How To Make A Portable Air Conditioner Quieter (do this for less noise)

If your portable air conditioner is making so much noise that it’s distracting you, you need to do something about it. A quick search online brings back numerous results on ways to make a portable air conditioner less noisy.

There is plenty of advice available online, unfortunately, it’s not all good advice. In fact, some of it is downright dangerous, but more on that later.

Ways To Make A Portable Air Conditioner Less Noisy

Let’s get straight into the reason you’re here, which is ways to make your portable A/C quieter.

Operate Your Portable Air Conditioner On A Level Floor

If your portable air conditioner is placed on an uneven floor, it is likely to make more noise than it should. There are a few reasons for this;

  1. The Unit Will Rock On Opposite Feet
    If all four of the feet are not firmly on the ground, the unit will bounce from side to side as it operates. This will cause far more noise than the unit was designed to make.
  2. The Internal Workings Will Have To Work Harder
    If the A/C is on a slant, gravity will work against the refrigerant as it tries to travel through the system. This will make the compressor have to work harder which will cause more noise.
  3. Any Twists In The Exhaust Hose Will Cause More Noise
    The exhaust hose on a portable A/C is designed to make your unit run at its optimum level. If that exhaust hose gets a kink or is twisted, it will mean the unit has to work harder which will create more noise.

You should always ensure that your portable A/C is level and that the exhaust hose has a clear, unobstructed path through the window.

Use An Anti-Vibration Pad To Quieten A Portable A/C

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Noise travels through the floor and portable air conditioners vibrate when they’re running. We know this because noise is vibrations in the air.

If you’re operating your portable air conditioner while it stands on a hard floor like concrete, wood, etc, the vibrations from the A/C travels through the floor and the walls of your home.

By placing an anti-vibration pad under the portable air conditioner you can considerably cut down on the amount of noise produced by the aircon unit. 

Anti-vibration pads are made from thick rubber granulate material which really absorbs the vibrations and greatly reduces the level of noise.

Less vibration means less noise and less chance of any structural damage to your home. Plus you don’t need to be an engineer to use one. It’s not like you’ll need to take your portable aircon unit apart and look for any loose parts.

No, all you need to do is place your portable air conditioner on the anti-vibration pad. That’s it, a significant reduction in noise for a very little amount of work.

Another bonus is the anti-vibration pad can be used elsewhere in the home when the portable air conditioner has been packed away. Anti-vibration pads can be used under washing machines or sports equipment to reduce noise and keep your family and neighbours happy.

Use A Lower Setting On Your Portable A/C

If you run your portable air conditioner on full power (the coldest setting), the harder the unit has to work. This means the compressor has to work harder to compress the refrigerant.

More Power Means More Noise

Because the compressor has to work harder, it becomes louder. It’s like accelerating in a car, the faster the car goes, the louder the engine becomes.

So, lowering the cooling power will help to reduce the noise of the portable air conditioner. However, this poses a problem, which is lowering the cooling level means the room will be hotter than you would really prefer it to be.

Lowering the cooling power will only really work when the temperature is not that great, it’s no good for high Summer. 

However, you could operate your portable air conditioner on high cooling power until the room reaches your desired temperature. Then instead of turning it off, set it to a lower cooling power.

That would mean it would make less noise maintaining the cooler temperature.

SEE ALSO: How Does A Portable Air Conditioner Work? (UK portable aircon explained)

Buy A New Portable Air Conditioner

This might sound extreme, but if you’ve owned your portable aircon unit for more than 5 to 8 years, it’s probably time to buy a new one.

All of the experts agree that portable air conditioners should be replaced after 5-8 years and as the device gets old, parts start to become loose. 

Which is when rattles and bangs start to happen and as the compressor ages it becomes worn and will make more noise. The fan could become slightly loose or the blades could get bent.

All of which could be why your portable aircon unit is louder than it was.

Another reason for buying a new model is the amount of design improvements that have happened over the last decade. New models are more energy efficient and designed to be less noisy.

Older models are often so loud because they are inefficient and waste energy. In many cases the energy used to produce that noise is wasted energy that could be cooling your room.

By purchasing a new energy efficient model, you could find you save the cost of the appliance in lower electricity bills in 2 or 3 years.

There are some energy efficient models that are marketed as quiet models, so do some research and invest in a new quieter portable air conditioner.

Tie A Rope Around Your Portable Air Conditioner

This might sound ridiculous but in some cases, it works. If you have owned your portable aircon unit for a few years, it is possible that the casing has become loose.

If the casing has become loose, tying a rope around it will cut down on the noise. However, don’t waste your time doing this on a new or fairly new unit.

Maintain Your Portable A/C Regularly

You should clean the filters on your portable air conditioner frequently to ensure it gives you optimum performance. If the filters get clogged the portable air conditioner will have to work harder to draw air into the machine.

This can cause a few problems; 

  • Firstly, the motor will have to work harder to draw hot air into the unit which will make it louder..
  • Secondly, if the filters become too clogged the portable A/C could overheat. Which could cause it to break down completely.

