It’s another sweltering summer day, and you’re sitting in front of a desk fan that isn’t helping – it’s time to consider a portable air conditioner.
Where a fan just circulates air to create a breeze without actually reducing the room temperature, air conditioners draw in air and cool it. A portable air conditioner rated for 9,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) can cool a room by 10℃, taking the temperature from sauna to spring morning.
The right freestanding air conditioner can keep your home cool without costing a fortune. Choose wrong, however, and you might end up with a power hungry and noisy box that’s less useful than that fan.
These are our top picks for portable air conditioners in 2023:
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Best overall portable air conditioner
An ideal blend of performance and affordability, the Meacocool 9,000R is a perfect portable air conditioner, fan and dehumidifier for those looking to cool a large space without breaking the bank.
Designed for rooms up to 26 square meters, 50% larger than the average new build home’s living room, and rated for 9000 BTUs, the portable air conditioner can keep even large spaces cool.
Despite this, the MeacoCool runs quietly at a volume of around 50db. That’s somewhere between the average ambient home noise level and the volume of a relaxed conversation.
The MeacoCool is also rated A for energy efficiency. With a consumption of just 1.003 kWh, it would cost a home currently under the Energy Price Cap or on a similar fixed rate tariff 30p an hour to run.
Best wireless portable air conditioner
If you need a cooling unit you can take everywhere then the EcoFlow Wave 2 is our pick for a truly portable air conditioner.
The Wave 2 can be used as an air conditioner or as a heater. With the recommended extra battery pack the unit can run for up to 8 hours in eco mode, and be recharged from the mains, your car or a solar panel. Be warned though, there’s no battery included with the unit.
The Wave 2 is able to cool an area of up to 10 square meters by 10℃ in 5 minutes, making it a quick and efficient way to cool small spaces like camper vans, tents and sheds.
The main drawback of the Wave 2 is the price, which even before you include the cost of the extra battery is more than twice that of similarly powerful units. The Wave 2 is perfect for those who need to stay cool (or warm) while off the grid, but for household use, we’d recommend sticking to a mains-powered unit.
Best quiet portable air conditioner
With a sleek design and integrated display, the Pinguino Silent looks good even when it’s not in use.
When you do switch it on, you’ll immediately notice its twin advantages – powerful cooling that runs quietly. The Pinguino Silent’s cooling is rated at 11,500 BTUs, but the noise produced even when running at maximum power doesn’t exceed 53 db.
The Pinguino Silent is rated A for energy efficiency and uses natural high-efficiency gas, propane R290, which is non-toxic, energy efficient and does not produce greenhouse emissions.
De’Longhi’s air conditioner units, like their other products, tend to be more expensive than their direct competitors. The difference in build quality and components is notable though, with De’Longhi manufacturing their own compressors, the heart of the air conditioner.
The best portable air conditioner under £100
If you’re not quite ready to invest in an air conditioning unit but you want something that will cool a room more effectively than a standard fan then the Honeywell Portable air cooler is a good compromise.
This is not an air conditioner in the same way as the other devices we’ve recommended. Instead, it’s an evaporative air cooler, using a fan to circulate air over cool water to trap heat from the room.
The fan itself is not powerful, even at the highest setting, and in large rooms that trap sunlight you’re unlikely to notice much difference. However, in a small bedroom or an office the portable air cooler can provide a much-needed refreshing breeze.
How are you staying cool this summer? Whether you’re running a battalion of fans, an air conditioner or just having lots of cool showers, you shouldn’t be worrying about your utility bills as you try and beat the heat.
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