If flinging a window open and cranking the fan simply isn’t getting the job done, portable air-conditioners could help you keep cool this summer. However, before rushing out to buy the first one you find on the shelves, it’s worthwhile doing your homework and weighing up the best fit for your household.
For many households, a fixed solution, such as a heat pump, may simply not be a viable option. As an alternative, a portable air-conditioner can offer a cool breeze wherever it’s needed.
To help you make the right choice of portable air-con unit, in our guide we cover the following topics:
- How portable air-conditioner work
- Households they may be suitable for
- Features you should keep in mind
- Popular models on the market
How do portable air-conditioners work?
While “portable” is part of their name, it’s important to keep in mind that portable air-conditioners usually weigh in around 20kg, and are often heavier. So while they can be moved, it’s often not practical to keeping shifting a unit from room to room, especially up and down stairs.
Not only are portable air-conditioners often hefty, they require exact positioning. When setting up a unit, it needs to be close to a window, to allow for the venting of heat via an exhaust hose.
Portable air-conditioners typically come with a window mount kit, designed to work with sliding windows. This comprises an adjustable plate with an in-built outlet (via which the exhaust hose can be fitted), keeping the warm outdoor air out while venting heat.
It may be possible to vent via other styles of windows, a sliding door, or other types of outlets, by implementing DIY custom-made alterations. However it’s important to keep in mind both the practicality and the potential additional costs of doing so.
Once a portable air-conditioner’s exhaust has been fitted, it can then be used. When it’s turned on, it draws in warm air from a room, expels the heat via the exhaust, and circulates the cooler air back throughout the room.
Is a portable air-conditioner a good option for your household?
If you’re renting, or on a tight budget, a portable air-conditioner may be a viable alternative to a fixed heat pump. Portable air-conditioners can, of course, be taken with you when you move. They can also be significantly cheaper than fixed options.
As a starting point, it’s worthwhile exploring all of your options. This includes basic approaches to combating heat, such as keeping your curtains drawn in the heat of the day and ensuring your home has adequate ventilation. Also, could a simple, and cheaper, fan be of use?
In assessing whether a portable air-conditioner is suitable for your household, you should keep the following factors in mind:
- Space – what size area are you seeking to cool? Portable air-conditioners are typically suited to cooling smaller spaces, such as bedrooms.
- Room layout – given the bulky size of many portable air-conditioners, where do you plan on positioning the unit? Is there easy access to a window or another outlet?
- Windows – do you have sliding-style windows, potentially allowing for easier installation via a window mount kit?
Portable air-conditioner features
Portable air-conditioners come with a range of features and can vary significantly in price. Keep in mind the unique requirements of your household when assessing what will provide the best value in both the short and long term.
Many portable air-conditioners come with built-in dehumidifiers, to remove moisture from the air. Dehumidifier capacity is typically expressed in litres per day (L/day). Self-evaporative functionality provides for in-built evaporation of collected moisture.
Meanwhile, reverse-cycle portable air-conditioners deliver the added benefit of being able to produce heat during the winter.
Portable air-conditioner features to keep in mind include:
- Capacity – cooling (and heating) capacity is measured in either kW or BTU. Calculate the size of the space you want to cool, and consult with a specialist about what capacity unit you require
- Controls – typically, portable air-conditioners are operated via an in-built control panel and/or remote control
- Timer – allows users to program a unit to turn on and off at required times. Sleep mode can automatically adjust the temperature throughout the night and help conserve energy
- Noise – noise levels are measured in dB. Always consider how noisy a unit will be, especially in smaller spaces
- Window kit – portable air-conditioners typically come with a window mount kit for sliding windows
- Design and dimensions – keep in mind a unit’s size, where you plan to position it, and how it will fit in with your other furnishings. Models with wheels are easier to move
Save money with a better power plan
If you’re thinking about cooling your home this summer, make sure you’ve the best deal on the electricity you’ll use. You could be saving more than you think. Compare your options easily with Canstar:
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Popular portable air-conditioners
The following are some portable air-conditioner models currently available at different price points. But always shop around and consult with air-conditioning specialists about the best options for your household.
Sheffield Portable Air-Conditioner
Local brand Sheffield describes its Sheffield Portable Air-Conditioner (PL612) as a “stylish, contemporary portable air-conditioner”. It is equipped with a dehumidifier function capable of removing up to 20L of moisture per day, along with a self-evaporating efficiency system.
Sheffield Portable Air-Conditioner features:
- Capacity – 7000BTU/2.05kW
- Controls – LED colour function indicator display and remote control
- Timer – 24-hour timer
- Noise – under 54dB
- Window kit – includes a window sealing plate
- Design and dimensions – measures 305 x 678 x 328mm; sports four all-directional castor wheels
Price – the Sheffield website lists the Sheffield Portable Air-Conditioner priced at $479.99*
Midea 3.5KW Cooling/2.9KW Heating Portable Air Con
The Midea 3.5KW Cooling/2.9KW Heating Portable Air Con (MPPD-12HRN1-QB6) is equipped with a dehumidifying function, along with a self-evaporative system, with no draining required under cooling mode.
Midea 3.5KW Cooling/2.9KW Heating Portable Air Con features:
- Capacity – 3.5kW cooling and 2.9kW heating
- Controls – remote control
- Timer – 0-24 hour timer, with sleep mode
- Window kit – for sash and sliding windows
- Design and dimensions – white finish; measures 466 x 397 x 765mm
Price – the Midea 3.5KW Cooling/2.9KW Heating Portable Air Con can be found online priced around $599*
De’Longhi Pinguino Air-to-Air PACN76DG
The De’Longhi Pinguino Air-to-Air PACN76DG portable air-conditioner is equipped with a three-fan speed function, along with a dehumidifier function, which collects up to 30L of moisture a day, and a condensate recycling system.
Pinguino Air-to-Air PACN76DG features:
- Capacity – maximum cooling capacity of 8200 BTU/h
- Controls – control panel with soft-touch buttons and LCD remote control
- Timer – 12-hour timer
- Noise – a maximum sound power level of 61dB(A)
- Window kit – a single hole window bracket
- Design and dimensions – grey colour; measuring 449 x 395 x 750mm and weighing 30kg; integrated handles and castors
Price – the De’Longhi website lists the Pinguino Air-to-Air PACN76DG priced at $849.99*
Dimplex 4kW Reverse Cycle Portable Air-Conditioner
The Dimplex 4kW Reverse Cycle Portable Air-Conditioner (DCPAC14RC) is equipped with a built-in dehumidifier with an 80L per day capacity. Its self-evaporative system requires no drip tray or drainage hose.
Dimplex 4kW Reverse Cycle Portable Air-Conditioner features:
- Capacity – 4kW cooling and 3kW heating
- Controls – soft-touch control panel and remote control
- Timer – 0-24 hours, with sleep mode
- Noise – 40-54dB
- Window kit – for sash and sliding windows
- Design and dimensions – a black and white finish; measures 440 x 355 x 715mm
Price – the Dimplex 4kW Reverse Cycle Portable Air-Conditioner can be found online priced at around $948*
*Further information on pricing can be found at individual retailer websites. This should be used as a starter guide and not considered an actual quote.
While portable air-conditioning units are great, if you want a more long-term solution for your cooling and heating, have you considered a fixed heat pump? A heat pump is the most energy-efficient, and therefore cheapest, way of creating a healthy, comfortable environment in your home. If you want to learn more about the benefits of a heat pump in your home, and to check out Canstar’s latest review of the best heat pump brands, just click on the button below.Compare heat pumps with Canstar