It is possible to get your portable air conditioner looked at by a professional engineer. The engineer will run any necessary repairs, clean the filters and generally make sure the unit is running at its best.

This will lower the decibels produced by your unit and is likely to improve energy efficiency as well.

Wear Noise Cancelling Headphones

Noise cancelling headphones are great for cutting out noise in general and can be used to reduce the sound from a portable aircon unit.

Obviously, noise cancelling headphones won’t solve the problem of a noisy aircon unit. But they might allow you to get on with your work without the distraction of a noisy aircon unit.

Noise cancelling headphones are much cheaper than a new portable air conditioner and there’s no need for any maintenance.

However, noise cancelling headphones will only work for one person, and some people find them uncomfortable especially when it’s hot and humid.

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What You Should Never Do To Lower The Noise On A Portable Air Conditioner

Now we’ve looked at the tried and tested ways you can use to reduce the level of noise from your portable air conditioner, let’s look at some of the bad advice available on the internet.

Wrap A Blanket Around Your Portable Air Conditioner

There are several people saying that wrapping a blanket around the portable air conditioner will dampen the noise. And, to some extent this is true, covering anything that’s noisy with a blanket will dampen the sound.

But wrapping a blanket around your portable aircon unit could cause it to overheat because the residual heat has nowhere to escape if it is wrapped in a blanket.

Also as the internal components heat up, they are more likely to cause the unit to require more electricity to complete its functions.

Then there’s the risk of a fire, this is especially true if the blanket happens to be made from man-made fibres like polyester or nylon. This is because these materials have a low flash point when it comes to igniting into flames.

Place The Portable Air Conditioner On A Carpet

There’s nothing particularly wrong with this advice except a carpet is generally not thick enough to absorb much in the way of vibration.

Which is why we recommend using anti-vibrations pads instead.

Also some carpets are made from similar materials to those blankets, which increases the risk of fire if you place your portable air conditioner on a carpet.

What Makes A Portable Air Conditioner Noisy?

Above we’ve given you all of the tried and tested ways to make your portable air conditioner quieter. Now we’d like to share exactly what is likely to be making it noisy in the first place.

How Does A Portable Air Conditioner Work?

Before we can explain why your portable air conditioner is making so much noise, you need to have a working knowledge of how a portable air conditioner works.

The main part of a portable air conditioner is the refrigerant compressor. 

The compressor is continuously compressing the refrigerant liquid or gas. The compressed refrigerant absorbs heat from the room as it expands which is how it draws heat from your room.

It then passes through the condenser which removes the heat and a fan then blows that heat through the exhaust hose and the now cooled refrigerant goes back round to the compressor.

As you can see there are a number of moving parts that all have the potential to make a noise. As the unit ages, the more likely it is to make a noise.

As we have learned all noise is vibration based which is why most of the ways to prevent a noisy aircon unit involve reducing vibration.

Types Of Portable Air Conditioner Noises

There are a number of noises associated with portable air conditioners and in particular older units. These include;

  • Banging/Hammering
    A banging or hammering noise almost certainly indicates that the compressor is faulty. Over time, the inner workings of the compressor become loose and the banging noise you can hear is those inner working parts hitting the compressor’s inner casing. This is not usually repairable and will mean either replacing the compressor or buying a new A/C.
  • Hissing
    This is usually caused by leaking refrigerant. The copper pipes that the refrigerant runs through are under immense pressure continuously. This can cause a weakness to develop, usually at the expansion valve. The refrigerant under pressure makes a hissing noise as it escapes.
  • Buzzing
    There are several reasons that a portable air conditioner starts to buzz. They’re almost always electrical problems and can be quite dangerous. It could be caused by the compressor, a faulty motor, a faulty capacitor or any number of electrical connection faults.
  • Screeching
    If you hear a screeching noise coming from your portable A/C it’s usually connected to either the fan, the motor or the compressor.
  • Clicking
    Clicking sounds are usually electrical and are often a sign of an electrical fault with the thermostat, fan, capacitor or the compressor.

Unless you are a qualified electrician or engineer, we advise you not to take your portable air conditioner apart and start investigating.

We would suggest that you either take your noisy portable aircon unit to a technician or take it to a recycling centre and buy a new one.

SEE ALSO: How Much Your Portable Air Conditioner Is Costing You To Run (UK prices)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my portable air conditioner so loud?

Portable air conditioners can be quite loud, especially as they age. The main reasons for the level of noise from a portable air conditioner are the fan and the compressor. As all of the components are encased in such a small container and the compressor is built into the casing.

Are portable air conditioners noisier than window units?

Portable air conditioners are noisier than window units because window units direct most of the noise outside. Whereas a portable air conditioner is operated inside your home. Which means all of the noise is contained indoors.

Do portable AC units use more electricity than window A/Cs?

It is estimated that portable air conditioner units use twice as much electricity as window A/Cs.

How loud are portable air conditioners?

The average portable air conditioner is anywhere between 58 to 68 decibels. This is louder than a normal conversation. There are some quieter models that are around 52 decibels.

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