Best portable air conditioner: get cooler air at home with these top picks

The best portable air conditioner units for cooling the home this summer, from Black+Decker, electriQ, AEG and more

Included in this guide:

Best Portable Air Conditioner: Black + Decker 12K 3 in 1 Air Conditioning Unit
(Image credit: Argos)

Air conditioners have become more and more popular in recent years because of their ability to not just circulate the air (like fans) around the room, but also expel cooler, more refreshing air. Many models can also heat and humidify, so it's easy to see why people are incorporate them into their homes.

As we start dealing with the summer months, we have looked at some of the best portable air conditioners, which offer even more convenience with wheels and handle that make it simple to move them from room to room.

We've done our due diligence to research and rate some of the top portable air con options so you don't have to. The key factors to look our for are ease of use, how it promises to improve the air quality in your home, maintenance and affordability. Some do have a price tag on the heavier side but, for those who struggle to get their homes at a comfortable temperature year-round they are worth it (honest!).

Scroll down to see our top picks or, if you prefer something a little cheaper, take a look at our guide to the best fans.

The best portable air conditioners in 2021

BLACK + DECKER BXAC40007GB Portable Air Dehumidifier & Cooling Fan

(Image credit: Black + Decker)

1. Black+Decker BXAC40008GB Portable 3-in-1 Air Conditioner

Best portable air conditioner overall

Room size: up to 30m2
Cooling power: 12000 BTU
Reasons to buy
+Powerful+Sleek-looking unit+Easy to install
Reasons to avoid
-May be too noisy for some

Towards the more expensive end of the air con models we've featured, this one gets our vote for use in larger rooms. And it's rather stylish, too. It's a premium choice which can be used throughout the year due to its total of three modes - air conditioning, dehumidifying and cooling.

Focusing on air conditioning, this mode has a super-powerful 12,000 BTU air circulation rate. It's enough to cool down you room, flat, apartment, garage or office up to 30 square metres.

The unit also boasts an LED digital display with a 24 hour on/off timer and Energy saving sleep mode which can all be operated from the handy remote control. If you select a low speed, the noise level will drop to a relatively quiet 35dB so you can drift off to sleep will little, or no, disturbance.

RUSSELLHOB RHPAC3001 3 in 1 Portable Air Conditioner

(Image credit: Russell Hobbs)

2. RUSSELLHOB RHPAC3001 3 in 1 Portable Air Conditioner

Best multifunctional portable air conditioner

Room size: 14m2
Cooling power: 7000BTU
Reasons to buy
+Also works as dehumidifier+Window kit and hose included+Oscillating fan function
Reasons to avoid
-Quite noisy at 64dB

If you're looking for a portable air conditioner that goes above and beyond, then the Russell Hobbs RHPAC3001 3-in-1 is a great choice. An air conditioner, air cooler and dehumidifier in one, it's basically a complete climate control tool for your home.

A remote control allows you to switch between two speed settings, while the machine works away removing unwanted moisture from the room and turning warm air into cool, fresh air with its 0.3L capacity water tank. There's also a oscillating fan function, which means greater coverage.

If you want to go the extra mile, then the Russell Hobbs air conditioner comes with a window kit and flexible 1.5m hose to install. That kind of defeats the purpose of the 'portable' element but, for those who want something slightly more efficient, it's nice to know you'll have the tools at hand.

AEG ChillFlex Pro AXP26U338CW Portable Air Conditioner

(Image credit: AEG)

3. AEG ChillFlex Pro 12k Cool Portable Air Conditioner

Best premium portable air conditioner

Room size: up to 30m2
Cooling power: 12000 BTU
Reasons to buy
+Side handles and wheels for easy movement
Reasons to avoid
-Won't cool larger rooms-Pricey!

One of the more expensive examples in our ranking, the AEG ChillFlex Pro is one for those who want a heavy-duty machine that will seriously cool the air with efficiency.

Like others listed here, the machine is completely portable and doesn't need to be installed, with convenient carry handles and wheels that mean you can move it around the home with you, or store it away in the colder months without the hassle of lugging it around.

The conditioner runs on sustainable gas to boost its eco-friendly credentials, and its energy consumption rating is A. The only drawback here is the slightly conservative room size its capable of cooling which, for the price, might limit its usefulness for those with larger homes.

electriQ EcoSilent 8000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

(Image credit: electriQ)

4. electriQ EcoSilent 8000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

Best portable air conditioner for the bedroom

Room size: up to 20m2
Cooling power: 8000 BTU
Reasons to buy
+Slim fit+Mega quiet+Energy efficient
Reasons to avoid

This option from electriQ, which is also a fan and dehumidifier (check out our guide to the best dehumidifiers for more like this), gets our vote for the best portable air conditioner for use in the bedroom. Yep, this 3-in-1 unit is compact and portable, and won't take up too much space as it cools room sizes of up to 20 SQM.

Ready to use straight out the box, you can choose from five settings to give you the best balance between noise levels and powerful airflow. It's even equipped with Sleep Mode which will turn off any annoying lights an automatically reduce the fan speed to its quietest setting.

And speaking of modes, there's also a Smart Cooling Mode which is an intelligent one-touch option where the fan automatically adjusts the amount of cooling required based on the temperature settings.

All this tech spec doesn't cost the earth, either. It has an A energy rating which means that it will cost less than 12 pence per hour to run.

Challenge 6 Litre Portable Air Cooler

(Image credit: Challenge)

5. Challenge 6 Litre Portable Air Cooler

Best portable air conditioner on a budget

Reasons to buy
+Easy to set up+Easy to move around+Appealing price tag
Reasons to avoid
-May be too noisy for some-Use of ice (instead of water) required to further cool room

A top choice for smaller rooms, this small air conditioner gets our vote for the best portable air conditioner for those on a budget. Available to buy for around the £100 mark, it has all the features and functions to keep you feeling cool.

Equipped with three speed settings and an oscillation function, you'll be able to keep your room at a constant temperature albeit as a a cooler, purifier, or a humidifier. And if you're struggling to sleep through stuffy nights, reviewers have claimed that it is quiet when it's switched on so it has helped to keep them feeling cool.

Others do say, however, that if you want your room even cooler then use ice cubes instead of water so cold air is blown out.

How to choose the best portable air conditioner

best portable air conditioner: Black and Decker Air Conditioner BXAC40008GB

(Image credit: Black and Decker)

How to set up your portable air conditioner

They're all pretty straight forward to set up and are often ready to use straight out of the packaging. However, for maximum cooling performance your air conditioner must be vented.

Air conditioners extract warm air from your room which must be removed through the provided hose pipe. The hose can be vented through a window, door, ceiling or wall.

What is the best portable air conditioner?

The best portable air conditioner (in our opinion) is the Black+Decker BXAC40008GB Portable 3-in-1 Air Conditioner, which boasts 12000 BTU cooling power, an energy efficiency rating of A, and a nice design that - while it won't quite blend in - makes it much less of an eyesore than many other conditioners.

It's also multifunctional, with three modes including air conditioning, dehumidifying and cooling. That makes it much better value, and allows it to be used all year round.

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Caroline Preece
Caroline Preece

Caroline has been part of the Real Homes ecommerce team in the UK since the start of 2021, after working for the last decade as a journalist across publications in technology, entertainment and more. In her spare time she's usually obsessing about space-saving and DIY hacks for small spaces, and how to affordably make a rental feel like a home.