Mumsnet Logo
My feed

Mumsnet is supported by readers. All our writers obsessively research every product we recommend. When you buy through a link on our site we might earn commission but this never influences our product choices.

Best air conditioner 2023: portable units to keep you cool this summer

Dreading the next heatwave or struggling to keep your house cool during summer? Beat the heat with our pick of the best portable air conditioners to buy in the UK.

By Lucy Cotterill | Last updated Jun 2, 2023

Selection of the best air conditioners

We updated this guide on 2 June to ensure everything was in stock, up to date, and still the very best of the best.

Living in the UK, you may think that investing in the best air conditioner wouldn’t be necessary, but on stifling hot days and nights, a portable AC system can be an invaluable addition to your home. With summer temperatures continuing to rise, heatwaves becoming more common and more and more people working from home, you’ll want to ensure you’re equipped to keep you and your family cool and comfortable throughout the summer months.

Of course, you’re never going to need an air conditioning unit in the middle of winter in the UK, which is why most air conditioners sold here are portable units or double up as heaters. But with so many to choose from and important factors like running costs, noise levels, price and size to consider, it can be tricky to pick the right one. 

To bring you our list of the best portable air conditioning units you can buy right now, we scoured the Mumsnet forums for tried-and-tested recommendations. Every guide we have to help you beat the heat - covering everything from the best cooling boxes to powerful handheld fans - starts with research on our forums, as we know the value of a real-life recommendation. We then researched bestseller lists, explored air conditioning brands and scrutinised authentic customer reviews to ensure that only the very best make the cut.

Best air conditioner at a glance

  • Best overall: AEG ChillFlex Pro 9000 Air Conditioner, £580
  • Best budget: Wessex Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier, £290
  • Best for easy assembly and set up: MeacoCool MC 12000R Portable Air Conditioner, £440
  • Best for portability: Inventor Chilly 9000BTU Portable 3-1 Air Conditioner, £320
  • Best for a bedroom: De'Longhi Pinguino PAC EM90 ECO Portable Air Conditioner, £655
  • Best for large spaces: LEXENT Sprint Heat Pump Portable Air Conditioner, £610
  • Best for smart features: Igenix IG9909WIFI Smart Air Conditioner & Dehumidifier, £344
  • Best for small rooms: Amcor SF8000E Portable Air Conditioner, £220

Here are the best portable air conditioners to buy to cool your home in 2023.

1. Best overall air conditioner: AEG ChillFlex Pro 9000 Air Conditioner

AEG ChillFlex Pro 9000 Air Conditioner

Price on writing: £580 | Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs

BTU rating: 9000 BTU |  Functions: Air conditioner, fan or dehumidifier | Energy rating: A |  Noise level: 64dB | Speed settings: 4 | Hose length: 1.2m | Dimensions: 70 x 47 x 38cm | Weight: 36.5kg |  Power: 3000W

What we like

  • Good energy efficiency
  • Relatively quiet operation
  • Uses modern eco-friendly R290 refrigerant gas 
  • Operated via the AEG app on a smartphone or compatible device
  • Two-year guarantee 

What we don’t like

  • Fairly heavy compared to other models 
  • It's recommended that you clean the filter every two weeks

What Mumsnet users say

“The two AEG ChillFlex ones at John Lewis are Which? Best Buys. I am considering one for downstairs next year when they come back in stock as my room is bigger.” (Suggested by User639921)

“We have a 1930s house and the bay windows are 3m wide so the solar gain is horrendous this time of year. When the temps get into the 30s our bedroom is just unliveable. We bought an AEG air conditioning unit two years ago and it’s been just brilliant.” (Recommended by LadyEuphemia

Our verdict 

This easy-to-use AEG ChillFlex Pro 9000 Air Conditioner can be set up and installed in your bedroom or living space in minutes and offers quick cooling for spaces up to 18m². Whilst it’s fairly heavy compared to some models, it has casters to the base and strong grip handles to improve its portability, allowing you to move it around your home or upstairs as required. 

