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Small air conditioner reviews

Last updated: 24 March 2016

We review small reverse-cycle split-system inverter air conditioners to help you find the best performers. This review covers models with cooling capacities up to 4kW, suitable for a single room. See our buying guide so you know what features to look for, and read about how we test air conditioners.

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We'll tell you:
  • what to buy
  • which models are best at cooling and heating
  • which models have the best range of airflow
  • which have the best member-rated reliability scores

Our interactive comparison tool helps you see at a glance good and bad points for each model, including cooling and heating efficiency, running costs over a year, noise levels, and their features and specifications. Our Recommended list will help you see quickly which models come out on top.

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Brand

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List of brands we tested in this review.

Price

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This is the manufacturer's recommended retail price or the typical price we found in retail. You can often get a better price by shopping around, or CHOICE members can use CHOICE Shopper. You tell us the brand name and model number of the product you want to buy and a price you'd like to beat, and we'll try to find it for you.

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Type
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High wall: the indoor unit is mounted high on a wall so its air flow can easily blow across the room. Floor-mounted: the indoor unit is at floor level; this might better suit some rooms. Cassette: the indoor unit is mounted in the ceiling. Floor/ceiling: can be mounted in either the ceiling or the floor.

Rated cooling capacity (kW)
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The rated cooling output of the air conditioner in kilowatts. The higher the number, the greater its cooling  capacity and (in theory) the bigger the space it can effectively cool.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 1.7 and 3.5

Rated heating capacity (kW)
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The rated heating output of the air conditioner in kilowatts. The higher the number, the greater its heating capacity and (in theory) the bigger the space it can effectively heat.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 2 and 5

Costs

Yearly running cost
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Calculated based on how much each model costs to deliver 3000kWh of full cooling and 3000kWh of heating per year when running at its measured maximum capacity, with the remainder of the year in standby mode (based on electricity costs of 25 cents/kWh). Standby costs add only a few dollars a year, but it may still be a good idea to unplug your air conditioner (if possible) when it's not in use for long periods. While we've based our calculation on a reasonably typical usage, the annual running costs are only an indicative comparison. Your mileage will vary depending on your house, local climate, electricity price and how much you use the air conditioner.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Test results

Cooling efficiency score
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Cooling and heating efficiency scores are based on the model's AEER (Annual Energy Efficiency Ratio) and ACOP (Annual Coefficient of Performance) – a measure of efficiency that factors in standby power consumption when the unit's not in use. Energy star ratings are based on the AEER.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Heating efficiency score
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Cooling and heating efficiency scores are based on the model's AEER (Annual Energy Efficiency Ratio) and ACOP (Annual Coefficient of Performance) – a measure of efficiency that factors in standby power consumption when the unit's not in use. Energy star ratings are based on the AEER.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Airflow score
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Based on the range of airflow on the lowest to highest fan speed settings. Ideally, air conditioners should have a gentle airflow on low settings and a powerful airflow on high. The wider the range of airflows, the better the score.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Features

Human presence sensor (energy saving)
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This feature detects whether anyone is in the room so that the unit knows to keep cooling (or heating) the room. Some models also direct the air movement towards the sensed person, to focus on that area of the room and not unnecessarily use energy to cool other sections.

Sleep mode
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Sleep mode adjusts the air conditioner's output temperature and fan speed (usually in steps) so the temperature becomes more comfortable for sleeping and the air conditioner runs at lower power and more quietly.

Demand Response feature (DRED)
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Demand Response Enabling Device (DRED), also known as PeakSmart. An air conditioner with this feature can be controlled remotely by participating energy companies in periods of peak electricity demand, to be turned off intermittently or run in power-saving bursts. See our buying guide for more information. For some models without this feature built-in, there might be an optional DRED component available - ask the supplier. 

Fan only mode
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This allows the air conditioner to act just as a fan, without cooling or heating; useful if you just want a breeze in the room.

Specifications

Noise indoor (dB)
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Noise levels are supplied by the manufacturer. They are broadly comparative, but do note that different manufacturers may measure these values slightly differently.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 19 and 57

Noise outdoor (dB)
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Noise levels are supplied by the manufacturer. They are broadly comparative but note that different manufacturers may measure these values slightly differently.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 42 and 70

Included in this review

Members-only access
  • Overall score
  • Recommended
  • Yearly running cost
  • Cooling efficiency score
  • Heating efficiency score
  • Airflow score
  • Brand reliability score
  • Brand loyalty score
  • Good points
  • Bad points
  • Price
  • Brand
  • Model
  • Noise indoor (dB)
  • Noise outdoor (dB)
  • Rated cooling capacity (kW)
  • Rated heating capacity (kW)
  • Stated standby power consumption (W)
  • Type
  • Number of fan speeds
  • Operating temperature range (°C)
  • Fast mode
  • Quiet mode
  • Fan only mode
  • Sleep mode
  • Sleep mode auto temperature adjustment
  • Human presence sensor (energy saving)
  • Dimensions indoor unit (cm, H x W x D)
  • Dimensions outdoor unit (cm, H x W x D)
  • Demand Response feature (DRED)
  • Indoor unit model
  • Outdoor unit model
  • Contact
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