Best portable air conditioners – tried and tested heatwave solutions

Cool down fast with the best portable air conditioners – we've reviewed models from Meaco, AEG, Russell Hobbs, and more to find you the best in-stock options

The best portable air conditioners as tested by the Ideal Home team on a blue background
(Image credit: Future)

Summers are getting warmer, and that means more of us are searching for the best portable air conditioners to help us cope with soaring temperatures. 

In an ideal world, all of our homes would be better insulated and able to remain cool in the summer without the additional energy use or expense of an air conditioner. However, for many of us this isn't the reality, and if you struggle to keep your home at a bearable temperature during the summer months, then a portable air con unit could help.

Unlike one of the best fans, which work by circulating the air to create a breeze and cool a person, a portable air conditioner is a far more powerful affair that uses refrigerant and a compressor to actively lower the temperature in a room or even a whole living space. However, as demand for portable units soars, so have their prices. And that means that if you're considering investing, it's a purchase you'll want to get right. 

As such, the Ideal Home team has put multiple units from leading brand names such as Meaco, AEG, Duux, and Russell Hobbs through their paces to find the cream of the cooling crop. We've assessed cooling performance, noise levels, ease of use, and value for money to help you find the best choice for you, as well as including plenty of buying advice at the bottom of this guide.

amy lockwood
Amy Lockwood

I'm Amy one of the Ideal Home team's Consumer Experts. I put all manner of products through their paces to find the top recommendations for our readers, whether that's finding the best mattress for a better sleep, or the best fans for staying cool. Along with the wider team I've tested the best portable air conditioners on the market to find our top recommendations for this guide.

In-stock portable air conditioners

Higher-than-usual temperatures mean that this year portable air conditioners started selling out fast. If our top recommendations below aren't in stock when you come to shop, then here are the best places to look for an in-stock option.

Amazon: a wide selections of brands and models
Airconcentre: all things air quality and cooling
Appliances Direct: options from 7000 to 23000BTU
Argos:
a range of options from affordable to investment
B&Q: a good selection of in-stock options
Currys: a wide range of brand names
Robert Dyas: affordable portable air conditioners

The quick list

Short on time? This quick list is an overview of the very best portable air conditioners available, according to our experts. You'll find more information on each air con unit and why our testers recommend it if you keep on scrolling.

Best portable air conditioners

Why you can trust Ideal Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Best portable air conditioner overall

The white MeacoCool MC Series 7000BTU Portable Air Conditioner with black air vents on the frontproduct badge

(Image credit: Meaco)
Best portable air conditioner overall

Specifications

Cooling capacity: 7000BTU
Recommended room size: 12-22m²
Noise levels: 51-53dB
Dimensions: H70 x W35 x D35cm
Weight: 20.5kgs
Power consumption: 780W
Functions: air conditioner, fan, dehumidifier
Other features: timer, 'night' mode, remote control
Window kit included: 1 x standard window kit and 1 x flexible window kit

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Low energy consumption = lower running costs
+
Relatively compact and lightweight
+
Easy to use
+
3-in-1 air con, fan, and dehumidifier
+
Remote control, timer and 'night' settings
+
Two different window kits included
+
Wide range BTU options in series

Reasons to avoid

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Not as powerful as some (but higher BTU options are available in the MC Series range)
-
Build a little flimsy
-
Fairly noisy

Relatively affordable, lightweight and compact, energy efficient and easy to use, there's a lot to love about the MeacoCool MS Series portable air conditioners. Which is why we think they're the best portable air conditioner to invest in if you're looking for an affordable all-rounder. 

We tested the smallest 7000 BTU model, (BTU stands for British Thermal Units and denotes how many units of heat the air con unit can suck from the air in an hour), which Meaco recommends for use in rooms between 12-22m². That's a good size for most homes, but there are also 8000, 9000, 10000, 12000, and 14000 BTU options availble for larger room sizes and open plan spaces.

The 7000BTU air conditioner's 20.5kg weight, whilst not insignificant, makes it far lighter the 30kg average, and means this unit is much easier to move around the home than most. Plus, its 780W power consumption is one of the lowest of all the air con units we've tested, meaning it offers lower running costs too.

The unit performed solidly during our testing, reducing the temperature in the room by 2°C in 10 minutes. Like most air con units it isn't silent, there's 51-53dB of noise depending on if you opt for the low or high cooling setting, but it's a downside our testers were happy to accept in return for its temperature-reducing powers. 

It also comes with a remote control and two window kits included, a timer function, 'night' mode for (slightly) quieter night-time operation, plus 3-in-1 air con, fan and dehumidifier functionality. 

All in all, the MeacoCool MC Series 7000BTU Portable Air Conditioner is a good all-rounder at an affordable price point.

Read Ideal Home's full MeacoCool MC Series 7000BTU Portable Air Conditioner review for more detail.