Simple to control remotely via the AEG app, it runs at a relatively low noise level and thanks to its powerful 9000 BTU rating, it gets to work pretty fast once you turn it on. Plus, if you don't want to control it through your smartphone, you can also set it to work manually on the control panel.

Unlike some older air conditioner models, it uses the modern R290 refrigerant gas to cool your surroundings, a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly choice. It also boasts an A energy efficiency rating, but as with all portable air conditioning units, the overall performance can be improved by using a window seal kit to prevent warm air from re-entering the room. You get a basic 'Standard Window Kit' included with the air conditioner, but if you want the premium version, you'll have to buy this separately. 

2. Best budget air conditioner: Wessex Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier

Wessex Portable Air Conditioner & Dehumidifier 9000 BTU/h

Price on writing: £290 | Buy now from Toolstation

Key specs

BTU rating: 9000 BTU |  Functions: Air conditioner and dehumidifier | Energy rating: Unspecified |  Noise level: 52.4 dB | Speed settings: 3 | Hose length: 2m | Dimensions: 83.5 x 38.3 x 36.1 cm | Weight: 25.8kg |  Power: 1160W

What we like

  • Sleep and fan modes to save on power
  • Long cable length
  • Quiet operation 

What we don’t like

  • Instructions could be clearer

What Mumsnet users say

“I got one from Toolstation - it is on wheels, not too big and is doing the job nicely!” (Retailer tried and tested by Blowthemandown)

Our verdict 

If your tower fan isn’t cutting it but you’re looking to cool your sweltering space on a budget, this Wessex Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier is a multi-purpose unit that offers excellent value for money. Whilst it's relatively heavy and bulky (most air conditioning units are), its castor wheels offer convenient movement from room to room as and when required.

Suitable for rooms measuring 12 to 18m², it offers a 9000 BTU cooling capacity and three different speed settings, with the option to switch to sleep mode during the night for quieter running volumes. It doesn't have the functionality to be controlled by an app, but at this price that's to be expected, plus it does include a remote control, so you can still alter the settings without leaving bed - just be sure to point it directly at the AC unit.

Whilst reviewers found it effective and easy to use, the set-up instructions could be clearer for first-time users. 

Related: Stay hydrated in the hot weather with the best reusable water bottle

3. Best easy setup air conditioner: MeacoCool MC 12000R Portable Air Conditioner

MeacoCool MC 12000R Portable Air Conditioner

Price on writing: £440 | Buy now from Meaco

Key specs

BTU rating: 12000 BTU/hour |  Functions: Air conditioner, dehumidifier and fan | Energy rating: A |  Noise level: 51 - 53dB | Speed settings: 3 | Hose length: 1.8m | Dimensions: 76.2 x 35.3 x 47 cm | Weight: 29.5kg | Power: 1337 watts

What we like

  • Substantial cooling ability (12000 BTU)
  • Three functions in one 
  • Three fan speeds 

What we don’t like

  • Noisier than some when on max 

Our verdict 

When the temperature starts to rise quickly, the last thing you want is to waste significant time and energy setting up your air-con solution. Thankfully, the MeacoCool MC 12000R Portable Air Conditioner can be set up super fast. With a 12000 BTU rating, it’ll kick into action almost instantly, dispelling hot air and cooling your rooms or living spaces between 20 and 30m². Even better, the window kit is included, helping prevent the warm air from seeping back in. 

With a remote control, three fan speeds and even a timer that you can set for up to 24 hours in one-hour increments, it's fairly foolproof to operate, but you may find it quite noisy for overnight use when running on maximum speed.

