Don't get sucked in to buying the wrong air conditioner for you. Use our guide to choosing the right air conditioner that works for your home (and energy bill).
Cooling or heating your home has never been so affordable. We have a look at some of the top brands on the market today, and you can find out about where to get them too. But before you buy, you must learn about what to look for to pick the best portable air conditioner for you. We’ve covered the essential air conditioner features to look for in our portable air conditioner buying guide.
Popular portable air conditioners
Here are some of the most popular portable air conditioners available for online retailers and popular Australian department stores.
|Model||Price range||Where to buy?|
|Levante Tango||$700 - $1,000||The portable air conditioner from Levante can be purchased online or in-store.|
|Polocool||$700 - $1,200||Polocool have a number of models. Some are available in-store only from retailers like Harvey Norman and websites.|
|Dimplex||$400 - $700||Dimplex portable air conditioners are widely available online and in-store.|
|Délonghi||$500 - $1,500||Délonghi make more than a handful of portable air conditioners, you may have to look between websites and retailers to find the model that’s right for you.|
|Omega Altiese||$500 - $800||Omega Altiese portable air conditioners can be purchased from a number of outlets.|
|Kogan||$200 - $400||Kogan.com.au is the place to buy this portable air conditioner.|
|Honeywell||$300 - $600||Honeywell portable air conditioners are available online and in-store.|
Why did we have a look at these models?
These portable air conditioners were selected from the most popular units available in the following popular retailers and websites. The following popular retails sell a range of portable air conditioners. Some units are only available online. There are cheap portable air conditioners to buy online as well as in-store.
- Harvey Norman
- Good Guys
- Bing Lee
- JB HIFI
Air conditioner buying guide
Each type of air conditioner has strengths and weaknesses, we’ve summed up the key features so you can quickly compare.
Comparison of air conditioner type main features
Have a look at this table for a quick comparison of the features of different types of air conditioner.
|Mount||Price||Cooling area||Parts & installation||Pros||Cons|
|Fixed in window||$400 - $1,400||Up to 50 sq. meters||Single unit.Usually placed in a window.||Price vs performance - Great value for money.||Availability - Going out of fashion and fewer units than split system and portable air conditioners.|
|Portable||$300||20 - 40 sq. meters||No installation.||Convenience - Move the unit to where it’s needed most.||Exhaust system - You need to run a hose outside so the warm air can escape.|
|Fixed on wall||$500 - $3,000||Up to 60 sq. meters.||Must be installed by a licensed air conditioner installer||Inverter technology - Quite a few modern split system air conditioners make use of inverter technology. This allows the compressor to run more efficiently.Split systems - Can add additional air conditioners to cool more rooms in your home.||The look - Unlike ducted systems, split systems must be installed on the wall of your home (not in the wall).|
|Central heating||$5,000+||Entire home||Costly installation requirements.||Home climate control - You can even split your home into climate zones for the perfect temperature in every living space.||Expensive set up costs and high running costs.|
What are the different types of air conditioners?
Portable or fixed? Window or wall? There’s a little bit more to think about than temperature. Read our air conditioner buying guide to find the best air conditioner for your home.
- Portable air conditioners - These types of air conditioning unit can be installed anywhere but you need to run a hose outside to get the best result. Portable air conditioners are popular in Australia. there are many models to suit most budgets.
- Fixed window/wall air conditioner - This type of air conditioner is usually installed in a window. It sucks in hot air and blows out cool air. All the parts for a window/wall AC are in the box and some of them can be plugged into an electrical socket.
- Fixed split system air conditioners - A split system is a 2 or more piece air conditioning unit with a section inside and outside the house. This type of air con is popular in Australia, this system requires installation by a professional. Split system air conditioners can give some of the best results if you afford it.
- Central air conditioning systems - Also referred to as ducted systems, central air conditioning is built into the house. It’s the most expensive and it can be problematic for larger houses. central home air conditioning is right for specific types of homes.
How do portable air conditioners work?
