Portable air conditioners are a great alternative to a fixed AC system. They 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. In this article we break down everything from exhaust hoses to kilowats to help you find the AC unit that best meets your specific needs.
Portable Air Conditioner Reviews
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 4.7 kW / 16000 BTU/Hr, this is one of the more powerful options, capable of cooling large 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.
It also comes with a generous 3 year manufacturers warranty.
- 16,000 BTU
- 3 adjustable settings
- Automatic mode and timer
- Remote control
3 year warranty
- No oscillating louvres to distribute airflow
Japanese brand Rinnai integrate a sleek, modern design with a very respectable 4.1kW of power, generating 14000 BTU.
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.
A big plus it has over other options is its swing function to allow maximum air flow throughout the room.
Rinnai state that this unit is suitable for cooling small living spaces, garages or large bedrooms.
- Great looking design
- Easy to use
- Swing function
- More affordable than other options
- 2 year warranty
- 14000 BTU less than other units
Another great looking unit, the Omega Altise represents a solid mid-range option.
With 4.69kW and 16000 BTU, it is one of the more powerful models on this list, making it suitable for cooling larger living spaces.
It comes with all the features you would expect, including 4 operating modes, a timer, 3 speed settings and a remote control. It also has an auto swing function for its air louvres.
- 16000 BTU
- Swing function
- Nice design
- 3 Year warranty
- May be noisier than other options
Another great option from household favourite Dimplex, this great looking unit is guaranteed by Dimplex to cool in 43ºC.
With a sleek, new design, and a host of features including a 24 hour timer, easy touch control panel and remote, this is a great option from a trusted brand. It is also the only unit on this list that provides both heating and cooling functionality, and has a built in dehumidifier.
- Heating and cooling
- 2 Year warranty
- No drip tray or hose
- BTU rating not available
If you’re looking for an affordable, efficient unit, for cooling down a small space, then this option from DeLonghi should be near the top of your list.
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.
- Quiet vs other options
- Fan and dehumidifying functions
- Energy efficient
- 2 Year warranty
- Only 2.5 kW / 9800 BTU
- Exhaust hose could be longer
Portable Air Conditioners Buyers Guide
Do All Portable Air Conditioners Require An Exhaust Hose And Window Kit?
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.
BTUs And KWs – What Are They And How Many Do You Need?
BTUs, or British Thermal Units, 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 air conditioning, the BTU rating tells us how many BTUs per hour the appliance can remove from the air. Household units generally come in the 9000 – 16000 BTU range.
In order to choose a product with an appropriate BTU rating for the size of your space, be sure to check the manufacturers 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 KiloWat (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.
If you’re really on a budget, there are a few other options available to you outlined below, including evaporative coolers or DIY methods.
Portable Air Conditioner Bunnings
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 however 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 stock 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 Australian users, while the 12000 could be an OK option for those on a budget.
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 from the air, while a evaporative cooler cools by adding moisture. Therefore if you live in a more humid part of the country 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:
How To Install A Portable Air Conditioner
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 installation is likely to differ between brands and models.
DIY Air Conditioners
If you’re feeling creative and don’t mind a bit of DIY, there’s 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!