The best portable air conditioners for summer 2022

A portable air conditioner is an effective way to keep your home cool – and your sanity intact. While summer means sunshine, holidays and Pimms in the garden, for the less lucky among us it can also mean sweaty offices and sleepless nights. (If you need more tips on sleeping in the heat, read our guide to the best mattresses, pillows and duvets).

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

Since they are a relatively large and specialized 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 BTUs, which would cool a room of around 21 and 30 square meters 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 a window 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.

Do all portable air conditioners have to be vented out a window?

In short, yes. “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.

If you consider this a price worth paying for summertime comfort, then read on for the best portable air conditioners in 2022.

At a glance – the best portable air conditioners for 2022

The best portable air conditioners for 2022

1. DeLonghi Pinguino PAC EL98 ECO Silent Portable Air Conditioner

£769.95, Aircon Center

best overall

We liked: the superior performance

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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