Owning one of the best portable air conditioners is a necessity during the warm summer weather. Not only will they help you keep cool, but because they're portable you can easily move them from room to room, and they're generally cheaper than built-in or split systems.
Whether you need to cool your home office, living room or bedroom, there are portable air conditioners which provide the long-term cooling efficiency you require. Most models will also dehumidify the air and feature impressive energy efficiency, so you won't see a large increase in your energy bills.
We've assessed the best portable air conditioners available now, which can improve the air quality in your home and protect you against the incoming UK heatwave.
Best Portable Air Conditioners
1. electriQ Ecosilent
Best portable air conditioner for the bedroom
Dimensions: (W)36.4 x (H)68.9 x (D)34.8cm | Max room size: up to 20m2 | Cooling power: 8,000 BTU | Min noise level: 61dB
A 3-in-1 unit comprising an air conditioner, fan and dehumidifier, the electriQ Ecosilent is essentially like buying three appliances for the price of one.
It's our top pick for bedroom use because it doesn't take up too much room, cools room sizes up to 20sqm and is super quiet - achieved through a 5-speed DC fan.
It also comes with a Sleep Mode, which turns off operation lights and reduces the fan speed to its quietest setting. And the Smart Cooling Mode lets you adjust the fan speed based on the amount of cooling required for the set temperature.
It's energy efficient too - it has an A energy rating which means it will cost you less than 12 pence per hour to run. Overall it's very good value for money.
2. Delonghi Pinguino PACEX100 Silent
The best for energy efficiency
Dimensions: (W)44 x (H)80.6 x (D)38.7cm | Max room size: up to 23m2 | Cooling power: 10,000 | Min noise level: 53dB
The first thing you may notice about the Delonghi Pinguino PACEX100 Silent is its somewhat surprisingly stylish design (at least compared other air con units), sporting a white front with black display inlay. But there's more to this machine than meets the eye.
It's incredibly energy efficient, with an A++ energy rating (the highest on this list) that won't add significantly to your energy costs. This is because the PAC EX100 Silent uses a natural high efficiency gas, propane R290, which releases no greenhouse emissions.
It's easy to use to, enhanced by an intuitive frontal LED display which gives clear and consistent updates on room temperature. It's great for living spaces and other similar room sizes up to 23sqm.
It's on the premium end of the price scale, but this is a high-quality machine that might just be worth the investment. However, while it's certainly quieter than other machines, it's still notably noisier than the product title states.
3. JML Chillmax Air
Best budget pick for personal cooling
Dimensions: (W)16.25 x (H)17 x (D)14.5cm | Max room size: Personal use | Cooling power: N/A | Min noise level: 15dB
If you only need a portable air conditioner for personal use, then the JML Chillmax Air is a must-have.
Available for under £50, this small desktop-size unit offers much more than a regular fan. It is equipped with an evaporator that uses water from a 610ml reservoir to create a chilled, moist breeze from several feet away. One fill lasts around 10 hours.
The antimicrobial sponge filter is resistant to mould and mildew, and you can put it in the dishwasher to clean and sterilise. You could be using this for years with minimal fuss.
Furthermore, it has a built-in soft-glow LED light for use as a night light. It's a great product for a very low price.
4. AEG Chillflex Pro
The best for cooling large rooms
Dimensions: (W)47.6 x (H)71 x (D)38.5 cm | Max room size: up to 30m2 | Cooling power: 12,000 BTU | Min noise level: 64dB
The AEG Chillflex Pro is one of the better premium machines around, providing air coverage of room sizes up to 30sqm making it effective at cooling larger rooms.
There are three settings to help you find the ideal conditions for your room, and it runs on sustainable gas for improved energy efficiency (it has an A rating). It also has a dehumidifier mode to remove damp and excess moisture.
Handily, you can control it via remote control too, so there's no need to leave the comfort of your couch to adjust the settings. And the side handles and wheels make for easy movement and added convenience when you need store it away in the winter.
It's pricey, however, and while it's nitpicking, for the money you might expect slightly wider room cooling coverage.
5. EcoAir Apollo
Can be used as a heater in the winter
Dimensions: (W)39 x (H)82 x (D)40.5 cm | Max room size: up to 22m2 | Cooling power: 12,000 BTU | Min noise level: 53 dB
The EcoAir Apollo is great for cooling a home office or conservatory, and it comes with dehumidify and sleep modes, three fan speeds and a sleep function. But what sets it apart from the others on this list is that it can also be used as a heater in the winter, making it a very worthwhile investment.
It's advertised as being able to cool down rooms up to 22sqm, although the Amazon blurb suggests it can even be used in rooms up to 30sqm. While its 12,000 BTU (the joint-highest on this list), suggests that this may be possible, it might be better to opt for the AEG Chillflex Pro if you're actively searching for a system to heat larger rooms.
It can be controlled by remote control, and there's also a top-mounted LED display which is easy to use. It also offers an air filtration system which improves air quality by reducing dust particles.
How to Buy The Best Portable Air Conditioner
Consider these factors before you buy your unit, as this will help to ensure you buy the best portable air conditioner for your home.
Look out for the BTU (this stands for British Thermal Units) of an air con system, as it will allow you to know how much cool air it will emit. It is a useful way of working out whether or not a particular air conditioner is the right size for your room.
As a reference point, a machine with 10,000 BTU will cool a room of around 41sqm while a 5,000 BTU unit is suitable for a room of about 14sqm.
Portable AC units can be noisy, although not as noisy as built-in machines, but if you want your air con unit to cool your bedroom at night, for example, then you'll want your machine to be quiet.
Units which generate more than 60dB will be hard to sleep next too. The quieter units generally tend to generate less than 55dB even on the highest speed setting.
The higher a unit's energy efficiency, the less you'll have to pay for using it. Keep a look out for energy ratings and whether a machine runs on sustainable, environmentally-friendly gases to help ensure you find a suitably efficient machine.
How to Set up a Portable Air Conditioner
Most portable air conditioners tend to come with an installation kit for a fast set-up, and they're often ready to use straight out of the packaging.
You'll need to set the unit up with the exhaust hose in the correct position, and ideally the exhaust hose should be vented, either through window (the easiest option) or through a hole in the wall or ceiling.
They're not the easiest pieces of kit to install, especially if you're looking to vent through a wall, and most professional engineers will be able to assist with this.
How to Look After Your Portable Air Conditioner
To ensure your machine's longevity it's advised to empty the water collected inside a bucket in the machine every few weeks. This builds up because air conditioners typically produce water when cooling down a room.
It's also important to regularly clean the filters, which pick up a lot of microfibres and dust and can get stuck in the unit. If the filters are too clogged, the unit won't cool as efficiently.
Jack is News Editor of Homebuilding & Renovating and strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders and renovators. Having bought his first home in 2013, he and his wife have renovated almost every room and recently finished a garden renovation. Jack reports on all of the latest news that could affect your project.
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