How Long Can You Run A Portable Air Conditioner Continuously?

Portable air conditioners are a great way to cool specific single rooms without needing a whole-house air conditioning system. But how long can you run a portable air conditioner continuously?

In general, you can run a portable air conditioner all season as long as it’s in a good working state, clean the air filters and empty the condensate tank regularly. If you set up a drain hose to automatically empty the water, you can run it as much as possible without any issues.

Can you Run a Portable AC 24/7?

When summertime erupts with hot air, people often run for ways to cool their homes. For that reason, the majority leave their portable air conditioners on for 24 hours. The case is typical, but is it right?

Irrespective of how you clean or maintain your portable ac unit, don’t operate it for 24 hours. If you do that, you’ll strain and reduce the life span of the portable air conditioning unit. Also, your portable air conditioner uses extra energy to run in extreme conditions. The energy use reduces the energy efficiency ratio.

Warm air hits you with an awkward feel. And as a result of that state, you operate the portable air conditioner 24/7. Moreover, it’s worth it if you want cool air and conducive indoor air quality.

How Long Can you Run a Portable Air Conditioner Continuously?

Most portable air conditioners run continuously without hiccups. But for portable ACs to run better, empty the condensate tank and clean their air filters. The clean-up will ensure you run the ac continuously for a season.

But that doesn’t give you the luxury to always leave the portable air conditioning system on. Instead, like most equipment, I’d tell you to give your portable unit period breaks. Then, when you turn off the portable ac, it restores its cooling power and stops wear and tear.

Nonetheless, if you power down the portable central air unit, it should turn on in intervals. That is after it cools your room. An efficient ac room unit runs in 10-20 minutes when it cools your room.

A portable air conditioner without rest cycles isn’t compatible with your room size. Also, you need to isolate excess heat or moisture sources in your room. A more oversized portable air conditioner cools your room or home faster.

Factors that Impact How Long a Portable Air Conditioner Runs Continuously

Temperature Outside

Both your home’s inner and outer temperatures are vital in equal measure. Unlike the inner one, if the outer one has hot air, then the hot air seeps into your home’s bricks.

The warm air movement causes your portable air conditioner unit to run more. Likewise, portable air conditioning units run longer when too humid outside.

Thermostat Settings Of The Portable Ac Unit

Suppose you set the thermostat in your air conditioner low in the summer when there’s peak heat and humidity. The portable air conditioner will work harder and longer most of the time to cool your home.

Sizes of the Portable Air Conditioners

When portable air conditioners are too big, they experience short-cycling. As a result, they become inefficient since they can no longer dispel humidity in your room.

If the portable air conditioner is undersized, you will undergo the opposite. If there’s no change in your portable air conditioner after 20 minutes, it’s little for your room.

State of your Portable AC Unit

When you look after your portable ac unit, it lasts longer. If portable air conditioners are dirty or un-serviced, running costs increase. Since a portable air conditioner depends on energy to cool your room, it runs harder.

The Size of your Room

Your room’s size affects how your portable air conditioner runs. The larger the room, the longer your portable air conditioner runs, and vice-versa.

Ensure you get a portable air conditioner that’s of the correct size. Moreover, right-sized portable ac units prevent energy and money wastage.

Home Insulation Levels

Insulation takes up a vital role in regulating your home’s temperature. If there’s less insulation, heat will trickle down to your home without destruction.

Moreover, the trickle-down of water causes the room air conditioners to run longer.

Why It’s not a Good Idea to Run a Portable AC All Day?

High Energy Consumption

HVAC Specialists have concluded that it isn’t a fantastic idea to let ac units run around the clock. But, it depends on the type of portable air conditioner you own. And instead of the portable air conditioners running efficiently, they raise electricity bills.

For example, non-inverter portable air conditioners dominate the market. A non-inverter air conditioner means it switches ON/OFF whenever it operates. Also, it doesn’t adjust its power use depending on the cooling target.

Increased Maintenance and Reduced Life

The more you run a portable air conditioner, the more it’ll need maintenance. And that’s true for homeowners who live in regions with dust-filled environments.

When you operate a portable air conditioner around the clock, clear up the AC filters more often. Also, portable units that don’t self-evaporate, the condensate pan fills up early. Moreover, when the condensate pan fills up early, you’ll need to empty it more often.

Reduction in Dehumidification Capability

The work of your portable air conditioner unit happens in short intervals. But the intervals aren’t enough for the air conditioner to condense humidity.  Moreover, the dehumidification process reduces significantly because of insufficient operation.

