Temperatures all over the country are increasing every year, which is even more noticeable throughout the summer months. UK homes are traditionally well equipped to deal with cold weather, but when it comes to warmer weather the average house does not have the necessary solutions.
The majority of UK homes have central heating, but only a small minority have air conditioning built into their home.
AC units allow for temperature control meaning that throughout the hot summer nights you will not lay there for hours on end sweating and overheating wondering when you will finally fall asleep.
AC units are not a well-marketed product within the UK, and many people wouldn't even know where to start when deciding which one to purchase.
We have made this detailed beginner-friendly guide so you can easily find out the best air conditioner unit and what to look for in your next buy.
1.Signature S40014 Portable Air Conditioner + Venting Kit (7000 BTU)
This Signature portable air conditioner has a whole host of functions for all your cooling needs. It has a two-speed fan setting with an additional dehumidifier function. The air conditioner includes a venting kit so you can vastly improve the air quality in your home.
The unit has a water tank that has an antibacterial water tray with an indicator so you can see when the tray needs emptying. There are energy-efficient sleep and breeze functions, so you can conserve energy to save on your bills.
The conditioner is simple to use with its in-built control panel that allows you to choose a temperature between 18 to 32 degrees so you can heat and cool your home.
You can rely on it to safely work as it has thermostatic cut off, an automatic shut down and overheat protection safety features.
The air conditioner is truly portable and is fitted on caster wheel so you can easily move it about your living space plus it also has a carry handle. Also included is a one year guarantee.
2. Jack Stonehouse 8000BTU Conditioning Portable Cooling Air Conditioner
The Jack Stonehouse range of air conditioner will meet your cooling needs whilst also being energy efficient, so your bills won’t skyrocket. This is budget-friendly but still highly effective, especially through the summer months when nobody likes to site in a humid room.
The unit also has the added function of dehumidifying to remove unwanted moisture from the air and comes with a vent kit which can help reduce noise levels. It’s easy to set up with no complicated instructions so you can be up and running quickly, plus it’s mounted onto castor wheels, and side handles so you can easily move it around.
The airflow has 3 fan levels of low, medium and high whilst also being Class A-rated in terms of energy efficiency. There is an included electronic touch screen display with a timer function so you can pre-set your desired run times which makes it great for pre-cooling your room.
Comes supplied with an exhaust hose to disperse heat removed from the air
3. Igenix IG9911 8000BTU Portable Air Conditioner
Igenix is a well-known name in the home appliance industry, especially fans and air conditioners. This portable air conditioner has 3 fan speeds with 3 in 1 functionality which allows it to work for cooling, fan and dehumidifier.
The unit has a sleep mode which will save energy and a 24-hour timer so you can set it up to turn on or off at a particular time. It’s capable of extracting heat from average-sized rooms up to 20m2 with its 9000 BTU cooling capacity.The dehumidifier setting can be used independently of the air conditioning function; this gives you the option of removing up to 27 litres per day of excess humidity and moisture from the air in your living space.
The unit comes with an exhaust hose supplied and is a reliable unit that will give you the peace of mind that you need.
4. EcoAir Crystal 9000BTU 3 in 1 Portable Air Conditioner
The EcoAir Crystal Portable Air Conditioner is a great addition to your home, allowing you to easily and quality cool your rooms throughout the hot summer months. The unit has a cooling power of 9000 BTU so it can work effectively in rooms between 16 and 26 square metres.
The unit looks great, so won’t look out of place and is also compact but still powerful. It’s very efficient and only consumes 1010 kw/hour whilst also being quite light at only 26.5kg, but if that’s a problem, then it’s mounted onto castor wheels for added portability.
There is a washable mesh filter that will remove any harmful particles giving you higher quality air and the more you clear the filter, the better your air will be. It comes with a 1-year manufacturer guarantee, and you can easily control it from afar using the included remote control.
It can Dehumidify and Cool and gives you the option of 3 fan speeds. It has an inbuilt 24-hour timer and flexible outlet hose.
5. Electriq 12000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
If you’re looking for style and function, then this ticks all the boxes, especially if you need more cooling power. It has 3 in 1 capability in its compact housing so it can cool rooms that are up to 30SQM whilst not taking up much floor room.
You can easily switch between the modes whether you need cooling, air conditioning or dehumidifying.
The dehumidifier has an advanced self-evaporative system, so you don’t need to empty the water tank as often because the collected water is reused to cool the condenser coils.
It’s simple to set up as soon as you receive it without needing any permanent installation. It’s mounted onto castor wheel and has side handles which makes it truly portable.
You can set your desired function on its digital control panel and LCD display whilst you can also use its 24-hour timer to turn on/off at your desired time.
