How Long Can You Run A Portable Air Conditioner?

A portable air conditioner can be the answer to your cooling needs. That is if you don’t have enough space to fit a central or window AC in your home. Especially if you use your air conditioner to improve your indoor air quality, you may wonder: how long can you run a portable air conditioner?

Perhaps you already knew that using an air conditioner can help improve your indoor air quality. Usually, indoor air quality is worse than outdoor air quality. Because there are so many pollution sources in our homes.

An air conditioner can improve indoor air quality because most pollutants are water-soluble. With the AC removing water from the atmosphere, it also ends up removing these pollutants. Air conditioners with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter are even more effective (source). They can even remove particulate matter and pollen. 

However, you can reap these cooling and improved air quality benefits only if you use and maintain your AC well. And the more you use it, the more you end up straining it. The AC also requires care and maintenance. In this article, we will answer your question of how long you can safely run a portable air conditioner. 

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Is Running A Portable AC 24/7 A Good Idea?

It is technically possible to leave your AC on all day and even at night. But doing so only means you end up with higher electricity bills. Just imagine how much electricity it consumes and wastes if switched on for prolonged periods. 

Besides, you end up straining your air conditioner, leading to increased wear and tear in the long run. It is better to use the air conditioner for a few hours, let it switch off when you reach the acquired temperature, then let it switch off. 

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Is It Safe To Leave A Portable Air Conditioner On All Day?

It’s generally safe to use your air conditioner throughout the day as it won’t trigger any fire or disaster. But it doesn’t imply you should leave it on all the time. 

Like any other device, it’s always better to give your AC periodic breaks. The breaks give your unit time to cool down and reduce the wear on its parts. 

Many people feel it’s better to leave the AC on all day than to use it intermittently. No matter if you turn off your AC unit or not, they are designed to periodically turn off after cooling a room. A right-sized air conditioner runs in 10-20 minute intervals while cooling your room to the set temperature. 

Portable air conditioners that constantly run without turning off indicate that it’s too small for the room. It can also mean that there is some extra heat or moisture source in the room that needs to be isolated. 

Generally, a larger-sized portable air conditioner will help solve both problems to quickly and efficiently cool your room. 

How Long Can You Run A Portable Air Conditioner Continuously?

You can actually run your portable air conditioner unit continuously without any problems. You can even run it through the season as long as you keep your air filters clean. 

Related article: How To Install A Portable AC

But as the AC collects condensation while cooling, you will have to keep on emptying the condensate tank. The best way to do this is by setting up a drain hose to automatically empty the water. 

Attach one side of the hose to the condensate tank and the other side to a drain. With a drain hose installed, you no longer need to worry about the condensate tank accumulating water and emptying it. 

However, it doesn’t mean that you can just leave your AC on the whole day without checking on it. There is always the risk of the inside getting wet from the condensate water. 

This moist environment is perfect and ideal for the growth of a mold colony. So you need to keep an eye out for possible mold formation by cleaning the filters at least once a month. 

There are a few things that may happen if you don’t fit a drain hose to drain the condensate water. 

  1. The unit may shut off and not turn back on. The AC switches off because some units have a built-in float switch. This switch turns off the unit once its condensate tank is full. 
  2. The full tank also triggers an alarm, reminding you that the tank is full and you need to drain it. 
  3. The condensate tank may end up overflowing if the float switch isn’t working properly. Of course, it doesn’t pose any problem to the portable air conditioner. But it does leave you with the added chore of removing the water. Besides, the repeated overflowing of the condensate water only ends up damaging your floor. 

Can You Leave A Portable Air Conditioner On All Night?

Yes, it is safe to leave a portable air conditioner on all night, with the right arrangements. 

Continual use of the AC can pose a risk if you plug your air conditioner into an overused plug. With air conditioners consuming a substantial amount of electricity, the absence of a dedicated plug can lead to a short.  

As mentioned above, portable air conditioners tend to collect condensation as they cool. 

The water ends up collected in a water tank. You have to make arrangements to periodically drain the water as the tank fills by perhaps fitting a drain hose. 

Thanks to a built-in flat switch, most units shut themselves off if their tank overflows. However, if the switch ends up faulty, it may not work. If this happens, the water in the tank may overflow to damage your home. 

Conclusion: How Long Can You Run A Portable Air Conditioner?

In short, there is no fixed limit to how long you use your portable air conditioner. 

You can even leave it on the whole day or night. But like any other electrical device, it means you end up straining its parts and it will quickly wear and tear. 

Of course, running an AC continuously only leaves you with enormous electricity bills to pay at the end of the month.

Related articles:
How To Save Money On Air Conditioning – 12 Energy-Saving Tips
How To Install A Portable AC
5 Quietest Portable Air Conditioners
Best Ventless Portable Air Conditioner (2021 Review)

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