The 12 best portable air conditioners for 2023 to cool your house in a heatwave

As hot weather makes a surprise return, might it be time to invest in a portable air conditioner? Here are the best, recommended by experts

best portable air conditioners heatwave hot summer cool down
Midea, Honeywell and DeLonghi are among this year's best portable air conditioners
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Heatwaves in the UK can catch us unawares at the best of times, but this one is forecast to bring sweaty ‘tropical nights’ where the temperature stays above 20C – very unusual for September. The best portable air conditioners can be an effective way to keep your home cool and your sanity intact. (If you need more tips on sleeping in the heat, read our guide to the best mattresses, pillows and duvets.)

While even the best fan simply moves air around, and an air cooler chills it a bit using evaporation, an air conditioner actively lowers the temperature of a room by running air through a refrigerating unit and fanning it back out, expelling the unwanted heat through a window. While they’re fairly pricey, starting at around £135 and going up to almost £800, a portable air conditioner (PAC) is more convenient than installing a built-in, wall- or ceiling-mounted air conditioner. 

The running costs of around 25 to 35p per hour will seem reasonable value for money the next time a heatwave strikes. Most have a Class A energy rating.

If you consider this a price worth paying for summertime comfort, then read on to find out which portable units we and our aircon experts recommend, followed by their answers to some frequently asked questions. If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick look at our top five:

Which is the best portable air conditioner in 2023? At a glance

How we tested the best portable air conditioners

AEG, Meaco and EcoFlow under test on hot summer days

Simon and Kulwinder tested units at home on days when the temperature exceeded 25C, while Abi spoke to air-con experts with years of experience from retailers Andrews Sykes and Aircon Centre, to ask which portable air conditioners they recommended this year. We were both looking for value for money and how quickly they cool a room (see pics above).

Some of these units are very big and heavy, so we’ve also rated them for portability. Many will be used in bedrooms at night, so we’ve rated how noisy they are in terms of decibels. Extra features like dehumidifying and filtration also increase the scores.

Best portable air conditioners


1. MeacoCool MC Series 9000

£338.95, Amazon

Best overall, 9/10

We like: Excellent value and relatively quiet in use

We don’t like: Window plates could do with being a little longer

Meaco: best combination of power and price
  • Dehumidifier and fan functions
  • Energy rating A, 30p per hour running cost
  • 9,000 BTU of cooling, down to 16C
  • For rooms up to 26m2
  • Max noise level 52-54dB
  • 70cm H x 35cm W x 35cm D, 23.5kg weight
  • 2 year warranty

Reviewed by Kulwinder Rai

Designed in Guildford and manufactured in China, Meaco’s MC9000 is intended to cool rooms of between 16 and 26 square metres. Given that the average new-build UK living room is a little over 17 square metres in volume, that makes this model a prime candidate for most homes.

As well as being an air conditioner, the compact MC9000 can also function as a fan and a dehumidifier. Operating it via the control panel (or remote) is perfectly straightforward, with just two fan speeds to pick from, a temperature selector (the sleep mode lowers fan noise and gradually raises the temperature over 10 hours) plus a 24 hour timer.

You get two window kits with the supplied 1.8m duct as standard – a fabric one designed to be attached via supplied Velcro strips, plus one that comprises a trio of hard plastic window ‘plates’. When joined together, the latter also allows you to vent the duct through a sliding door – though you’ll be left with a small gap at the top. This is still far better than the window kits offered with most air conditioners, a big point in the Meaco’s favour.

I tested the unit over a couple of humid days in my home office and bedroom, both of which measure around 26m2, the upper volume limit for the unit. Weighing in at 23.5kg it is – just – possible to get the unit up a flight of stairs single-handed, but nul points to Meaco for the shallow finger-grips.

Fired up, the immediate thing that struck me was the ‘quality’ of the noise the unit generates: it’s as close to soothing ‘white’ noise as you could reasonably hope for. At a cited max of 54dB, it’s tolerable too, though, in my bedroom, I preferred to use the unit to just cool things down a few hours before shutting it down and slipping between the sheets. Earplugs and I have always been uncomfortable bedfellows.

