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The other Antipodes (the Brits) might dream of the long, hot Aussie summers but as anyone who’s ever experienced one knows, they’re not always the easiest for sleeping / working / commuting / living in. If you’re not able to install built-in air conditioning, an alternative is a portable air conditioner (aircon).
The best portable air conditioner is easy to use and move around. It also offers a good balance of features versus investment. Here are the best rated portable air conditioners in Australia, drawn from hours of research and real consumer insights.
How we picked
We started with CHOICE, Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group. They put a select bunch of portable air conditioners through their paces in their test labs. This gave us a good idea of which ones performed best under these conditioners.
But given real homes are slightly less perfect than labs (more draughty bits, etc.), we wanted to see what real Aussies thought were the best air cons. For that, we turned to ProductReview.com.au, Australia’s first consumer opinion website. We spent hours reading reviews to understand what people rated and hated about portable air conditioners.
We took a final swing by Canstar Blue, an Australian consumer review and comparison website, and their portable air conditioners brand survey. This let us know which brands are most loved by Aussies.
This gave us a good shortlist of air cons. To narrow it down to the best, we considered some key features. We wanted movability – either they’d be not too heavy or would feature built-in handles or wheels. We wanted the units to be easy to use with the prime focus being good cooling power, with other functions like heat or dehumidifying a bonus. We also wanted to present a range of prices that would suit you whether you were after a basic model or a high-end one.
And that’s how we decided Australia’s best portable air conditioners.
Best portable air conditioner for most
Choose this if
Quiet (tick), easily movable (tick), offers more than just air conditioning (tick), for a good price (tick). Add in great (but limited) consumer reviews, the most popular Aussie brand for portable air conditioners and a decent warranty and you’ve got Australia’s best portable air conditioner: the DeLonghi PAC CN86 SILENT.
What we love
Making 47dB of noise on its lowest setting, this is the quietest air conditioner we reviewed, making it ideal for bedrooms.
3 fan modes
You can choose the right setting for the temperature: silent, medium or max.
Easy to move
Thanks to its inbuilt handles (a great feature, which means they won’t break off) and castors.
3 operating modes
It has air conditioning, fan and dehumidifying modes, making it a multi-use appliance.
Dedicated dehumidifier function
You can take up to 30L of moisture out of the air by using the dedicated humidifier function, meaning you can even get use out of it even when it’s not boiling hot.
Easy to use
The soft touch control panel is very user-friendly with its labelled buttons.
If you’d rather not run it 24/7, there’s a 12-hour timer.
Too hard to walk across the room to change the mode or fan setting? Use the remote control.
It’s a Class A-rated energy efficient product.
A RRP around $650 makes it affordable.
#1 Canstar Blue brand
Aussies love DeLonghi air conditioners, as evidenced by DeLonghi coming first in the recent Canstar Blue portable air conditioners brands survey.
Which we think is great, given the price.
The not so good bits
Limited consumer reviews
But it does get almost 4 stars.
No oscillating louvres
Which means you’re stuck with one dimensional airflow. It’s a deliberate design thing – the honeycomb grid minimises noise.
Hot Aussie days can mean hot Aussie nights. If that’s the case, you’ll want a portable air conditioner that’s quiet and non-sleep disturbing. We reckon the DeLonghi PAC CN86 SILENT is Australia’s best portable air conditioner, due in part to its quiet credentials.
With a noise level of 47dB – that’s equivalent to the noise of a dishwasher in the next room – it’s a quiet air conditioner, making it ideal for bedrooms. This is thanks to its honeycomb shape grid. It maximises the air flow and minimises the noise of the air passing through the holes.
It has 3 fan levels (silent, medium and max) to suit a range of temperatures. It also has 3 modes: air conditioning, dehumidifying and fan. This separate dehumidifier function can collect up to 30L of moisture per day. Which means if you have a particularly damp home, this could be a helpful tool.
