Are Portable Air Conditioners Allowed In Dorms? A Definitive Guide

Living in a dorm room can be hot and uncomfortable at times, and it’s no wonder why you are looking for a way to cool down.

So what are the rules about using portable air conditioners in your dorm?

Dorm Room Air Conditioner Law: Are Portable Devices Allowed?

The answer is almost always no.

Dorms are usually not set up for air conditioning units. There are some reasons for this rule.

In recent years, college dorms have changed in terms of what is permitted. Air conditioners are one of the items that are not allowed in dorms, as they take up too much electricity.

This can be a major problem for students in hot climates who may need air conditioning to keep cool!

Students who install air conditioning in their dorm are subject to fines.

But there are some exceptions.

Some universities are cool with the use of air conditioners and may even have cooling units in each dorm room, but most are not lenient on this issue.

If you got a health issue you could contact the administration and ask for an exception.

However! There are ways you can stay cool this summer while living on campus with these tips.

How to cool down a college dorm room if AC is allowed?

You should seriously consider getting a portable air conditioner. Portable AC’s are extremely easy to set up and can be moved around the room as needed!

There are many factors to consider when choosing a portable air conditioner for your college dorm room, and we’ll take you through them below:

The price for a portable AC starts at $40 and can go upwards of $500 depending on the features.

You should consider these things when picking your portable AC.

  • How much power is needed to cool the space? If it’s a small room, then less power is needed.
  • For big rooms, more power may be required.
  • How many BTUs are in the AC unit? The higher this number is, the faster it will cool your room.
  • In general 5000 BTU is enough for a dorm room.
  • How much space is needed for the AC?
  • The noise level.

How to cool your room if air conditioners aren’t allowed?


Instead, bring a fan. A small desk fan is really helpful! It is easier to make space in an already crowded room for a small fan than a big one. Plus, most of the semester is during months when air conditioning isn’t needed – August, parts of September, and if you’re lucky right before the semester ends in May are the only times when it’s uncomfortable in a hot room.

Get a dehumidifier for your dorm room

Depending on whether your dorm will allow it, you can purchase a dehumidifier. This will make the air less humid, which will help when sleeping at night. You just run it and empty the tank when it’s full of water. Pairing this with a personal fan will give you the feeling of AC!

Tips on getting your college dorm room with air conditioning

Air-conditioned dorms are a must-have for any student on campus. Here are the top ways to make it happen:

  • Make sure to plan ahead and research which dorms have AC. The last thing you want is for move-in day excitement to be ruined by a lack of cool air!
  • Once you’ve determined which dorms have air conditioning, be sure to ask about the dorm’s requirements. (e.g. are they gender-specific, academic restricted, tenure restricted). If you identify one that sounds like a good fit for your living needs put in your request ASAP!
  • If your health condition requires you to be in a temperature-controlled environment, ask for an official doctor’s note and submit it to student housing. Universities are required by law probably abide by the requirements of their students’ healthcare; therefore they will help place you in an appropriate location if possible.
  • If you’re an upperclassman, you may be in luck. Tenured students are often given priority over newer students, allowing them to pick and choose a building or even specific rooms that have air conditioning.

Why don’t college dorms have air conditioning?

If you’re looking for a school with AC, the Northeast and Northwest may not be your best bet. The majority of Ivy League schools do not have air conditioning.

There are some exceptions to this rule- newer dorms have been constructed with air conditioning or cooling systems built in while older dorms typically do not have these amenities.

The major reason for the lack of AC’s is because they were built before air conditioners became standard in our nation’s homes, as well as the fact that central AC systems are expensive to install.

Schools across the country continue to update their dorm buildings by only cooling certain areas of them with individual units.

Dorm heat mitigation tips when other solutions fail

Unfortunately, there will likely be times when there’s not much you can do. Just remember this is a temporary issue and it will pass in no time.

For the majority of the United States, which has 4 seasons rather than 2 like many other countries, this is just another season.

When December rolls around and you’re walking to class in negative 5-degree weather, you’ll be thinking more fondly of that hot and humid summer day.

Also, the majority of the time, dorm life is only a year. You’ll most likely be living in a house or apartment the next year. While it may seem like an eternity now, looking back at all of those memories will make your heart grow fonder for that time period.

What are some things that can happen if you live in a too hot dorm room?

If you don’t have AC in your dorm, you could possibly get lower grades and more fatigue due to the disrupted sleep. A warm room will distract you from being productive.

What is the ideal sleeping temperature

Sleeping temperature is important for a good night’s sleep.

When it comes to temperatures that are too hot, this can be a big problem for those who live in the dorms.

How do you know if your room is too hot? If your sheets feel damp and clammy when you wake up, or if they’re sticking to your skin, then you’re likely sleeping at an unhealthful room temperature.

The optimal sleeping temperature should be approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit according to studies.


College dorms don’t have AC because of their age and the cost to install central air systems.

However, if your health condition requires you to be in a temperature-controlled environment, it’s worth asking for an official doctor’s note and submitting it to student housing.

Universities are required by law probably abide by the requirements of their students’ healthcare; therefore they will help place you in an appropriate location if possible.

If air conditioners are allowed consider getting a portable AC unit.

If all else fails, there are ways to manage your room temperature without air conditioning such as using fans or opening windows at night when temperatures cool down during the summer months.

Air conditioners are usually not allowed in dorms and this is not a result of fire code, but rather an issue of electricity. Air conditioners use more amps than the older halls are equipped for.