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Are portable room air conditioners safe?

Portable air conditioners are a convenient and effective way to keep a small apartment cool during the hot summer months. But some people have safety concerns about portable ACs.

As I’ll cover in this article, I think a lot of those concerns are born out of a lack of understanding about how portable air conditioners actually work. That’s not your fault, air conditioning is a complicated and mystifying process. But, there’s nothing to be worried about from a safety standpoint. 

Are portable room air conditioners safe?

Portable room air conditioners are safe if you use them correctly and follow the manufacturer’s guidance. A portable air conditioner is no more dangerous than any other electrical appliance. And they are designed to be left running for long periods of time.

I’ve read some concerns online about the exhaust produced by portable air conditioners. This rumor stems from the unfortunate naming of the “exhaust tube.” But there’s no actual exhaust leaving your portable AC.

So what is going out of the exhaust tube? It’s just hot air. Your portable air conditioner works by pulling heat out of the air in your apartment. 

It transfers this heat to outdoor air via a complex process using pressure and a refrigerant (similar to your car’s antifreeze). We have a whole article explaining how this works if you’re interested.

The upshot is that the exhaust tube is just a way of getting rid of the hot air produced by your portable air conditioner. It poses no danger to you or your family. If you portable air conditioner didn’t have this tube, it wouldn’t be able to cool your home by a single degree.

You also want to make sure you follow proper electrical safety protocols. But this is exactly the same as any other electrical appliance in your home.

Make sure you use a power source that’s rated for your portable air conditioner to avoid any electrical shorts. Also, make sure there isn’t any exposed wiring that could give someone a nasty shock. 

In electrical terms, a portable air conditioner is no more dangerous than a washing machine or a toaster. There’s no risk provided you use the device as intended.