When it came to cooling efficiency, it managed (on the high fan setting) to bring the room temperature down from a sticky 25.5 degrees to an entirely agreeable 21 degrees within the space of three hours. Higher rated models will certainly get you cooler, quicker, but I’d warrant most users will still be happy with the MC9000’s well-judged price/performance balance.

Price at

2. electriQ Slimline 7000 BTU 

£179.97, Appliances Direct

Best value portable air conditioner, 8/10

We like: half as expensive as some similarly-powered units

We don’t like: really only suitable for bedrooms and other small spaces

electriQ: fine for rooms up to 18 square metres
  • Heating, fan and dehumidifying functions
  • Energy rating A, 26p per hour running cost
  • 7,000 BTU of cooling, down to 16C
  • For rooms up to 18m2
  • Max noise level 65dB
  • 87cm H x 35cm W x 37cm D, 21kg weight


At 7,000 BTU, the electriQ is a little less powerful than the other air conditioners on this list, but the price is much lower and it’s cheaper to run, making it a better deal pound-for-pound. This may explain why it was sold out throughout last year’s heatwave and is only now back in stock.

“We find a lot of customers get these units for bedrooms,” says Appliance Direct’s Jake Crossley. “7,000 BTUs is the output we would recommend for rooms up to 18 square metres. Any larger and you won’t get  the full benefit.”

With a footprint not much bigger than a dinner plate, the electriQ doesn’t take up a lot of space compared to some of the more powerful units and is considerably lighter. This may be the second reason for its popularity. The third would be its dehumidifier function, which not only makes sticky summer nights more comfortable but can also be used to dry out damp rooms and even speed up laundry drying. It cools rooms to 16 degrees.

Price at
Appliances Direct

3. AEG Comfort 6000

£649.99, AEG – a slightly less powerful model is available for £499.99 at  John Lewis

Best powerful air conditioner, 9/10

We like: solid German engineering and two-year warranty

We don’t like: pricey and heavy

AEG: heavy firepower
  • Cooling only
  • Energy rating A, 36p per hour running cost
  • 12,000 BTU of cooling, down to 16C
  • For rooms up to 36m2
  • Max noise level 64dB
  • 71cm H x 47cm W x 38cm D, 33kg weight
  • 2 year warranty

Reviewed by Simon Lewis

AEG have been around for 135 years, so there’s a trust factor here that you don’t always get with the less familiar brands. Simplicity, too: on delivery I just attached the pipe, stuck it through a window and turned the power on. It started doing its job immediately.

It was a stuffy 25 degrees in my bedroom when I first turned it on. When I came back half an hour later, it was 21 degrees. Another half an hour later, 19. After another half hour it seemed to settle at 18. (I had set it to the 16-degree minimum, but I may have been expecting too much given the sun streaming through the window.) Anyway, the room had gone from sweltering to comfortable in less time than a prog-rock drum solo.

At night it performed better, but did make a great deal of noise, even on the lowest of three speeds, making earplugs a must. All the noise is air flowing through it: there’s none of the rattling or other mechanical sounds you get from cheaper air cons. Some brands below are noisier without being as effective. Here the engineering is solid as a rock.

That brings me to the drawback with the Comfort 6000. It’s the size of a mini-fridge and extremely heavy. ‘Comfort’ is not the word I’d use after wrestling it up a spiral staircase. On the plus side, the exhaust pipe is a decent length and has a useful narrow tip, meaning you don’t have to open the window as far. A window kit is available to seal the gap, which would make that 16 degree minimum easier to achieve.

The user-friendly AEG was the first air conditioner I tested and a godsend on a sweltering day. In what we used to consider a typical British summer – five days of hesitant sun – the price and weight would be hard to justify. But if global warming means we’re in for regular heatwaves, this is the one I’d buy. Just don’t ask me to lug it upstairs again.

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4. De’Longhi Pinguino PAC N82

£509, Amazon or £498, AirCon Centre

Best quiet air conditioner, 9/10

We like: it’s quiet and relatively cheap to run

We don’t like: the shorter exhaust hose

DeLonghi: 'the Rolls-Royce of aircon'
  • Dehumidifier function with an antibacterial filter
  • Energy rating A, 27p per hour running cost
  • 9,400 BTU of cooling, down to 18C
  • For rooms up to 32m2
  • Max noise level 52dB
  • 75cm H x 45cm W x 40cm D, 30kg weight
  • 2 year warranty


Both Paul Wood, managing director of online retailer Andrews Sykes, and Nick Kandola, of Aircon Centre, recommend the renowned Italian brand De’Longhi. “They are good compressor manufacturers, and the compressor is the heart of the unit,” Wood says. Kandola agrees that they are overall better quality than most other models, as well as being more stylish and with a wider range of features. “It’s a brand everyone has heard of… so you’ll pay a premium, but you can see why you’re paying extra... it’s the Rolls Royce of air conditioners.” 

Further down, we recommend their EL98 model which is more powerful, at 11,000 BTU. But this smaller, cheaper N82 is slightly cheaper to run (at 27p per hour rather than 33p) and boasts many of the same features, including an LED control panel and thermostat, making it our top choice for most families. It’s also about as quiet as air conditioners get: 52dB compares to the murmur of a quiet office.

It may be more expensive than competitors but, as Kandola says, it’s worth it: “With the likes of Honeywell and De’Longhi, you will 100 per cent get excellent quality.”

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5. EcoFlow Wave 2

£1,049, Amazon

Best cordless air conditioner, 8/10

We like: it’s the only one you can take camping

We don’t like: it’s expensive, and the twin air pipes are a bit of a faff

Ecoflow: best in small spaces
  • Cooling and heating functions
  • Energy rating A, 15p per hour running cost
  • 5,100 BTU of cooling, down to 16C
  • For rooms up to 10m2
  • Max noise level 56dB
  • 34cm H x 30cm W x 52cm L, 14.5kg weight
  • 1 year guarantee

Reviewed by Simon Lewis

You’d be hard-pressed to market most air conditioners as a hipster lifestyle accessory, but that’s how America’s EcoFlow pitch the Wave 2. Boasting Lamborghini-style spoilers and slats, it’s a handsome and genuinely portable model that weighs about the same as a piece of carry-on luggage. 

The main selling-point is its rechargeable battery (sold separately for £800 or bundled for £750) which bumps the price and weight up significantly, but makes this the only air conditioner you can use in tents, trailers and anywhere off-grid. Fully charged, the Wave 2 will run for eight hours and can be topped up from a car power socket or solar panels. It also functions as a heater for winter use.

Impressive, but we’re comparing air conditioners for the home here. Can it compete with its less hip cousins when stuck in the corner of a sweltering bedroom? In its favour, it is very quiet and can cool a small room very quickly. Unfortunately, that does have to be a very small room: this is designed for spaces around one third of the size of the other air cons we reviewed. I tested the Wave 2 on the same hot day, in the same room as the AEG unit above and while both worked, the big German machine was much more effective. 

One drawback with the Wave 2 was the twin air pipes: one to suck fresh air in and one to blast hot air out. That’s a lot of hose to fit out of your window, requiring you to open it further. That will let some warm air back in unless you use the window vent board, which is not guaranteed to fit all windows. The pipes are a tiny bit shorter than standard, too – so you may need to sit the Wave 2 on a chair or desk to bring it closer to the window.

So, while the compact dimensions and modern features (it can charge your phone) of the Wave 2 make it a more attractive than the other heavy white boxes, if you’re only using it at home you may be advised to save £500 and go for something less outdoorsy.

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6. Midea 9000 BTU

£298.95, Aircon Centre

Best mid-sized portable air conditioner, 8/10

We like: decent balance of price and power

We don’t like: it’s not designed for large rooms

Midea: new company with reputation for quality
  • HEPA filter
  • Energy rating A, 30p per hour running cost
  • 9,000 BTU of cooling, down to 17C
  • For rooms up to 26m2
  • Max noise level 63dB
  • 70cm H x 36cm W x 35cm D, 28kg weight
  • 3 year warranty


“Midea will be the market leader within three years. They’ve got all the best technology and all the bells and whistles but because people don’t know the brand yet, the price is a bit lower than what you would expect,” Nick Kandola says.

This compact 9000 BTU unit can cool a room up to 26 square metres and has a self-evaporating dehumidifier function (it expels water vapour through the exhaust pipe). It offers more features than other models at this price point, such as a 24 hour timer and an LCD display.  “It’s renowned for its build quality and backed up by a 3-year manufacturers warranty,” says Kandola.

One thing to note is that the 1.2m exhaust pipe is 30cm shorter than most other models.

Price at
Aircon Centre

7. Honeywell 9000 BTU 3-in-1

£299, Aircon Centre

Best air conditioner and dehumidifier, 9/10

We like: it’s fairly nice looking, as air conditioners go

We don’t like: it’s quite noisy

Honeywell: water collected is automatically evaporated
  • Dust filter
  • Energy rating A, 30p per hour running cost
  • 9,000 BTU of cooling
  • For rooms up to 30m2
  • Max noise level 65dB
  • 72cm H x 44cm W x 36cm D, 28kg weight


Honeywell is another of Kandola’s recommended brands. “This 9,000 BTU 3-in-1 model offers a cooling solution all year round. The AC provides powerful cooling during the summer, whilst the dehumidifier function can be used during damp seasons to keep mould at bay,” he says. “It has a 24-hour programmable timer and a remote control for easy armchair operation.” 

It comes with a window kit consisting of brackets and foam seal and a pipe and tray for the dehumidifer purpose. It compares well with dedicated dehumidifer-only units, removing 70l of water per day. It’s worth noting this is the noisiest portable air conditioner on this list.

Price at
Aircon Centre

8. De’Longhi Pinguino PAC EL110

£719.95, Aircon Centre or £759.99, eBay

Best smart air conditioner, 9/10

We like: the superior performance

We don’t like: the equally superior price tag

De'Longhi EL110: more powerful than our number one pick
  • Dehumidifying function and antibacterial filter
  • Energy rating A, 33p per hour running cost
  • 11,000 BTU of cooling
  • For rooms up to 32m2
  • Max noise level 63dB
  • 75cm H x 45cm W x 41cm D, 37kg weight
  • Two year warranty


With an 11,000 BTU rating, the Pinguino PAC EL110 can comfortably cool a room of 32 square metres. It also has an A energy efficiency rating and runs on R290, an eco-friendly gas. This is typical of De’Longhi models, according to Kandola. “They’re more energy-efficient and the gases are more environmentally-friendly.”

It is about as stylish-looking as an air conditioner could be, and also boasts a range of extra features including “Real Feel” technology that automatically adjusts the temperature and humidity of a room, and WiFi connectivity to link with voice-enabled smart speakers (like Amazon Alexa). This model isn’t cheap, but it’s designed to be environmentally friendly and built to last.

Price at
Aircon Centre

9. AirFlex 14000 BTU

£399, Appliances Direct

Best air conditioner for large rooms, 8/10

We like: very long exhaust hose makes it more versatile

We don’t like: it’s expensive to run

AirFlex: waterproof and suited to the outdoors
  • Heating, fan and dehumidifying functions
  • Energy rating A, 45p per hour running cost
  • 14,000 BTU of cooling, down to 16C
  • For rooms up to 38m2
  • 77cm H x 32cm W x 58cm D, 32kg weight

This versatile Airflex model with a BTU rating of 14,000 has powerful cooling capabilities for rooms up to 38 square metres down to 16 degrees, making it a better choice for big living rooms, offices or workshops, where the long exhaust pipe - twice as long as any other here - gives you more options for placement. 

