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Keep Cool With The Best Portable Air Conditioners

Buying Guides
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Heat can drive anyone to distraction, whether it’s by keeping us awake at night or turning our workplaces into a sauna. The best way to make hot, stuffy rooms more bearable is by investing in a PAC, or portable air conditioner. These self-contained units don’t require any installation, and they cost significantly less than the house-wide systems you’ll find in countries with warmer climates.

The majority of portable air conditioners have a built-in timer, letting you cool a room when you arrive home for work without letting it run wastefully all day. The majority are on wheels, letting you easily move them between spaces. But one thing that all PACs most certainly isn’t is cheap - be prepared to spend in the hundreds.

To help you make the wisest investment possible, we’ve put together our pick of the six best PACs out there  – followed by a buying guide that will help you pick the right one for you.


The Best Portable Air Conditioners

Igenix IG9901WiFi

Best Smart PAC

Buying Guides

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Measuring just 32cm wide by 68cm tall, this PAC from Igenix is ideal for smaller spaces. It’s an upgrade on the IG9901, which itself was a remarkably good device – the Wi-Fi version has the same design, touch control panel and remote control, but it is also operable via Igenix’s smartphone app and Alexa voice commands. You’ll be able to set the temperature, adjust modes or set the timer without so much as tapping a single button. And if you’re not too fussed about the hands-free side of things, the IG9901 is £35 cheaper (opens in new tab).

Of course, that diminutive size and 9,000BTU cooling capabilities means that the Igenix IG9901WiFi won’t make much of an impact on rooms with a larger area than around 20m². And, although it’s self-evaporating and comes with a 1.5m exhaust hose, it doesn’t have a window fixing kit. But all the same, we’re still calling this the best smart PAC out there.

BTU rating: 9,000

Suitable room size: <20m²

Energy rating: A

Dimensions: 320 x 680 x 348mm

Noise: 65dB

Hose length: 1.5m

Window kit included? No


Amcor SF8000E

Best PAC For Small Rooms

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If the IG9901WiFi is pint-sized, then the Amcor SF8000E is practically miniscule: a mere 34.5cm by 37.8cm. Its cooling power of 7,000BTU is still impressive for a PAC of this size. It will do an excellent job of cooling rooms up 18m2 in floor size. At 21kg, it’s also particularly light, and can be easily moved across space on its casters, although you’re somewhat restricted by the 1.5 length of the hose.

You can use it either through the top-mounted controls or the remote, and if you want to set it ahead of time, there’s also a 24-hour stop/start timer. The SF8000E’s only real shortcoming is the 33-48dB sound output, which has been commented upon in various online user reviews – light sleepers might find this a little distracting overnight.

BTU rating: 7,000

Suitable room size: < 18m²

Energy rating: A

Dimensions: 345 x 870 x 378mm

Noise: 38-65dB

Hose length: 1.5m

Window kit included? Yes

Buy from Appliances Direct (opens in new tab) | £279.99


AEG ChillFlex Pro AXP26U338CW

Best Premium PAC

Buying Guides

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Between the streamlined design, superior build quality and energy efficiency, the ChillFlex Pro is one of the very best PACs out there. Like the Amcor SF8000E, it has a 9,000 BTU rating so will also handle rooms of up to 18m2 in floor size – but what sets it apart is the fact it uses R290 as a refrigerant, which makes it a more eco-friendly choice (see our buying guide below). It can also function as a fan, heater and dehumidifier, so will serve you in good stead in those months when you tend to shiver rather than sweat at night.

The ChillFlex Pro is incredibly simple to use, whether that’s through the top-mounted controls or the included remote. Our only bugbear is the absence of a window fixing kit. Otherwise, this is a premium PAC.

BTU rating: 9,000

Suitable room size: <20m²

Energy rating: A

Dimensions: 476 x 710 x 385mm

Noise: 64dB

Hose length: 1.5m

Window kit included? No

Buy now from AO.com (opens in new tab) | £499


DeLonghi Pinguino PAC AN98 ECO

Best PAC For Medium-Sized Rooms

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DeLonghi had to make a trade-off when they followed up the superb PAX AN97 ECO with its successor. The manufacturer boosted the AN98’s green credentials by switching to R290 refrigerants, but in doing so, the cooling capacity fell from 10,800BTU to 10,700BTU. That’s hardly a huge compromise – and the PAC AN98 ECO is still more than capable of cooling rooms of 20m2. DeLonghi’s PACs work with the brand’s Real Feel technology, which does a swift job of bringing the temperature and humidity of a room down quickly, and then maintaining both at a comfortable level. A ‘comfort light indicator’ on the touch control panel will track that progression – and if your space isn’t in need of full air conditioning, this can also be used as a fan or dehumidifier.