Most powerful

AEG Comfort 6000 Portable Air Conditionerproduct badge

(Image credit: AEG)
Most powerful portable air conditioner

Specifications

Cooling capacity: 9000BTU
Recommended room size: 13-18m²
Noise levels: 64dB
Dimensions: H70.5 x W47 x D38cm
Weight: 31.5kg
Power consumption: 3400W
Functions: air conditioner, fan, dehumidifier
Other features: timer, 'night' mode, WiFi connectivity
Window kit included: no

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful cooling performance
+
Very easy to use
+
Less noisy than most
+
Good build quality
+
Timer, 'night' mode, WiFi connectivity
+
3-in-1 air con, fan, and dehumidifier

Reasons to avoid

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A mid-range investment
-
High energy usage
-
Heavy
-
No remote control (but can control remotely via App)
-
Window kit not included

A powerful portable air conditioner that looks good, is easy to use, is relatively quiet in comparison to most, has WiFi connectivity, and – most importantly – can cool down a room fast, as long as you don't mind its slightly higher running costs.

AEG states the Comfort 6000 Portable Air Conditioner can cool a 13-18m² space, which is a somewhat small estimation considering its 9000BTU cooling capacity, but that does mean it sucks the heat from a room in no time at all, thoroughly impressing our tester with the volume of cold air that gushed from the appliance the minute it was switched on. If you have a larger space to cool then the brand also offers a 12000BTU model that can cool spaces of 24-36m².

In terms of cooling powers this is one of the most powerful portable air con units we've tested, but, that power does comes at a price, with the AEG Comfort 6000 using 3400W of energy compared to the MeacoCool MC Series 7000BTU units 780W. It means running costs for the AEG are higher – as is the initial outlay compared to the Meaco – but, our reviewer did find they didn't need this unit running for as long to cool down a space. 

Whilst it's definitely not silent, our tester was also particularly impressed by the Comfort 6000's noise levels. Despite AEG stating a 64dB maximum, in practice that noise was nothing like the tractor engine rattle of most portable air con units and instead just the 'white noise' of gushing cold air. This background noise is far easier to ignore than the operating noise of most mobile air con units, meaning our reviewer could even sleep with it on in the bedroom.

Beyond that, this air con unit is bulky and heavy. It weighs in at 31.5kg, one of the heaviest units we've tested, so carrying it upstairs is a definite two (strong) person job. But, it looks good. And its curved front, minimal design, and gloss finish all make it far more unobtrusive in a room than you might expect. The build quality is also solid and robust.

Sadly it doesn't come with a window kit included, or a remote control – but WiFIi connectivity means you can control it from your phone instead, a really handy feature. 

Overall, if you're looking to invest in a powerful air conditioner that can bring an icy to chill to a room in under 20 minutes, or your willing to pay a little more for white noise over the thundering din of most air con units, the AEG Comfort 6000 Portable Air Conditioner is a great buy.

Read Ideal Home's full AEG Comfort 6000 Portable Air Conditioner review for more detail.

Multifunctional 4-in-1 design

Russell Hobbs Portable Air Conditionerproduct badge

(Image credit: Russell Hobbs)
Multifunctional 4-in-1 design

Specifications

Cooling capacity: 11000BTU
Recommended room size: 13-21m2
Noise levels: 65dB
Dimensions: H71.5 x W44 x D35.5cm
Weight: 31kgs
Power consumption: 1230W
Functions: air conditioner, fan, dehumidifier, heater
Other features: timer, 'night' mode, remote control
Window kit included: 1 x window sealing kit

Reasons to buy

+
4-in-1 air con, fan, dehumidifier, and heater
+
Easy to use
+
Unobtrusive design
+
Mid-range price point
+
Mid-range power with mid-range energy consumption
+
Remote control, timer and 'night' settings
+
Window kit included

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Noisy (but still quieter than alternatives we've tested)

If you're spending this much on an appliance – and one that's going to take up a good deal of storage space in the home – then you might want it to do more than just cool. 

The Russell Hobbs RHPAC11001 can do just that, offering 4-in-1 use thanks to air con, fan, dehumidifier, and heater functionality. Depending on your needs that could mean it offers better value for money, as it will be useful all year round, keeping your space cool in the summer as well as warm in the winter.

It's the brand's highest BTU portable air con unit offering 11000 BTU. That means it can suck 11000 British Thermal Units of heat from the air per hour and discharge it outside, and is capable of cooling a space measuring 13-21m2. Plus, unlike the 9000 BTU AEG Comfort 6000 Portable Air Conditioner that uses 3400W of energy, the Russell Hobbs model is powered by just 1230W, making for lower running costs. 

