Portable Air Conditioners
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. 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 top portable air conditioners in Australia, drawn from hours of research and real consumer insights.
Table of contentsIntroductionHow we pickedBest portable air conditionersFeatures to considerUpgrade features
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 2019 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.
What is a portable air conditioner?
They’re not really portable – thanks to weighing up to 40kg, they’re not as easy to move around as a fan. But you don’t need to modify your home to install one. They vent out of a window instead.
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.
The 7 best portable air conditioners in Australia
Important features to consider
Portable air conditioners pack the same features. Here are the ones to look out for.
A long power cord
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.
Want to have your home cool when you get home from work? Look for a timer that’ll turn on, and off, your unit at the times you set.
Manually adjustable louvres allow you to direct the airflow where you want it, which can help distribute the cool air better.
Your portable air con should come with a window kit to allow it to vent outside.
If there’s one thing we’ve learnt in our research, it’s that the most common consumer complaint is that portable air conditioners are loud. Like sleep- and conversation-disrupting loud. If you think this will be a problem, consider looking for quieter models, like our DeLonghi winner.
They might be called portable, but they’re not very light or easily moved. Most weigh over 30kg. Look out for features that’ll help you move them from room to room, like built-in handles and wheels.
What you get if you spend more
Spend more and you’ll get more features, none of which will impact on the cooling ability of your unit.
For an all-seasons appliance, which makes sense with portable air cons normally high price tags, you can pay for extra modes, including heating ones.
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.
One of the air conditioners we reviewed is controlled with an app. This gives you slightly more control over your unit, like being able to adjust the temperature, change mode or turn it off when you’re not at home. This is a high-end feature with a high-end price – you’ll spend around $1,000 for this functionality.
Let the air con do the hard work by setting a temperature you want your room to remain at. It’ll then automatically adjust its mode and fan to reach this temperature and keep it there.
Auto oscillating louvres
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.
Best Overall: DeLonghi PAC CN86 SILENT
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 of $649, 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, but this is from a limited number of reviews. It’s also been tested by CHOICE and DeLonghi is Canstar Blue’s #1 portable air conditioner brand. Aussies gave it 5 stars for its movability and overall customer satisfaction, and 4 stars for reliability, functionality and noise while operating.
Why buy the DeLonghi PAC CN86 SILENT
Quiet: 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.
Timer – if you’d rather not run it 24/7, there’s a 12-hour timer.
Remote control – too hard to walk across the room to change the mode or fan setting? Use the remote control.
Energy efficient – it’s a Class A-rated energy efficient product.
Price – RRP $649 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.
2-year warranty – which we think is great, given the price.
The not-so-good bits
Limited consumer reviews – it’s got less than 20 so far, but they do give it 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.
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.
Also Great: Kogan KAPORAIR14GA
The Kogan KAPORAIR14GA boasts not the 3 modes of our winner, but 4. You get the same cool, dehumidifier and fan, but also a heat mode too, making this an all-season appliance. It can be controlled by a remote (like our winner) 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.
As well as 4 modes and an app, it has a sleep mode and 3 fan speeds. The swing mode allows you to set the airflow direction and it has a timer so you can programme when the unit turns on and off.
Kogan reckons its app means you get more control over your air con, reducing your energy bills. This includes being able to set an ideal temperature for your home. The unit will then automatically heat or cool accordingly to maintain this temperature. Which means it doesn’t run when it doesn’t need to. Plus, 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.
It’s got easy glide wheels for easy manoeuvring and suits room up to 30m2. The additional smart functionality of the Kogan KAPORAIR14GA will cost you around $250 more than our winner; it has a RRP of $899. It does have over 60 consumer reviews and a good 3.3 rating on ProductReview.com.au and it’s been put through its paces by CHOICE. Kogan is also Canstar Blue’s 4th most popular portable air con brand, with Aussies rating their reliability, movability and ease of use.
Why the Kogan KAPORAIR14GA is worth considering
4 modes – with cool, dehumidifier, fan and heat mode, this is an all-season portable air con.
Remote control – for easy control of the unit, wherever you are in the room.
App – 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.
Sleep mode – this mode automatically increases the temperature by 1° per hour for 2 hours, then sets the fan on low, allowing you to sleep comfortably and to save energy overnight.
Self-cleaning mode – we’re not quite sure what this does, Kogan or our favourite search engine doesn’t explain, but it sounds good.
3 fan speeds – so you can tailor it to your comfort levels.
Easy glide wheels – which is handy, as it weighs almost 30kg.
Oscillating louvres – this helps evenly distribute the airflow through the room.
Good consumer reviews – it currently has almost 3.5 stars on ProductReview.com.au from over 60 reviews.
The not-so-good bits
Price – at RRP $899, it’s about $250 more expensive than our winner.
Noisy – a lot of customers complain about the noise of the unit, which might make it unsuitable to use in your bedroom. The best way to check? Find it in store and ask them to turn it to high!
Warranty – it’s only got a 1-year warranty which we don’t think is good enough for its high price.
For all-season portable air con, consider the Kogan KAPORAIR14GA: it has both cool and heat modes. Its smart app allows you to control the unit wherever you are and save energy by setting a temperature you want it to maintain. Oscillating louvres help distribute the air effectively around the room. But it’ll cost you $250 more than our winner and it only has a 1-year warranty.
We’ve narrowed down the huge number of portable air cons available in Australia – here are some others to consider.
If simplicity is what you’re after, meet the Dimplex DC15RCBW. This RRP $750 unit offers 3 fan speeds and can both heat and cool your home. It also has a dehumidifying function and a 0-24-hour timer, with sleep mode. In cooling mode it’s self-evaporative, which means you don’t need a drip tray or draining hose.
You operate it with the easy touch control panel or the remote control. Dimplex is Canstar Blue’s 3rd most popular portable air con brand and it has very good, but very limited, consumer reviews, getting almost 4 stars. It’s also been tested by CHOICE. The downside? It’s currently on special order in-store only.
Choose this if – you want an easy to use portable air con that offers heat and cool modes, plus dehumidifying, and you’re happy to go in store to buy it.
Need a portable air con that’s all about the cooling? The Polocool PC-58AP/C could be right for you. it offers 3 fan speeds plus auto mode, oscillating louvres, a timer and 3 cooling modes – cool, dry or fan.
Aussies love it on ProductReview.com.au, awarding it over 4 stars and raving about its power and cooling ability. But you’ll pay for it – at RRP $1,395, this is the most expensive portable air con we reviewed.
Choose this if – you’re serious about cooling your home and are happy with a cool price of almost $1,500.
A good alternative to our Kogan runner-up, the Kogan KAPORAIR10GA is its more affordable sibling, with a RRP of $599. That does mean you’re getting less functionality though. Specifically, you’re getting 3 modes, not 4 (cooling, fan and dehumidifier – no heating) and no app functionality.
You do get a remote control, a 24-hour timer, sleep mode, and a smart temperature setting that automatically cools to your desired temperature. It’s smaller than our runner-up too, making it more suited to smaller homes. It has good consumer reviews and Kogan is the 4th most popular Canstar Blue brand.
Choose this if – you like the look, but not the price, of our runner-up, and only need cooling of a smaller home.
Omega Altise OAPC10
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 more than 3.5 stars.
Choose this if – you want to spend the minimum on a basic portable air con.
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 also 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. With a RRP of $799, it’s more expensive than our DeLonghi winner and delivers less, although the sleek modern design is appealing.
Choose this if – you’re after a sleek modern portable air con that offers pretty standard features.