Can You Lay a Portable Air Conditioner on Its Side for Transportation?

A portable air conditioner is one of the most convenient appliances you can own. It’s also lightweight and easy to use. However, transporting it poses a challenge to many people. If you’re moving or need to move your unit from one house to another, is it possible to lay the air conditioner on its side during transportation?

Transporting a portable AC on its side should be avoided to prevent damage to the compressor. However, if the unit must be on its side for an extended period, you should then leave it in an upright position and unplugged for about 24 hours before using it again.

Let’s take a closer look at why portable air conditioners need to be handled with care, how to prepare them for transport, and how to make them move appropriately so that your AC remains in tip-top shape.

Can You Transport a Portable AC Unit on Its Side?

Portable Mobile Room Air Conditioner in Shopping Cart

Air conditioners are designed for use in an upright position, so this is always ideal for your unit. It would help if you never tried to use an AC while it’s titled or laid on its side.

Doing so could result in damage to the compressor, which is the most essential — and most expensive — part of your unit. The compressor pressurizes refrigerant to ultimately produce the cool air you seek.

When the AC is on its side or tilted, the lubrication oil inside won’t be distributed as it should be, and components of the compressor may collide. This can, in turn, cause permanent damage that you certainly want to avoid.

But what about when it comes time to transport the air conditioner? What if you have to put it on its side?

If you have no choice but to turn your AC on its side, don’t worry too much. Just make sure you return the unit to its usual upright position and let it sit for a while unplugged before you use it again. Doing so will allow the oil inside to settle in its proper place.

Generally, you should leave the AC unit at least as long as it is on its side, and if it has been on its side for more than a day, 24 hours should be sufficient. Check your manufacturer’s instructions for notes about your specific unit.

If you just needed to shift your conditioner to its side for a few minutes, such as to adjust its position, fix something, or clean it, then you only need to let the unit sit upright for a few minutes before using it again.

Preparing Your Portable AC for Transit

Before you move your portable AC, make sure to check the manufacturer’s guidelines for instructions.

Generally, you’ll need to turn off the power supply and allow the compressor to stop running before moving it from its original location.

It would help if you also were sure that your portable air conditioner had been properly cleaned and inspected before moving it anywhere. This is especially true if it’s near an area where people might be injured by falling parts or other kinds of damage caused by improper handling or movement during transit.

Ensure the AC’s drain hose is pushed into the drain hole so that water doesn’t leak out during transport.

Don’t tilt the unit too far forward or back while setting it down or picking it up to avoid causing damage to your machine. This is especially true if you use an older model with a plastic drain pan. Always be careful when you first move the machine, as there may be water that spills out.

How to Carry the Unit

The best way to transport a portable AC unit is by using its wheels or casters. This will allow for more effortless movement and less stress for you and the unit.

However, if you don’t have these features available on your portable AC unit, other options are available for storage and transportation purposes, such as placing it inside of another box or crate for added support and protection during transportation procedures.

How Long Should You Leave a Portable Air Conditioner Upright After Installation?

Man working on mobile air conditioning unit

The time it takes a portable air conditioner to reach room temperature and be ready for use depends on the size of your unit, so consult the manual. However, we recommend leaving your AC unit upright for at least 24 hours after installing it.

That way, you’ll avoid damaging parts that might still be expanding from being transported or improperly handled in transit.

Can You Store a Portable Air Conditioner on Its Side?

When storing your portable AC, such as during the colder winter months, it’s also a good idea to put it in an upright position if possible. Doing so will ensure the AC is ready to be used immediately when the hot days return.

However, if you do need to store it on its side or back, follow the same guidelines we outlined above. Leaving the unit upright for at least 24 hours should do the trick.