In our tests, similar to the MeacoCool MC Series 7000BTU Portable Air Conditioner and AEG Comfort, it managed to cool a 4.5m2 room by 2°C in 10 minutes, and despite the manufacturer stating its noise level is 65dB, our reviewer found it much quieter than the Meaco model, comparing it to the AEG Comfort on this front. 

It has some downsides, but only in keeping with most portable air con units, in that it's heavy which makes it not quite as portable in reality as its name may suggest. However, the  build quality is good, it has easy-to-use controls, and its design is unobtrusive – although we think the AEG Comfort just pips it to the post in the style stakes by offering a sleeker design.

Overall, we couldn't fault this unit's performance. It was only pipped to the post by the MeacoCool MC Series 7000BTU Portable Air Conditioner because of its more affordable price tag and lighter build, and by the AEG Comfort because of its more powerful cooling action, but if you can't find those options in stock, then this unit is a good investment.

Read Ideal Home's full Russell Hobbs RHPAC11001 Portable Air Conditioner review for more detail.

Most affordable

Pro Breeze 9000BTU Portable Air Conditioner

(Image credit: Pro Breeze)

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

Most affordable portable air conditioner

Specifications

Cooling capacity: 9000BTU
Recommended room size: not given
Noise levels: 54-65dB
Dimensions: H70 x W29.5 x D32.5cm
Weight: 24kgs
Power consumption: 780W
Functions: air conditioner, fan, dehumidifier
Other features: timer, 'night' mode, remote control, WiFi connectivity
Window kit included: 1 x window sealing kit

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Low energy consumption = lower running costs
+
Relatively compact and lightweight
+
3-in-1 air con, fan, and dehumidifier
+
Remote control, timer, 'night' settings, and WiFi connectivity
+
Window kit included

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as powerful as some
-
Noisy

There's no denying portable air con units are expensive, so if affordability is key then this Pro Breeze 9000 BTU 4-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner is certainly a winner on price. 

We haven't tested it yet, but we have put plenty of Pro Breeze products through their paces, and they usually do a decent job at an entry-level price point. Third party reviews mention this model being basic – and noisy – but still doing the job of lowering the temperature to a more bearable level.

It weighs in at 24kg which means its relatively lightweight compared to most of the portable air conditioners in our round-up, which average 30kg plus. It's only beaten by the 20.5kg MeacoCool MC Series 7000BTU Portable Air Conditioner. Similar to the Meaco unit, it also has low energy consumption, running on just 780W. Although that does mean it likely lacks some power compared to the AEG Comfort 6000 Portable Air Conditioner and Russell Hobbs RHPAC11001 Portable Air Conditioner. 

You also get a lot of extras with the Pro Breeze 9000 BTU 4-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner considering its price tag, including a remote control, timer, 'night' settings, and WiFi connectivity. Although some reviewers mention its Smart features leave a little to be desired.

And whilst it won't win any prizes in the style stakes, its current price is very enticing, making it the most affordable portable air conditioner from a recognised brand name that we've come across. 

Most stylish

The grey Duux North Smart Air Conditioner 9K BTU

(Image credit: Duux)
Most stylish portable air conditioner

Specifications

Cooling capacity: 9000BTU
Recommended room size: 27m²
Noise levels: 40–50dB
Dimensions: H88.5 x W44 x D36cm
Weight: 27kg
Power consumption: 100-1000W
Functions: air conditioner, fan, dehumidifier
Other features: timer, 'night' mode, remote control, WiFi connectivity
Window kit included: 1 x window sealing kit

Reasons to buy

+
More stylish than most
+
Easy enough to use
+
3-in-1 air con, heater, and dehumidifier
+
Remote control, timer, 'night' mode, and WiFi connectivity
+
Window kit included

Reasons to avoid

-
An investment
-
Noisy
-
Heavy

A stylish mobile air conditioner that offers 3-in-1 functionality, WiFi connectivity, and comes with remote control and window kit included, the Duux North 9K Smart Air Conditioner promises a lot. And so it should with a price tag that's double the most affordable air conditioners in our round-up. 

There's no doubt it looks the part, making a very welcome change from the usual portable air conditioners that tend to be white, boxy, and pretty visually pretty unappealing. Instead, the Duux North 9K Smart Air Conditioner's curved grey front looks sleek and modern, and although it's still fairly sizeable, its curved edges help it to feel a lot visually slimmer, meaning it feels less bulky and more unobtrusive in a room.

It also offers some good functionality, including air con, heater, and dehumidify functions that enable year-round use, plus a timer, 'night' mode, remote control, and WiFi connectivity.

On testing it just didn't quite live up to our expectations for its high-ticket price tag. It felt a little underpowered compared to the AEG Comfort 6000 Portable Air Conditioner, and, although its 1000W energy consumption is a lot less than the 3400W AEG comfort – making for cheaper running costs – it couldn't beat the best-in-class 780W MeacoCool MC Series 7000W Portable Air Conditioner on that front either.

