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Portable air conditioners come in handy when the weather is scorching, and everyone wants theirs to be in good working conditions throughout the year. However, they are prone to damage, like any other household electronic is. Since most people place them near windows, it is only natural to worry that the rain will damage them.
Rain does not damage a portable air conditioner that is properly insulated and has a good draining system. However, it will damage a portable air conditioner with faulty drainage or poor insulation. If your portable unit gets rained on, you have no reason to worry unless it is already worn out.
This article will explore how portable air conditioning units work and where to place them for optimal efficiency, especially during rainy weather, to ensure their durability. It will also deal with the unique circumstances in which rain can damage these appliances.
How Do Portable Air Conditioners Work?
Similar to the inbuilt air conditioners, the portable units cool and remove humidity from a room when the weather is too hot for human comfort.
Many people prefer them because they are less noisy, easy to install, and move from one location to another and occupy small spaces in campers, homes, or even RVs. It is essential to note that these units are specifically designed for indoor use, so they should be placed inside closed spaces with the venting hose at the window or a hole leading the hose outside.
However, it is not always possible to prevent them from coming into contact with the rain, for example, when it starts raining and the window is open.
A well-functioning unit comprises three main parts: refrigerant, compressor, and fan. All of which are not damaged by rain unless tampered with.
Component #1: Refrigerant to Cool the Air
The interior of a portable air conditioner has condenser coils that contain the refrigerant. Usually, the hot and humid air gets cooled down by these coils that also condense some of the humidity.
When hot air passes through the coils, the heat is transferred to the refrigerant, making it heat up. The refrigerant heats into a gas with high pressure that circulates through the system. This is why air conditioning units also generate some heat even as they cool your room, RV, or camper.
Component #2: Compressor to Compress the Refrigerant
The compressor removes the heat from the refrigerant. As the refrigerant cools down, some water vapor is released. In some portable air conditioning units, the condensed water collects in a small bucket that the owner must empty. There is a self-evaporation mechanism in other units that do not require manual emptying of the water collection unit.
Component #3: Fan to Move Air
The fan inside the unit rotates and pulls out the hot air from the room. It also draws out the heat that the unit produces as it runs. Usually, both the hot air and the heat from the electrical components pass through an exhaust hose that directs them outside the room in what is known as venting.
The Verdict: Rain Will Not Damage a Portable Air Conditioner in Good Condition
A well functioning portable air conditioner from a reputable brand is made of high-quality materials. The exterior balances both the aesthetics and functionality, including protecting the more fragile components inside the unit. The outer covering is made of sturdy and rust-proof metal that is not prone to damage by harsh weather conditions.
Usually, the tubes or coils that drain out water or deliver the refrigerant are well insulated with materials that are not prone to water damage. In fact, they can tolerate heavy rains and even hailstorms.
In addition, a unit in good working condition has a good drainage system. The moisture can self-evaporate, collect in a drainage bucket or tank that you must empty, or drain via a horse pipe to keep the rest of the unit moisture-free. In a unit with good drainage, the rainwater will flow out without damaging any parts.
How Rainwater Can Damage a Portable Air Conditioner
Rain can destroy your portable air conditioning unit if it is not well-maintained or if it is old and worn out. Like all other electrical appliances in the home, portable air conditioners need a little care, particularly cleaning, to keep them in proper working conditions.
The damage to the unit caused by other factors will definitely be worsened by rain. I shall explore the factors that may make rainwater destroy a portable air conditioner.
Factor #1: Coils Without Insulation or Tampered Insulation
A portable air conditioner whose tubes or coils are not insulated or one whose insulation has been tampered with will get damaged by rainwater. The rain will make the tubes or coils sweat, causing them damage. If the unit continues to be rained on, it becomes more prone to staining, molding, and warping.
Eventually, the entire unit may fail to work when you need it most.
Factor #2: Poor Drainage
Portable air conditioners are designed to allow any unwanted moisture to flow out through a drainage hose, water collection tank, or self-evaporation. In actual fact, these units should never be submerged in water or collect pools of water except in the collection tank or bucket.
A unit that allows rainwater to accumulate inside will, without a doubt, get damaged. The accumulated rainwater will destroy the internal components of the unit and cause it to fail. It can also cause the unit to shock you or cause a fire if connected to power before the water is completely drained out.
Factor #3: Accumulation of Dirt and Debris
Failure to clean your portable air conditioner leads to the accumulation of debris and dirt in the unit. When it rains, the dirt combines with the water, and the mixture may coat the coils or tubes, especially if the unit has a flawed drainage system.
When condenser coils become coated with dirt or mud, they prevent the refrigerant from efficiently absorbing the heat in your room, office, RV, camper, or other indoor space. This makes the unit less effective in cooling your indoor space. Besides, the coating of dirt causes the compressor to overwork, and if action is not taken in good time, it may overheat and stop working completely.
Generally, rainwater will not cause any damage to your portable air conditioner as long as you have maintained it properly, and it does not have any minor or major damages from other factors.
Suppose you want your unit to be durable. In that case, you should clean as guided by the manufacturer’s user manual, repair any damages in good time, and ensure that the drainage system is functional. I recommend placing the unit close to a window and ensuring that the dryer ducts or hose are directed outside for efficient cooling.
Experts assert that rain will not damage your portable air conditioner as long as it is in good working condition and does not have other interior or exterior damages caused by other factors. However, since the unit is designed for indoor use, you should try to keep it away from rainwater as much as you can.
As long as your unit is well insulated, has an efficient drainage system, and is free from dust and debris, it will not be destroyed by rain. If you notice these faults early enough, it is wise to contact an expert to fix them before the next rainy season to mitigate rain-related damages in the future.
If you want to hear an expert talking about how rain affects your air conditioning unit, here is what an expert from Comfort-Air Engineering, Inc. has to say: