Portable air conditioners are a great alternative to a fixed AC system. They are convenient, affordable and easy to use. Portable air conditioners can be particularly handy if you are in a rental property, or you don’t want to go through the hassle of installing a fixed system.
With so many options on the market, it can be hard to find the portable air con unit that is right for you. We’ve reviewed some of the best portable air conditioner units in Australia. If you’re still unsure, after the reviews we break down everything from exhaust hoses to kilowatts to help you find the AC unit that best meets your specific needs.
- 1. Rinnai C4.1kW Portable Air Conditioner (Top Pick)
- 2. Honeywell 2.9kW Portable Air Conditioner
- 3. Omega Altise C4.69kW Portable Air Conditioner
- 4. Dimplex C3.0kW Portable Air Conditioner
- 5. DeLonghi C2.5kW Portable Air Conditioner
- 6. Olimpia Splendid C4.1kw Portable Air Conditioner
- Portable Air Conditioner Buyer’s Guide
- Portable Air Conditioner Vs Evaporative Cooler
- How To Install A Portable Air Conditioner
- Other Options
- DIY Air Conditioners
- Portable Air Conditioner FAQs
1. Rinnai C4.1kW Portable Air Conditioner (Top Pick)
In this model, Japanese brand Rinnai integrate a sleek, modern design with a very respectable 4. 1kW of power, generating 14000 BTU. This compact unit includes a dehumidifier mode to increase comfort on humid days by removing moisture from the room.
This unit is simple to use and is packed with well considered features such as adjustable temperature control, a delay timer, 3 speed fan, and a fan only option. There is also a sleep mode that offers cooling capacity while also saving energy perfect for night use.
A big plus this model has over other options is its swing function to allow maximum airflow throughout the room. It is also self evaporative meaning you don’t need to worry about emptying the water bucket.
Rinnai state that this unit is suitable for cooling small living spaces, garages or large bedrooms.
What We Like:
What We Don’t Like:
This unit represents an affordable cooling only option from American brand Honeywell.
Like some of the other options on this list, this sleek Air Conditioner not only cools but also dehumidifies the room. While making the room more comfortable, this feature also offers a whole host of other benefits to your home, such as curbing the growth of mould and dust mites.
Honeywell’s patented Auto-Evaporation System removes the need for emptying a water tray, allowing for hours of continuous, uninterrupted operation.
At 10, 000 BTU, this unit is on the mid-lower end in terms of cooling power, so if you’re operating in particularly hot conditions, or in a large space, consider opting for a more powerful unit. However, for apartments and small homes, the cooling capacity of the Honeywell 2.9kW could be ideal.
What We Like:
What We Don’t Like:
This is one of the best portable air conditioner units for larger rooms. The Omega Altis looks great and represents a solid mid-range option.
With 4.69kW and 16000 BTU, it is one of the more powerful models on this list and is suitable for cooling larger living spaces. The Omega Altis offers 4 operating modes; cooling, fan, dehumidify and auto as well as 3 speed settings so you can have full control over the room’s temperature and humidity.
For convenience and ease of use, this portable air con comes with a 24 hour on/off timer as well as a remote control. This model includes an auto swing function for its vertical louvres too so the whole room can be cooled evenly.
What We Like:
What We Don’t Like:
If you’re looking for the best portable air conditioner that can handle both cooling and heating, take a look at this option from household favourite Dimplex. This great looking unit is guaranteed by Dimplex to cool in up to 35ºC. This is an ideal option for providing year round comfort.
With a sleek, new design and a host of features including a 24 hour timer, easy touch control panel and remote control, this is a great option from a trusted brand. This portable air con offers 3 speed settings and a number of modes including a self-evaporative dehumidifying function, a cooling mode and sleep comfort modes that are available in both heating and cooling.
This is also the only unit on this list that provides both heating and cooling functionality, and has a built in dehumidifier.
What We Like:
What We Don’t Like:
If you’re looking for an affordable, efficient unit, for cooling down a small space, then this option from DeLonghi should be in line for top pick.
At only 2.5kW, it should be able to handle most smaller cooling jobs such as bedrooms and offices. And at almost half the price of most units on this list, it does present a great value option.
Equipped with fan and dehumidifying functions, 3 fan speeds, a soft touch control panel, remote control, and 24h electronic timer and thermostat, you won’t find yourself short on functionality and features.