After being massively impressed by the brand's virtually silent Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan, we had high hopes this unit was going to be just as whisper-quiet, but sadly that also wasn't to be, with the North Smart proving just as loud as your average portable air con. 

Personally, we'd sacrifice some chill (and save a lot of cash) and opt for the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan over the North Smart every time. Especially if you're looking for ways to keep a bedroom cool as the fan's silent operation won't disturb your sleep. Whilst the fan won't actively lower the room temperature like the North Smart can, all those who've tested the Duux Whisper Fan now swear by it's oh-so-silent 'natural-feeling' breeze, reaching for it as a go-to sleep aid whenever the mercury soars.

Read Ideal Home's full Duux North 9K Smart Air Conditioner review for more detail.

An Amazon bestseller

The white Black+Decker BXAC40008GB Portable Air Conditioner with circular black grill

(Image credit: Black+Decker)

6. Black + Decker BXAC40008GB Portable Air Conditioner

An Amazon bestseller

Specifications

Cooling capacity: 12000BTU
Recommended room size: up to 51m2
Noise levels: from 53dB on low setting
Dimensions: H85 x W35 x D35cm
Weight: 27kgs
Power consumption: 3400W
Functions: air conditioner, fan, dehumidifier
Other features: timer, remote control
Window kit included: 1 x standard window kit

Reasons to buy

+
An Amazon bestseller
+
3-in-1 air con, fan, and dehumidifier
+
Remote control, timer and 'night' settings
+
Wide range of other BTU options available

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Noisy
-
High energy usage
-
Reviewers mention hose is fiddly to attach
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Instruction manual appears to be lacking

We haven't yet reviewed this model, but have included it in this round-up because it's consistently a bestseller on Amazon where it's earnt itself over 640 reviews with an average rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars.

Black + Decker's portable air conditioner range features a range of BTU options, from its smallest and lowest-powered 5000 BTU model to 16000 BTU option. However, it's the 12000 BTU that remains the brand's bestseller, with its capability of cooling a large space of up to 51m2. 

Like most portable air con units of this power, it isn't light, weighing in at 27kgs, and its most common negative gripe from users is – as with most air con units – its noise. On its lowest, night-time setting the manufacturer advises it produces 53dB of noise. Interestingly, figures aren't given for decibel levels on the highest fan speeds, suggesting they climb quite a lot higher as you scroll upwards through its two additional speed settings. 

In common with other air conditioners at this price point, the Black+Decker BXAC40008GB Portable 3-in-1 Air Conditioner offers 3-in-1 functionality, allowing you to opt for air conditioning mode, or the fan or dehumidifier settings. There's also a timer function, plus a remote control and window kit supplied with the unit.

The real plus point right now – when in-stock air con units are in short supply – is the  Black + Decker's availability, with options in stock at a range of retailers.

How to choose

The best portable air conditioners don't come cheap, so this is an investment purchase where it pays to have a little know-how under your belt before you shop.

As such, we've rounded up the key features to look out for when sourcing the best portable air conditioner for your home.

BTU (British Thermal Units)

The first thing you'll want to consider when choosing the best portable air conditioner for your home is BTU. 

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and describes how many units of heat an air conditioning unit can suck out of the air per hour to cool down an indoor space.

Portable air conditioners tend to start from 5000 BTU and can go up to a substantial 23000 BTU. The higher the BTU the larger the space that the air con unit will be able to cool and the quicker it will do so.

However, a higher BTU also means a higher price tag, and likely higher running costs, so it's a balancing act of investing as much as you can for better performance against how much you're willing to pay upfront for a unit.

Room size

As mentioned, BTU is also linked to the size of space that an air conditioner can keep cool. Most manufacturers will give a recommended room size in the air con unit's specifications, generally somewhere from 8m2 to 100m2+, so make sure to check that the unit you buy is powerful enough to cope with your indoor space. 

It's generally recommended to close doors and windows in the room that you're trying to keep cool, so if you only want to keep a small bedroom cool then you can opt for a cheaper lower BTU unit, however an open plan space will require a much more powerful appliance with a larger BTU.

Portability

You're likely opting for a portable air con unit because you would like it to be... portable! However, in reality, even the best portable air conditioners are both bulky and heavy, weighing from 20kgs for a smaller 'lightweight' air conditioner to 30kgs+ for more powerful units.

Check that your preferred unit comes with built-in wheels to help you manouevre it within the home, but bear in mind that if you want to carry a unit up and down the stairs then you're probably going to need two people to do that safely.

If you know you'll struggle with a cooling device of that weight, an air cooler could be a lighter option, although it won't deliver the same cold air that an air conditioner can. You can read up on pros and cons of the two cooling devices in our air conditioner vs. air cooler article.