Does a Portable AC Need Water? What You Need to Know

If you’ve never used a portable AC, you might wonder if you need to add water to it—kind of like how your car needs gas to run.

Here are the facts:

You do not need to add water to a portable AC.

The type of device that you need to add water to is an evaporative cooler, which only works well in dry areas.

Instead, portable ACs remove water from the air and store it in a condensate drain tank or drain pan.

The holes in the back of a portable AC are for draining water out of the AC, not filling it up.

If your portable AC is full of water then it will not run. You’ll need to empty all the water out of your portable AC to get it running again.

In this article, I’ll go over everything you need to know about portable ACs and water.

I’ll cover how portable ACs get water, and what happens when they’re full of water.

I’ll also discuss what you should do if no water is coming out of your portable AC.

How does a portable air conditioner get water?

A portable AC gets water from the humidity in the air in your room. As your portable AC cools the air in your room, water condenses out of the air and collects in a drain tank.

You need to empty the drain tank when your portable AC gets full of water. Most portable ACs have at least one drain spout that you can open up to empty the water out of it.

Water draining from portable AC condensate tank

Alternatively, some portable ACs have drain hoses that can automatically drain the water into a drain hole or window.

Newer portable ACs can exhaust the water outside using their exhaust hose. The portable AC heats up the condensate using its hot exhaust air. The condensate turns into water vapor and gets blown outside with the exhaust air.

What happens when a portable AC is full of water?

If your portable AC is full of water, then it will not work.

The float switch in your portable AC will trigger when it is full of water. When the float switch triggers, it will shut down your portable AC to prevent it from overflowing with water into your home.

portable ac float switch

When your portable AC fills up with water you need to empty out its drain tank or drain pan.

Some portable ACs have a drain port on the back to empty water out of. You can install a drain hose onto the drain port if you want to automatically drain your portable AC.

Some people set up their portable AC with a drain hose to drain water into a floor drain or out of the window. That way you don’t need to empty your portable AC tank, it will empty itself out automatically.

So how often do you need to drain your portable AC, anyway?

In humid areas, you may need to drain your portable AC as often as every 8 hours.

In dry areas, you might never need to drain your portable AC since it won’t produce any water.

What happens if no water is coming out of your portable AC

If no water is coming out of your portable AC, then its drain system could be clogged. However, in dry climates, your portable AC may not produce any water at all.

Most newer portable ACs are able to completely remove moisture from your room’s air using their exhaust vent. This means that you will hardly ever need to empty your portable AC drain tank unless you’re using it in a very humid area.

If your portable AC is clogged up, then you’ll need to clean the portable AC out and remove the clog to get your AC working again.

Hi, my name is Trey Lewis and I’m the founder and chief editor at HVAC Training Shop. My goal for this website is to help homeowners troubleshoot and maintain their home’s HVAC systems. Whether it’s changing an air filter, troubleshooting a blower motor, or just buying a new humidifier, I want to make sure that you’re covered.

Leave a Comment