Designed to be quiet, energy efficient, and eco-friendly, DeLonghi have really packed a lot of technology into a small space with this unit.
What We Like:
What We Don’t Like:
The Olimpia Splendid is a high-end air conditioning unit, while also presenting some of the best bang-for-buck you will find on the market.
With a max cooling capacity of 4.1 kW and 14,000 BTU, this is a moderately powerful option, capable of cooling medium-sized spaces even in high temperatures.
While no portable AC unit is quiet, this one manages to keep noise levels to a minimum. It also comes with 3 adjustable settings, an automatic mode, timer, and remote control.
The Olimpia Splendid also comes with a generous 3 year manufacturers warranty.
What We Like:
What We Don’t Like:
Portable Air Conditioner Buyer’s Guide
A portable air conditioner makes those hotter days and summer heatwaves across Australia more bearable. A portable model is a good choice as they are affordable and give you the freedom to move the unit to where it is needed. The only downsides is that they are not as effective when cooling larger spaces, and require a window kit for installation.
This buying guide will help you find the best portable air conditioner in Australia for your home.
Types of Portable Air Conditioner
While many portable air conditioning systems come as standard, there are two other types you may come across in your search for the best unit:
A reverse cycle air conditioner is able to cool and heat a room. This is the best option if you need to stay cool during the hot Australia summer but keep warm with extra heating during winter. If you live in an area where the winters are mild or you don’t need extra heating a reverse cycle portable AC won’t be necessary.
Inverter Air Conditioner
An inverter air conditioner is able to work continuously without stopping. This makes them quieter and more affordable to run but the initial cost is higher than a standard portable air conditioner.
Different portable air conditioners offer different operating modes but the most common options are cool, dry, automatic, fan only or heat (if the model is a reverse-cycle). You can usually select the automatic mode which means you just set the target temperature and let the unit do the rest.
- Cool – this is when the air con takes the warm air and cools it to cool the room.
- Dry – this is the dehumidifying function that reduces moisture in the air to dry the room. The dehumidifier function is not as effective in its cooling power as the cooling mode but is great for those humid days and nights. The dehumidifier is particularly good for people with allergies or respiratory issues.
- Auto – this lets you set a target temperature so the air con turns on as needed to reach that target.
- Fan Only – this mode blows air without cooling, heating or drying. This is good for keeping the room ventilated and enjoying a cooling breeze.
- Heat – if the model is reverse-cycle it will have a heat option that will warm the room.
- Eco – some models also have an economy mode. This mode reduces power consumption by either reducing the cooling output or using sensors to reduce cooling when no one is in the room.
The size of the portable air conditioner is hugely important. If you choose an air conditioner that is too small for the room it will not be able to cool down the room efficiently and will often be working at maximum output to try to cool the room.
If you select a portable air conditioner that is too large for the room it will have a more noticeable noise level and may result in the air con running short, frequent cycles which increases the power consumption as well as the running costs.
To find the right sized portable air conditioner for your home, measure the largest room you will be using the air con in. If you measure the length and width in metres and multiply these together you will get the total size of the room in square meters. Keep this number in mind when you are comparing options, there are many models available of varying sizes and capacities so this will help you find the best suited AC.
Below is a rough guideline as to the A/C capacity and room size, the portable air con may have room size information in the product information too.
- 2. 9kW is best for rooms of 20-30sqm
- 4. 1kW is best for rooms up to 40sqm
- 5. 6kW is best for rooms up to 50sqm
Ease of Use
The ease of use is important for the overall experience and efficiency of the model. A portable air conditioner is designed to be convenient, practical and easy to install. Most units come with a remote control allowing you to adjust the settings from across the room.
If you are going to be moving the unit around pay attention to the handles and castors. The best portable air conditioner for you will have easy access handles and a good amount of space between the bottom of the unit and the floor. Also, consider the wheel size as small wheels can easily get caught up in carpets.
Choosing an energy efficient portable air conditioner is now easy thanks to the energy rating label. This label lets you know the energy efficiency of the model as well as its noise level, yearly kWh usage and it’s cooling capacity. This information cannot be found on single duct portable air conditioners as these are best for cooling or warming a person rather than a room.
