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Quietest portable air conditioners

These are the units that bring the (least) noise, but they come with a catch.

quiet portable airconditioners
Last updated: 02 November 2021

Need to know

  • Portable units are cheaper and convenient, but they're also noisier, less effective and less efficient than permanent split-systems
  • We test models for noise on their highest setting – results do vary dramatically 
  • Noise levels will differ depending on the room you use the unit in

Clank, whoosh, beep, shudder! Portable air conditioning units can be quite loud and distracting to run, especially if they're on full blast while you're working from home, watching TV or on the phone. 

They aren't hugely efficient energy-wise, but the reality is they're a good cooling option if:

  • you can't install air conditioning because you rent or you're in a strata complex that requires approval
  • you need an immediate cooling fix and can't wait for installation 
  • you don't have the budget for a fixed option. 

But if the thought of a whooshing unit that keeps you up at night gives you nightmares and you're looking for the best model that's also the quietest, we can help. 

Here's how we test for noise, plus we reveal the models that were the standout performers in our latest tests. 

How do we test portable air cons for noise?

Our experts test how noisy the portable air conditioners are when their fans are turned up to high. We don't factor noise into their CHOICE Expert Ratings, but we do publish the results so you can consider them when making your decision on what to buy.

The current models we've tested range from 57dBa (quieter) up to 70dBa (noisy) on high speed. For comparison, a typical conversation reaches about 60dB, a very noisy dishwasher might sit at around 50dB, and a running shower might clock in at about 70dB.

The current models we've tested range from 57dBa (quieter) up to 70dBa (noisy) on high speed

Keep in mind that an air con's noise can vary notably depending on the room it's in. Carpets and soft furnishings will absorb some noise; hard floors and tiles can amplify it. 

And even with a quieter unit, you'll definitely still hear it running, and that's normal. Portable units are noisier indoors than most split-systems, as the latter have the noisiest component – the compressor – located outside.

Quietest portable air cons – the good and bad news

Let's start with the positives. In their comprehensive lab tests, our experts found some units rated in the 'quieter' category. The catch? They didn't score that well for actual cooling performance (i.e. their main job), and none were recommended – a unit must score at least 70% for our experts to recommend that you buy it.

Still, if noise is a key factor for your choice (you might have a sleeping baby or do lots of video conferences, for instance), here are the four quieter models to look out for. 

polo pq10c

The Polocool PQ10C

Polocool PQ10C 

  • Noise description: Quieter (57dBa)
  • Cooling score: 55%
  • Price: $699

This 2.7kW unit was notably the quietest one we reviewed in our laboratory tests. Unfortunately, it also seriously under-delivers on actually cooling, managing a lowly mark of just 55%. So you'll hear it less, but probably be sweating more. 

This model does have low running costs, but rated just OK in our energy efficiency test, so it's a real mixed bag. 

Read our full review of the Polocool PQ10C

goldair gcpac07

The Goldair GCPAC07

Goldair GCPAC07

  • Noise description: Quieter (59dBa)
  • Cooling score: 48%
  • Price: $399

Weighing in at just 19kg, this model is similarly light-on in the cooling department. Our experts rated its cooling performance as 'Borderline', and its energy efficiency as just 'OK'.

On the upside, it does fall at the cheaper end of the market, but that's cold comfort when it doesn't drop the temperature a great deal.

Read the full Goldair GCPAC07 review.

goldair gcpac200

The Goldair GCPAC200

Goldair GCPAC200

  • Noise description: Quieter (59 dBa)
  • Cooling score: 48%
  • Price: $399

Another Goldair model that fails to hit the mark when it comes to keeping you cool, this model scored an equally tepid 48% for cooling and 62% for energy efficiency.

Like its sibling the GCPAC07, it's nice and light and has low running costs, but also barely manages to reduce the room temperature.

Read the full Goldair GCPAC200 review.

yokohama yokp7000

The Yokohama YOKP7000

Yokohama YOKP7000

  • Noise description: Quieter (59dBa)
  • Cooling score: 48%
  • Price: $339

Another portable air conditioner from the lower end of the market, this unit lacks several features of the other quiet operators, such as castors and a sleep timer. It's also a lightweight, clocking in at just 21kg, which is just as well given its lack of wheels.

Its lower running costs don't really make up for its poor performance – and in fact, it's probably only cheaper to run because it doesn't do much in the way of cooling. It may be quiet but it certainly isn't cool.

Read the full Yokohama YOKP7000 review

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