It has a remote control, soft touch control panel for easy use and a 12-hour timer and thermostat so you can preset the air conditioner. With integrated handles and castors, it’s easy to move around. It’s also very energy efficient, with A Class energy efficiency and an eco-friendly refrigerant.
With a RRP around $640, it’s a well-priced portable air conditioner and it comes with a 2-year warranty. It currently has almost 4 stars on ProductReview.com.au. It’s also been tested by CHOICE and DeLonghi is Canstar Blue’s #1 portable air conditioner brand. Aussies give DeLonghi 5 stars for its functionality, reliability, value for money and overall satisfaction.
Best for all seasons
Choose this if
What we love
With cool, dehumidifier, fan and heat mode, this is an all-season portable air con.
For easy control of the unit, wherever you are in the room.
It can also be controlled via the free Kogan app, giving you greater control over the unit, whether that’s setting the ideal temperature or switching it off once you’ve left the house.
3 fan speeds
So you can tailor it to your comfort levels.
Easy glide wheels
Which is handy, as it weighs over 40kg.
This helps evenly distribute the airflow through the room.
The not so good bits
A lot of customers complain about the noise of the unit, which might make it unsuitable to use in your bedroom.
It’s only got a 1-year warranty which we don’t think is good enough.
The Kogan SmarterHome 4.7kW boasts not the 3 modes of our DeLonghi top pick, but 4. You get the same cool, dehumidifier and fan, but also a heat mode too, making this an all-season appliance. It has a heating and cooling temperature range between 16 and 30°C so you’ll either be nicely cool or snuggly warm.
It can be controlled by a remote (like the DeLonghi) or the LED display, but it can also be controlled by the free Kogan app. This means you can control your air con, wherever you are. It’s compatible with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, meaning it can be voice controlled too. What we really like about the Kogan app is that if you’ve left the house and forgot to turn it off, you can use the app to switch it off – no more wasted energy.
As well as 4 modes and an app, it has a timer so you can programme when the unit turns on and off. It’s suitable for rooms up to 45m2 and can be moved around your home thanks to its 4 easy glide wheels and carry handle. It weighs around 41kg so those wheels will come in handy. The auto swinging louvres will ensure good air spread around your room.
It comes with a 1.5m power cord, 1.5m air exhaust pipe and a window exhaust kit for sliding windows.
The Kogan SmarterHome portable air conditioners get around 3.5 stars on ProductReview.com.au with Aussies pointing out that they’re noisy. However, Kogan is Canstar Blue’s 2nd most popular portable air con brand, with Aussies rating their value for money, features, movability and ease of use.
Best for energy efficiency
Choose this if
Keep yourself and the planet cool with the Coolzy Portable Air Conditioner. Energy efficient, it uses just 340w of electricity. It’s lightweight, portable and simple to set up. Oh, and did we mention it’s Aussie invented too? For cooling a person, not a room, the Coolzy is hard to beat.
What we love
It uses just 340w of electricity, making it a great eco choice.
Weighing around 15kg and with 4 wheels and 2 handles, it’s easy to move where it’s needed.
Plug and go
There’s no complicated setup - simply plug it in and it’s good to go.
3 fan speeds
Low, medium and high so you can get as cool as you need.
Works off grid
It works wherever there’s 240v power which means you can take it on the boat or camper.
With no buttons, you use the included remote control to adjust all the settings. We love that it has a sleep mode and timer too.
This is proudly Aussie tech.
The not so good bits
Personal cooling only
If you’re looking to cool a room, look elsewhere.
You need to angle the cool airflow which is one dimensional. The vents also aren’t that wide so it’s quite narrow airflow.
Coolzy.com claims that the Coolzy has a 45dB noise level. This might be true on the lowest setting but not the highest. Noise is very subjective, however. Some reviewers thought it made an unnoticeable background hum, others found it distracting and sleep disturbing. We've found the same can be said for every air conditioner.