We would have preferred the 1.2m hose to be longer, and for a window fitting kit to be included. But otherwise, this is a fine air conditioner for mid-size rooms.

BTU rating: 10,700

Suitable room size: <21m²

Energy rating: A

Dimensions: 750 x 350 x 310mm

Noise: 64dB

Hose length: 1.2m

Window kit included? No


AEG PX71-265WT

Best Stylish PAC

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Portable air conditioners are never going to be things of beauty, but if there’s one out there that gets close, it’s the AEG PX71-265WT. In contrast to the typical clunky, industrial look, this one features a tapered, cylindrical design that makes it look not unlike a high-end kitchen bin. 

There’s plenty of substance to go along with the PX71-265WT’s style: it has a cooling capability of 9,000BTU, and does this particularly effectively through a spiral airflow design. We particularly like little touches like the dimmable display and magnetic remote that you can fix onto the unit, as well as (rejoice!) a 1.8m hose and bundled window kit. The A+ energy is impressive; factor in the smartphone app compatibility, and you have one of the best designed portable air conditioners on the market.

BTU rating: 9,000

Suitable room size: <20m²

Energy rating: A+

Dimensions: 95.5 x 38.8 x 38.8cm

Noise: 64dB

Hose length: 1.8m

Window kit included? Yes

Buy now from AO (opens in new tab) | £789


DeLonghi Pinguino PAC EX100 Silent

Best Quiet PAC

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First things first: that ‘Silent’ in this product’s name is a little cheeky. This PAC from DeLonghi is hardly soundless, but its in-use 53dB noise levels are lower than rival air conditioners of its size and power. Better still, it holds the gold title of being A++ energy efficient, and delivers 10,000BTU of cooling power, which will do a speedy job of bringing down the temperature in a medium-sized room.

There’s a glowing indicator that tells you whether the room is uncomfortable (orange), acceptable (green) or perfect (blue), while the front-loaded controls let you cycle through modes and settings with no hassle. It’s a larger, heavier unit than the rest on this list, and it's the priciest too – but you are most definitely getting what you pay for. 

BTU rating: 10,000

Energy rating: A++

Suitable room size: <23m²

Dimensions: 80.5mm x 44.5mm x 39cm

Noise: 53dB

Hose length: 1.2m

Window kit included? No


How To Pick The Best Portable Air Conditioner

How much should I spend?

Most PACs will set you back anywhere between £300 and £1,000. You’ll find cheaper evaporative air coolers out there that cost less, but they aren’t nearly as effective as genuine air conditioners.

You need to consider the space, or spaces, that you plan to cool when figuring out how much to spend. Portable air conditioners are rated in British thermal units. One BTU is equal to the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Put simply, the higher the BTU rating, the larger the space an air conditioner can cool.

Variables like window size and floor-to-ceiling height means that there isn’t a hard-and-fast relationship between room size and BTU rating - we suggest you use this online calculator (opens in new tab) to determine which BTU rating is best for the space you wish to cool. Manufacturers also give a rough estimate of the intended room size with each PAC. 

Where should I put my portable air conditioner?

Where you position the PAC is highly important. All units vent hot air, and that air needs to either go through a window or permanent vent that (most likely) will need to be specially installed. Most PACs include some kind of window fixing it that will set up the window to vent hot air from the air conditioner’s hose to the outside world.

PACs don’t just expel hot air, but moisture too: a side-effect of the cooling air. Some air conditioner units will evaporate this internally and send it out through the hose or back of the machine. In other models, it’s stored in an internal reservoir that you will need to empty by hand.

Are portable air conditioners noisy?

No portable air conditioner is totally silent, but manufacturers are acutely aware that nobody wants noise instead of heat to keep them awake at night. That’s why all PACs incorporate a compressor and one or more fans to keep the noise to a minimum.

Bear in mind that the quiet hum of an air conditioner constitutes white noise – the type of monotonous, unchanging sound that tends to lull people to sleep. In fact, a search on YouTube for calming white noises to induce sleep actually includes, alongside rain and crashing waves, air conditioning units.

Will I be racking up costs in the long term?

As a general rule, the higher the BTU rating, the more work the air conditioner has to do, and the more energy it will have to consume. That being said, not all units are equally effective in consuming energy. When browsing, look out for the PAC’s energy efficiency class, which ranks from A++ (very good) down to G (not so good at all).

Do PACs ruin the environment?

It’s true that, like most large electrical appliances, portable air conditioners do have an environmental impact. But that’s something you can mitigate by picking out a model with a highly efficient A++ rating. Also, some manufacturers help reduce the environmental impact of their products by using refrigerant gases like R290. These don’t create greenhouse gases during the product’s lifecycle and do far less harm to the environment.