4. Best portable air conditioner: Inventor Chilly 9000BTU Portable 3-1 Air Conditioner

Inventor Chilly 9000BTU Portable 3-1 Air Conditioner

Price on writing: £320 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

BTU rating: 9000 BTU |  Functions: Cooling, fan and dry | Energy rating: A |  Noise level: 52 dB at maximum power | Speed settings: 2 | Hose length: Unspecified | Dimensions: 34.5 x 35.5 x 70.3 cm | Weight: 25.3kg | Power: 1000W

What we like

  • Compact with castors for easy manoeuvrability 
  • Remote control with LED display
  • Low noise levels 
  • Sleep mode 

What we don’t like

  • Some reviewers found noise levels varied  

What Mumsnet users say

“The best thing we ever bought. Got us through two summer babies just under two years apart. Not too expensive to run, pretty quiet and frankly essential when we lived in a new build rented mid-terrace where rooms would hit 35C. In the recent heatwave, it was 40C outside and 20C in our bedroom. Amazing!” (Tried and tested by LabradorFiasco)

Our verdict 

Trying to get a good night’s sleep during a heatwave can be pretty much impossible, but sometimes the loud drone of an air conditioning unit can be more disruptive than helpful. For a quieter model that will provide ambient 'white noise' rather than keep you awake, the Inventor Chilly 9000BTU Portable 3-1 Air Conditioner runs at just 52dB on maximum speed, although some reviewers found that the volume varied slightly each use, even on the same speed setting.

There’s even a whisper-quiet sleep mode that reduces the fans to ensure optimum conditions for a good night’s rest. Just pair with the best cooling pillow for a dreamy night’s sleep.

A portable and space-saving design, the Chilly Air Conditioner comes with 9000 BTUs and can offer instant cooling in rooms up to 20m². And, while it is still pretty pricey (AC units don't come cheap), it's one of the more pocket-friendly models on our shortlist.

Related: Stay protected in the sun with the best sunscreen for kids, as recommended by parents

5. Best air conditioner for the bedroom: De'Longhi Pinguino PAC EM90 ECO Portable Air Conditioner

DELONGHI Pinguino PAC EM90 ECO Portable Air Conditioner

Price on writing: £655 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

BTU rating: 9800 |  Functions: Air conditioner, fan and dehumidifier | Energy rating: A | Noise level: 63 dB | Speed settings: 3 | Hose length: Unspecified  | Dimensions: 70 x 42.5 x 34.5 cm | Weight: 31.5 kg |  Power: 1000 W

What we like

  • Fast and efficient cooling
  • Three-in-one product with fan and dehumidifier options
  • Quiet mode for overnight 

What we don’t like

  • Costly
  • Reviewers found the hose length a little short 

What Mumsnet users say

“I have a De'Longhi Pinguino one, supposedly 'silent'. It's certainly not that, although I suppose others are noisier! It's OK; I am fine if I sit right in front of it blowing the cool air at me, but I still find that I'm sweating if I move to other parts of the room. I guess it's cooler than without though, and I do live in a little glass box of a flat.”  (Tried and tested by Bimbleberries)

Ours is a De'Longhi Pinguino. The reviews seemed good and it’s no noisier than our fan.” (Recommended by Mydoghealsmyheart

Our verdict 

We all know that heat rises, meaning our bedrooms can be unbearable during the summer months. If you have young children, this can lead to a disturbed night for everyone. Having a portable air conditioning unit upstairs or in your master bedroom can make the surroundings far more comfortable and conducive for sleep. 

The De'Longhi Pinguino PAC EM90 ECO Portable Air Conditioner is a great choice for bedrooms up to 90m³ with a choice of the fan for mild nights or the air conditioner when it starts to get hot, offering fast and efficient cooling without using too much energy or creating too much noise. 

You can control it remotely from the comfort of your ‘on top of the sheets’ bed, and there are three fan speeds or a quiet mode that will offer a more silent cooling solution. The downside? At over £650, it's quite an investment, but the dehumidifier setting should help you get some use out of it in the colder months, too.