Works best with room door open
Because it’s not piped in and doesn’t need a window kit, the Coolzy gets rid of the heat from the vent at the back. Which means hot air goes into your room too. Multiple reviewers point out that over time in a small room with the door shut, the heat that’s released can reduce the coolness of the room.
It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing portable aircon.
If you’re eco-conscious, you might be wondering about the impact constant cooling has on the planet. In which case, you’ll want to meet the Coolzy Portable Air Conditioner. It uses just 340w of electricity, making it the most environmentally friendly portable aircon on our list.
It also lives up to its portable name. It weighs 15.4kg, the lightest aircon on our list, and has 4 wheels and 2 carry handles. You can easily lift and move it to where it's needed. Plus, it doesn’t need to be piped in or placed near a window. It has a removable tray for emptying water when using it as a dehumidifier. This gives you maximum flexibility about where the Coolzy can be placed. Note that Coolzy.com suggest placing the Coolzy with its back to a window as the back vent is where the hot air is released from.
It comes with a remote control (there are no buttons on the unit itself) to adjust the settings, including temperature and fan speed (low, medium and high). It also has a timer and a sleep mode.
We also love that this portable air con is Australian designed and that setup is simple: plug it in and it’s good to go. Oh, and it can work off-grid too - any 240v power outlet on your boat, caravan, campervan and more will handle it. It can work with batteries, solar (inverter not supplied) and generators.
It’s important to understand that the Coolzy is a personal air conditioner only. It’s only going to cool people, not rooms. It’ll work well next to a desk, bed or small sofa.
A 2022 ProductReview.com.au award winner, Aussies give it around 4.5 stars.
Others worth considering
Want a smart portable air conditioner? Consider the TECO 4.1kW Cooling Only. It’s got built-in wi-fi connectivity. This means you can download the free TECO app and remotely control your AC. You can switch it on for when you walk through the door. Or turn it off those mornings you forget. It’s got a remote too if you’re not up for using the app.
Smart tech aside, as the name tells you this is a cooling aircon only. It has 3 fan speeds and an auto setting. It also has a sleep function to make it quieter and more comfortable when you’re trying to sleep. It’s got a 24-hour timer so you can set and forget. There are easy roll castors so you can move it where you need to, easily.
Although it's been reviewed by CHOICE, it’s not on ProductReview.com.au yet.
No frills, noisy but effective sums up the Excelair 4.7kW. It’s got everything you need for a cool room, including a 3-speed fan. For easy use, there’s a remote control, LCD screen and large buttons. Although there’s a dedicated sleep mode, consumer reviews suggest this doesn’t do much to help with the noise of this unit. You can manually adjust the louvres to direct the cool air where you need it most.
If simplicity is what you’re after, meet the Dimplex 2.5kW Portable Air Conditioner with Dehumidifier. This unit offers 2 fan speeds and can both cool and dehumidify your home. It also has a 0-24-hour timer, with sleep mode. It’s self-evaporative, which means you don’t need a drip tray or draining hose.
You operate it with the easy touch LED control panel or the remote control. Dimplex reckons it can cool rooms up to 20m2.
For a basic, affordable portable air con, there’s the Omega Altise OAPC10. It offers 2 fan speeds and 3 modes, including dehumidifying. You control it via the easy touch control panel or the remote control. It also has a 24-hour timer, directional louvres (but not oscillating) and a variable thermostat for greater control.
It has a RRP of around $350, making it the most affordable unit we reviewed. It has a great 2-year warranty and over 40 consumer reviews, giving it around 3.5 stars.
The Rinnai RPC41WA has some good features. This includes a 3-speed fan, cool / dry / fan modes, delay timer and oscillating louvres. The remote control is simple to use, and the unit has built-in carry handles for portability. It's also got a sleek modern design.
