Best portable air conditioners in Australia

Everything you need to know before getting a portable air con to cool your apartment, home or office.

Best quiet (and best overall)
Runner up
Best budget air con
Best for large spaces
Dimplex 4.5kW Portable Air Conditioner
  • Check
    Large cooling capacity
  • Check
    Strong dehumidifier
Best for smart home
Georgia Dixon
Digital Content Editor
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Published on November 28, 2021
9 min read

Are portable air conditioners any good?

For those without split system air conditioning at home, you might be considering getting a portable air conditioner instead. These are typically cheaper to purchase, don't require wall or ceiling installation and still do the job. They can be more convenient for renters or those living in apartments with strict strata regulations who aren’t allowed to install outside window units.

The downside is that portable air conditioners are typically less efficient to run because, unlike exterior window AC units, they generate waste heat indoors so they’ve got extra hot air that needs to be vented outside. Since the generator is kept inside your home, it can also be noisier to run compared to a window unit that has the generator component outside. 

If you're more concerned about maintaining good air quality in your home, you should check out our picks for the best air purifiers in Australia. And if you're weighing up what your best options are for maintaining both optimal temperature and air quality levels, here's our lowdown on the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Purifier Fan Heater.

How much does a portable air conditioner cost?

A portable air conditioner will cost you from around $300 for a smaller budget model to over $1000 for models with larger cooling capacity. There is a range of important factors to keep in mind when choosing the right model for you.

Portable air conditioner buying guide
Bullhorn

Here’s what to look out for when buying a portable air conditioner in Australia

  • Check the cooling capacity (in kW) is appropriate for the room/area you want to cool.
  • How large is the air conditioner? Check the air con’s dimensions against your room size and confirm it fits through narrow corridors and doorways.
  • Do you need heating too? If so, opt for a reverse cycle model.
  • Need dehumidifying? Check for a dehumidifier rating of at least 1L per hour.
  • Check the AC’s maximum sound (db) levels. A quiet AC should sit under 55db.
  • Look for a model with Class A energy efficiency or at least a 3-star energy rating.
  • Check the refrigerant’s global warming potential (GWP). Opt for one with a lower GWP if you’re concerned about the environment.
  • Look for a model with castor wheels, which will be much easier to move from room to room.


Product
Go to site
Best for
Cooling capacity (kW)
Max. cooling area (m2)
Dimensions (mm)
Weight (kg)
Noise level (db)
Dehumidifier? (L/hr)
Warranty (yrs)
Pinguino Air-to-Air PAC EL112CSTQuiet2.923450 x 750 x 4103347-641.72
Olimpia Splendid COMPACT10Quiet (runner-up)2.64-345 x 703 x 35522.547-632.33
Inalto 2.7kW Portable Air ConditionerBudget2.718454 x 700 x 36529.5--2
Vostok 2.9kW Smart Portable Air ConditionerBudget (runner-up)2.920358 x 865 x 30123.5651.11
Dimplex 4.5kW Portable Air ConditionerLarge spaces4.534530 x 840 x 34534562.92
Polo PC47C Portable Air ConditionerLarge spaces (runner-up)4.733568 x 775 x 36542.856-63None2
Kogan SmarterHome 3.5kW Portable Air ConditionerSmart home3.530420 x 740 x 36029651.21

Best quiet portable air conditioner (and best overall)

De'Longhi Pinguino Air-to-Air (PACEL112CST)
Cooling capacity: 2.9kW
Cooling area: 23 sqm
Dimensions: 450 x 750 x 410
Noise level: 47-64dB
Warranty: 2 years
Starting from
$729

The De’Longhi Pinguino Air-to-Air is a super quiet portable air conditioner that’s powerful enough to keep a large bedroom or small living room space cool, works as a standalone or combi-mode dehumidifier (an impressive 1.7L/hr) and is also eco-friendly. However, it's not the cheapest model out there.

If you’re sensitive to noise, the Pinguino Air-to-Air gets a solid tick for its standout quietness. At a minimum noise pressure level of 47dB, it’s well below the level of normal conversation (around 60db) according to Safe Work Australia and on the lower end of the average sound level of portable air conditioners in our market selection (around 56dB). That said, you'd be hard-pressed to find a truly silent portable air conditioner, so expect the usual humming and fan noises.

