From cooling strength to energy efficiency (and everything in between), we've got you covered.
Deciding which portable air conditioner is right for you can be tough when you don’t know what you’re looking for, especially when summer is rapidly approaching. We’ve narrowed down our top picks so you can select the best model for your needs.
Which portable air conditioners are best for you?
Here are a few criteria to choose from that may suit your personal needs
Best portable air conditioner for fast cooling
When you’re shopping for a portable air conditioner, you're looking for something that will not only cool you down, but also do it as quickly as possible. Make sure you keep an eye out for the energy output of a prospective appliance – the higher the output, the faster the cooling system. It may mean spending a little more, but it’s worth the extra cash.
Our top pick for best cooling strength and capacity is the Polocool 6.0kW Portable Air Conditioner. With one of the highest energy output numbers on the market, this model will cool you down incredibly quickly. It functions best in rooms between 20 and 42 square metres, but it is more than capable of providing a quick cooldown in smaller areas.
At 45kgs, it’s slightly heavier than many models to handle the increase in power, but it’s easily set up and good to go once installed. The Polocool model comes with a window slider kit that allows you to position the exhaust hose outside the home, minimising the presence of ventilated hot air inside. On top of that, it features an LCD screen, remote controller and automatic operation.Back to top
Most energy efficient portable air conditioner
Electricity costs are often a big turn off for anyone looking to purchase an air conditioner, so it’s important to be aware of how to maximise efficiency without going overboard on the bills – we’re all about those savings.
We recommend water-to-air portable air conditioners, which will reduce costs significantly. While air-to-air cooling systems use fans to maintain a safe temperature for the internal compressor to run efficiently, water-to-air systems use water systems to cool down the compressor. This uses less electricity to generate and spread the cool air throughout the room.
Our pick for most energy efficient portable air conditioner is the Omega Altise 10000 BTU 2.9kW Portable Air Conditioner. With an energy output of 2.9kW, this model has everything that you’re after without being too unkind to your electricity bill. It features Aqua Chill Technology, which functions to recycle condensed air surrounding the model to cool down the area, as well as a dehumidifying function, a remote control and directional louvres. With two speed settings, you'll also be able to adjust the air conditioner's performance. In terms of price, the Omega Altise 10000 BTU 2.9kW Portable Air Conditioner is a mid-range air conditioner.Back to top
Best portable air conditioner that's also quiet
It can be hard enough getting to sleep in summer with the endless heat, so it’s even more important that an appliance be extra quiet if you’re buying it for your bedroom. The average decibel level of a portable air conditioner varies between approximately 55-70 dBs, which is roughly the equivalent of background music or restaurant conversation.
Our top pick for best noise control is the DeLonghi Pinguino Air-to-Air Portable Air Conditioner PAC CN86 Silent. It’s all in the name: silent. This model features a honeycomb-shaped grid that streamlines the airflow, in combination with a double speed condenser fan. As a result, on silent mode it operates at only 47 decibels – much lower than average. You’ll get all a cooling capacity of 2.5kW, a dehumidifier function, three fan speeds and a 24-hour timer.
The Pinguino is also one of the easier models to manoeuvre, with built-in handles and castors to help carry it around – and at only 27.6kgs, it’s much lighter than a lot of the alternatives. It’s mid- to high-range in price, but staying cool and quiet at bedtime is definitely worth it.Back to top
Most cost efficient portable air conditioner
Mistral 10000BTU Portable Air Conditioner
We’ve all heard the classic "you get what you pay for", but when it comes to air conditioning, let us assure you that you can get that sweet, cool air without breaking the bank. Portable air conditioners vary in price, but for the most part you’re looking at approximately $100-$300 for low-end models, $300-$800 for mid-range models, and $800+ for high-end models.
Our top pick for best cost efficiency is the Mistral 10000BTU/Hr Portable Air Conditioner. While more basic in structure, this model will definitely keep you cool. It still features benefits like dehumidifying and fan modes as well as oscillating louvres for multi-directional airflow. It’s definitely on the lower end of the price spectrum, but with a soft touch control panel and remote control, it doesn’t feel cheap. It’s a good starting point for families that are new to the world of portable air conditioning but aren’t ready to commit to a higher end model.
At the top end, you’ll be paying extra for features like dehumidifiers, reverse-cycle capacity, silent mode and extra cooling power, but you can find most of these to some degree on a lower budget. A good rule of thumb is to evaluate what you’re looking to improve and concentrate on accentuating those features.Back to top
Easiest to use portable air conditioner
If you’re hot and bothered in the middle of summer, the last thing you want to do is muck around with complex instructions, so finding a model that's really easy to use can take a big load off your shoulders. Straightforward installation instructions and easy-to-use remote controls should be at the top of your must-have list, but don’t underestimate the value of a higher quality screen (especially at night time).