It’s also the only air conditioner on this list to be IPX4 weather-resistant, meaning it can be used outside as a fan or heater if required. It has all-year-round heating, cooling and fan modes, and a dehumidifier that can extract 33.6 litres of water from the air per day. It is noisy, though.

Price at
Appliances Direct

10. electriQ 12000 BTU

£299.98, Appliances Direct 

Best selling air conditioner, 7/10

We like: it’s cheap considering the power

We don’t like: it costs far more to run than the others

electriQ: one of the most powerful portable air conditioners money can buy
  • Dehumidifier function and fan only mode
  • Energy rating A, £1.05 per hour running cost
  • 12,000 BTU of cooling power, down to 17C
  • For rooms up to 30m2
  • 80cm H x 38cm W x 36cm D, 28kg weight

Included here because it’s the best-selling portable air conditioner at Appliances Direct, rather than having been recommended by our experts, this electriQ model draws 3.5kW compared to the more usual 1kw. That makes it three times more costly to run, but it does pack a lot of power and has a longer exhaust hose than average (1.8m compared to 1.5m), making it a tad more practical. 12,000 BTU is enough to cool a 30 square-meter room, roughly equivalent to most living rooms.

The quieter electriQ EcoSilent 12000, which runs at 56dB and is a tiny bit more energy-efficient, can be controlled via Alexa or Google Assistant and has an optional HEPA filter for air purifying – but is £100 more expensive.

Price at
Appliances Direct

11. Black + Decker 7000 BTU

£449.99, Boots

Most popular air conditioner, 7/10

We like: the active carbon filter to remove bad smells

We don’t like: it’s top-heavy, so difficult to move around on its wheels

BLACK+DECKER: useful 49dB night-time setting
  • Dehumidifier function
  • Energy rating A, 30p per hour to run
  • 7,000 BTU of cooling, down to 18C
  • For rooms up to 14m2
  • Noise level 65dB
  • 77cm H x 32cm W x 40cm D, 26kg weight

Not mentioned by our experts but the top-seller on Amazon, Black + Decker’s air conditioner comes in five models from 5,000 to 12,000 BTU, all reasonably priced. This relatively light 9,000 BTU unit is designed for rooms up to 14m2. It has a special 49dB quiet mode for use in bedrooms, although at 65dB the maximum setting is seriously noisy.

One attractive feature is the charcoal filter, used to remove bad odours and bacteria (it features in a lot of vacuum cleaners for pet hair.)

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12. LOGIK LAC10C22

£259, Currys

Best air conditioner with sealing cloth

We like: the cloth is a simple solution to sealing the window gap, improving efficiency

We don’t like: it’s too noisy to sleep with

Curry's: an energy efficient option
  • Dehumidifier function
  • Energy rating A+, 35p per hour to run
  • 10,000 BTU of cooling, down to 17C
  • For rooms up to 20m²
  • Noise level 62dB
  • 77cm H x 47cm W x 40cm D, 32kg weight

Curry’s own-brand LOGIK portable air conditioner comes with a cloth for sealing windows which blocks out any hot air from outside, keeping the room cooler with less energy. It’s a small thing that makes quite a difference.

Other handy features about this Curry’s air conditioner include a remote control, a 1.8m power cord meaning the unit can sit in the middle of a medium-sized room and overheat protection for peace of mind. The downsides are that it’s heavy at 32kg, although that’s not unique among portable air conditioners, and it’s quite noisy at 62dB. Luckily, there is a timer setting, so you can have it on just before you go to sleep and set it to turn off after an hour to stop it from keeping you awake.

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Portable air conditioner FAQs


Where can I buy a portable air conditioner?

Since they are a relatively large and specialised piece of equipment, air conditioners aren’t sold everywhere. Appliances Direct and Amazon each have a selection but the UK’s top supplier is Aircon Centre. For our recommendations above we consulted Aircon Centre’s co-owner Nick Kandola, who is an expert in the leading models and brands.

