Best Portable Air Conditioners

The Winner

portable air conditioner review

Orkan 9,000 BTU 5-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner

£299.99

approx. price

What is the recommended portable air conditioner based on the comparison?

Winner

Unrivalled

portable air conditioner review
Orkan 9,000 BTU 5-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
£299.99
approx. price
2nd Place

Best Value

best portable air conditioner
KGOGO Portable Air Conditioner 4-in-1
£249.98
approx. price
3rd Place

Small Air Conditioner

portable smart air conditioner
Lexent 5-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner
£266.99
approx. price

How to Choose a Portable Air Conditioner?

When the air temperature exceeds 30 degrees in the summer, one is grateful for any way to cool off. In this article, we therefore, focused on choosing a portable air conditioner. We covered topics such as:

  • Why buy a portable air conditioner – It is an affordable and simple solution without building interventions. You can move the air conditioner, and it is multifunctional.
  • Disadvantages of portable air conditioners – The air conditioner’s performance may need to meet your expectations. Generally, these devices are noisy, take up a lot of space, and can only be used in a room with windows.
  • Choosing a portable air conditioner according to purpose – Air conditioners usually manage cooling and dehumidification; some models can also be used for heating.
  • Choosing a portable air conditioner according to the size of the room – You can select the air conditioner’s power and airflow according to the space’s volume.
  • Important parameters when choosing a portable air conditioner – Power, air flow, or dehumidification efficiency play a vital role. Still, energy efficiency, noise level or the method of condensate removal are also important.
  • Accessories and functions – The acquisition of a window adapter is suitable. The basic equipment of the air conditioner includes a display, timer or remote control, but some models also have a Wi-Fi connection or a 6th sense.
  • Price – The cheapest models can be found for under £400; the usual price is between £400 – £600.

Why buy a portable air conditioner?

The main reasons to buy a portable air conditioner include:
 
  • Real cooling – Unlike fans and other smaller devices, a mobile or portable air conditioner can cool the air in the room by several degrees.
  • Affordability – You can get the cheapest portable air conditioners for under £400, while classic air conditioners cost several times that.
  • Installation without building interventions – There is no need to make any holes in the wall or other construction modifications; portable air conditioning is a good solution in a rental apartment or historical premises.
  • Mobility – You can easily move the air conditioner from room to room or even from an apartment to a cottage.
  • Multifunctionality – In addition to cooling, portable air conditioners also manage dehumidification; some also have a heating function.

Cons of portable air conditioners

Before purchasing this device, however, it is advisable to consider some shortcomings so that you have realistic expectations. The weakness of portable air conditioning is mainly:
 
  • Cooling performance and efficiency – No portable model can fully replace a classic wall air conditioner. In most cases, expect a cooling of about five °C.
  • Noise – portable air conditioners are quite noisy, often emitting more than 60 dB, which is not ideal for sleeping in the bedroom at night or watching TV.
  • Hot air outlet – Hot air is removed through the window, which needs to be properly sealed so that it does not return. It is therefore only possible to use the air conditioner in a room with windows (or other outlet openings).
  • Appearance and space requirements – It is a relatively large device, which does not always create a completely aesthetic impression (especially in combination with a window adapter). The air conditioner also needs enough space around it to work efficiently.

Cooling performance and efficiency

The idea that a portable air conditioner will fully replace a classic wall-mounted unit and comfortably cool an entire apartment or house is naive. In general, portable air conditioners have a performance sufficient to cool one room or a studio apartment.
 
The minimum achievable temperature can also be an unpleasant surprise. Air conditioners can generally only change the room temperature by about five °C, so don’t expect to maintain a pleasant room temperature below 25 °C in thirty-five-degree heat. In addition, some models stop cooling completely at 26 °C.

Noisiness

The general disadvantage of portable air conditioners is their noise. Like any slightly larger appliance, a portable air conditioner makes some noise during its operation, and none is completely silent. The main culprit of this noise is the fan, which blows cold air into the room. Especially if you plan to use the air conditioner daily, focusing on the least noisy models is a good idea.
 
In any case, you cannot be expected to sleep comfortably with the air conditioning on; generally, the models exceed their maximum noise level of 60 dB and are thus equal to some quieter vacuum cleaners.

Hot air outlet

portable air conditioners are rather a novelty on the domestic market. Most manufacturers still need to deal with one relatively fundamental problem, namely hot air extraction. Every portable air conditioner removes hot air outside the cooled room during operation. He uses a hose that opens into an open window or a hole in the wall or window.
 
And therein lies the catch. All doors and windows should be closed for the air conditioning to work as efficiently as possible. Otherwise, not only hot air from outside gets into the room, but also hot air that the air conditioner removes. Its efficiency can drop by fifty per cent. For the windows to be closed, it is necessary to lead the air conditioning hose through an opening in the wall or window. However, only some people want to drill into the wall or cut holes in the window. Moreover, to some extent, the air conditioner ceases to be completely mobile.

