The best portable air conditioners to cool your home, recommended by experts (2023)

Hot summers mean sweaty days and sleepless nights. The best portable air conditioners can be an effective way to keep your home cool – and your sanity intact.(If you need tips on sleeping in the heat, read our guide to the best mattresses, pillows and duvets. And if you insist on exercising in a heatwave, we have tips on that too.)

While even the best fan simply moves air around, an air conditioner actively lowers the temperature of a room by running air through a refrigerating unit and fanning it back out, expelling the heat through a window. While they're fairly pricey, this means a portable air conditioner (PAC) is a worthy investment for those who dread a heatwave.

If you consider this a price worth paying for summertime comfort, then read on for the best portable air conditioners.

The best portable air conditioner, at a glance

The best portable air conditioners

1. De’Longhi Pinguino PAC EL110 WiFi Portable Air Conditioner

£728.95, Aircon Centre

Best overall

We liked: the superior performance

  • 11,000 BTU
  • For rooms up to 32m2
  • Max noise level 63dB
  • 1.5m exhaust hose

Both Paul Wood, managing director of online retailer Andrews Sykes, and Nick Kandola, of Aircon Centre, recommend the renowned Italian brand De’Longhi. “They are good compressor manufacturers, and the compressor is the heart of the unit,” Wood says. Kandola agrees that they are “overall better quality” than most other models, as well as being more stylish and with a wider range of features. “It’s a brand everyone has heard of… so you’ll pay a premium, but you can see why you’re paying extra... it's the Rolls Royce of air conditioners."

With an 11,000 BTU rating, the Pinguino PAC EL110 can comfortably cool a room of 30 square metres.It also has an A energy efficiency rating and runs on R290, an eco-friendly gas.This is typical of De’Longhi models, according to Kandola. “They’re more energy-efficient and the gases are more environmentally-friendly.”

It is about as sleek and stylish-looking as an air conditioner could be, and also boasts a range of extra features including "Real Feel" technology that automatically adjusts the temperature and humidity of a room, and WiFi connectivity to link with voice-enabled smart speakers (like Amazon Alexa). This model isn’t cheap, but it's designed to beenvironmentally friendly and built to last.

Other key features: dehumidifying function, antibacterial filter, weighs 37kg, 75cm high x 45cm wide x 41cm deep

Also available at

2. Midea 9000 BTU Portable Air Conditioning Unit

£419.95, Aircon Centre

Best value for money

We liked: low power consumption for keeping your electricity bill down

  • 9,000 BTU
  • For rooms up to 26m2
  • Max noise level 63dB
  • 1.5m exhaust hose

"Midea will be the market leader within three years. They’ve got all the best technology and all the bells and whistles but because people don’t know the brand yet, the price is a bit lower than what you would expect," Kandola says.

This compact 9000 BTU unit can cool a room up to 26 square metres and has a self-evaporating function. It offers more features than other models at this price point, such as a 24 hour timer and an LCD display. "It's renowned for its build quality and backed up by a 3-year manufacturers warranty," says Kandola.

At 63db, it is louder than the De’Longhi model above, but it’s significantly cheaper. Plus, as it’s rated A for energy efficiency, it still won’t add unduly to your electricity bill.

Other key features: HEPA filter, weighs 28kg, 70cm high x 36cm wide x 35cm deep

3. Honeywell 9000 BTU 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner

This product is currently unavailable due to high demand – alternatives available here

£488.95, Aircon Centre

Best air conditioner and dehumidifier

We liked: it's fairly nice looking, as air conditioners go

  • 9,000 BTU
  • For rooms up to 30m2
  • Max noise level 65dB
  • 1.5m exhause hose

Honeywell is another of Kandola's recommended brands. "This 9,000 BTU 3-in-1 model offers a cooling solution all year round. The AC provides powerful cooling during the summer, whilst the dehumidifier function can be used during humid seasons. The fan can be used at your leisure to circulate air for everyday comfort," he says. "It has a 24-hour programmable timer and a remote control for easy armchair operation." The water collected is automatically evaporated, so you don't need to worry about emptying it.

