between an indoor and outdoor unit with refrigerant lines (portable AC units instead use a hose).

Now, without a hose, you can’t really exchange heat between two places (basic 2nd Law of Thermodynamics principle). A hoseless portable AC unit would be operating in a single insulated space. Without the hose enabling the exchange of heat from this space to another space, we can’t really cool anything.

In fact, running a portable AC unit without a hose will certainly increase, not decrease, indoor temperature. This is quite a frequent question people have when they figure out that hoseless portable air conditioners don’t exist:

What happens if you run a portable air conditioner without a hose attached?

We are, of course, interested in what is happening with the indoor temperature. There are 3 options for what happens, namely:

  1. Temperature can decrease (cooling). For that, we would need to transfer heat somewhere else. Without a hose, heat transfer is impossible, and therefore cooling is impossible to achieve if you detach the AC hose.
  2. Temperature stays the same. If a hoseless portable AC unit cannot provide cooling, then surely the temperature stays the same. This is, however, incorrect. We are still running a 1,000W+ device in an isolated space. Due to inefficiencies, heat is generated. With a heat generating air conditioner without a hose, the temperature of the space cannot stay the same.
  3. Temperature can increase (heating). If you detach the exhaust hose of a portable AC unit, the temperature of an isolated space (a room, for example) will increase. The air conditioner itself has heat losses (that are insignificant if you vent the unit). Without the ability for this heat to escape, you are slowly but surely heating a space with a portable AC unit with a detached exhaust hose.

What we see is quite a paradox: An air conditioner heating instead of cooling.

how heat transfer happens in hoseless portable air conditioner
Heat (as a quantity) has to be extracted from indoors (cooling). However, we need to exhaust it somewhere else and it’s hard to do that without a hose.

Needless to say, we still want a cooling effect if we are searching for a portable AC unit without a hose. There is a way to get the cooling effect without using a hose, and there is a way to use a portable air conditioner without window venting as well:

Hoseless Ventless Air Conditioners (Evaporative Coolers)

You have probably heard about evaporative coolers or swamp coolers. As the name indicates, these are HVAC units that provide a cooling effect (but not cooling itself) to a person.

An evaporative cooler is the best portable air conditioner without a hose alternative. There are two key thermodynamic features of these coolers that are vital for us to understand:

  • Evaporative coolers cool a person. The unit itself blows cold air generated by natural water evaporation (not refrigeration cycles as with air conditioners). To experience the cooling effect, the evaporative cooler has to blow directly towards us.
  • Evaporative coolers also heat the space they are in. Evaporative coolers have no exhaust hoses. That means there is no heat exchange with another space and the only thermodynamical input is the wattage (electric input). Some of that electricity is used to provide cooling and airflow (we experience this as a cooling effect if the airflow is directed toward us) but the heat is also generated (usually as the backside of the evaporative cooler). On top of that, the natural inefficiency of all devices leads to heat losses. It is these heat losses that, in time, increase the temperature of the space the evaporative cooler is in.

One good way to get just the cooling effect from the evaporative cooler without getting the room temperature increase is to put the unit outdoors. Outdoors, the cooler is blowing cold air toward us and the heat loss generated is dissipated in the atmosphere. This is why outdoor swamp coolers are quite popular.

You can check which of these ventless air conditioners are the best here (with a spec-by-spec analysis).

They are less useful indoors, especially if you want to use them for longer time periods. Example: You can use an evaporative cooler blowing in your face for 1-2 hours.

If you leave it on for 4 hours or more, you will see that the room you are in becomes hotter and more humid (as a natural side product of water evaporation, evaporative coolers increase the humidity levels).

As we can see, these evaporative coolers are a ‘version’ of portable air conditioners without a hose. They don’t have a hose, true, but they are also not true air conditioners. That’s why they are more appropriate for outdoor use.

Despite these cons of evaporative coolers, however, it does not necessarily mean that you can’t have indoor air conditioning. Since there are no hoseless portable air conditioners, your best option is to figure out how to best vent a portable air conditioner. Without a window, you usually have to get a bit creative about venting options:

Do All Portable Air Conditioners Need A Hose To Be Vented Out Of A Window?

Let’s make this simple.

  • Yes, all portable air conditioners require a hose. There is just no way around that without breaking the laws of physics.
  • No, all portable air conditioners don’t need to vent out of a window. In fact, you can vent every portable air conditioner on the market without a window.

Windows are just the most obvious way to vent a portable air conditioner. They are not the only one.

There are many ways how to vent an AC unit without a window. We have explained this in detail in our post about how to vent a portable air conditioner without a window here. Here is a quick summary of different ways you can vent a portable AC unit if you don’t have window access:

  • Vent a portable AC unit through a sliding door. Any door will do but sliding doors are the easiest to install the portable AC unit seal kit on.portable ac not vented through a window
  • Venting through a wall. If you have a windowless room you want to use a portable AC unit in, you have but one option: drill a 5″ or 6″ hole in the wall. You can channel an exhaust hose through that hole.
  • Dryer vents are an elegant venting solution. If you can vent a dryer through that vent, you can also vent a portable AC unit through there.
  • Vent a portable AC unit through the ceiling. Ceiling venting is not an uncommon option. In fact, a lot of people have asked us if they can vent a portable air conditioner to the attic. Of course, that is a good option and in almost all cases, you will need to go through the ceiling to get to the attic.
  • Venting into existing HVAC ductwork. This is usually the case when you need a portable AC unit to supplement the central air conditioning. It’s easier said than done, however. Drilling a new hole in the ductwork is not exactly a piece of case and you have to think about additional CFMs (airflow) the ductwork has to handle.portable air conditioner without hose can be achieved with ductwork venting

With this option, you can say that you don’t really need a portable air conditioner without a hose; you just need a clever way of venting your AC through the hose.

Let’s summarize all this for everybody who skim-read this whole explanation:

Bottomline On Hoseless Portable Air Conditioners

Here’s the deal:

Among 1,000s of portable air conditioners on the market, there is not one that would not have a hose. In short, hoseless portable air conditioners do not exist.

A portable AC unit without a hose would have to go against the principle laws of physics (2nd Law Of Thermodynamics, to be specific) and we all know we can’t break physics.

Any true air conditioner requires two spaces between which the heat is transferred. A hose is an integral part of any air conditioner because it enables this heat transfer.

The best alternative you have are evaporative coolers (ventless ‘air conditioners’) that can cool a person in short term but will heat a room in long term. It requires no hoses, however.

Another way to look at the problem of hoses and portable air conditioners is just to figure out where to put the hose. Many homeowners are lost if they can’t hoist a hose through the window. That’s, however, not the only option. You can vent a portable AC through a door, wall, ceiling, into the ductwork, and so on. In short, you have options.

This is the summary from our end. We hope that now we all understand why there are no portable air conditioners without a hose. If you have any questions, you can use the comment section below and we’ll try to help you out as best we can.

Thank you.

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