You’ll find that most portable air conditioners in Australia are made to cool a room. You can find reverse cycle portable air conditioning units if you require heating from your portable air conditioner; however, this may cost you more than a cooling only unit.
A portable air conditioner cools a room by pumping cold into a space and removing the hot air. Portable air conditioning units have a hose that vents hot air away from the room you’re trying to cool. The hose is usually placed in a nearby window.
While these types of air conditioners are called ‘portable’, there’s a limit to how far you can place the unit from the ventilation point. And if you try to extend the hose, you can void the warranty.
What portable air conditioner features are there?
Every smart consumer who buys a portable air conditioner has a read up on the features of these units
|Cooling and heating?||Reverse cycle portable air conditioners can heat or cool a room when you change the settings.|
|Dehumidification||Some portable air conditioners are also dehumidifiers. A dehumidifier removes moisture from the air, and can help some health problems and stop mould growth. A portable air conditioner may not be able to work as well as a dehumidifier compared to specifically designed dehumidification units.|
|Drip tray||If the portable air conditioner has a dehumidifier setting, it may have a drip tray or water tank. A drip tray holds the condensed water that has been removed from the atmosphere. Some expensive units may have an evaporation system instead.|
|Air purification||Portable air conditioners can remove pollutants and allergens from the air if they have an air purifier. An air purifier can also function to remove odour.|
|Airflow speed||How hard do you want the air conditioner to blow out cool or warm air? Different portable air conditioner units have different fan speed settings.|
|Exhaust||There are no portable air conditioners that don't need to be vented outside. A large hose must be attached to a window (ideally) so the unit can vent hot air from the room. A window kit it provided so the hose can be attached to the window.|
|Window kit||A window kit helps secure your portable air conditioner exhaust hose to a window.|
|Timer||A timer lets you set the time of day when you want the portable air conditioner to start and stop. This feature lets you set a time for when you want to air conditioner to turn off after you go to sleep.|
|Remote control||This is a standard feature that allows you to control the portable air condition unit from afar.|
What are the pros and considerations around portable air conditioners?
Buy a portable air conditioner and be comfortable in your home all year round. A portable air conditioner can:
- Cool the air of a room.
- Remove odours and smoke from the air.
- Take the moisture out of the air.
- A portable air conditioner can generate noise that disturbs the ambiance of a room, especially small rooms. Other types of air conditioners have the noisy part of the unit outside the home.
- Although portable air conditioners are smaller than other air conditioner types, they’re still a noticeable inclusion to the room.
- A portable air conditioner must be placed in a suitable place for ventilation. The exhaust hose can be large and can run hot under heavy use.
Looking to find the best portable air conditioner? Read about the following to make an informed decision about your needs.
BTU’s stands for ‘British Thermal Units’ and refers to the cooling power of an air conditioner. If you have too many BTUs for a small room, the air will cool too quickly and the portable air conditioner dehumidifier will not work properly. Not enough BTUs and your portable air conditioner will work overtime to get the temperature you want.
You can use an online calculator to find out approximately how much heat is generated by a space per hour and find a portable air conditioner with the BTU specifications to match.
Factor in the following variables when you calculate BTU's needed to cool a room.
- The size and type of room.
- Whether the space is insulated.
- Natural light.
Where’s it going?
The type of room you want to cool plays a big role in finding the best portable air conditioner for your needs.
- How many square meters? Portable air conditioners have an effective range of 20 - 40 square meters. For every 10 square meters of space, the portable air conditioner needs an extra 1-1.5 kiloWatts to work properly.
- How tall are the ceilings? Cold air is heavier than hot air. An air conditioner unit installed in a small room with high ceilings will have a different effect than if the same unit was installed in a large room with low ceilings. Ceilings can be between 2.4 - 2.7 meters tall. Add 10% more BTUs for rooms with an unusual design.
- What is the room used for? Kitchens need more cooling and a living room is where people relax — body heat can be a factor.
