Can You Use a Portable Air Conditioner Without the Hose?

Yes, you can run a portable AC without a hose by making modifications that allow you to exhaust hot air and humidity.

It’s like asking, can you run a portable air conditioner without a window? Yes, but again, only by finding a way to get rid of the heat and humidity. Otherwise, you’re only adding heat to the room plus pulling moisture in from one side and dumping it out the other – right back into the room

It would be easier to buy a new hose than to make the adjustments necessary to allow it to work without one. Until you have a new hose – we recommend good universal replacement hoses below – here are tips for running a portable AC without a hose.

Can You Use a Portable AC Without a Hose

OK, we’ll say “yes,” but you’re going to have to be creative and use DIY skills. Let’s find solutions to the question – Can you use a portable air conditioner without a hose?

But note, to allow it to cool and dry your air, your portable AC must be able to get rid of the heat that is generated by the compressor and condenser inside the unit. Running a portable inside a living space without some way for all that hot air to escape is not an option. Rather than cooling your room, the result would most likely be a warmer room than before.

Buy a Replacement for Less than $25

If you need a new hose for your portable AC, there are many available. Here’s our recommendations:

How to Use a Portable Air Conditioner Without a Hose

Since the AC must vent, you’ll need an opening to the outside. Here are the most common and effective ways to run a portable air conditioner without a hose. 

Back It Up to a Sliding Door – And Block the Gap

If you have a sliding door that leads to the outdoors, you may be able to direct the exhaust from your portable AC out that door. The exhaust opening on the back of a portable is only between 5 and 6 inches, so you will only need the door open that wide. However, you’ll have a huge gap above and below the exhaust opening. 

Back the portable unit right up to the opening, then use plywood, cardboard, sheet plastic or some other similar material to block the space above and below the exhaust. Do not block the exhaust opening, and be sure to keep any draperies or other material away from the unit as they could block the air vents and cause the portable to overheat. 

Back Portable AC Hose Up to a Sliding Door

Another option is to buy a kit for using a portable AC with a sliding glass door. 

using a portable AC with a sliding glass door

Box It Up the Fireplace

Your fireplace has a flue that goes up the chimney to the outside air. You could set your portable directly in front of the fireplace with the exhaust opening facing into the fireplace opening. Make sure the flue is open. 

Cover all space beside and above the portable with plywood, cardboard or other similar material. This will help keep most of the hot air that is being exhausted by the portable from blasting back into the room. As before, be careful to not block either the exhaust port or any of the vents on the portable AC unit. 

Box Portable AC Up the Fireplace

Tote It Out the Window

This suggestion might require a little more DIY ability than the first two, but it would probably work just as well. It would be accomplished by placing a medium to large storage tote or bin in a window with its open top facing out. The tote should have a hole cut in the bottom close to the same size as the exhaust port on your portable AC. Block any openings on either side of the tote to prevent outside air, insects or rain from coming in. 

Now a raised surface must be provided in front of the window so the portable can sit on it at just the right height for the exhaust port to line up with the hole in the bottom of the tote. If possible, seal the opening around the exhaust port with duct tape or something else to ensure that the hot exhaust air is going straight out through the tote. 

Blow It Out the Door

In a pinch, even a standard swinging door could be used to provide a place to vent all that hot air from a portable air conditioner. In this case, you will have to find a way to keep the door open the right amount without opening further and letting all your cooled air escape. 

Once again, it will be important to block the opening above the AC unit – and also below the exhaust opening if possible – to prevent warm outside air from getting in and undoing everything your portable is doing. 

Blow Portable AC Out the Door

Vent it Through a Wall

This requires using a hole saw of the correct diameter to drill one hole for a single-hose unit and two holes for a dual hose portable AC. Use round plastic fittings of the proper diameter on the interior and exterior. Then connect the air conditioner hose or hoses to the inside fittings. 

Kits are made for specific AC brands, but if you’re a handy DIYer, then it will be easy to make your own using parts found at the home improvement store. 

Using a Portable without the Hose FAQs 

If my portable seems to work well backed up to a sliding door, is it OK to keep using it that way? 

It’s not recommended. Like most machines, a portable air conditioner is designed to work safely and most efficiently the way it comes from the factory. The exhaust hose on a portable AC is a very important part of the unit, and was designed to remove the hot air that is produced during air conditioning. A defective, broken or lost hose should always be replaced as soon as possible with one of these:

Is it likely that cardboard or other similar material placed near the exhaust port of my portable might catch on fire? 

It’s not likely. Remember, the exhaust hose is made of a thin plastic-like material similar to a clothes dryer hose, and the heat removed by the AC isn’t even hot enough to melt it. However, whenever we tamper with the design of a product, we risk having it function differently than it was intended. It is also quite possible that we will void any warranty if we do not operate it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

If I temporarily vent my portable air conditioner in one of the ways mentioned above, is there anything else I need to do differently? 

Think about the water. Most models have what is called, “bucket-less self-evaporating operation”, meaning that the moisture they remove from your room air goes out the exhaust with the hot air. Others have a bucket or some kind of pan to collect this moisture or a drain tube. If your unit collects the water, make sure you are able to empty it as often as necessary after changing the way it is vented.

Alternative: An Evaporative Cooler

While perhaps not a long-term solution to air conditioning, a personal evaporative cooler can help, especially in dry regions of the country.

They don’t need an opening to the outside because they cool using evaporation, not air conditioning. We’ve selected the best available for readers to consider.

Concluding Thoughts

Yes, it is possible to operate a portable air conditioner without the hose as long as you provide another way to vent the hot exhaust air from your living space. But here is a final suggestion if you own and use a portable AC in your home – especially if you like to move it from room to room – which is why they are called, “portable”. 

Consider purchasing a second hose and installation kit like the one that came with your unit. Universal replacement kits are available at pretty low cost. That way you’ll have a spare if it develops a leak, or even if the dog eats it, or the kids decide to use it for a science project from which it will never return! 

Written by

Rene has worked 10 years in the HVAC field and now is the Senior Comfort Specialist for PICKHVAC. He holds an HVAC associate degree from Lone Star College and EPA & R-410A Certifications.
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