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Last updated: 12th June, 2024


Portable Air Conditioner: UK In-Depth Guide and Best Models

Portable Air Conditioner: UK In-Depth Guide and Best Models

Key takeaways

  • Portable air conditioners offer flexible cooling solutions without permanent installation.
  • Factors like cooling capacity and energy efficiency are crucial in selecting the right unit.
  • Models with added features like dehumidifiers and heaters provide year-round utility.

Portable air conditioners are movable units designed to cool specific areas. They are especially useful in spaces where traditional air conditioners are impractical or unavailable.

Portable air conditioning units are a popular choice for those looking to cool their homes without the need for permanent installation.

These versatile machines provide a flexible solution, especially during the hot summer months. Choosing the right portable air conditioner can make a significant difference in comfort and energy efficiency.

There are many options available, from budget-friendly models to high-performance units with advanced features.

Finding the best one involves considering factors like cooling capacity, energy efficiency, noise levels, and ease of use. Portable air conditioners such as the series and the AEG ChillFlex Pro are highly recommended for their performance and reliability.

For UK residents, considerations like room size and climate play an essential role in selecting a suitable unit. Portable air conditioners can be a practical solution for both small flats and larger homes.

With models that include additional functionalities like dehumidifiers and heaters, these units provide excellent value and flexibility throughout the year.

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What is a Portable Air Conditioner?

Portable air conditioners are movable units designed to cool specific areas. They are especially useful in spaces where traditional air conditioners are impractical or unavailable.

Key Concepts and Terminology

Portable Air Conditioner: A mobile device that cools rooms by expelling warm air and moisture.

BTU (British Thermal Units): Measures cooling capacity. Higher BTUs indicate better cooling performance.

Noise Levels: Portable air conditioners may produce noise owing to the compressor and fans. Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB).

Energy Efficiency: Units have energy ratings, such as A+ (cooling) and A (heating), to show efficiency.

Refrigerants: Substances like R290 are used in portable air conditioners to transfer heat.

Understanding these terms helps in choosing the right portable air conditioner for specific needs.

How Do Portable Air Conditioners Work?

Portable air conditioners use a refrigeration cycle to cool air. They draw warm air from a room, cool it using a refrigerant, and then blow it back into the room.

Compressor: The heart of the unit, it compresses and circulates the refrigerant.

Exhaust Hose: Vents hot air outside. It typically requires a window kit for installation.

Moisture Removal: Some units also dehumidify by removing moisture from the air.

Energy Efficiency: Modern units are designed to use less electricity, often featuring energy-saving modes.

Noise: Noise from these units comes from the compressor and fans. Many models include settings to reduce noise during operation.

These principles explain the operation and efficiency of portable air conditioners, which provide a convenient cooling solution.

How to Choose a Portable Air Conditioner

When selecting a portable air conditioner, key factors include the BTU rating, energy efficiency, and portability. These elements ensure the unit suits room size, has manageable running costs, and can be easily moved.

Factors to Consider

When picking a portable air conditioner (PAC), think about what you need most. Portability is essential if you plan to move it between rooms. Check the dimensions and weight to ensure easy handling. Noise levels matter, too; quieter units might be better for bedrooms or offices. Look at the features such as remote controls, timers, and modes like dehumidifier or heater.

BTU Rating and Room Size Compatibility

The BTU rating tells you how powerful a PAC is. Higher BTUs mean stronger cooling. Match the BTU rating to your room size for best results. Small rooms (up to 18 m²) typically need around 8000 BTUs. Medium rooms (18-28 m²) require 9000-12000 BTUs. Large rooms (28-42 m²) need 13000-15000 BTUs. Using a unit with too low a BTU rating for a large room will be inefficient, while one too high for a small room wastes energy.

Energy Efficiency and Cost Implications

Energy efficiency affects running costs and environmental impact. Look for units with a high energy efficiency rating (often labelled as A or better). Features like eco modes and timers help save energy.

