Do Air Conditioners Provide Oxygen & Prevent Suffocation?


fresh air grille

I’m sitting in my air-conditioned room for long hours and it makes me wonder, does air conditioner provide oxygen? So, I did some research.

Air conditioners do not provide oxygen. The air conditioner itself does not produce oxygen. However, an air conditioner can attach a duct to introduce fresh air or outside air and supply oxygen into a room or building. Residential air conditioners often don’t require fresh air while commercial buildings usually have fresh air in their air conditioning system.

Some people misunderstand that air conditioner produce oxygen but it doesn’t and it has some good reason not to do so.

How Does Air Conditioner Supply Air?

An air conditioner is not designed to produce oxygen by itself. However, some of the air conditioners can be connected to a duct to introduce fresh air or outside air into a room or building depending on the types of air conditioners.

Most of the residential application does not required fresh air or outside air because the door gaps are allowing sufficient oxygen to flow in.

wall mounted no fresh air

Some air conditioners such as the wall mounted type, are not designed to bring in fresh air or outside air. They only recirculates the air within a room or space.

ceiling cassette fresh air

On the other hand, types such as the ceiling cassette are capable of connecting to a duct to introduce fresh air or outside air into the air conditioner and distribute alongside the recirculated air.

Most commercial buildings do not have windows in all of the rooms. Also, there are often many people stay in the same room for a long period of time for tasks such as meeting and presentation. Therefore, commercial buildings usually have a comprehensive fresh air system to ensure all spaces have a sufficient amount of oxygen.

fresh air intake grilles on building external wall

Some high-tech buildings even have sensor to detect the number of people inside a space and automatically adjust the fresh air amount that is needed. Generally, the fresh air amount is about 15% of the supply air amount.

Will You Suffocate in Air Conditioned Room?

You hardly can suffocate in your air conditioned room. Your room has door and window gaps that oxygen can sip in to help you breathe.

Humans averagely breathe in 550 liters of oxygen per day. If your room is 12 ft by 12 ft with 9 ft ceiling height, you have more than 36k liters of air available and 20% of it is oxygen, which gives you more than 7,200 liters of oxygen where you can stay for 13 days straight before the oxygen runs out assuming in a fully enclosed room.

If you ever feel suffocated in an air-conditioned room, you’ve probably stayed too long inside. Try to get up and walk around your house or open the windows and take a deep breath.

How Can You Maintain Oxygen Level in Air Conditioned Room

The long-term solution to maintaining a good oxygen level throughout the day in the air-conditioned room is to introduce a fresh air system. Connect your air conditioner with a duct or a separate fresh air system with booster fans to bring in outside air into your room.

If it is your own bedroom, open your window a little, just enough to give the outside air flowing in and out of your bedroom. However, introducing outside air into air conditioned room will consume more energy. Thus, some people choose not to bring in outside air to conserve energy.

Common places with air conditioners that supply fresh air:

  • Office buildings
  • Hotels (room, corridor, lounge, lobby, kitchen)
  • Shopping malls (mall, retail lot)
  • Airports, airplanes
  • Buses, trains
  • Factories, production plants
  • Hospitals (ICU, general ward, OT, corridor)
  • Cinemas

How to Know If You Have Sufficient Oxygen Level?

You can use a pulse oximeter to gently clips onto your fingertip to measure your blood oxygen level. According to the department of health, if the pulse oximeter shows an oxygen level (SpO2) between 95% and 100%, you have a normal oxygen level. If you repeatedly gets below 95%, you should seek advise from your health care provider.

However, you should use a good pulse oximeter that shows you accurate results. Get one from a reputable seller or highly rated one to avoid misinterpretations.

If you just want to make sure you are breathing clean and fresh air, you can use an air quality monitoring meter to monitor carbon dioxide (CO2) level. It serves as a reminder for you to get some fresh air.

I did some research on both devices and here is the result:

Best Pulse Oximeters:

Best Air Quality Monitoring Meters:

Alternatively, you can use Apple Watch Series 6 and above to measure your blood oxygen level within 10 seconds.

Related Questions

Can you suffocate in an air-conditioned car? If you park your car in an enclosed place, your car exhaust will build up its concentration and enter your car through tiny gaps. Hence, you might suffocate.

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