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Portable air conditioner reviews

CHOICE tests 14 portable air conditioners for performance, energy efficiency and ease of use.
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01.Introduction

ONLINE_Lead_PortableAirCons

We review 14 models, priced between $309 and $1299, with cooling and heating capacities of 2.85kW to 4.4kW. Use this report to find out:

  • what to buy
  • which models are most energy-efficient
  • which are easiest to use.

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

  • Argo Dados 40 #
  • Convair CP12CS1
  • DeLonghi PACA100ECO #
  • DeLonghi PACWE18INV
  • Dimplex DC10RC
  • Dimplex DC15
  • Dimplex DIMC12RC
  • Dimplex DIMC15RC
  • Kogan Kaporaircon #
  • Levante Tango12 #
  • Midea MPPD12HRN1
  • Omega Altise OAPC1213 #
  • Omega Altise OAPC16
  • Polocool PC-44BP/C #

# Newly tested.

Previously tested models:

  • Convair Climate Master CP12HS
  • Convair CP15W
  • DeLonghi PACW160HP
  • DeLonghi PACWE120HP
  • DeLonghi Pinguino PACN120HP
  • Dimplex GDC12RCWA
  • Dimplex GDC12RWA
  • Hotpoint MAC155
  • Kelvinator KPK35CRB
  • Kelvinator KPK45CRB
  • Midea MPM5-12HRN1-QB
  • Midea MPM5-12CRN1-QB4
  • Nationwide Electrical NE14C
  • Omega Altise APC12AC
  • Omega Altise APC12RC
  • Omega Altise APC14RCVA
  • Omega Altise APC15
  • Omega Altise OAPC15RC
  • Omega Altise        APC12CVA
  • Prima PA002K-17C
  • Sharp CV-P13LJ

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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 This is 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. However, a draft standard has recently been released; once it's accepted, energy efficiency ratings will probably follow.

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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