Does a Portable AC need a Dedicated Circuit?

If you enjoy camping or have a noisy AC and want a quiet night to be able then you may want to consider an additional, separate portable air conditioner to run during the night.

You can use it to provide additional cooling for those places which may not be cool enough or choose to run it in the night if it is quieter that the existing AC.

If you have decided to buy one, you may wonder if there will be any electrical problems if you connect it to the existing wiring or whether you should install a dedicated circuit for the portable AC.

So, In this post, I will discuss whether you need a dedicated circuit for your portable AC, the benefits of using one, how to tell whether you should use one or not for your portable AC, and the problems you can face if you do not use it.

Should You only Connect a Portable AC to a Dedicated Circuit?

It largely depends on the size (capacity of the AC).

You can have a small portable AC with a cooling capacity as low as 5,000 BTU or a larger one with a BTU of about 10,000.

You may use existing shared wiring with the smaller portable ACs but several manufacturers recommended that you use a dedicated circuit for the smaller ACs too.

Larger portable ACs should be connected to dedicated circuits that can handle the significantly higher current draw.

You may also be interested in this post: Do window ACs need a dedicated circuit?

The Advantage of Connecting the AC to a Separate Circuit

A dedicated electrical circuit only supplies power to a single outlet.

In case you are wondering why you should use a dedicated circuit for your AC, it guarantees that there are no other appliances that demand electrical along the same circuit.

This rules out the possibility of an excessive current draw as a result of power demand from other appliances that can keep tripping the breaker.

What to Do if you do not have a Dedicated Circuit

If the AC requires a dedicated circuit and there is none, it is advisable to contact a certified local electrician to install one to avoid overloading the wiring and tripping the circuit breaker.

Should you Plug the Portable AC into a Regular wall Outlet or a Special Outlet?

Since you can have portable ACs of various sizes (cooling capacities), it is best to check the owner manual for your AC for the recommended outlet type.

All that being said, if connecting to a regular outlet, make sure it has 3 slots with proper grounding to minimise the risk of electric shocks.

Avoid connecting the AC’s top plug to an adapter. Instead, always plug it directly into the wall outlet for a firm reliable connection that minimizes loose connections and ensures proper grounding of the AC.

Related questions

Why the Portable AC may Keep Tripping the Circuit Breaker

If the portable AC keeps tripping the circuit breaker, it is likely that there is a current overload on the circuit.

#1. Additional appliances overloading the electric circuit

First, check if there are other appliances connected to the same circuit as the portable AC.

It is possible that the combined current draw of these appliances together with the AC might be tripping the breaker.

Check if there are appliances with a high current draw that may be plugged into the adjacent outlets (or other known receptacles connected to the same circuit).

If there are, switch them off and check if the AC is still tripping.

#2. Undersized electrical circuit

Compare the current rating of the portable AC compared to the breaker rating.

If the AC’s current draw is close to the circuit breaker rating, then the circuit is undersized.

Do you have a dedicated circuit with a higher rated breaker that you can plug the AC into and check if it still trips?

For example, you may try connecting the portable AC to a receptacle with a dedicated and higher rated circuit such as in the laundry room.

#3. Faulty Electrical outlet or connections

Might you be experiencing a fault with the receptacle you are plugging into?

In some cases, you may have receptacles that do not hold plugs firmly or only supply power to an appliance by making unusual adjustments to how the plug fits into the acceptable.

This may be a sign of a loose cable connection.

A loose connection in the wiring – at the receptacle, or in the extension reel (which is not recommended), can result in a voltage drop and a higher current draw to by the AC which trips the breaker.

Try using another outlet possibly in another room to see if the AC still trips.

If there is a problem with the receptacle, engage a locally certified electrician to fix the faulty receptacle.

#4. Faulty AC

You may also have a fault with the AC. You can contact technical support for the AC manufacturer or consult a certified electrician for support.

Final Word

Does a portable AC need a dedicated circuit? It really depends on its size (cooling capacity).

Smaller capacity portable ACs can work consistently with a shared circuit even though many manufacturers recommend that you should always use a dedicated circuit with the ACs.

This helps avoid overloading the circuit particularly when there are other appliances whose combined current draw can easily exceed the current handling capacity of the wiring and the circuit breaker.

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