How Long Can Air Conditioner Run Continuously [Calculated]

Dominic Mitton
By Dominic  • Reviewed by Ben  • Updated:   October 19, 2023
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A lot of times people wonder if it’s good to run air conditioners continuously or if it’s better to turn them off when it reaches your desired temperature.

Both ways have advantages and disadvantages.

Before talking about each of these ways, let’s first answer how many hours per day should you let your air conditioner work.

How Many Hours Should AC Run Per Day?

Modern air conditioners are made to run 24 hours a day, so there’s no exact number for how long you should be running your air conditioner.

In my opinion, you should turn it off at night, or simply schedule an automatic shutdown if you have a smart air conditioner.

The best advice would be to run the air conditioner long enough that you don’t feel uncomfortable in your own home. So, run it for as long as you need to feel cool (or warm) and cozy.

How Long Can You Run a Portable or Window AC Continuously?

The short answer is that you can run it 24/7 without any serious issues.

Even if you leave it on for the whole day, it still won’t actually be working for the whole day. Here’s why…

Once the thermostat reaches a certain room’s temperature, it automatically stops working and resets again once the temperature inside your home rises or drops.

Most modern air conditioners have a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours of work time which is more than 5 years.

Is It Better to Run the AC Continuously or In Intervals?

In non-inverter air conditioners, the motor has two speeds: on and off.

When the ideal room’s temperature is reached, the motor shuts down and it starts working again once the temperature rises or falls down.

So, with non-inverter units – it’s better to run in intervals.

On the other side, we have inverter air conditioners that can adjust the motor capacity based on the room’s temperature.

Once it reaches the ideal temperature, the motor will work at around 15% to maintain that temperature throughout the day.

It needs to run all the time to track the temperature and make sure that it stays the same.

In this case – it’s better to run the air conditioner continuously. And it makes more logic, right?

How Much Does It Cost to Run an AC Continuously?

There’s no question that air conditioners are expensive to run, and to run any type of air conditioner continuously can quickly become a pretty costly proposition.

While there is no easy or reliable way to say exactly how much you would spend running an air conditioner continuously – it depends on how hot the day is, the size, condition, efficiency, and age of the AC itself, the size of the room, the energy costs in your area and other factors – we can make some educated estimates.

  • A new window mount air conditioner – say a 6,000 BTU unit – can cost around $2/day to run all day and night. This means $60/month for 24-hour non-stop usage.
  • A mini-split air conditioner – in this case, a typical 24,000 BTU unit – can cost around $8/day to run continuously. This means $240/month for 24-hour non-stop usage.
  • A central air system – we’ll use a common 3-ton system – can cost around $15/day to run continuously. This means $450/month for 24-hour non-stop usage.

These are all approximations, based on using new, energy-efficient air conditioners on hot days, and also based on average energy costs – again, these figures can change dramatically, depending on the cost of electricity in your area, the age and condition of your air con, the outside temperature and a lot more – and, unfortunately, this often means the running costs will be even higher.

So, if you are wondering if it is okay to run an air con all the time, or how long you can run an air conditioner without problems, continuous running is usually not a problem for the air conditioner, but may be a bit of a problem for your wallet.

Disadvantages of Running AC 24 Hours a day

Higher bills

When you run your air conditioner continuously, it will consume more power leading to higher bills.

Although inverter units can save some of that energy, they will still use more energy than usual.

If you’re using it now for 8 hours, your bills won’t be 3x higher, but it will raise at least 35% if you were thinking about running it continuously.

Shorter lifespan

No matter what the big brands say, an air conditioner is an electronic device and it has its own lifespan.

With increased usage, the compressor works more, filters need cleaning often, and the motor is overwhelmed.

Not to mention that it collects more dust and salt which affect condenser coils a lot. We have an article about the best AC coil cleaners.

Dry air

The truth is that if you start using a low conditioner more often, the air inside your home will be drier.

However, it’s easy to avoid this obstacle with a good humidifier.

Most of us will find low humidity levels to be unpleasant and it can even dry out your skin which is why I always recommend getting a humidifier no matter what.

More maintenance

When I first started using the air conditioner continuously, I noticed that it had to be serviced more often than before.

Of course, you can’t do it by yourself, so you’ll need to hire professionals to do it for you.

This leads you to another cost.

Take a minute and read all the ways you can save on your air conditioning today or you can watch our video below 👇

Hey there! I am Benas, the founder and content editor at Home Caprice. Thanks for reading the article. I hope you were able to find what you were looking for. I and my team are here to simplify heating and cooling for everyone. Please have a look at the About page for more details about our website and feel free to check out our editorial process.