We also loved the use of low-emission refrigerant R290 and the inclusion of an ultra-smart remote, which can sense the humidity and temperature of a room and adjust the system’s output accordingly.

Runner-up quiet portable air conditioner

olimpia splendid compact10 portable air conditioner
Olimpia Splendid COMPACT10
Cooling capacity: 2.64kW
Cooling area: Unknown
Dimensions: 345 x 703 x 355
Noise level: 47-63dB
Warranty: 3 years
Starting from
$875

Olimpia Splendid is one of the most trusted manufacturers of portable air conditioners, but their ultra-quiet technology and generous three-year warranty don’t come cheap. The COMPACT10 is about the same noise level as our top pick (if not slightly quieter) but it’ll set you back a little extra cash.

At just 22.5kg, the COMPACT10 lives up to its name as the lightest unit on our list, coming in at over 10kg lighter than our top pick and more than 20kg lighter than the heaviest, the Polo PC47C.

Feature-wise, it has an impressive dehumidifying function (2.3L/hr) and a basic fan function in addition to the main AC mode. You’ll also get a remote and timer feature so you’re in control of how and when your COMPACT10 does its thing.

Best budget portable air conditioner

InAlto 2.7kW Portable Air Conditioner
Cooling capacity: 2.7kW
Cooling area: 18sqm
Dimensions: 454 x 700 x 365
Noise level: Unknown
Warranty: 2 years
Starting from
$279

One of the cheapest portable air conditioners on the market, the InAlto 2.7kW Portable Air Conditioner is surprisingly powerful for its sub-$300 price tag. It's about average in terms of weight (at 29.5kg), and there are no official figures for noise level, but if you're after the cheapest on the market, this is it.

Like most of our picks, Inalto's offering has three modes: Air conditioner, fan and dehumidifier, along with a window kit (admittedly a pretty standard inclusion with portable air-cons), remote and timer function.

It's also worth noting that InAlto is an Australian-owned company, and all of its appliances are designed down under. You also get a two-year warranty, with an extra year included if you register your unit within 90 days of purchase.

Runner-up budget portable air conditioner

Vostok 2.9kW Portable Air Conditioner
Vostok 2.9kW Portable Air Conditioner
Cooling capacity: 2.9kW
Cooling area: 20sqm
Dimensions: 358 x 865 x 301
Noise level: 65dB
Warranty: 1 years
Starting from
$309

The Vostok 2.9kW is slightly more quite a bit more powerful than our top budget pick, but it comes with a two pretty big downsides - at 65dB, it’s the noisiest on our list, and it only comes with a one-year warranty. However, if you’re looking for a little bit of extra cooling power, the extra noise might put it above the InAlto for some.

On the plus side, it's smart home compatible, and at a measly 23.5kg, it packs a decent amount of power into a relatively lightweight package. Like all the other models we’ve chosen, it also comes on castor wheels, making transportation easy. Of course, you will need to set up the included window kit again should you decide to move it.

With a 1.1/L dehumidifying capacity, it’s not going to keep you quite as dry on hot summer nights as some of the more expensive models, but it’ll still make a difference.

Best portable air conditioner for large spaces

Dimplex 4.5kW Portable Air Conditioner
Cooling capacity: 4.5kW
Cooling area: 34sqm
Dimensions: 530 x 840 x 345
Noise level: 56dB
Warranty: 2 years
Starting from
$995

To control the temperature in a large space, you generally have to spend quite a bit more money. Case in point: the Dimplex 4.5kW Portable Air Conditioner. It comfortably cool an area up to 34 square metres and also functions as a dehumidifier (a market-leading 2.9L per hour) and is self-evaporative (meaning no drip tray or drainage hose).

Now, you might be thinking more power means more noise, but in the Dimplex's case, that's not necessarily true. It's rated at about 56dB, which is a little noisier than our top quiet picks (understandably), but still well below some of its less-powerful competitors.

