How to Extend a Portable Air Conditioner Hose

A portable air conditioning unit is set up with the hose venting out a window.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 358-50

Portable air conditioners can be a real game-changer when it comes to conveniently keeping your home cool. But if you don't know how to extend a portable air conditioner hose for your AC, then it's not really all that portable, is it?

Heat from the portable air conditioner must be released outside, which is why an exhaust hose is necessary. And sometimes, you might need to know how to extend a portable air conditioner hose in order to make the unit truly portable and move it to all the parts of your home where it might be needed.

How Portable Air Conditioners Work

Portable air conditioners are designed to be moved around. They have wheels on them, so they are easy to move and position.

This allows you to place portable air conditioners where they can do the most good. And when the unit isn’t turned on, you can roll it out of the way just as easily.

But if you can't move your portable air conditioner wherever you want it due to a short exhaust hose, then it's not so portable. When the unit is tethered to an exhaust hose that must release air outside, it can be frustrating when you hit the limit of that hose.

Unlike window air conditioners or other types of air conditioners that are at least partially outside, portable air conditioning units will typically be positioned entirely within one room of your house and will only really cool this space.

These units work by sucking warm air out of the room and then venting it outside. If your portable air conditioning unit is not able to vent this warm air outside properly, the unit will not be able to cool down your home effectively.

Essentially, portable AC units take the heat out of the room and transfer it outside. The air is treated by the condenser coils inside, which cool the air.

Hot air and exhaust are transferred out of the system through the hose, which goes outside to release this air.

You do not want the hot air and the exhaust inside your home, mingling with your breathable air. If the hot air is returned to your room, it totally defeats the purpose of having air conditioning, and it will make the air conditioner work harder and more often to keep the space cool.

Portable air conditioners can be made in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but there are two basic designs: single hose and double hose. In either case, the unit has an exhaust hose that must go outside.

So, how can you make your portable AC unit even more portable and extend the hose so you can move the air conditioner into other parts of the home?

The Exhaust Hose

The exhaust hose, or vent hose, comes standard with the portable AC unit, and it will have a predetermined length. The length of that hose wasn’t created on a whim or for design purposes.

The length of the hose does matter, and it does affect how the unit itself works. The hose is made at a length that is optimal for the air conditioning unit's blower, which is the thing that drives the hot air and exhaust out through the hose into the world outside your home.

Making the hose longer will cause the blower to work harder, as it must push the air out through a longer length than what the unit was designed for. The blower ends up working harder than it should, which compromises the functionality of the entire unit.

Lengthening the exhaust hose will also void the warranty for the unit if the warranty has not already expired. Since the length of the hose is already carefully determined, no manufacturer will honor a warranty on a unit that has been altered in this fashion.

According to some HVAC experts, exhaust hoses for portable air conditioning units should not be greater than five feet in length. Otherwise, the unit will not be able to cool the room effectively.

In some designs, exhaust hoses may be as long as seven feet in length. In portable AC units, an exhaust hose length of four to seven feet is common, with most hoses being four feet in length.

There's another good reason why you want to strongly consider not extending the exhaust hose: your health. If you attempt to extend the exhaust hose and do not make sure there are no leaks of any kind along the length of the hose and at the connection where the old and new hoses meet, the exhaust will get dumped into the room where your AC unit is running.

This means that you will be breathing the hot hair and exhaust fumes that are meant to be outside. This makes the AC unit work even harder to combat the hot air in the room, and it means you're breathing air you should not be breathing because it is exhaust that should very well be outside.

After all, there is a very good reason the unit has an exhaust hose in the first place. You’re not meant to be breathing the exhaust released by the unit, so you don’t want to do anything to compromise the way the hose works and create potential leaks that dumb the fumes into the air you’re trying to breathe.

Alternative Solutions

If you can't quite put your portable AC unit where you want it because the hose isn't long enough, try placing the unit on top of something. Lifting the unit up a little bit may make it possible for you to move it out farther.

The standard length for the exhaust hose on a portable air conditioner unit is usually around 48 inches, or about four feet. You're also supposed to keep the unit itself at least 20 inches away from walls and furniture in order to get optimal airflow and cooling power.

Place a fan a few feet in front of the AC unit and point it out the door or toward the area where you are not getting the cooling you want. This can help to circulate more cool air around, and it doesn’t require changing your exhaust hose.

How to Extend a Portable Air Conditioner Hose

If you are determined to extend the exhaust hose and you are willing to accept all the consequences of this action, it is possible. In fact, this is not a difficult DIY.

Remember again that all manufacturers and HVAC professionals strongly, strongly caution against lengthening portable air conditioner exhaust hoses. This is not at all advisable and may even be dangerous not just for the AC unit but also for you.

You are strongly advised not to do this. But if you insist upon doing so, it is possible to purchase exhaust hose coupler connectors.

These are essentially wide plastic rings that connect to the existing exhaust hose at one end and the new exhaust hose at the other. This connector joins the two hoses together so that you end up with a longer hose.

These couplers are designed to create a tight seal so that exhaust will not leak. However, it is still advisable to use duct tape and cover both ends of the coupler with this to further prevent any leaks.

When the goal is to keep exhaust fumes out of the room you’re in, you can’t be too careful about creating a tight seal.