Related: Discover the best ice cube trays for perfectly chilled drinks

6. Best air conditioner for big rooms: LEXENT Sprint Heat Pump Portable Air Conditioner

Best air conditioner for big rooms: LEXENT Sprint Heat Pump Portable Air Conditioner

Price on writing: £610 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

BTU rating: 12000 BTU |  Functions: Cooler, heater and dehumidifier | Energy rating: A | Noise level: 53/51/49 dB | Speed settings: 4 | Hose length: 150cm | Dimensions: 40.5 x 82 x 39 cm | Weight: 35kg | Power: 1345W

What we like

  • Modern, sleek black gloss design 
  • Portable
  • Powerful enough to tackle larger rooms (or an upstairs space) 
  • Remote control and Wi-Fi controller via a dedicated app 

What we don’t like

  • The phrase ‘smart’ may be a little misleading as this simply refers to the app. It is not operated by smart devices such as Google Home or Alexa 
  • Pricey

What Mumsnet users say

“I have this one and it is icy cold and currently cooling the whole upstairs of our three-bed house.” (Tried and tested by MisgenderedSwan)

Our verdict 

With a modern and stylish design, this energy-efficient heat pump air conditioner can tackle rooms of up to 40m, making it a great option for cooling large bedrooms or a shared upstairs space if your pedestal fan isn’t quite powerful enough to chill big areas.

A portable design with wheels, it’s quick and easy to set up in seconds. Whilst the Amazon listing describes it as smart, it’s worth noting that this refers to the easy-to-operate control panel, remote control or Wi-Fi controller and isn’t currently smart home compatible.  

As well as offering an impressive 12000 BTU rating, it can be used all year round thanks to the 3000W of heating power, meaning you won’t even need to pack it away when the seasons change. So, while it may be pricey at just under £500, you're getting more functionality for your money than some other models.

7. Best smart air conditioner: Igenix IG9909WIFI Smart Air Conditioner & Dehumidifier

IGENIX IG9909WIFI Smart Air Conditioner & Dehumidifier

Price on writing: £344 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

BTU rating: 9000 | Functions: Air conditioner and dehumidifier | Energy rating: A |  Noise level: 64dB | Speed settings: 2 | Hose length: Unspecified | Dimensions: 69.5 x34x34 cm | Weight: 26kg |  Power: 1000W

What we like

  • Smart home compatible  
  • Impressive cooling power 
  • Sleep mode for overnight 

What we don’t like

  • Less stylish appearance than the Lexent model above 

Our verdict 

On hot nights, summoning up the energy even to move from your star-fished position on the bed can be exhausting, which is where a smart air conditioning unit really comes into its own. If the night starts to get sticky, you can simply ask your Amazon Alexa to turn on the air conditioning and your Igenix will spring into life without you lifting a finger. Clever stuff.

With a sleep mode for quieter operation overnight and suited to rooms up to 20m², this smart air conditioner also doubles up as a handy dehumidifier to prevent mould and mildew too. 

Related: The best desk fan for keeping your cool when working from home

8. Best air conditioner for small rooms: Amcor SF8000E Portable Air Conditioner

Amcor SF8000E Portable Air Conditioner

Price on writing: £220 | Buy now from Appliances Direct

Key specs

BTU rating: 7000 |  Functions: Air conditioner, dehumidifier and fan | Energy rating: A |  Noise level: 48 - 65dB | Speed settings: 2 | Hose length: 150cm | Dimensions: 30.5 x 67.8 x 32.8cm | Weight: 21kg | Power: 792W

What we like

  • Energy efficient 
  • Specifically made for smaller room settings up to 18m²
  • Slim, compact and portable design 

What we don’t like

  • Quite noisy on full speed 

What Mumsnet users say

“We've got a small portable Amcor one which we can move from room to room as necessary.”  (Vetted by Otherpeoplesteens)

“We have this one. It was fantastic [in the heat].” (Reviewed by Prayingandhoping

Our verdict 

Smaller bedrooms can quickly become stifled and feel overbearing during extreme heat, making them far from appealing when it's time to go to bed. This slimline Amcor Portable Air Conditioner is well suited to smaller environments, with a less powerful BTU rating than other models, recommended for spaces up to 18 square metres in size. 