Running costs can add up, so consider the total cost of ownership, including electricity usage. Higher efficiency means lower bills, making it worthwhile to invest in a good unit.

Portable Air Conditioner Features

Portable air conditioners offer a variety of features to boost their convenience and efficiency. These aspects include cooling capabilities, design considerations, and technological advancements.

Cooling and Additional Functions

Cooling power is crucial in a portable air conditioner. It is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs) and determines how effectively the unit can cool a room. Common models range from 8000 to 14000 BTUs. The higher the BTU, the larger the area it can cool.

Many units also function as dehumidifiers or air coolers, extracting moisture to improve comfort. This is especially beneficial in humid climates or summer.

Fans in these units offer adjustable speeds and settings, including a sleep mode for quieter operation.

Some models have integrated heaters for year-round use. For instance, the Russell Hobbs RHPAC11001 acts as a 4-in-1 with air conditioning, fan, dehumidifying, and heating functions. The added versatility makes it a cost-effective option for different weather conditions.

Design and Usability

Design and usability play significant roles in choosing a portable air conditioner. Size and portability are key considerations.

Compact dimensions and caster wheels facilitate easy movement between rooms, such as the MeacoCool MC series which is noted for its sleek design and mobility.

Noise level is another important factor. Quieter units are preferred for bedrooms and living spaces. Noise levels can vary, with some models featuring a noise reduction mode for quieter performance, like the Pro Breeze 9000 BTU unit.

User-friendly controls enhance usability. Most units include remote controls, making it simple to adjust settings from a distance. Features like timers allow for scheduling, improving energy efficiency by turning the unit on or off automatically based on user preference.

Style is also important, with some models offering contemporary designs that blend seamlessly with modern home decor. Aesthetic considerations can often influence buyer decisions.

Smart Features and Connective Technology

Modern portable air conditioners often come with smart features and connectivity options. Wi-Fi-enabled units can be controlled via smartphone apps, allowing users to adjust settings remotely.

This is convenient for returning to a cooled home on hot summer days. Models like the Princess Smart Air Conditioner 12000 BTU exemplify this functionality.

Voice control compatibility with systems like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant offers hands-free operation. This feature adds a layer of convenience and accessibility, especially for tech-savvy users.

Temperature sensors and adaptive settings further enhance performance. These features adjust cooling output based on room conditions, optimizing comfort and energy use.

In summary, smart technology and connectivity transform traditional portable air conditioners into flexible, user-friendly devices that can be easily integrated into a modern smart home ecosystem.

Best Portable Air Conditioner Models in the UK

Choosing the right portable air conditioner can be daunting with so many options available. Here are some of the best models for various needs and budgets in the UK:

Premium Selections

AEG ChillFlex Pro AXP26U339CW

  • Known for its performance and sleek design.

  • Ideal for larger rooms and spaces.

  • Typically priced around £580.

  • Available at John Lewis.

  • Features include energy efficiency and a quiet operation.

MeacoCool MC Series 14000

  • Excellent choice for powerful cooling.

  • Suitable for larger spaces.

  • Priced slightly higher due to its capacity.

  • Available at Currys and Amazon.

  • Offers features like a timer and remote control.

EcoFlow Wave 2

  • High-end option, known for portability and power.

  • Useful for outdoor and off-grid situations.

  • Higher price point compared to traditional models.

  • Features long-lasting battery and efficient cooling.

Budget-Friendly Options

Honeywell 9000 BTU 3-in-1

  • Great value for money.

  • Combines air conditioning, dehumidifying, and fan functions.

  • Priced around £300, making it accessible.

  • Compact design, fitting well in smaller spaces.

Pro Breeze 9000 BTU 4-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner

  • Affordable with multiple functionalities: air con, fan, dehumidifier, heater.

  • Priced around £350.

  • Available on Amazon and B&Q.

  • Efficient for small to medium-sized rooms.

Russell Hobbs RHPAC11001

  • Budget-friendly and versatile.