It comes with everything needed for an easy set-up: an exhuast hose, 1m draining tube, window kit, window brackets and window foam seal.

Other key features: dust filter, weighs 28kg, 72cm high x 44cm wide x 36cm deep

4. Black + Decker 9000 BTU

£399.99, Amazon

Best year-round air conditioner

We liked: the active carbon filter to remove bad smells

  • 9,000 BTU
  • Cools to 18C
  • 1.5m exhaust hose
  • Noise level 49dB at low speed

Not mentioned by our experts but a top-seller on Amazon, Black + Decker's air conditioner is a decent choice for bedrooms at night, with a thermostat setting to select the right fan speed based on the room temperature (from 18 to 32 degrees). It also works as a heater in winter and can be used in dehumidifier-only mode in rooms at risk of damp.

Other key features: dehumidifier function, weighs 26kg, 77cm high x 32cm wide x 40cm deep

5.De'Longhi Pinguino PAC N82 Portable Air Conditioner

£538.75, AirCon Centre

Best quality

We liked: it's simple to use and easy to move

  • 9,400 BTU
  • For rooms up to 32m2
  • Max noise level 52dB
  • 1.2m exhaust hose

The De’Longhi PAC N82is the slightly less impressive little brother of ourtop pick, the De'Longhi EL98. It has a BTU of9,400, so can cool rooms of up to 24 square metres. However, boasts many of the same features as more expensive De'Longhi models, including an LEDcontrol panel and thermostat.

It may be more expensive than competitors but,as Kandola says, it's worth it:“With the likes of Honeywell and De'Longhi, you will 100 per cent get excellent quality.” As with the De'Longhi PAC EL98, it runs on environmentally-friendlyR290 gas, and has an Arating for energy efficiency.

Other key features: dehumidifier function, antibacterial filter, weighs 30kg, 75cm high x 45cm wide x 40cm deep

Also available at

6. electriQ 12000 BTU

This product is currently unavailable due to high demand- alternatives available here

£399.98, Appliances Direct

Best selling air conditioner

We liked: it's powerful and easy to set up

  • 12,000 BTU
  • For rooms up to 30m2
  • Cools to 16C
  • 1.8m exhaust hose

Included here because it's the best-selling portable air conditioner at Appliances Direct, rather than having been recommended by our experts, this electriQ model is not the quietest or the most manoeuvrable (at nearly three feet high and 28kg) but does pack a lot of power. 12000 BTU is enough to cool a 30 square-meter room, roughly equivalent to most living rooms. The quieter electriQ EcoSilent 12000, which can be controlled via Alexa or Google Assistant and has an optional HEPA filter for air purifying, is currently sold out.

Other key features: dehumidifier function, fan only mode, weighs 28kg, 80cm high x 38cm wide x 36cm deep

7. AirFlex 14000 BTU 4kW Portable Air Conditioner

This product is currently out of stock due to high demand – alternatives available here

£449.97, Appliances Direct

Best for large rooms

We liked: it's durable and waterproof

  • 14,000 BTU
  • For rooms up to 38m2
  • Cools to 16C
  • 3m exhaust hose

This versatile Airflex model can be used at home or in an office and has powerful cooling capabilities for rooms up to 38 square metres. It's also the only air conditioner on this list to be IPX4 weather-resistant, meaning it can be used outside as a fan or heater if required. It has all-year-round heating, cooling and fan modes, and a dehumidifier that can extract 33.6 litres of water from the air per day.

Other key features: heating, fan and dehumidifying functions, weighs 32kg, 77cm high x 32cm wide x 58cm deep

8. Princess Smart Air Cooler

£128, B&Q

Best air cooler

We like: not strictly an air conditioner, but great for small bedrooms in a heatwave

  • For rooms up to 15m2
  • No exhaust hose
  • 1.5m power cable
  • Max noise level 62dB

Since it doesn't vent warm air out through the window and doesn't have a BTU rating, this "air cooler" from Dutch electronics firm Princess is not an air conditioner as such. But it still cools a small room far better than a fan, by blowing air through a honeycomb filter soaked in cold water from a well at its base, which you chill using reusable ice packs from your freezer.