Many, many things are possible with creativity, DIY skills, and a few basic tools and equipment. However, just because you can complete a DIY project does not mean that you should.

In the case of extending portable air conditioner exhaust hoses, don't. This will negatively impact the way the unit functions, and it is not really worth the risk to your cool air and to your overall health and well-being.

When you’re considering any project that involves exhaust hoses or pipes, consult with a professional and do the appropriate research. Unless there is a problem that needs fixing, you will want to leave any exhaust system the way it is in almost every single case.

Exhaust systems take bad air away from you and get rid of it safely. That's what matters, and it’s nothing you want to tamper with, not even for the sake of getting more length out of your air conditioner.

Portable Air Conditioner FAQs

Do portable air conditioners need maintenance?

Like any air conditioner, portable AC units need regular maintenance. The unit should be cleaned, and the filters changed regularly, around once a month or every six weeks.

You also need to drain the water reservoir. This collects condensation from water vapor that is created inside the unit due to its normal processes.

Clean off the grate regularly, too. Most of the time, a good cleaning every month will keep the unit working at its best and keep your bills as long as possible.

What are the pros and cons of using portable air conditioners?

Portable AC units are easy to install and easy to move around, which makes them a good option to cool down smaller spaces when you don't want to have a more extensive air conditioning system installed.

This is an ideal situation for a garage or basement that does not have air conditioning, for example. This can also be a handy solution for auxiliary dwelling units on the property or sheds that have been converted into man caves.

The great thing is that portable air conditioners can be placed anywhere you want to enjoy some nice, cool air.

However, these units also tend to be noisy. They also create condensation, which requires drainage.

Often, portable AC units have a condensation tray or reservoir, which must be emptied of water regularly to keep the unit functioning. The more you use the AC, the more you have to remove the water from it.

Another drawback of using a portable AC unit is that it is not energy efficient. Other cooling options are much more efficient because they consume less energy to cool down larger spaces.

Do you have to put portable AC units in a room with a window?

Because of the exhaust hose, it's easy to install a portable AC unit in a room with a window. The hose can simply go right out the window, dropping its exhaust and hot air into the great outdoors.

Many portable air conditioner units come with window kits to make it easier to stick the exhaust hose out of the window and still have a nice, tight seal around it, and the window so cold air isn't leaking out of your home.

However, the exhaust hose can go straight through the wall if there is no window present. This should only be done as a last resort, as it will create a hole in your wall that goes through the exterior all the way to the outside.

Should you ever move your portable AC unit or upgrade to a new HVAC system, this hole in the wall will need to be repaired both inside the room and on the exterior of the wall.

Do portable air conditioners need an exhaust hose?

Portable air conditioners come with an exhaust hose, which means this is a necessary component of the device. The AC is designed to blow hot air out through the hose, and you don’t want that in your room.

In other words, you should never disconnect the exhaust hose or remove it from the window. You do not want the stuff coming out of the exhaust to end up inside your home.

The only time you should disconnect the hose is if you are moving the portable air conditioner unit from one area into another. During that time, the unit will be turned off.

Can you use a dryer hose for a portable air conditioner?

Dryers and portable air conditioners both use exhaust hoses, and sometimes, you can use a dryer hose as an AC exhaust. However, this will only work in specific circumstances.

Most dryer hoses are four inches in diameter. The reason they are not often used for portable AC systems is that AC systems typically have slightly larger exhaust hoses.

If the AC exhaust hose is also four inches in diameter, a dryer hose can suffice.

Can you convert a single-hose portable air conditioner to a dual hose?

Dual hose portable AC units have a more efficient design that cools rooms faster and in a more energy-saving way.

It is possible for a skilled DIYer to convert a single-hose portable AC unit into a double-hose unit. However, this requires cutting holes and moving vents.

What happens if you don't vent a portable air conditioner?

If you don't vent your portable AC, you may as well not have a portable AC unit. The heat being pulled out of the room is released out of the exhaust, which is why you run the hose through the window.

Without a hose to take the heat somewhere away from you, all the heat will dump back into the room, and at that point, doesn't it almost seem silly to have an air conditioner?

Can you vent a portable air conditioner into a bucket of water?

It is possible to run a portable AC without an exhaust hose, if necessary. Switch the AC into dry or dehumidifier mode and connect a standard garden hose to the drain port.

The garden hose will allow you to collect the condensed water that would normally go through the exhaust and go outside.

However, running the AC without an exhaust means the same warm air is being dumped into the room where the air conditioner is running. This means you really aren't cooling the room at all, just recycling the same air and using a lot of electricity to do it.

What is the maximum hose length for portable AC?

Most portable air conditioners have an exhaust hose with a length of five to seven feet. The longer the hose, the more the unit has to work to push out air and condensation through the exhaust.

You can use a longer hose for a portable AC, but longer hoses will put strain on the device, so it is not recommended to exceed the manufacturer-recommended length for any portable AC unit.

Further Reading

3 DIY Air Conditioners

4 Common Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner Problems

Four Portable Air Conditioner Problems

How to Seal Space Around an Air Conditioner Unit

How to Service and Maintain Your Air Conditioner

How to Stop a Portable Air Conditioner From Leaking