The best portable air conditioners you can buy this Summer

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

Best overall portable air conditioner
De'Longhi Pinguino Air-to-Air portable air conditioner
De'Longhi Pinguino Air-to-Air
Starts at
$849
Cooling area
23m2
Noise range
47-64dB
Dehumidifier included
Yes, 41-litre
Best budget portable air conditioner
Evapolar EV-500W evaCHILL
Evapolar EV-500W evaCHILL
Starts at
$149
Cooling area
2.5m2
Noise range
45-50dB
Dehumidifier included
No, evaporative cooler
Best cooling alternative
Dyson Purifier Cool
Dyson Purifier Cool
🔥 Save 300% $899
Now $599
HEPA filter
HEPA H13
Noise range
Up to 55dB
Smart control
Voice control and app control
Best for big spaces
Dimplex 4.5kW Portable Air Conditioner
Dimplex 4.5kW Portable Air Conditioner
Starts at
$1100
Cooling area
34m2
Noise range
Max 56dB
Dehumidifier included
Yes, 2.9/hr
Best budget for bigger spaces
Carson 3-in-1 portable air conditioner
CARSON 3in1 Portable Air Conditioner 6000BTU
Starts at
$319
Cooling area
10-15m2
Noise range
Up to 65dB
Dehumidifier included
Yes
Georgia Dixon
Digital Content Editor
Read More
November 14, 2022
7 min read

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Every year as the Australian Summer starts to heat up (typically hotter than the last,) split-system air conditioner specialists are run off their feet and often booked up well into the New Year. That's why so many Australians turn to a trusty portable air conditioner to get the job done.

Especially popular with renters, portable air conditioners can be moved from room to room and are easily installed and operated. But as many people who have previously invested in portable air-con would tell you, some products simply don't have the power required to combat the harsh Australian Summer, and sometimes the ones that do can do some serious damage to your energy bill. 

With that in mind, we've rounded up the best portable air conditioners currently available in Australia based on their coverage, noise levels, budget and cooling features. 

🔥 Hot Deal
Dyson Purifier Cool
Save $300 on Dyson Purifier Cool
Dyson has a pretty deep discount for one of its top-end tower fans right now.
pro Removes 99.95% of ultra-fine particles
pro Sealed to HEPA H13 standards
pro 350-degree oscillation
Was $899
Now $599

Best quiet portable air conditioner (and best overall)

De’Longhi Pinguino Air-to-Air

Price
From
$849
Coverage
Up to 23m²
Noise
47 - 64dB
Cooling capacity
29kW
⛨ Warranty
2 years
pro
Pros
pro Smart remote
pro Eco-friendly refrigerant
pro Strong dehumidifying function
con
Cons
con Quieter, but definitely not silent
Pictured: The De’Longhi Pinguino Air-to-Air remote control.

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.

Best budget portable air conditioner

Evapolar EV-500W evaCHILL

Price
From
$149
Coverage
Up to 2.5m²
Noise
45 - 50dB
Cooling capacity
350W
⛨ Warranty
1 year
Availability
pro
Pros
pro Great price
pro Compact and convenient
con
Cons
con Only suitable for very small rooms or desktop use
con Humidifying evaporative cooling isn't ideal for humid climates
Evapolar EV-500W evaCHILL | Best portable air conditioners

Pictured: Refilling the evaCHILL's water reservoir

If you're looking for a simple, compact cooling solution, it's hard to look past EvaPolar's evaCHILL range. This tiny evaporative air cooler offers comparatively quiet air conditioning for small rooms and studies. At less than $150, it's easy to recommend, but at this price don't expect any dehumidifying functions. In fact, expect the opposite. As an evaporative air cooler, the evaCHILL actually humidifies the air. That's great for dry heat but not so good for muggy, humid days. Those living on Australia's East Coast are more prone to humid Summer days, whereas Central and Western Australia have a much drier heat, where the evaCHILL works best.

Are portable air conditioners any good?

Those without split-system air conditioning 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. 

Best portable air conditioner for large spaces

Dimplex 4.5kW Portable Air Conditioner

Price
From
$1100
Coverage
Up to 34m²
Noise
Max 56dB
Cooling capacity
4.5kW
⛨ Warranty
2 years
Availability

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 cools areas 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 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...

Best for big spaces on a budget

Carson 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner

Price
From
$319
Coverage
Up to 10-15m²
Noise
Max 65dB
Cooling capacity
4.5kW
⛨ Warranty
2 years
Availability

Carson may not be a household name in the world of portable white goods but there's no denying that its 3-in-1 portable air conditioner offers good bang for your buck. Unlike our budget frontrunner, the Carson 3-in-1 is built for bigger rooms (between 10 and 15mÂł). It also dehumidifies the air and uses a self-evaporative system that reduces the need to constantly empty the water reservoir.

The Carson 3-in-1 may not have the smart features of our next pick but it does offer the convenience of remote-operated control, a 24-hour timer and a Sleep Mode for quieter operation during the twilight hours.

How much does a portable air conditioner cost?

A traditional portable air conditioner will cost you from around $300 for a smaller budget model to over $1000 for models with larger cooling capacity. There are cheaper, evaporative coolers (like our top budget pick,) but they don't offer the same quality of cooling and are typically intended for much smaller spaces. 

Best smart portable air conditioner

Kogan SmarterHome 3.5kW

Price
From
$479
Coverage
Up to 30m²
Noise
Max 65dB
Cooling capacity
3.5kW
⛨ Warranty
1 year
Availability

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.

Best portable cooling alternative

Dyson Purifier Cool Bladeless Tower Fan

Price
Was $899
$599
Oscillation
350 degrees
Air filter
HEPA H13 filter and activated carbon filter
Noise range
Up to 55dB
⛨ Warranty
2 years
Availability

Okay, okay, we may have cheated a little with this one. The Dyson Purifier Cool isn't a portable air conditioner per se, but this bladeless tower fan offers more efficient cooling than your average pedestal fan. It has 350-degree oscillation for whole-room cooling, 10 speed settings, voice and app control and a bevvy of air-purifying features. The HEPA-grade air filter will catch 99.95% of airborne particles and allergens while the activated carbon layer will filter out harmful gases and stanky odours. 

The Dyson Purifier Cool can be a tough sell at the regular retail price of $899 but at the discounted price of $599, it's much easier to recommend. 

Tips for keeping your home cool this year

Whichever way you look at it, the Australian Summer is one tough customer. Here are some more tips for making the most of your portable air conditioner, and keeping your home cool this year.

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.

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 from 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. 
 

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  tables, chairs or other furniture
Bullhorn
What to look for when buying a portable air conditioner

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.

Portable air conditioner FAQs

Here are some of the biggest questions people have before purchasing a portable cooling solution.
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 Kogan SmarterHome 2.7kW Reverse Cycle Portable Air Conditioner, and the Teco 3.5kW Reverse Cycle Portable Air Conditioner.

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.

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 picks from several different categories, such as noise levels, room size and smart functionality. 

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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