Transforming Your Portable A/C: How to Vent a Portable Air Conditioner Through a Wall

Josh Miller

Josh is a contributing writer to the site and former HVAC specialist.

Last Updated on June 3, 2021

A portable air conditioner is an air conditioning system generally used to provide cooling to a small space or a single room without a window or an unsuitably sized window. These devices are beneficial if temporary cooling is needed or if a building has specific regulations that prohibit larger conditioning systems. 

Most portable air conditioners have wheels and are relatively easy to move from room to room. However, many of them also require some ventilation to disperse the warm air it gathers. Depending on the room, portable air conditioners can be ventilated through a window, door, ceiling, or wall

Wall ventilation requires some knowledge and equipment. 

Transforming Your Portable AC How to Vent a Portable Air Conditioner Through a Wall
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Table of Contents

How Portable Air Conditioners Work

Before learning how to vent a portable air conditioner through a wall, it’s important to understand how one works. 

All portable air conditioners require three crucial components to work correctly:

  • Refrigerant is needed to cool extracted air
  • A compressor is used to compress the refrigerant
  • A fan is essential for transporting the air into the surrounding room 

Portable air conditioners operate by drawing in warm air from the room or a hose attached to a window. 

The condenser coils then cool the hot air. The energy involved in the transfer of air causes the refrigerant within the coils to heat up, creating a high-pressure gas that travels through the air conditioning system.

Moisture in the air is either eliminated through a self-evaporative system that deposits water vapor outdoors, or it is gathered into a container within the system. 

The entire process generates considerable heat. The excess heat extracted from the atmosphere and the heat generated by the air conditioner must then be exhausted outside.

Advantages of a Portable Air Conditioner

Unfortunately, portable air conditioners aren’t as effective in treating large spaces as traditional HVAC systems, central air conditioners, or other permanent air conditioning solutions. However, they have their advantages:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Portable air conditioners are generally a lot cheaper than more conventional options. This makes them very useful if you only need temporary cooling or occasional use. 
  • Minimal installation requirements: To set up a portable air conditioner is relatively easy. There’s no need for a professional installation. However, depending on the exhaust method, it can get a little tricky. 
  • Convenient portability: Most of these appliances come with wheels and can be transported easily. They are generally lightweight, meaning you can carry them without issue
  • Energy efficiency: In comparison to large air conditioning systems, portable devices are far more efficient. They operate in specific areas when they are needed, meaning minimal energy is wasted. 
  • Helps with allergies: Portable conditioners not only cool the air but they also act as a dehumidifier. By keeping humidity levels low, allergen development is reduced significantly. Certain units have the option to dehumidify without cooling. 

Venting Through a Wall

Most portable air conditioners come with a kit to place the ventilation hose out a window. While this is the most common ventilation option, it isn’t the only one. Venting through sliding doors or office ceilings is quite popular. Venting through a wall is a way of transforming your portable air conditioner into a permanent one. 

Venting through a wall is permanent because it involves cutting two large holes into your wall. The following points will help you to learn how to vent a portable air conditioner through a wall. This guide is for a standard 3.5” air conditioning pipe. If your conditioner is a different size, adjust the measurements accordingly.

Step 1: Cut holes in your interior and exterior walls

Depending on the material your wall is made from, this may be a difficult task. While drywall or wood will be easy to cut through, stone and brick prove a lot more difficult. It’s also important to ensure there is no electrical wiring or plumbing in the area you’re cutting. 

The items needed to cut the hole are:

  • Electric drill
  • Pencil (or something to creating a marking)
  • Measuring tape
  • 3.5” and 4” metal hole saw
  • 6 x flat head screws (ask your hardware provider about the appropriate screws for the thickness of your wall)
  • Appropriate screwdriver for screw heads
  • Exterior caulk
  • Wall flange (to fit 3.5” exterior hole and thickness of your wall)
  • Vent adapter (to fit 4” interior hole)


Mark two points
on your wall’s exterior and interior where you want the ventilation holes to be.

To create the exterior air hole, use the 3.5” hole saw and cut into the wall where the point is marked. Use a 4” hole saw to create the hole for the interior vent. 

Step 2: Seal the vents

People don’t always seal the vents, but it is recommended to reduce air leaks and energy waste. Apply exterior caulk around the outside of the hole on the exterior wall and insert the wall flange. Once this is correctly in place, use a screwdriver and flathead screws to secure the wall flange in place. Wipe away the excess caulk. 

Step 3: Connect the hose to the wall flange

The air conditioning hose may now be connected to the wall flange. Simply position the hose’s rim over the wall flange and twist it so that the plastic hooks lock the hose in place

Step 4: Connect wall vent adaptor to the inside hole

Position the wall vent adaptor on the interior hole. Secure it using the screwdriver and remaining flat head screws. Ensure that you securely fasten the vent plate. 

Step 5: Connect the Hose to the Air Conditioning Unit

Take the other end of the air conditioning hose and connect it to the unit to finish the process. Once this step is complete, the unit is now capable of conditioning the air in a room through the wall. Enable your desired settings and power up the machine.

The Perfect Portable Solution

A portable air conditioner is a very versatile appliance. Not only can it provide efficient cooling for a particular area, but it can also be adapted to provide permanent air conditioning in your home. With the right equipment, venting a portable air conditioner through a wall is straightforward. 

When handling drills and machinery, ensure that you read the instruction manual and are comfortable operating these devices safely. Don’t attempt to perform DIY tasks that you’re uncomfortable with.

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