- Other room features - Consider the size and direction of the windows. Are the walls insulated? What’s the weather like in the area you’re living in? It takes an air conditioner with more BTUs to cool a room in a warmer climate. Each unit also has a recommended outdoor temperature operating range.
*To find out how many square meters your room is, just multiply the width of the room and the length of the room.
Energy efficiency is how much bank you get for your buck. The energy efficiency of the a portable air conditioner factors in how much power the unit draws to operate. Single-duct portable air conditioners may not be as energy efficient as other types of air conditioner, that is — they cost more to operate. But portable air conditioners are cheap, and sometimes they are the only option to cool a space.
No star rating
Portable air conditioners do not have an energy rating like other household appliances. They’re not included in the Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS) and energy rating program. Some manufactures include information about energy efficiency, but the lack of a star rating makes it difficult to compare the energy efficiency of portable air conditioners.
Energyrating.gov offers a side by side comparison of air conditioning units and their energy efficiency.Back to top
Read on for an explanation of some of the jargon we’ve used on this page. Split system. This is a type of air conditioning unit. One part of the air conditioner is inside the house and the other part is outside. Inverter systems. A type of air conditioning technology that regulates the temperature of a room to maximise energy efficiency. Inverter technology is common in most split system air conditioners.
Read on for an explanation of some of the jargon we’ve used on this page.
Split system. This is a type of air conditioning unit. One part of the air conditioner is inside the house and the other part is outside.
Inverter systems. A type of air conditioning technology that regulates the temperature of a room to maximise energy efficiency. Inverter technology is common in most split system air conditioners.
Read answers to some of most frequently asked questions about portable air conditioners below. You can also ask us a question by submitting a comment to finder.com.au — A team member will be in touch shortly to help you with your question about portable air conditioners.
How does a portable air conditioner work?
Portable air conditioners stand on the floor and can be moved from room to room. Fresh air is taken from the room and replaced with cool air, and hot air is blown out a tube from the back of the unit to a small opening in the room like a window. A tube is generally supplied when you buy a portable air conditioner. You may also get a kit to help connect to the tube to a standard size window. Portable air conditioners can be plugged into the wall for ease of use.
How do I install my new portable air conditioner?
You don’t need to hire an expert to get your portable air conditioner up and running. The only tricky part about installing a portable air conditioner can be securing the vent to a window. Centre the portable air conditioner in the centre of a window frame and use the window kit to block any air flow from outside. Plug the unit into a wall socket and installation is complete.
Why do portable air conditioners need to be vented outside?
Portable air conditioners suck in fresh air and blow out cold air. They also need to vent hot air. The hot air runs through a tube to the outside of your house. It’s usually installed in a window.
What happens if the heat comes back in?
A portable air conditioner is ideally placed next to a window so hot air can be vented out of the house. Problems with the supplied window kit may result in air coming back through the window. There are a number of tips on the internet for fixing this problem. People have come up with some inventive solutions for this problem including using tape and plywood.
Portable air con: just plug it in?
Most portable air conditioners can be plugged into a wall electrical outlet. There may be a chance that the additional load of the portable air conditioner can trip the circuit breaker if a number of appliances are running at the same time and the wiring is old.
What’s the best portable air con for a small room?
Portable air conditioners work best when they’re cooling or heating a small space. There are so many different portable air conditioners that are capable of working properly in a small space. Compare the portable air conditioners we’ve talked about on this page with other air conditioners available to buy in-store and online to find the best portable air con for your small room.
What’s an inverter air conditioner?
Inverter air conditioners can operate at a number of speeds between quick and slow. Non inverter air conditioners only have one speed and keep operating until the room reaches the desired temperature. Air conditioners with inverter technology are more energy efficient than non-inverter air conditioners.
What does horsepower mean?
Horsepower is a hangover term from the early days when air conditioners were powered by mechanical motors. Be wary if you see horsepower used as a reference for an air conditioners power capacity. Look at kiloWatts to find out the output of an air conditioner.