Air conditioning without outlet

Although that would be great, there are no hoseless air conditioners. If you come across an “air conditioner” with no drain hose, it is not an air conditioner but an air cooler. Therefore, it is also possible to place the air conditioner only in a room with a window (or other outlet).

Choosing a portable air conditioner according to purpose

A portable air conditioner is a multifunctional device that, in addition to cooling, also manages dehumidification and sometimes heating. Quality models handle all functions well, but you may have to focus more on one of them (or a combination of them) when making a decision.
 
  • Cooling – If you are looking for an air conditioner primarily to cool a room, look for the highest possible cooling performance and airflow (after all, this will play a role in all activities). The most powerful models cool with over 4-5 kW power.
  • Heating – Some air conditioners can also have a heating function, you can find this information in the product description, or you can recognise them by the energy label (it shows values for cooling and heating). However, this function is not commonly used in our region.
  • Dehumidification – If you mainly fight humidity at home, focus primarily on dehumidification performance; the most powerful models manage even more than 2 l per hour. If necessary, consider purchasing a separate dehumidifier.
 
Airflow will also play a role in all activities. The most powerful model can handle over 400 m3/h (exceptionally even over 900 m3/h).

Feature

Consider

Value

Cooling

Cooling performance

4-5 kW

Heating  

Heating performance

4-5 kW

Dehumidification

Dehumidification
performance

>2 l/h

Choosing a portable air conditioner according to the size of the room

The most important parameter you should consider when looking for a portable air conditioner is the size of the room you want to cool. According to that, you choose the appropriate cooling performance and air flow volume. Some manufacturers indicate a recommended area, but the volume of the room is more telling.
 
In general, it is recommended to calculate at least 30 W of power per 1 cubic meter (and ideally with a reserve). The airflow should then be able to filter the entire volume of the room at least twice, ideally three times per hour. For example, you can choose the following values:
 

Room volume (m3)

Cooling performance (kW)

Air flow (m3/h)

70

2.6

210

80                            

2.9

240

120

4.6

369

How to calculate the volume of a room

You can calculate the volume of the room using a simple formula:
 
volume = room width x room length x room height
All recommendations assume conditions without heat gains. So if you have an air conditioner in, for example, the kitchen where you cook and bake, it can be less efficient. Buying a slightly more powerful air conditioner is always better due to heat gains. For example, 50 W per m3 is already recommended for a room in the attic, compared to the basic 30 W/m3.
 
As mentioned, hot air extraction is not ideally solved in most households, and the air conditioning could have better working conditions. This will undoubtedly affect her performance.
 

Important factors when choosing a portable air conditioner

Most of the most important information about a portable air conditioner is from its energy label. There are two types of labels: air conditioners that only cool and air conditioners that both cool and heat. However, most of the parameters on both labels are the same; only for air conditioning with heating are the data separately for cooling and separately for heating.
 
When choosing a portable air conditioner, it is important to focus on:
 
  • Cooling and heating power is given in kW; the basic models have around 2.6 kW, the most powerful around 5 kW.
  • Airflow – It should correspond to twice, or ideally three times, the volume of the room.
  • Dehumidification efficiency – Normally, it is about one l/h; some models manage over two l/h.
  • Operating temperature range – The suitable ambient temperature is between 17-35 °C; the lowest achievable temperature is usually around 17 °C, and the highest possible temperature is about 30 °C. However, they may differ for specific models.
  • Consumption and energy efficiency – Consumption is quite difficult to calculate; energy efficiency is a better guide. Usually around 2.6 EER/COP, the most efficient models have over 3.5 EER/COP.
  • Noise – This is a common problem with most portable air conditioners, “quiet” models include those with a noise level below 60 dB but usually expect a maximum noise level of about 65 dB.

Cooling and heating power

The air conditioner’s power is given in two units, namely BTU and kW (From the source: Comparison of air conditioners); you can find it in kW on the energy label. Powerful models have up to 12,000 BTU, 9,000 BTU is more common, and air conditioners with 8,000 BTU and less are more suitable for smaller spaces. When we express the cooling power in kW, it should not be less than 2 kW. A cooling power of around 2.6 kW is common. The most powerful air conditioners have a power of about 5 kW. If necessary, you can also use a simple conversion:
  • 1 kW = roughly 3,500 BTU

 Airflow

Another essential parameter when choosing an air conditioner is its airflow. It is given in m3, and the higher this value is, the more efficiently the air conditioning works. It manages to cool a larger amount of air faster and thus lowers the overall temperature in the room more quickly.
 