The best options will be energy efficient ones as this will result in lower energy bills and reduce the overall running costs. If you will be using the unit throughout the hot summer in Australia, consider the savings an energy efficient model can offer you each year.
The cost of a portable AC will depend on the size, power and features. It is often best to buy an air conditioner outside of peak season (peak season is usually summer in Australia). In Australia, many of the best air con units will be quickly sold out during this time. You may be able to find discounted options at the end of the summer season or if possible, it is best to try to buy the air conditioner before summer begins.
When considering the price of a portable air conditioner remember to also consider the running costs. Portable air conditioners aren’t as energy efficient as regular air conditioning units so they sometimes have high running costs. Try to look at the units energy efficiency rating too as this will help you reduce the overall cost. It’s best to go for a model that is more efficient even if it will cost you slightly more to buy.
- Fan speeds – being able to adjust the fan speed lets you have more control over the airflow. Most options come with 3 speeds; low, medium and high. The higher speed is great for quickly cooling down a room while the lower speeds are best cooling the room down quietly with a much less obvious draught.
- Filters – some of the best portable air conditioners have built-in filters that remove allergens, smoke and bacteria from the air. Some also have air ionisers to purify the air. This is great for keeping the room clean and cool at the same time.
- Timers – some portable air conditioners work with a 24 hour timer allowing you to set them to turn on/off at set times. Using the timer is convenient and will help to save energy.
- Sleep Mode – many models also have sleep mode that will turn the air con off after a certain period of time. This is ideal for when you are using the air con in the evening but you don’t want it to run all night. Others have a sleep mode that rather than turning off will operate at a lower energy usage so you can enjoy an ambient temperature without high energy bills.
- Remote Control – being able to control the settings of the air conditioner using a remote control is very convenient.
- Adjustable Louvres – some units come with adjustable or oscillating louvres. These lets you adjust the direction of the cool air to suit the room and requirements.
- Power Cord – it is often advised not to use a portable air conditioner with an extension cord. Make sure the power cord on the unit is long enough for the placement and set up you are planning.
- Vent Hose – the vent hose is important for getting rid of hot, humid air. Check the vent hose length is long enough for your requirements.
- Window Kit – a window kit comes with an exhaust pipe to direct hot air outside and filler panels to close the gap in an open window. Before purchasing the air con, make sure the window kit is suitable for use with your window type.
- Wi-fi – some of the best portable air conditioners also have wi-fi allowing them to be controlled through a smartphone app. This can be appealing for its ease of use, especially if you already have a smart home set up.
Portable Air Con Maintenance
Once you have found the best portable A/C unit for your home, it is important to keep it in top condition. There are a few maintenance requirements for portable air conditioners. These include:
- Venting the unit to a window when in use. This is necessary for getting rid of the hot air. If you don’t vent the unit the hot air will remain in the room and even the best unit will be ineffective.
- Clean the filters. The best air cons also have filters to eliminate airborne particles. It is important to clean the filters (if they are washable) or replace the filters periodically to ensure they remain effective.
- Drain the water tank (depending on the system).
If the portable air conditioner has a dehumidifying function, take a look at how the water is dealt with. There are 3 common options:
- Drip tray – this is when the water is caught and collected in a tray that needs to be manually emptied every so often.
- Drainage hose – if the portable air conditioner has a drainage hose is will automatically drain the water away.
- Self evaporator – this is the best option as it evaporates the moisture collected from the room so you won’t have to regularly empty the collected water out manually.
When comparing air conditioners in Australia you will see the unit BTUs, or British Thermal Units, included within product specifications. These are a common method of measuring heat energy.
By definition, one BTU is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. In terms of air conditioners where we want to cool rather than heat the room, the BTU rating refers to how many BTUs per hour the appliance can remove from the air.
Household units generally come in the 9000 – 16000 BTU range. This rating essentially tells you how powerful the air con is. Just because a higher number means a more powerful unit, it does not mean you should go for the option with the highest BTU per hour rating. It’s best to choose a unit that offers an appropriate BTU rating for your requirements.
In order to choose a product with an appropriate BTU rating for the size of your space, be sure to check the manufacturer’s guidelines. This calculator can also be used to give you an indication of what BTU/hour would be suitable.
You will also see the power measurement of Kilowatt (kW) referenced in the name of most portable air conditioners.
