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Portable air conditioner reviews

CHOICE tests nine portable air conditioners for performance, energy efficiency and ease of use.
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01.Introduction

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We review nine portable air conditioners priced between $599 and $1499, with cooling and heating capacities of 3kW to 5kW.

  • Five of the models are cooling only, while four also provide heating.
  • We’ve also included four models from the last test that have been discontinued, as you may still be able to find them in outlet stores.

On this page:

Use this report to find out:

  • the best performers in our test
  • which models are most energy-efficient, and
  • which ones are easy to use.

If you’re desperate to cool your home this summer but can’t install a built-in air conditioner, then a portable air conditioner may be the answer. Compared with most built-in air conditioners, portable models aren't very energy efficient, but a good one can cool a room effectively. You might also want to consider a ceiling fan.

At present, portable air conditioners aren’t included in energy efficiency rating schemes, so you won’t find any with the star rating labels seen on other appliances, such as split-system air conditioners, fridges and washing machines. We’ve introduced an energy efficiency score for this review, based on the power used versus the temperature drop achieved in our test. This score is only comparative between the tested models; it can’t be compared against our scores for split systems.

Brands and models tested

While not very energy efficient, a good portable air conditioner can provide effective cooling. We looked for models with cooling and heating capacities of 3kW to 5kW.

Models tested

  • Convair CP12CS1
  • DeLonghi WE-18INV
  • Dimplex DC15
  • Dimplex DIMC15RC
  • Dimplex DIMC12RC
  • Dimplex DC10RC
  • Midea MPPD12HRN1
  • Midea MPM5-12CRN1-QB4
  • Omega Altise OAPC16

The following models have been discontinued since our last test but may still be available in some outlets and have been included at the bottom of the latest table:

  • Convair CP15W
  • Omega Altise APC12CVA
  • Prima PA002K-17C
  • Sharp CV-P13LJ

Previously tested models (includes reverse-cycle models):

  • Convair Climate Master CP12HS
  • DeLonghi PACW160HP
  • DeLonghi PACWE120HP
  • DeLonghi Pinguino PACN120HP
  • Dimplex GDC12RCWA
  • Dimplex GDC12RWA
  • Hotpoint MAC155
  • Kelvinator KPK35CRB
  • Kelvinator KPK45CRB
  • Midea MPM5-12HRN1-QB
  • Nationwide Electrical NE14C
  • Omega Altise APC12AC
  • Omega Altise APC12RC
  • Omega Altise APC14RCVA
  • Omega Altise APC15
  • Omega Altise OAPC15RC

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How we test

Cooling performance Our test is performed by an accredited laboratory. The air conditioners are tested in a 4.5m x 4m room with a 2.4m insulated ceiling. This is surrounded by a room or “shell”, which is kept at a constant temperature and humidity. When both rooms are at a stable 27ºC and 70% relative humidity, the air conditioners are turned on full for an hour. The test is repeated at 32ºC and 70% relative humidity.

The testers rate the air conditioners’ cooling effectiveness by their ability to reduce the temperature and lower the humidity in the test room. They also assess how evenly the models cool the test room.

Energy efficiency In this test we’ve introduced an energy efficiency score, based on the power used versus the temperature drop achieved in our test. While several models score well in this respect, this score is only comparative between the tested models; it can’t be compared against our scores for split systems, which are generally much more efficient. There’s not yet an accepted Australian standard method for measuring the energy efficiency of this type of portable air conditioner – which is why they don’t have energy star labels – and we can’t test them in the same way we do split systems.

Ease of use Testers look at stability, portability, installing the window kit, removing and refitting the air filter, water drainage, controls (including remote controls) and instruction manuals.


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