Better air conditioners have an airflow rate higher than 300 m3/h. The desired cooling of the room should occur in tens of minutes, depending on the volume of the space. Of course, it again depends on the air conditioner’s conditions and how well and efficiently the hot air is removed from the room.

Dehumidification efficiency

High-quality air conditioners handle both cooling and dehumidification. This means that they reduce the air humidity to an optimal value. This prevents the reproduction of fungi, mites and other microorganisms. It is, therefore, suitable for every household that struggles with damp walls and mould. The higher this value for the air conditioner, the more effective dehumidification it offers. The most common is one l/h; some manage even two l/h.

Operating temperature range

When choosing a portable air conditioner, it is advisable to find out in what temperature range it can work effectively and what highest or lowest temperatures it can achieve. You can usually find this information in the air conditioner manual. The range of operating temperatures is generally around 17-35 °C; this means that the air conditioner will not cool efficiently at ambient temperatures higher than 35 °C or lower than 17 °C.
 
Most models’ lowest achievable temperature is around 17 °C (but some products stop cooling at 25 °C, for example). And the highest possible temperature for air conditioners with a heating function is about 30 °C.

Consumption and energy efficiency

Since air conditioning is very individual, it is difficult to determine the normalized annual consumption. That is why the energy label states the electricity consumption per operation hour. If you want to know how much your air conditioner will cost you per year, it is often recommended to calculate annual operation as 600 hours. So multiply the hourly consumption by 600 and the price of one kWh from your energy supplier. But the result will be very indicative.
 
The energy class will help you compare different models with each other. The most economical is energy class A+++, and the least economical is class D, but most portable air conditioners fall into energy class A, exceptionally A+. Since air conditioning is a device you usually run for at least a few hours, it is always better to choose more economical models with lower consumption and more ecological operation.
 
Energy efficiency is also expressed by EER and COP values. Don’t be afraid of unfamiliar abbreviations; these two coefficients indicate the ratio of power and input of the given air conditioner and thus tell about its efficiency. The higher the number, the better, but the number is only indicative; it varies depending on the thermal conditions and serves to compare individual devices. The most efficient air conditioners usually have an EER and COP between 3.6-3.2.

Noise

Air conditioners produce varying levels of noise, even the ones that are considered quiet emit over 50 dB. The noise level on the energy label is typically the maximum possible, and even with features like night or quiet modes, the noise level is likely to exceed 50 dB.

Hose

As mentioned, the air conditioner uses a hose to remove the warm air. Cheaper models have one hose; with more expensive ones, you can also find two hoses, thanks to which the outlet and intake of air take place separately. Models with two hoses are thus significantly more efficient, but their disadvantage is more demanding installation.
 
The hose’s length, width and routing can also affect the appliance’s performance. The hose should be as passable as possible; bending and tangling can only cause harm. At the same time, placing the unit as close as possible to the window (another air outlet opening) is optimal because the longer the hose, the more the air conditioning fan is loaded.

Refrigerant

An essential part of every air conditioner is a refrigerant, i.e. a gas or other substance responsible for cooling the air, which is then redistributed back into the room. There are several types of refrigerants on the market; they differ in efficiency and their impact on the environment.
 
Currently, manufacturers of portable air conditioners most often use R410A refrigerant. This belongs to the so-called HFC refrigerants. These refrigerants replaced the older, less ecological CFC and HCFC refrigerants, which have been banned from production since 2010. It severely damaged the ozone layer.
 
In contrast, HFC refrigerants have zero effect on the formation of ozone holes, are non-flammable, non-toxic and give excellent results in terms of cooling. However, they still have a medium to high potential for global warming, which is why another alternative is being worked on in the future. At the moment, however, they are still the most effective on the market.

Best portable air conditioner brands

Klarstain air conditioners

Klarstein, a German brand that specialises in home appliances, particularly kitchen helpers, also produces air conditioning, heating, and cooling devices, including portable air conditioners. While their cooling performance is average, Klarstein air conditioners boast a sleek design and impressive mobile phone control.

Whirlpool

Whirlpool is a renowned brand that produces various household appliances, including washing machines, refrigerators, and air conditioners. Their air conditioning products come in mobile and wall-mounted versions, with many similar models available in the market. These air conditioners boast advanced features such as the 6th sense and are priced in the middle-tier category.
 portable

About author

Andrea is an accomplished home appliances reviewer, editor, and blogger with a profound passion for enhancing everyday domestic tasks through thoughtful appliance choice. Her writing journey began in 2015 when she expertly married her talent for writing with her love for design, crafting insightful content on home improvement, DIY projects, and interior design.

Specialising in home appliance reviews, Andrea has carved a niche for herself with a particular focus on dishwashers and washing machines. Her comprehensive and incisive reviews have helped illuminate thousands of homes, steering consumers towards informed decisions that match their personal needs, budget, and style.