While heatwaves in the UK used to be a rarity and short-lived when they did occur, recent years have seen more and more unpleasant, sticky days during the summer months. Add to that the fact that many of us have moved to hybrid or full-time home working and those ubiquitous air conditioning systems in hotels, office blocks and your average US household start to look pretty appealing.
But you don’t have to gut your property or pay over the odds to get a bit of relief. Portable air conditioners are a great middle ground, and this one from Russell Hobbs doubles as a dehumidifier to fight the summer elements even harder. We tested the machine to see whether it could live up to the promise but, if you want to shop around, take a look at our guide to the best portable air conditioners.
Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reasons to buy
- More compact and better design than others
- Window sealing kit included
- Handles and castors make it easier to move around
Reasons to avoid
- Temperature only goes down to 18-degrees
- Won’t effectively cool down spaces above 16m2
- Small moisture tank will need to be changed regularly if not using pipe
Russell Hobbs 2-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier
Russell Hobbs 2-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier: Specs & Features
Recommended room size: 10-16m2
Tank capacity: 1L
Extraction rate: 1.5L/hr
Dimensions: 31 x 42 x 84cm
Knowing that, in the UK, it would be during the summer months that the Russell Hobbs RHPAC4002 would get used the most in the average household, we tested it in the thick of a heatwave with all of the humidity and scorching sunshine that brings. This was done in a small studio space with access to a balcony door on which we fitted a window shield.
Setting up the air conditioner is relatively easy, with only the extraction and water drain pipes needing to be fitted. Alternatively, when using the machine as a dehumidifier, you can opt to periodically empty the water tank manually. Once the air conditioner is placed in the desired location close to an open window for hot air to escape (without coming back in!), you’re ready to go.
The machine has three speed settings as well as an oscillation feature and night mode, which are all clearly labelled on the remote control supplied. You can also set the timer, which goes up to 24-hours. The front LED display is one of the very best features here, allowing you to see at a glance what is going on.
The only caveat for those who need their space to be super chilly is that the air conditioner is only able to get the temperature down to 18-degrees celsius. That’s absolutely fine for most people (we had ours set to 21-degrees), but it will depend on your intention for use whether it’s a black mark against it.
The good news is that once operating, we found that the machine made very quick work of a sticky, humid day during the summer. Some might say that the dehumidifier function is of even greater value in countries like the UK as the air conditioner but, working in tandem, they definitely make a huge difference to the quality of your at-home air. For more, head on over to our best dehumidifier ranking.
Russell Hobbs 2-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier: Design
Outside of cost, the biggest reason that most people in the UK haven’t invested in a portable air conditioner is the size and heft of most units. Weighing in at 29kg, the Russell Hobbs 2-in-1 isn’t lightweight by any means, but it is more compact and attractive than many of its competitors. We particularly like the LED screen on the front and the fact that the top opening automatically shuts when the air conditioner is not in use.
Positioning the air conditioner correctly is the biggest task you’ll face, as you will need to be able to target the extraction pipe towards an open window (or as was the case here, an open balcony door). This is incredibly fiddly and near impossible in a smaller or more cluttered space. As the images in this guide show, the best thing to do is place the machine directly below the window, leaving enough space to secure the pipe with the window kit provided.
All of this said any trouble we had with finding an ideal placement for the Russell Hobbs RHPAC4002 was not the fault of this air conditioner in particular, but rather one we’ve found with all machines of its kind. The same goes for the noise level, which hits up to 65dB.
Russell Hobbs 2-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier: Our Verdict
Portable air conditioners, though in theory more convenient than the built-in variety, still pose a lot of challenges for the average household. The Russell Hobbs 2-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner doesn’t exactly bypass the issues of space, heaviness and logistics, but it’s one of the best we’ve tested from a trusted brand. It shouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb with a smooth, compact design, and it certainly works wonders during a heatwave.