The no-fuss Amcor SF8000E is a three-in-one unit that offers cooling air conditioning, a fan setting and a dehumidifier function and operates with a relatively low running volume, meaning you can even run overnight on low without disturbing your sleep. However, it is fairly noisy on the high setting.

It's also relatively budget-friendly compared to other AC units, and is currently on sale at £250 - hurry though, as the temperatures start rising, so to does the demand for these game-changing gadgets.

Do portable air conditioners cool well?

Yes, if you want to beat the heat this summer, an air conditioner is one of the most effective ways to cool your home. While fans do come much cheaper, they blow air around the room giving you a welcome breeze, instead of actively lowering the air temperature like an AC unit. 

The compressor unit in an air conditioner forces warm air over cool ‘refrigerant’ gases, which can be evaporated over and over again to absorb heat and replace it with cooler more comfortable air. 

Due to the energy required, they can be quite power hungry, so keep an eye out for the ‘energy rating’ from A to G - A is the highest award for efficiency. The good news is, most modern air conditioners use an environmentally-friendly refrigerant, unlike older models which could be damaging to the environment. 

What’s the difference between an air conditioning unit and an air cooler?

An air cooler works in a similar way to a fan but cools down the air using a water tank. Unlike an air conditioner, they don’t require outside ventilation to cool a room and are cheaper to purchase, however, they won’t be as effective on really hot days, costing more to run as they work harder to cool their surroundings. Air coolers tend to lower the room temperature by up to three degrees, although when you’re sat close by, the effects will still be far more noticeable than using a traditional fan. 

Air conditioning units are generally more expensive to buy. They work with a refrigerant gas that actively removes hot air and replaces it with cool. They are generally far more effective, particularly in larger spaces. Air conditioners also offer far more control over the room temperature and can help reduce humidity too. 

Where can I put a portable air conditioner?

A portable air conditioner can be used in most living spaces or bedrooms, but it needs to be positioned within close proximity of a window, as the hose needs to be vented to the outside in order to work effectively. To improve energy efficiency and prevent warm air from reentering the room, it’s also recommended you buy a window seal kit (usually sold separately). 

Are they expensive to run?

As you may expect, portable air conditioners are fairly power-hungry. According to data from consumer champion Which?, portable air conditioners use as much energy in one hour as a typical fridge freezer uses in one day. 

There are various ways you can reduce the running costs of your air conditioner:

  • Check the room size recommendations and the BTU rating. If you choose a smaller BTU rating, it will have to work extra hard and for longer if the space is too large, ultimately costing you more in energy consumption. 
  • Use a window sealing kit to prevent warm air from travelling back into the room.

What is a BTU rating? 

BTU stands for 'British Thermal Units'. It's a key consideration when shopping for a portable air conditioner, and you'll notice each product on our shortlist has a BTU rating in the key specs. 

The higher an AC's BTU, the more cooling power it has across a larger space. So, if you want maximum chills for a large room, go for something with a 12,000 BTU rating, but bear in mind this may be more expensive to buy and run than a less powerful unit. The higher the BTU rating, the less environmentally-friendly the AC unit tends to be, too. 

