If you’re searching the web for a ventless portable air conditioner (or ductless portable air conditioner); you’re in luck. Sort of…
You’re “in luck” because we’re going to tell you what you can do to beat the heat without a traditional portable AC unit. But, you’re out of luck because there aren’t any portable AC units that cool without dumping hot air to your home’s exterior. At least not yet.
So if you want to cool things down, but cannot vent to the outside world you’ll need an evaporative cooler. Simply put, they’re the best alternative to a portable air conditioner… if a vent is out of the question. Like any compromise there are some tradeoffs, but we’ll get to those later. First, let’s cover where they shine.
Our Pick for the Best Ventless Portable Air Conditioner
We’re very happy to recommend Honeywell’s CS10XE as the best overall evaporative cooler. It’s very affordable and incredibly energy efficient. The CS10XE is sized to cool rooms measuring 175 square feet by as much as 25 degrees fahrenheit. It is also relatively small and lightweight so you can move it from room to room without much drama or hassle. Its reservoir is large enough (21 pints) to keep refills minimal; perhaps once every few hours.
When it comes to benefits the first that comes to mind is affordability. These “ventless portable air conditioner” units are much more affordable than their portable AC counterparts. And, they’re not just affordable when you order one; they are cheap to run. All you need is a little water and a little electricity. You’ll also experience a wider variety of shapes and sizes in this segment. Who doesn’t like variety and affordability? Oh and there’s no compressor maintenance… these ventless portable “AC” units don’t rely on traditional refrigeration to cool things down.
Which Climates are Best for Evaporative Coolers?
Evaporative coolers work the best in dry climates. Which is a relief because dry climates are usually the ones that are blazing hot during the day. They’re also the places where a standard fan is basically useless. If you’ve spent time in Arizona without AC you know what we’re talking about. When the temperature hits triple digits in the desert a conventional fan just blows hot air around. The only relief they provide comes if you are sweating. In that instance YOU ARE the evaporative cooler.
If you live somewhere humid they work… but nowhere near as well as in arid locations. Which is odd because another name for an evaporative cooler… is “swamp cooler.” Maybe desert chiller would be a better nickname.
How do they work?
Maybe a better question is “how well do they work?” An evaporative cooler will bring down the temperature by as much as 30 degrees fahrenheit. They work by evaporating water; or more accurately changing water from liquid to vapor. Turning water into vapor requires energy. The form of energy that’s most common is heat. And, since some of the heat is used to transform the water to a different state there is less of it after the process than before. Voila, less heat means cooler air.
When it comes to evaporative cooling the amount of heat transfer (decrease in felt temperature) depends on the rate of evaporation. A faster rate increases the amount of heat used to vaporize water… which creates a greater cooling effect. The two biggest contributors to evaporation rate are actual heat and the amount of humidity already in the air. Higher heat and lower relative humidity yield the best results. Hence, their ability to cool so well in the desert. In fact, we’d recommend that relative humidity should be below 50 percent to get the most out of an evaporative cooler.
Evaporative coolers also increase humidity in a cooled space. Which for many desert dwellers is a welcomed change.
Our Favorite Ventless Portable Air Conditioner Options
We looked at a lot of evaporative coolers to come up with our top pick (mentioned above). The following list details some of the units that really stood out. And, since the best anything typically depends on individual needs… there might be a better option for your needs in the following list.
Luma Comfort EC110S
This sleek swamp cooler tips the scales at a scant 16 pounds. And, if that’s too much for you to handle it has four small casters that allow you to roll it around from room to room. Cooling things off as you go.
When it comes to cooling; this unit should be good for a 20-30 degree temperature drop in ideal conditions. Or, maybe not ideal… if you don’t like the heat. But, like we said earlier high temps and low relative humidity are ideal for evaporative coolers. So ideal for the appliance… not for you. You know what we mean. Moving on…
The cooler is manufacturer rated to cover spaces comprising 250 square feet. But, remember if you have sun coming through large windows expect that coverage to go down substantially. We think it’s one of the better looking units, but prefer the form factor of the small unit we highlighted above.