While kWs are definitely relevant in terms of power output and therefore cooling ability, BTUs are a more appropriate measurement when comparing products, as it takes into account the cooling efficiency of the unit, as well as the power output.
Read more here.
Portable Air Conditioner Vs Evaporative Cooler
During your research into portable AC units, you are likely to come across evaporative coolers. While these may seem like an appealing (more affordable) alternative, it’s important to understand the difference between the two types of products.
The purpose of both is to lower the temperature within a space, however, how they achieve this is quite different.
In simple terms, a portable air conditioning unit cools the air by removing moisture, while an evaporative cooler cools a room by adding moisture:
- Portable air conditioners are convenient, ready to be used straight out of the box and offer humidity and temperature control. However, they need to have a vent going to a window.
- Evaporative coolers are easy to use, don’t need to be vented and can be used indoors and outdoors. They don’t offer selective temperature control but you can adjust the fan speed and it is essential to routinely clean an evaporative cooler to keep it working well. An evaporative cooler can be a good option for year round temperature control of an outdoor patio area.
As a general guide, if you live in a more humid part of Australia you will likely want to opt for portable AC, while if you’re in a drier area, evaporative cooling may be suitable.
For more information on the differences between these cooling methods, check out the sites below:
Related: The Best Humidifiers
How To Install A Portable Air Conditioner
Unlike other air conditioning systems, a portable air conditioner does not need to be installed by a professional. Everything you need to install a portable a/c will come in the box. This will include a vent hose and a window bracket. A standard window kit is designed to fit windows that open up and down rather than crank or casement windows that open in and out. Here is a step by step guide to installing portable air cons:
- Measure the width of the window you will be using
- Adjust the window bracket (included with the portable air conditioner) to suit the size of your window
- Put the bracket on the window and lower/ close the window until it reaches the bracket
- Secure the bracket using L shaped brackets, screws or wingnuts
- Connect the vent hose to the AC and window bracket. The vent hose is usually 2-3m in length so this is as far away from the window the air conditioners portable unit can be positioned.
- Plug the AC into a plug near the window. It is generally recommended to plug portable air conditioners directly into a wall socket rather than an extension lead.
- Turn the air con on and enjoy cool air. The hot air will be vented outside.
The below video provides a brief overview of how to install a portable air conditioning unit.
Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully as the installation method is likely to differ between brands and models.
Portable Air Conditioner Bunnings
Bunnings currently have seven portable air conditioning units in their range. This includes one from Australian Manufacturer Arlec, two from Click, three from Euromatic and one from Mistral. These options range from 7000 BTU up to 18000 BTU.
Users generally seem to have positive experiences with the products available from Bunnings, with most issues arising when people have too high expectations for smaller, less powerful units.
Portable Air Conditioner Kmart
Kmart currently do not stock portable air conditioning units.
They do however have a low cost evaporative cooler that comes with a range of speed settings and an oscillating fan function.
It is important to understand the difference between these units and a portable air conditioner. For more information, see the section below.
Portable Air Conditioner Big-W
Big-W currently stocks two portable air conditioners, from manufacturer Onix. These come at an affordable price point and range from 7000 -12000 BTU.
The 7000 unit is likely to be too low for most users in Australia, while the 12000 could be an OK option for those on a budget.
DIY Air Conditioners
If you’re feeling creative and don’t mind a bit of DIY, there are a few clever methods available for you to create your own low-cost cooler, at a fraction of the price of the portable AC units.
Needless to say, water and electricity don’t mix, so we advise consulting an expert before employing any of these methods. Proceed at your own risk!
Related: The Best Air Purifiers
Portable Air Conditioner FAQs
How do portable air conditioners work?
Like a permanent air conditioning unit, portable air conditioners cool down an interior space through the principle of heat exchange. They suck in warm, humid air from inside, which is then cooled and dehumidified using a refrigeration system, coolant, and reservoir. This cooler air is then blown back into the room. They also utilise a window duct to release hot and humid air outside.
Portable air conditioning units work in a similar fashion to fixed split system units, removing heat from inside and discarding it outside via an exhaust. Therefore portable air conditioning units all come with a window kit that you need to install.
Make sure that the unit you choose has a kit that will suit your windows, as well as an exhaust hose long enough for your requirements.