Do portable air conditioners cool well?

£500 will generally buy you a decent unit rated to at least 9,000 BTU (see below), which will be anough to cool the average bedroom by ten degrees - so, from a steamy 26C to a spring-like 16C. Most won’t cool below 16C. Remember to close doors and windows and close curtains to keep sunlight out.

“Many new ACs offer room heating and dehumidifier options, giving an all-year-round solution to room temperature control,” Nick Kandola says. “The latest models are also WiFi enabled.”

Are wall-mounted or standalone air conditioners better?

If you will only be using your air conditioner occasionally, or if you want to be able to move it from room to room, a portable air conditioner is the wiser choice. However there are good reasons for choosing wall-mounted air conditioners.

They tend to be more powerful, drawing over 2.5kW whereas most portable units draw 1kW. This means they can cool more air, more quickly. They are also quieter, since the motor is generally situated on the exterior wall. And, because they are professionally installed, there are no gaps for warm air to sneak back in (as there are when you trail a portable unit’s exhaust hose through a window).

However, professional installation costs between £1,750 and £3,000 according to Checkatrade. And, although they don’t take up any floorspace, wall-mounted air conditioners are a permanent fixture and aren’t pretty. This is why we recommend portable air conditioners, which can be stored in the garage for use during heatwaves.

What is a BTU rating? 

Portable air conditioners are rated in British Thermal Units (BTU). A higher BTU number means a larger space can be cooled, although this also makes the device bigger, pricier and in some cases less eco-friendly. It is essential to check the size of the room you’ll be cooling before buying; if you purchase a unit with too low a BTU rating for the room size, it won’t be able to cool it efficiently. 

Kandola says the most popular options for portable air conditioners are 9,000 and 12,000 BTU, which would cool a room of around 21 and 30 square metres respectively. Remember that the exhaust pipe will need to be run outside through a window and the gap sealed if possible. Window kits are sold for this purpose - see below.

Do portable air conditioners use a lot of electricity?

“Depending on the size of the portable air conditioner (AC) unit, they typically use between 0.75kW up to 1.5kW per hour,” Nick Kandola says. [Costing between 20p and 45p per hour at current energy prices.] Overall, modern AC units provide an energy efficient way to cool your home,” he says. Look for an energy efficiency rating above D (which is equivalent to the old A rating).

How to vent a portable air conditioner

You will need a window close enough for the exhaust hose to reach (nearly all hoses are 1.5m long), that can be opened wide enough for the hose to pass through. Good air conditioners will come with a window pack to fill the gap in the opened window. Sometimes the pack is extra. “The vent expels hot air and moisture outside, while the AC unit blows cooled air in,” explains Kandola. If you’re unable to run a vent outside via a window or door, a portable air conditioner isn’t right for you. 

How much do you need to spend?

There is one obvious downside: cost. While a high-end fan costs less than £100, a decent PAC unit costs upwards of £500. “Anything under £300 isn’t worth buying, unless it’s for a small bedroom – and most people wouldn’t buy an air conditioner for that size of room, they’d just buy a fan,” Kandola says. 

What air conditioner features I should look out for?

Hose length. Make sure the exhaust hose is long enough to reach the window you will be expelling the hot air through. Most are 1.5m long. Power cables are usually the same length, so bear that in mind too.

Noise levels. All air conditioners in operation make a fan-like noise, but they vary by as much as ten decibels, which could make all the difference when you’re trying to sleep. 

Air quality. Some air conditioners have filters to remove allergens and mould from the air. HEPA is the highest filtration standard here. Many also double as dehumidifiers and some have a heating function, making them useful in winter as well as summer. 

Energy saving features. Timer switches, eco modes and sleep modes feature on most models. ‘Smart’ air conditioners will link to a smartphone app or voice assistant, enabling even more control over the room temperature.

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