It weighs in at 34kg, which isn't the lightest, but it's still significantly lighter than our runner-up. Speaking of...

Runner up for large areas

Polo PC47C portable air conditioner
Polo PC47C Portable Air Conditioner
Cooling capacity: 4.7kW
Cooling area: 33sqm
Dimensions: 568 x 775 x 365
Noise level: 53-56dB
Warranty: 2 years
Starting from
$997

On paper, the Polo PC47C is more powerful than our top pick for large spaces, but its cooling area is essentially the same (if not slightly smaller).

Its noise level is well below average, however, it lacks a dehumidifying function. For those in drier climates, that omission shouldn't be a deal-breaker, but if you're used to sticky, hot nights during summer, the Polo PC47C won't do much to make your space less muggy.

At 42.8kg, it’s the heaviest portable air conditioner from our market selection, which is to be expected for its cooling capacity. At this size, the device does admittedly look a bit chunky, so if you want your portable AC unit to be as unobtrusive as possible, this isn’t the model for you.

Best smart portable air conditioner

Kogan SmarterHome 3.5kW Portable Air Conditioner
Cooling capacity: 3.5kW
Cooling area: 30sqm
Dimensions: 420 x 740 x 360
Noise level: 65dB
Warranty: 1 year
Starting from
$419

If you’re on a tight budget but you want to give a smart home-compatible model a go, your best bet is the Kogan SmarterHome 3.5kW portable air conditioner. With a cooling area of up to 30 square metres, it’s certainly one of the better dollar-to-cooling-space ratios we’ve seen.

The biggest plus is that it can be completely controlled remotely via a supported smartphone app or device and is compatible with both Google Assistant and Alexa. That means if you’ve forgotten to turn it off before leaving for a weekend away, you can switch your AC off from your phone rather than having to turn back home. What’s more, for an affordable price, as well as decent cooling capacity, you’ll get an AC that isn’t too heavy and dehumidifies (1.2L per hour).

Unfortunately, it is quite loud at 65dB and only comes with a one-year warranty.

Runner-up smart portable air conditioner

Sensibo Sky smart air conditioner controller
Sensibo Sky Smart Controller
Works with: iOS, Android, Google Assistant, Alexa
Warranty: 1 year
Starting from
$105

Okay, okay, we may have cheated a little with this one. Although it’s not a portable air conditioner itself, it’s a damn powerful accessory to have, since it can turn virtually any air conditioning unit (split-system, portable, window and even central) into a smart AC, as long as it has an infrared remote control.

After a quick and easy installation, you’ll be able to control your air conditioner from anywhere, plus monitor temperature and humidity in whatever room it’s in. You can also set up unlimited schedules with the smart timer, so you could feasibly wake up to a crisp, cool temperature and fall asleep in cosy warmth - the choice is yours.

One thing we’re not sold on, however, is the optional Sensibo Plus paid subscription, which enables extra features, like automatically turning the AC on before you arrive and off once you leave, setting up climate control, and enabling filter cleaning alerts. That said, $4.99 per month or $39.99 annually isn’t too bad.

FAQs

How does a portable air conditioner work?

A portable air conditioner sucks in the hot air from a room, cools and dehumidifies it, and then recirculates the cool air back into the room. In Australia, most are single rather than dual-ducted. A single hose vents the heat out through an air duct that can be installed in a window or ceiling/wall exhaust.

Where can I buy a portable air conditioner?

You can purchase a portable air conditioner from most major appliance retailers in-store or online including at JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, Bunnings and Big W. Alternatively, there are online-only retailers such as Amazon Australia, Kogan, Dick Smith and other third-party online appliance stores from where you can source a portable air conditioner.

How energy-efficient are portable air conditioners?

Unfortunately, there isn't really such a thing as an energy-efficient portable air conditioner. Until April 2020, portable air conditioners were exempt from requiring an energy efficiency rating label. To this day, it's rare to find one with the typical star-system rating found on other appliances. Instead, it'll show cooling capacity (measured in BTU or kW power) and suitability based on the climate in your area.