  • Provides 4-in-1 use: cooling, heating, dehumidifying, and fan.

  • Priced competitively, ensuring affordability.

  • Worth considering for cost-conscious buyers.

Best for Specific Needs

De’Longhi Pinguino

  • Perfect for quiet operation, suitable for bedrooms.

  • Mid-range price with quiet technology.

  • Available at major retailers like Currys.

  • Ensures minimal disruption during use.

Amcor SF8000E

  • Best for small spaces or rooms.

  • Compact design, yet effective cooling.

  • Priced affordably around £250.

  • Ideal for flats and small offices.

AEG Comfort 6000

  • Most powerful, ideal for large spaces.

  • Designed for high cooling demands.

  • Higher price point but justifiable for large coverage areas.

  • Suitable for commercial and residential use.

Each model listed caters to different needs and budgets, making it easier to find the perfect portable air conditioner for any situation.

Portable Air Conditioner Installation and Maintenance

Installing and maintaining a portable air conditioner (AC) involves ensuring proper setup and regular upkeep for optimal performance and longevity. Addressing key steps and tips will save time, effort, and money.

Setting Up Your Portable AC Unit

Setting up a portable air conditioner is straightforward but crucial for efficiency. First, ensure the unit is placed on a flat surface near a window and power outlet. Use a window kit to create a tight seal around the window. This prevents warm air from entering and cool air from escaping.

Attach the ventilation exhaust hose to the back of the unit and secure the other end to the window kit. Hoses usually range from 4 to 7 feet in length; avoid extending them too far to maintain efficiency. Check for leaks around the window kit and hose connections, as leaks can reduce efficiency significantly.

Plug the AC unit into a grounded outlet. Test the unit to ensure it powers on and air flows properly from the vents. Adjust the unit's settings to match the room size and desired comfort level. Regular checks of filters and drainage options help maintain efficiency.

Maintaining Your Unit for Optimal Performance

Regular maintenance is essential for portable air conditioners to function effectively. Clean or replace air filters every few weeks. Clogged filters reduce air flow and cooling performance. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for specific cleaning methods.

Inspect the exhaust hose periodically for signs of wear or damage. A damaged hose can leak air, reducing cooling efficiency. Clean the hose to prevent dust build-up, which can also impede performance.

Drain the water collected from dehumidification. Some units have self-evaporating systems, while others need manual draining. Check your unit’s manual for instructions.

Keep your AC unit clean by wiping down the exterior and vents regularly. This helps maintain airflow and prevents dust build-up. Schedule a professional maintenance check annually to ensure all components are in good working condition.

Environmental Considerations

Selecting a portable air conditioning unit involves understanding the environmental impacts, including the types of refrigerants used and the energy efficiency of the unit.

Refrigerants and Their Impact

Refrigerants are vital to how air conditioners work, but not all refrigerants are eco-friendly. Traditional refrigerants like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have a high global warming potential (GWP).

An eco-friendlier alternative is the R290 refrigerant. R290 is a propane-based refrigerant with low GWP. This makes it a better choice for reducing environmental impact. Many modern portable air conditioners use R290, including models from brands like De'Longhi.

It's essential to check the refrigerant type when purchasing a unit. Using refrigerants with a lower environmental footprint can make a big difference in future climate change.

Energy Consumption and Efficiency

Energy efficiency is crucial for both environmental and cost reasons. Portable air conditioners need electricity to run, which can lead to higher power consumption if the unit isn't efficient.

Look for models with a high energy rating. Portable air conditioners labelled with an energy rating of A or higher are more efficient, helping to lower energy costs and reduce carbon footprint.

Energy-efficient units like those from AEG and Honeywell are designed to use less power while delivering optimal cooling. They often feature advanced controls to optimise energy use.

Choosing energy-efficient models ensures you stay cool while also being mindful of the environment. Efficient energy usage means fewer resources are consumed, resulting in a positive effect on our surroundings.