Our top pick for best user-friendly model is the DeLonghi Inverter Water-to-Air Portable Air Conditioner (PACWE18INV). This portable air conditioner not only knows the ideal temperature for your home, but it also maintains it over time by increasing or decreasing power according to your room’s natural temperature.
It also features automatic and sleep functions, a dehumidifier setting and a 24-hour digital timer. One of the best features of this model is its water-to-air transition. Once you’ve filled the 10L water tank, it will run for approximately six hours in water mode before automatically switching to air mode. This model is definitely on the higher end in terms of price, but the user experience is definitely reflective of that.Back to top
Best portable air conditioner that works as a heater
Though summer is the most popular time of year for air conditioner usage, it’s also important to consider whether you can make use of your appliance during the cooler months as well. Portable air conditioners with reverse-cycle functionality are the answer as they can also function as an effective heater.
Our top pick is the Dimplex 4.4kW Reverse Cycle Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier. With 4.4kW of both cooling and heating capacity, this model is ideal for those who want to maintain year-round use of their portable air conditioner. It features a built-in dehumidifier, which would be especially useful in any areas of Australia that experience significant humidity levels, as well as a self-evaporative system to avoid the need for a drip tray or hose (on cooling mode only).
With a noise level of 56 decibels, it’s roughly equivalent to a small refrigerator and would definitely be suitable for at-home use. A remote control and an easy touch panel make it one of the simpler user interfaces in our guide. There’s even a 24-hour timer with sleep mode, so you can select your desired temperature and relax.Back to top
Best portable air conditioner for camping/caravans
If you’re an avid traveller, you’ll know how frustrating it can be to set up next to some fully air conditioned cabins while you’re sweating away in your tent or caravan.
Make sure that the model you purchase isn’t too heavy or obstructive because you’re already operating with limited space. You should strive for something more compact, so that it complies with power restrictions at campsites.
Our top pick is the Zero Breeze, a portable battery-run air conditioner which was created thanks to online crowdfunding in 2016. Available now via IndieGoGo, the model is one of the very first smart, multifunctional air conditioners. It includes a Bluetooth speaker and smartphone charging station (plus a night light for young children camping with you).
You have the option of plugging in the Zero Breeze when you’re at home or have access to power, or you can operate it for up to five hours on an external power bank, which you will need to purchase separately. It weighs in under 10 kilograms, which makes it ideal to pack in the back of the car for your trip.Back to top
Best portable air conditioner for your desk or office
Do you ever feel like you lose focus when you’re working in the heat? Having the right portable air conditioner for your working space is vital, particularly if you’re operating out of a cubicle or from a desk and don’t want to intrude on your colleagues’ personal space.
Our top pick is the Evapolar, an eco-friendly personal air conditioner that functions similar to a standard evaporator without all the bulk and humidity. Simply fill the removable water tank, and the Evapolar will evaporate the water and spread cooled air around your station (up to four metres) via an in-built fan.
You can plug it in via a USB cord, and as a result of its size and processing system, it needs significantly less power than conventional split-system models. The device, originally conceived as a crowdfunding initiative, has three colours to choose from, and you can customise it to suit the correct plug type for your country – so not only will you be cool, you’ll be stylish and effective too.Back to top
Best portable air conditioner for a small room
If you've only got a small room or office, it's important to make sure you choose a portable air conditioner that doesn't go overboard on cooling or you'll end up freezing – and having to pay higher electricity costs than you might like.
Our top pick is the Kogan 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner, a smaller model that caters to rooms up to 20m2. Ideal for bedrooms, this Kogan also has a sleep mode which increases the temperature by one degree Celsius per hour for two hours before going into fan mode, making it a comfortable and gradual temperature for you to sleep.
Its compact design makes it easy to fit into smaller rooms without getting in the way. Combine that with its self-evaporative function and capacity for continuous draining, and you've got yourself an effective model without breaking the bank – or taking up too much space.Back to top
Best portable air conditioner for a large room
As portable air conditioners go, bigger spaces require higher levels of output. If you've got a large area that needs cooling, spending a little extra can mean the difference between patchy cooling and complete temperature regulation.
Our top pick is the Dimplex 5.3kW 18,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier. With a high cooling-output level, this model can cool a 35m2 room easily and effectively. It also has guaranteed cooling in temperatures up to 43 degrees Celsius. It has a built-in dehumidifier and a self-evaporative system, so your large room will also have reduced humidity and less clean-up.
