Best portable air conditioners in Australia
De'Longhi Pinguino Air-to-Air (PACEL112CST)
Best quiet (and best overall)Low noise levelEco-friendly refrigerant
Shinco 7,000 BTU (2050W) Portable Air Con
Best budget air conLightweightUnder $300
Kogan SmarterHome 5.2kW Reverse Cycle
Best for large spacesLarge cooling capacityReverse cycle
Kogan SmarterHome 3.5kW Portable Air Con
Best for smart homeSmartUnder $400
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
- 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.
Best quiet portable air conditioner (and best overall)
- RRP: $899
- Cooling capacity: 2.9kW
- Cooling area: 23sqm
- Dimensions: 450 x 750 x 410mm
- Noise: 47-64 dB
- Warranty: 2 years
De’Longhi’s newest Pinguino model 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 (a market-leading 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
- RRP: $1,099
- Cooling capacity: 5.3kW
- Cooling area: up to approx. 35sqm (no official figure)
- Dimensions: 460 x 860 x 496mm
- Noise: 38-48 dB
- Warranty: 3 years
Olimpia Splendid is one of the most trusted manufacturers of portable air conditioners, but their ultra-quiet technology, large cooling area and generous three-year warranty don’t come cheap. While the AIPRO 18 is certainly quieter than our top pick, it’ll set you back an extra $200. That said, for many, the extra silence and massive 5.3kW cooling capacity might just be worth it.
It’s a bit on the larger side, but at 28kg, it’s not nearly as heavy as we originally expected it to be (for reference, the heaviest model on our list comes in at 45kg).
Feature-wise, it has a dehumidifying function (1.2L/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 AIRPRO 18 does its thing.
Best budget portable air conditioner
- RRP: $299.99
- Cooling capacity: 2.05kW
- Cooling area: 12-15 sqm
- Dimensions: 370 × 350 × 690mm
- Noise: 57 dB
- Warranty: 1 year
One of the cheapest portable air conditioners on the market, the Shinco 7,000 BTU (2050W) is surprisingly powerful for its sub-$300 price tag. And, even though it’s super cheap, at 57dB, it’s by no means the noisiest portable AC we tried. It also happens to be the lightest one on our list at just 21kg, which is less than half the weight of the heaviest.
Like most of our picks, it has three modes: Air conditioner, fan and dehumidifier. However, with a dehumidifying capacity of just 0.7L per hour, we wouldn’t recommend buying it for that feature alone. It also includes a window kit (admittedly a pretty standard inclusion with portable air cons), remote and timer function.
Need a bit of extra power? You can upgrade to the 2.65kW model for an extra $50 or the 3.5kW model for an extra $100, still coming in safely at the lower end of the portable air con pricing spectrum.
Runner-up budget portable air conditioner
- RRP: $349
- Cooling capacity: 2.9kW
- Cooling area: 15 sqm
- Dimensions: 360 x 625 x 310mm
- Noise: 63 dB
- Warranty: 1 year
The Vostok 2.9kW is quite a bit more powerful than our top budget pick, but it comes with a pretty big downside – at 63dB, it’s the second noisiest on our list. However, if you’re looking for a little bit of extra cooling power, the extra noise might put it above the Shinco for some.
At a measly 22kg and standing at under 63cm tall, it packs a decent amount of power into a compact and 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 the same 0.7/L dehumidifying capacity of the Shinco model above, 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 (and best reverse-cycle)
- RRP: $599
- Cooling capacity: 5.2kW
- Cooling area: 35 sqm
- Dimensions: 370 x 815 x 595mm
- Noise: 65 dB
- Warranty: 1 year
To control the temperature in a large space without breaking the bank, it’s hard to beat the feature-packed Kogan SmarterHome 5.2kW. Not only can it comfortably cool an area up to 35 square metres, but it also functions as a heater, so you can keep it out all year ‘round. Plus, there is the usual fan and dehumidifier (1.4L per hour) functions standard across most portable ACs.
Perhaps our favourite feature of the Kogan SmarterHome 5.2kW, however, is the smart home features for which it’s named. Through the free companion app (or even through Google Assistant or Alexa), you can control everything from mode and power level to temperature and timer. Not big on the whole high-tech home thing? Don’t worry – a regular remote is included too.
So, what’s the catch? Unfortunately, there are two big downsides to Kogan’s offering. At 65dB, it’s the loudest portable air conditioner we found and the second heaviest on our list at 44kg.
Runner up for large areas
- RRP: $1,395
- Cooling capacity: 6kW
- Cooling area: 42 sqm
- Dimensions: 363 x 775 x 565mm
- Noise: 52-54 dB
- Warranty: 2 years
If you’re looking for the absolute largest capacity portable air con you can get, your best bet is the Polocool PC Series 6.0kW. Although it is a whopping $1,395, you pay the price for the extra power capable of potentially the largest area in your home. Considering it can cool large areas from 20 up to 42 metres squared, you might consider this machine if you want to keep all areas of an apartment cool or have a large living room or bedroom.
At 45kg, it’s the heaviest portable air conditioner from our market selection, which is 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.
In other aspects, the Polocool PC Series 6.0kW disappoints. It’s definitely not a smart home device, although for its hefty price you’d almost expect that.
Best smart portable air conditioner
- RRP: $399
- Cooling capacity: 3.5kW
- Cooling area: 30 sqm
- Dimensions: 420 x 360 x 740mm
- Noise: 65 dB
- Warranty: 1 year
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, like its big 5.2kW brother above, it isn’t the quietest machine in the world at 65dB.
Runner-up smart portable air conditioner
- RRP: $159
- Works with: iOS, Android, Google Assistant, Alexa
- Warranty: 1 year
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, $3.99 per month or $39.99 annually isn’t too bad.
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, Dick Smith and other third-party online appliance stores from where you can source a portable air conditioner.
How much electricity does a portable air conditioner use?
The amount of electricity a portable air conditioner uses depends on its cooling capacity (measured in BTU or kW power), 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.
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.