How to choose the best portable air conditioner for you

  • Room size - Most air conditioners provide guidance on the recommended room size, but if not, take a look at the BTU rating (British Thermal Units). The higher the BTU, the more efficient it is at cooling a room and the larger space it can accommodate. 
  • Multi-purpose - Some air conditioners offer other functions too such as a dehumidifier mode, fan or heating mode. Consider which options work best for your needs and what you are getting in terms of features for your money. 
  • Variety of speed settings - How many speed settings does the air conditioner have? The more speed options, the more control you will have over your environment. 
  • Ease of use - How easy is the air conditioner to set up and start using? Does it have a remote control or smart controls for quick and simple operation?
  • Noise levels - Air conditioning units obviously make a reasonable amount of noise, but in most cases, this is a small price to pay for a more comfortable night's sleep. Some units offer sleep or quiet modes that run with quieter fans for use overnight.
  • Energy efficiency - How energy efficient is the air conditioner? Is a window sealing kit included? If not, you may want to consider purchasing one to improve the overall efficiency of your choice. 
  • Size and portability - How portable is the air conditioning unit? If you're intending to use the air conditioner in a number of rooms or regularly move it up and down the stairs, you should consider both the weight and overall size of the unit as well as the inclusion of castors for easy manoeuvring. 
  • Cost - Last but by no means least, how much are you willing to spend? You can pick up a decent portable air conditioner from around £300, but for more features, multi-purpose units or a more significant BTU rating, you may need to spend a little more. 

What is the best portable air conditioner?

The AEG ChillFlex Pro 9000 Air Conditioner is the best air conditioner to buy in the UK in 2023. An energy-efficient model using modern refrigerant, it's portable, has low noise levels and can be operated remotely via your smartphone. It’s quick and easy to set up, and thanks to the 9000BTU rating, can have an instant impact when making your rooms more comfortable. 

Where can I buy a portable air conditioner?

If your house tends to get warm in summer or you’re already concerned about another heatwave, it’s best to buy air conditioners earlier in the year as prices will fluctuate with demand. Most of the air conditioners we recommend can be found at Amazon, John Lewis, Argos, B&Q, Currys or Homebase. 

How to vent a portable air conditioner

You will need to vent your AC unit, but fortunately this can be done in a few easy steps. Grab the hose and connect it to the back of your AC. Here's the important part: make sure the other end of the hose is directed outside, preferably through a slightly open window or a vent hole. This lets the hot air escape while your AC cools things down indoors. Just double-check for any gaps or leaks around the window and hose, and you're good to go. A lot of air conditioners come with a sealing kit so you can maximise its efficiency, too, by blocking gaps in the open window.

How to clean an air conditioner

If you want to ensure your air conditioner performs at its best and runs efficiently, you must look after it. You should ensure that the filters and fans are cleaned regularly to avoid the build-up of dust, using either a vacuum or wiping down with a dry cloth (when unplugged). You should then use a damp cloth to wipe down the grill, ensuring to get in between the individual vents where dust or fluff could build up. 

Before stashing away in the loft for winter, you should ensure water is fully drained by removing the plug before spraying your unit with hydrogen peroxide and wiping down to fend off mould and mildew building whilst in storage.

How we chose the best portable air conditioners

Recommendations from real Mumsnet users 

The heatwave of 2022 hit hard, and as a result, many Mumsnet users decided to bite the bullet and get an air conditioning unit for the very first time. To help you choose the best one for 2023, we first sought out the trusted opinions of Mumsnet users to get their feedback on the portable air conditioning units they own and would recommend based on their tried-and-tested experience. 

We also looked out for any negative reviews, where Mumsnetters highlighted products that they felt were poor quality, incredibly noisy, or failed to work effectively. 

Expert opinions

Next up, we considered reviews and feedback from trusted industry experts. We want to be confident that the products we recommend are fit for purpose, so we looked out for award-winning products or those that were well regarded in the marketplace, including those recommended by consumer champions such as Which?.

Authentic consumer reviews

Finally, to bring you our definitive list of the best portable air conditioners on the market, we thoroughly investigated genuine, in-depth customer reviews on retailer sites such as Amazon, Argos and John Lewis to get wider consumer experiences regarding the products on our shortlist. 

About the author

Lucy Cotterill is a freelance writer, who in addition to running an established blog, Real Mum Reviews, writes lifestyle content for a variety of publications in the UK and US, with a focus on detailed and balanced product reviews.

She's written about a vast range of products for Mumsnet, including the top ways to beat the heat this summer, whether that's with the best cooling boxes for family trips or the top cooling pillows for a dreamy night's sleep.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.

Read next: The best kids’ water bottle, as recommended by parents