When is a wall mounted air conditioning unit better?

Wall mounted air conditioning units are ideal for larger spaces, consistent cooling needs, and when aesthetics and space-saving are crucial.

Wall Mounted Air Conditioning Unit Advantages

Greater Cooling CapacityWall mounted units are designed to cool larger areas more effectively than portable units. They can consistently maintain the desired temperature in big rooms or open-plan living spaces.

Energy EfficiencyThese units often feature higher energy efficiency ratings. While the initial cost is higher than portable units, the lower running costs can make them more economical in the long run.

Aesthetic and Space ConsiderationsBeing mounted on the wall, these units do not occupy floor space, making them ideal for smaller homes or crowded rooms. They also tend to blend in with home decor better than bulky portable units.

Additional Considerations for UK Residents

Choosing a portable air conditioner for your UK home requires understanding local weather patterns and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards.

Weather Patterns and Seasonal Use

The UK climate, characterised by mild springs and warm summers, significantly influences the use of portable air conditioners. Summer heatwaves have become more common, leading to stuffy homes that benefit from efficient cooling systems. These units are particularly useful during the peak summer months when temperatures can soar.

Portable air conditioners with a British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating suitable for UK room sizes improve comfort. Typically, units with 9,000 BTUs can cool medium-sized rooms efficiently. When selecting a unit, consider its energy efficiency rating (EER) to ensure optimal performance without skyrocketing electricity bills.

Compliance with UK Regulations and Standards

Compliance with UK regulations and standards is crucial for safely using portable air conditioners. UK law mandates that all electrical equipment, including air conditioners, must meet specific safety standards. Ensure the unit has a CE mark, indicating compliance with European safety standards.

Additionally, proper installation and maintenance are essential. Always check for an accessible window venting kit, as UK homes often have different window styles compared to other regions. If using a unit in a rented property, verify with the landlord or letting agency about any restrictions on installing appliances.

By focusing on local climate and adhering to UK regulations, you can choose the best portable air conditioner for your needs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are portable air conditioners worth it?

Portable air conditioners offer ease of installation and mobility. They can be moved from room to room, providing cool air where it's needed most. While typically less efficient than central air systems, they are ideal for renters and those who need a temporary cooling solution.

Do all portable air conditioners have to be vented out a window?

Most portable air conditioners need to be vented out a window. This is crucial to release the hot air they remove from the room. Some models may come with a window kit for easier installation. Without proper ventilation, the unit cannot effectively cool the space.

How to cool down a room without AC?

To cool a room without air conditioning, close curtains or blinds during the day to block out heat. Use fans to improve air circulation. Sleeping with light, breathable fabric can also help. Additionally, opening windows in the evening allows cooler night air to enter.

What are the cons of a portable AC?

Portable air conditioners can be noisy. They often take up floor space and require proximity to a window for venting. These units can also be less energy-efficient than other cooling systems. Regular maintenance, such as emptying water collection trays, may be necessary.

Does portable AC use a lot of electricity? Does portable AC make room cold?

Portable AC units do consume a significant amount of electricity, similar to other home appliances. The energy usage can depend on the size and model. They are effective in cooling a room, but their efficiency can vary. For best results, match the unit capacity (BTUs) to the room size.

Is it OK to sleep with a portable air conditioner on?

It is generally safe to sleep with a portable air conditioner on. Ensure the unit is well-maintained to avoid any safety risks. Some models come with a sleep mode, which maintains a quieter operation and energy-saving settings throughout the night.

Do portable air conditioners actually cool?

Portable air conditioners do cool rooms effectively. Their performance is dependent on the size of the room and the unit's capacity. For optimal cooling, ensure proper ventilation and regularly maintain the unit. While not as powerful as central AC systems, they provide a noticeable relief from heat.

Stephen Day profile photo
Article by
Stephen Day | Co-founder
Gas Safe registered and FGAS certified engineer with over 20 years experience in the heating and cooling industry.