This Dimplex model has side exhaust hoses, which makes it easier to tuck into a room without taking up too much space and includes a window kit to make it even easier to set up. Then once you've finished setting up, you can use the LED remote control to set the 24-hour timer and relax.Back to top
Frequently Asked Questions
Are portable air conditioners quiet?
One of the biggest things that turns people against portable air conditioners is the idea that they'll be noise machines, keeping you awake at all hours of the night. Thankfully, technology has gotten us past this hurdle, and portable air conditioners are quieter than ever. The way around the noise is simple: purchase a model that either has a designated "silent mode" or has internal damping and insulation structures. The noise comes from its compressor, so having more insulation will limit the noise that escapes through the louvres or exhausts. Portable air conditioners get a bad reputation because the closer you are to them, the louder they seem) but as a general rule, most portable air conditioners have the same decibel level as a quiet conversation or your refrigerator.
Do portable air conditioners use a lot of electricity?
Electricity usage varies from model to model, so it depends on your needs. There are two acronyms to keep an eye out for if you want to reduce the strain on your electricity bill: BTU and kW. BTU stands for British thermal unit and it's a measurement of thermal energy. When it comes to air conditioners, this refers to how many thermal units the model can remove from the air per hour. As a general rule, it's the biggest indicator of how much electricity you'll need to power the model effectively. While energy input is measured in BTU, energy output levels are measured in kilowatts (kW), which indicate the amount of cooled air the model can safely produce. If you're in a larger room that requires a larger output, you'll need a higher kW and BTU rating. The higher both measurements are, the more electricity it will use.Back to top
How to maximise your portable air conditioner’s efficiency
Whichever model you choose to purchase, it’s important to know how to keep it in peak condition in order to get maximum results. All portable air conditioners have exhaust hoses or ventilation shafts which expel the unnecessary hot air, so it’s very important to vent that outside of the room you’re trying to cool. You can do this by positioning the air conditioner near a window (most models even come with window slides or kits to make it even easier) or an air vent. You should also be conscious of what room size your new air conditioner will work best in. Larger energy outputs are suited to larger rooms, so if you’ve got a model with only 2.9kW of power, you’d be better off positioning it in a smaller area so it circulates the cool air more efficiently. For best results, don’t use your portable air conditioner for too many hours at a time. Using it in short bursts will cool down an area quickly without using too much electricity.
How to operate a portable air conditioner safely
Cleaning and caring for your portable air conditioner may not be high on your list of summer priorities, but it's much better to keep it maintained than it is to go without one in the middle of a heatwave. Keeping an eye on your air conditioner only takes a few minutes. Make sure you clean its air and water filters regularly to prevent clogging, and check your electrical sockets for any faults or shortcomings. If your model has a drip tray for condensation, change it when necessary. It’s perfectly safe to use most models overnight as long as you ensure that you have taken care of everything else. Be mindful that any structural changes (such as lengthening or shortening the hose to better fit your room) may void your warranty, so double check before taking any chancesBack to top
Where to buy portable air conditioners?
The advantage to shopping at Kogan is the variety. Kogan features different models from a wide selection of brands at varying price points. You can even earn QANTAS frequent flyer points while you shop. Find brands like Dimplex, Essentials, Honeywell, Kogan, Levante, Omega Altise and Vostok at Kogan.
If you’re looking for a broad range of portable air conditioners, The Good Guys is a great place to start your search. It has one of the largest ranges of appliances like air conditioners in Australia. You can find brands such as DeLonghi, Olimpia and Rinnai at The Good Guys.
Dick Smith is known for its tech expertise, demonstrated by its huge variety in brands. Dick Smith stocks Dimplex, Essentials, Heller, Honeywell, Kogan, Levante, Omega Altise, One For All and Vostok, so you’re guaranteed to find something to suit your needs.
When you start looking around for your new portable air conditioner, make sure to check out Betta. It has a comprehensive, but not overwhelming, range of stock with brands like DeLonghi, Convair, Omega Altise, Polocool and Pye.
Bunnings has a smaller range of portable air conditioners than some other stores, but it does have very competitive prices. Plus it has a "beat the lower price by 10%" guarantee, so you can definitely wrangle a good price. Bunnings stocks brands like Mistral and DeLonghi.
Big W’s range is significantly smaller than most retailers on this list, but it also has some of the more affordable options. If you’re after a basic model that will get the job done, Big W is more than capable of addressing your needs – and you can even use Afterpay. Find brands like Onix and Coolway at BIG W.
Harvey Norman features a smaller number of brands that some other stores, but it has both high-end and low-end products. Harvey Norman also has a price match guarantee, so you can be sure to get a great deal. You can find models from Goldair, Omega Altise and Polocool at Harvey Norman.
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