Electrical Tip of the Day: Portable Window AC Units – 5 things you should know
The heat is on… which has us all looking for ways to stay cool. For many people and many applications a portable window air conditioner is the only option for a good nights sleep. While these appliances do provide some much needed cooling relief, they also present some significant electrical safety concerns.
Here are 5 things your should know when using or installing a portable window AC unit.
1) In an ideal install they should not be ran on extension cords – if you must use an extension cord make sure it is a larger gauge wire then the cord on the unit.
2) Many window AC units are designed to be ran on a general use 15 or 20 amp circuit – but some need dedicated lines just for the use of the AC. Make sure you check the amp draw on the unit and the manufactures guidelines for safety before using. Be careful plugging these things in to *just any old outlet* to avoid overloading a branch circuit. It is never recommended to run more then one unit on the same circuit.
3) Check the cord and outlet – if they are getting warm then you are at risk of an overload, if they feel HOT to the touch then you are overloading some part of the circuit or the conductors. Also look for dimming lights and power outages related to the AC kicking off and on.
4) Old homes that still have ungrounded knob and tube wiring present a significant safety hazard. These old circuits were never designed to have high demand appliance loads on them. It is never a good idea to use a window AC on a knob and tube circuit.
5) Plug adapters… you know the little two prong “cheaters” that let you plug in a grounded cord into an ungrounded outlet. When it comes to window AC’s just don’t do this. There is a very good reason why these units have a ground prong on the cord.