Honeywell CO60PM Commercial Indoor/Outdoor
Best Option for Large Spaces
This is one of the more powerful coolers we looked into. The Honeywell CO60PM is built for large spaces; 850 square feet if you’re keeping count. It’s also pretty robust… as the name implies. Expect this unit to serve you well for years to come.
The 15 gallon reservoir makes our preferred cooler’s 21 pints look pretty pitiful. But, this thing is in a league of its own. Just take a look at the fan specs. It moves up to 1,540 cubic feet of air every minute. That performance comes with a commercial grade price tag, but compared to a traditional AC unit it’s still very affordable.
Truth be told, we think this cooler looks better than any of the others we reviewed. However, it can only cool 100 square feet. And, it’s reservoir is pretty tiny ( <2 gallons) so expect to fill it on the regular. Especially if the relative humidity in the room is low.
It’s small size makes it easy to maneuver and casters make moves even easier. Like we said it looks great but don’t be surprised if you only get a ten degree temperature drop. Fortunately this cooler is very affordable. If you don’t have a ton of cash on hand you can probably still pick this up without worrying about your next paycheck to arrive.
If the commercial unit we mentioned earlier is appealing, but just a little too much in terms of price and power check out this slightly smaller unit from the same manufacturer. It has a 52 pint reservoir… roughly a third the size of the commercial unit we covered above. It will cool a room that measures roughly 250 square feet, and comes with Honeywell’s five-year warranty.
Looking like an extra from an episode of Dr Who, this cooler from honeywell is one step up from the one directly above. It looks a little better and performs well. But, it will come down to personal needs if you’re choosing between the C30XE and CO25AE.
PAC2KCYC01 Cyclone 3000
So when we sat basking in the glory of this monster, all of the commercial performance specs of CO60PM faded from memory. It will drop the temperature, by 20 degrees, of a space measuring more than 7,500 square feet. Just to clarify and emphasize… that’s SEVEN and A HALF THOUSAND square feet. And, it’s so well build that it will keep cooling that giant space for years to come.
Buy this if you have a mansion with broken AC, a hot and dry Gymnasium, or somehow figure out how to rig some cooling ducts between three or four homes. And, best of all… it’s still pretty affordable.
Luma Comfort EC220W
This Luma swamp cooler is all function and little form. One could assume that the design team took the day off and the engineering department pushed this into production while they were away. But, those clever engineers packed some substantial power into this ugly duckling. It will drop a room’s temperature by 20 degrees. So long as that room is smaller than 650 square feet. It’s about the size of a kegerator so don’t assume that you’ll discretely place this next to your China cabinet. It’s going to stick out like a sore thumb pretty much anywhere other than a garage.
All jokes about appearance aside, we have to give this cooler a thumbs up for performance. Check it out if you need something powerful, but have some extra space in the garage or laundry room.
If you’re looking for a ventless portable air conditioner an evaporative cooler is basically your only option. Portable AC units need to send hot air outside through a hose or by being placed in a window. If it were our money we’d definitely go with the evaporative cooler. They’re cheap and we’re located in the high desert. We also love the added humidity… in fact, we use a humidifier regardless of season to keep things in balance. However, if you’re somewhere humid like Louisiana, Florida, or even Thailand an actual AC unit will cool things down much better.
Another thing we like (as desert dwellers) is that an evap cooler works great with a built in AC system. Humid air is easier to cool and it provides a bit of a boost in rooms where the AC just isn’t performing as well as it should. Before we actually tried evaporative coolers we thought they were pretty much pointless. But, we’re now believers. And, the best part is… you can give one a try as well without worrying about draining your bank account.
Our final verdict: Give one a try if you’re in a dry region. They’re pretty affordable and if you aren’t pleased with the cooling ability you’ll still get the benefits of a bit more humidity in your home.