The Telegraph tested this in a heatwave when it was 23 degrees at midnight, normally a recipe for a sleepless, sweaty night. The Air Cooler worked (tip: add some ice cubes too) and we slept through in cool-browed comfort. Given the far lower price, it's far easier to justify impulse-buying this in the throes of a heat event than one of the big, serious units.

If big and serious is what you want, Princess do a proper 12,000 BTU 3.5kW air conditioner (£499.99, Amazon) which sits somewhere between the two De'Longhis above in terms of performance, with the addition of voice and smartphone controls, and is well worth considering.

Other key features: 76cm high x 22cm wide x 28cm deep


Since they are a relatively large and specialised piece of equipment, air conditioners aren't sold everywhere. Appliances Direct and Amazon each have a selection but the UK's top supplier is Aircon Centre. We consulted Aircon Centre's co-owner Nick Kandola, who is an expert in the leading models and brands.

Do portable air conditioners cool well?

"Portable air conditioners are very good at cooling a room, but you do need to choose the correct unit for your needs," Nick advises. "They do not require expensive professional installation (unlike other air conditioning solutions), and being portable, they can be stored away when they are not needed. Many new ACs offer room heating and dehumidifier options, giving an all-year-round solution to room temperature control. The latest models are also WiFi enabled."

Portable air conditioners are rated in British Thermal Units (BTU). A higher BTU number means a larger space can be cooled, although this also makes the device bigger, pricier and in some cases less eco-friendly. It is essential to check the size of the room you'll be cooling before buying; if you purchase a unit with too low a BTU rating for the room size, it won’t be able to cool it efficiently.

Kandola says the most popular options for portable air conditioners are 9,000 and 12,000 BTU, which would cool a room of around 21 and 30 square metres respectively. Unlike traditional (fixed) air conditioning, portable air conditioner units can be moved around, but all decent models have an exhaust pipe that will need to be run outside through awindow or door.

Do portable air conditioners use a lot of electricity?

Given rising energy bills are on everyone's mind, are portable air conditioners energy efficient? More so than you might think, according to Kandola. "Depending on the size of the portable air conditioner (AC) unit, they typically use between 0.75kW up to 1.5kW per hour. [Costing between 20p and 42p per hour at current energy prices.] Overall, modern AC units provide an energy efficient way to cool your home," he says. Look for an energy efficiency rating above D (which is equivalent to the old A rating).

How to vent a portable air conditioner

You will need a window close enough for the exhaust hose to reach, that can be opened wide enough for the hose to pass through. Good air conditioners will come with a sealing pack to fill the gap in the opened window. "The vent expels hot air and moisture outside, while the AC unit blows cooled air in," explains Kandola. If you're unable to run a vent outside via a window or door, a portable air conditioner isn't right for you.

How much do you need to spend?

There is one obvious downside: cost. While a high-end fan costs less than £100, a decent PAC unit costs upwards of £500. “Anything under £300 isn’t worth buying, unless it’s for a small bedroom – and most people wouldn’t buy an air conditioner for that size of room, they’d just buy a fan," Kandola says. Are there any other air conditioner features I should look out for?

Are there any other air conditioner features I should look out for?

Hose length. Make sure the exhaust hose is long enough to reach the window you will be expelling the hot air through. Power cables can be quite short, so bear that in mind too.

Noise levels. All air conditioners in operation make a fan-like noise, but they vary by as much as ten decibels, which could make all the difference when you're trying to sleep.

Air quality. Some air conditioners have filters to remove allergens and mould from the air. HEPA is the highest filtration standard here. Many also double as dehumidifiers and some have a heating function, making them useful in winter as well as summer.

Energy saving features. Timer switches, eco modes and sleep modes feature on most models. 'Smart' air conditioners will link to a smartphone app or voice assistant, enabling even more control over the room temperature.

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