It has a sleep mode which slowly adjusts the temperature for a comfortable night’s sleep. It has almost 4 stars on ProductReview.com.au from a limited number of reviews.
The bottom line
Surviving a long, hot Aussie summer isn’t that easy without some sort of at-home cooling system. If you’re limited by space or money, a portable air conditioner can be a good option.
We reckon the DeLonghi PAC CN86 SILENT is Australia’s best portable air conditioner. For starters, it’s far quieter than a lot of models on the market, making it good for bedrooms or living spaces. With a dedicated dehumidifying function, you can use it year-round to help create a drier, healthier home. At RRP $649, with great (but limited) consumer reviews and a decent warranty from the most popular Aussie brand for portable air conditioners, it packs a lot in.
Spend less and you could get more thanks to the Kogan SmarterHome 4.7kW. An all-season portable air con, it has both cool and heat modes. The smart app allows you to control the unit wherever you are and save energy by turning the aircon off, if you accidentally leave it on when you leave home. Auto swing louvres help distribute the air effectively around the room. However, multiple consumer reviews mention that it's noisy so be prepared for that.
For energy efficiency, check out the Coolzy. This personal portable air conditioner uses just 340w of electricity, making it our pick for Australia’s best energy efficient portable aircon. Not only is it eco-friendly, it’s lightweight, portable and Australian designed. Lacking the grunt of our other options, it’s great at cooling people, but not rooms. (It’s also not exactly a great looker.)
Are portable air conditioners worth it?
If you live in a hot area and own or rent a home without air conditioning, a portable air conditioner might be right for you.
The good bits about portable air conditioners are they’re:
- Cheaper than an in-home aircon system that needs to be professionally installed.
- Moveable so you can move the cool air where you need it - home office, bedroom, etc.
- Easy to set up - install the window kit to vent it outside and you’re done. No drilling or installation needed, making them a good choice for renters.
Some portable aircons also have more than one mode. So, as well as cooling you’re getting heating or dehumidifying. This makes them more multi-functional.
The not-so-good bits are they’re:
- Not as powerful at cooling as built-in aircon, although they should work well in small rooms.
- Noisy, because all their bits are housed in the same unit (a built-in system has an outdoor unit where the noisy stuff is).
- Picky about where they’re placed because some need to vent out a window.
What makes a good portable air conditioner
Portable air conditioners suck a lot of power. An extension cord might not be able to cope with its power demands, meaning it could be an overheating or fire risk. Make sure the unit has a long enough cord to reach the power socket. Using an extension cord may void your warranty so it’s not an option.
Control your unit from wherever you are in the room with a remote control. This is a standard feature – every air conditioner we reviewed offered one. It should have labelled buttons for easy use.
Most units offer more than simply cooling. They usually also offer dry (or dehumidify) or fan modes. This can make them multi-functional appliances which could replace a separate dehumidifier or fan.
To help save energy, a sleep mode might turn off your unit after a set amount of time rather than running all night. Or it might raise the temperature so it’s more comfortable for sleep, making the unit work less hard and make less noise.
Louvres that constantly move (either up or down or left to right) allow the cool air to be directed more widely than just in 1 fixed direction.
What is a portable air conditioner?
A portable air conditioner is like aircon that you’d install in your home. But rather than installing it, you vent it out of a window. It’s also not really portable – thanks to weighing up to 40kg, it’s not as easy to move around as a fan. It should pack a lot more cooling power than a fan, though.
How do portable air conditioners work?
Like built-in air conditioning, portable air conditioners suck in warm and humid air before cooling and dehumidifying it and blowing it back into the room. Because they vent hot air outside through your window, more warm air can be drawn into the room from the rest of the house.
This means it’s always a struggle for a portable air conditioner to cool the room. With the noisiest part of an air conditioner in the room with you (that’s the compressor), they’re usually a lot noisier than built-in air conditioning and aren’t as effective or energy efficient. However, they’re also more convenient and usually more affordable.