Harmful Effect on Our Environment and Global Energy Wastage

The carbon which comes out of central air units or other units hurts our environment. Moreover, the emissions are notorious when it comes to climate change. The earth is our habitation. We are responsible for it, and we have to protect it and its health.

Do Portable Air Conditioners Need to be Drained

Yes, you need to drain your portable AC system more often. The portable ac units create condensation. The AC soaks up water from your home’s air.

Even though the AC collects some drainage water, it evaporates partially. Without proper drainage, condensation builds up and causes water overflow.

Extreme heat/humidity causes your portable AC to run harder to produce condensation. Moreover, the extra effort means you’ll have to drain your appliance more often.

How Often should I Drain my Portable Air Conditioner

Depending on your home’s humidity levels, you’ll have to drain the portable unit every eight hours. But, in some instances, you don’t need to drain the unit that often.

If you stay in an arid area, it’s rare for you to drain your portable unit. And it’s because the AC unit extracts water from warm, humid air. As a result, the portable unit won’t soak up water from your home’s air when dry.

Most modern portable ACs can remove all the water from your home through exhaust vents. To do that, it sprinkles water from the condensate tank to the condenser coil.

Also, evaporation occurs when the condensate and the condenser coil mix. The vapor blows out of the house via the exhaust house afterward.

The method clears water out of your unit’s condensate tank. Thus, it’s only in humid settings where you need to empty your unit’s condensate tank most times.

what Happens if you Don’t Drain your Portable Air Conditioner

If you fail to drain your unit, the following happens:

  • The portable ac unit will power off but won’t power on again – this issue is usual. Most portable units have in-built float switches. The unit’s float switch powers down the unit when its condensate tank overflows with water. Suppose you run a portable air conditioner on a full tank, an alarm rings. Moreover, the alarm alerts you on the status of the portable unit. That way, you’ll know when to drain the AC.
  • The unit’s condensate tank overflows – if the portable AC’s float switch is faulty, a water overflow will come up. It isn’t a major AC headache unless it leads to water damage within your home.
  • Mold grows around your portable unit – for most homeowners, mold growth on their units isn’t a reality. But, mold growth shoots up when you fail to empty the unit. Moreover, when you leave water in the unit’s tank, you create a conducive setting for mold growth.

Why your Portable Air Conditioner is Producing so much Water

1. High Humidity

Your portable ac unit produces less water/more when the humidity undergoes condensation. Thus, the portable AC system’s amount of water is proportional to humidity.

2. Dirty Air Filter

A clogged filter causes a  blockage that restricts air movement from your portable AC. As a result, the air’s flow rate reduces, and less air passes across the evaporator coils.

For that reason, the evaporator coil freezes up the moisture within the air. Also, the evaporator coils drip the humidity to the AC’s condensate pan.

3. Faulty Condensate Pump

If you use an AC’s condensate pump and it leaks, or the water fills up, there’s a problem. In most cases, the pump setup is the cause of faulty condensate pumps.

4. Water Not Draining

The water tank shouldn’t fill up if you use a drain hose. The hose eradicates water surplus through a condensate pump/gravity method. A usual cause is water blockage of the AC’s drain hose.

5. Clogged Evaporator Coils

If your unit fills up faster, blame it in the evaporator coils.

6. Lesser Condensate Pan Capacity

Check its capacity if your portable AC system’s condensate pan/water tray fills up faster. The chances are that the pan has a low capacity.

Setting up a Drain Hose for Portable Air Conditioner

Set up and use a drain hose when you want a portable AC system to run continuously.

The drain hose empties the condensate tank without command. Moreover, one of the drain hose’s sides connects to the condensate tank. The other side connects to the AC drain. Also, you can guide the condensate hose towards the external AC drain.

When an AC owner uses a drain hose, it prevents water fill-up in the condensate tank. Also, the setup kills the worry of water overflow.

But I’d advise you to check the portable AC system even when the drain hose works. Moreover, the unit’s internal parts may be wet due to the condensate.

Remember to check the portable system for mold and clean its air filters. That is, once a month.


You can operate a portable air conditioner continuously, as we’ve seen. But, you’ll need to empty the AC’s condensate tank and clean its air filters too often.

An efficient unit has to run longer. Thus, if it doesn’t do so, you’ll have to endure excess humidity within your home. But if you follow the above tips to the brink, your portable AC system will work with no strain.