The amount of electricity a portable air conditioner uses depends on its cooling capacity, how many cycles it runs and how often you leave your AC on. How much power your air con needs to run will primarily depend on the size of the room/area you’re cooling and how hot the weather is. 

Are there any reverse-cycle portable air conditioners?

Reverse-cycle portable air conditioners are hard to find simply because of how much power they require and the simple fact that they aren't the most efficient heating method.

Still, if you have your heart set on one, there are two reverse-cycle portable air conditioners currently available in Australia: the $539 Kogan SmarterHome 2.7kW Reverse Cycle Portable Air Conditioner, and the $1049 Teco 3.5kW Reverse Cycle Portable Air Conditioner.

Tips

How to install a portable air conditioner

  • Make sure you have a window kit and window to vent from.
  • Open your window and fit the sealing plate into the window gap.
  • Screw the sealing plate into position and close the window.
  • Connect your exhaust hose to the air con.
  • Fit the exhaust pipe nozzle to the other end of the hose.
  • Secure the nozzle into the window seal plate.
  • Connect your AC to a power socket.

What to watch out for when installing your portable air con

  • Window. Check the portable unit fits your window size properly. Most windows are slide/sash type, but if you’ve got a hinged window, ensure the model you choose has a compatible window kit.
  • Vent. Check the vent is long enough to reach your window from the portable unit.
  • Cord. Check the cord is long enough to reach the power socket and avoid using an extension cord to minimise overheating or fire hazard risks.
  • Exhaust pipe. Keep the exhaust pipe straight to aid good airflow and as short as possible so your unit can run most efficiently.
  • Space clearance. Check the manufacturer’s minimum space clearance between the unit and the wall/window. As a general rule of thumb, give at least a 30cm gap for good air circulation.
  • Flat, even floor. Ensure the portable AC is placed flat on the floor and never on top of or near to tables, chairs or other furniture.

How to reduce the costs of running a portable air conditioner

  • Set your AC at a consistent and moderate temperature. So your AC doesn’t have to work extra hard, the optimal temperature should be set around 25°C in summer and 18°C during winter. 
  • Keep your home shaded. Shut your curtains and close any open doors or windows to prevent cool air escaping (and extra heat getting in). To minimise additional heat absorption, turn off any lights you don’t need on. 
  • Regularly clean or replace the AC filter. This should be done approximately fortnightly to monthly, as well as generally keeping your unit dust and dirt-free.
  • Only run it when necessary. If it’s not too hot, consider opening the windows to get some breeze or invest in a fan instead.
  • Double-glaze your windows and doors. This will also help to trap heat from getting into your home. 

We searched for the most popular and highest-rated portable air conditioners on the market. From this selection, we analysed the products against key criteria including price, cooling capacity, size, noise level, moisture absorption rate, refrigerant type and whether reverse cycle was available.

There’s not a one-size-fits-all for the best portable air conditioner in Australia so that’s why we’ve chosen our top (and runner-up) picks across 5 categories: best overall, best quiet, best budget, best for large areas and best smart. 

Our methodology

We searched for the most popular and highest-rated portable air conditioners on the market. From this selection, we analysed the products against key criteria including price, cooling capacity, size, noise level, moisture absorption rate, refrigerant type and whether reverse cycle was available. We searched for the most popular and highest-rated portable air conditioners on the market. From this selection, we analysed the products against key criteria including price, cooling capacity, size, noise level, moisture absorption rate, refrigerant type and whether reverse cycle was available.

There’s not a one-size-fits-all for the best portable air conditioner in Australia so that’s why we’ve chosen our top (and runner-up) picks across 5 categories: best overall, best quiet, best budget, best for large areas and best smart.

Now that you know, here are your next steps.

Find the best air purifier to filter out the summer smoke.

Otherwise, find out if the Dyson Hot+Cool Purifier Fan Heater is worth your time.

Georgia Dixon
Written by
Georgia Dixon
Georgia Dixon has over seven years' experience writing about all things tech, entertainment and lifestyle, with bylines in TechLife magazine, 7NEWS and Stuff.co.nz. In her spare time, you'll find her playing games and daydreaming about good food, wine, and dogs.

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