What is a Ventless Air Conditioner?

With a multitude of cooling devices to choose from at the hardware store, the question may arise, "What is a ventless air conditioner?" and how does it differ from other coolers?

The typical model looks like an air conditioner at first glance, because it is encased in a rectangular box that's often white or gray, has a grill on the front, some controls on the top and is on caster wheels. Most have remote controls too.

However, on closer inspection, there are some differences that are obvious and some that are not so obvious.

Not an Air Conditioner!

The first thing you'll notice is that there is a large water reservoir at the bottom of the unit with a filler port, usually on one side. Then there's another opening that's marked for ice cubes to be put inside.

Wait, have you ever heard of putting water and ice in an air conditioning unit?

You probably have not, because that's not something you'd put in an AC.

If you were to pick it up, it would feel a whole lot lighter than the typical portable AC unit. That's because there is no heavy refrigeration equipment and condenser inside.

Another thing you'll discover is at the back, there is a large frame holding a porous sheet of some kind that can be removed. If you take it off, you'd see the large fan inside too.

Hey, wait a doggone minute. This is definitely NOT an air conditioner!

Is it a fancy kind of fan, maybe?

It's an Evaporative Cooler

In fact, what you're looking at here is actually an evaporative cooler or swamp cooler. There are none of the usual air conditioning parts or equipment inside, just that fan, the water tank and the porous membrane.

It could be described as a fancy kind of fan, but it does a whole lot more than just blow air around the room. The water tank and porous sheet are a clue to its real purpose.

Swamp coolers create cold air by evaporation (hence the name "evaporative cooler") and they work by filling the tank with water and that water being soaked up by the porous medium and then the fan drawing room temperature air through the wet medium and blasting the chilled air out the front of the unit into the room.

They work surprisingly well in dry climates (that is to say not humid ones). And the amazing thing is they use less than one tenth the amount of electricity as a conventional air conditioning unit.

This type of cooling device can achieve extremely frugal air cooling through simplicity of mechanics. In fact the only energy hog inside the unit is the fan itself, which generally uses no more than 100 watts in contrast to a conventional AC's thirst for at least a kilowatt or two.

Why Ventless?

Swamp coolers are naturally ventless since they do not produce any hot air, like an AC does.

With air conditioning, the refrigeration process produces a lot of hot air that must be extracted from the unit before it gets released into the room. That is achieved by the condenser which feeds the hot exhaust air out through the vent hose of a portable unit or through ducting or pipe work to an external unit for fixed equipment.

As a swamp cooler has no refrigeration equipment, there is no hot air. Just cold, moist air produced by evaporation. Hence there is no need for a vent, because there is nothing to be vented to the outside!

That in essence is what a rather unfortunately named "ventless air conditioner" really is. You can read more about this kind of cooling device here: www.ventlessportableairconditioner.com

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