What Is a Portable Air Conditioner Unit?
Although you can buy static units that can be built into walls, we will be focussing on portable air conditioner units that allow you to move them from room to room and also are considerably more affordable than their static counterparts.
How Do Portable Air Conditioner Units Work?
In simple to understand terms, when the conditioner is first activated and switched on, it draws air from the room in through its built-in vents which passes over a cold evaporator coil.
During this process, it is cooled, and most of the moisture gets removed. The new cooler air then recirculates around the room which results in the overall temperature and humidity reducing.
While this is happening, the unit has an inbuilt chemical refrigerant that absorbs the heat from the warm air within the unit. As this air begins to cool, the water then releases into the air conditioner unit.
Depending on the unit you purchase, this is then emptied either via an external drain system or is collected and stored in a connected tank that you can quickly disconnect and empty when it becomes full.
Why You Shouldn't Ignore the Summer Heat
Most of us enjoy the increase in temperature over the summer months, but while we encourage you to enjoy it, you shouldn't ignore the potential health risks and hazards that accompany it.
When your body begins to feel warm and increases in temperature, your brain is intelligent enough to compensate this by perspiring which cools down the body. However there is only so much your body can do, and when the external temperature and humidity is high, sweating isn't enough to cool you back down.
Heat can cause several types of illnesses and conditions if you don't take action, and many don't have any warning signs until its too late. For instance, if you begin to sweat too much, then heat rashes may start to form on your body.
Heat exhaustion is a more severe condition that can arise which is caused by excessive sweating which increases the speed of your breathing resulting in your pulse weakening.
This then leads to a heat stroke which can be deadly as your brain may begin to function ineffectively, and your organs such as the kidneys and liver become dysfunctional.
Research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that up to 760 deaths could be attributed to the UK heatwave that occurred in 2013, and this figure only covers nine days so this number is likely to have increased further.
The most at risk age groups are young children and the elderly who often don't know the risks that a heatwave can bring.
Who Needs an Air Conditioner Unit?
If you have existing sleeping issues
An air conditioner unit is a fantastic solution if you suffer from an ongoing sleep-related issue such as insomnia, hot flashes or you find it difficult to stay cool throughout the night.
This is the most effective solution for this as it will provide a consistent stream of cold air which will make you more comfortable and relaxed leading to a higher quality of sleep.
Of course, there are other solutions such as a standard fan or cooling pillow, but they are less effective, and if you've tried those alternatives then a portable air conditioner is the perfect solution.
The majority of people who purchase air conditioner units are tenants, usually, because the landlord doesn't already have a static unit built in and they refuse to install one.
Some landlords will not allow air conditioner units to be installed into the walls of the house even if the tenant pays for it.
A simpler and quicker solution is to purchase a portable version as a remedy especially because you might have to move house again soon so it would be a waste of money paying for an in-built solution.
The option of installing an inbuilt air conditioning system is much more viable for a homeowner.
However, a portable unit should be used if you plan to move homes shortly or if you only need air conditioning for one or two rooms, while the remaining rooms remain unoccupied. An entire inbuilt unit would be a waste of time and money.
Office Workers/Work from home
Office environments have developed massively over the last few years, and most already have inbuilt air conditioning units. This uptake was increased now that it's well known that warmer temperatures worsen work productivity and work accuracy.
However, if you work alone, from home, or in your office room that has no air conditioning, then a portable air conditioner unit could be the solution for you.
Portable Air Conditioner Benefits
Easy to install
If you want to install a traditional static unit, you most likely can't perform the installation yourself, and all you can do is choose an HVAC contractor to complete the job. This will cost you additional time and money as you need a professional.
In an ideal world the installation will be straight forward and simple, but there can quite easily be complications.
For instance, you may find out halfway through the process that your existing electrical system can't handle the power needs of the air conditioner unit. Not only will this slow down the process, but it also means that you now have to go out and hire an electrical contractor.
Now picture the situation if you purchase a portable air conditioner unit. You can easily install the unit yourself, and there are going to be no electrical problems that arise because the air conditioner units plug into a standard socket that you find in your home.
Some portable units require an exhaust vent to be installed, but a mobile unit comes with easy to follow instructions that anybody can follow, so it is highly unlikely that you'll need to hire an expert.
Air conditioner units, by design, are portable so can be moved from place to place. Some units are slightly on the heavier side so it may take a little more effort to move them around the house.
But even with this in mind, it's still easier to move than the tradition built in air conditioner systems.
Portable units will allow you to move it to wherever you require cooling to be performed. Some are light and compact or even have built-in wheels and side handles, so they are easier to move.
This can be useful if you spend the daytime in one room but then you sleep in another room, so you will not need to buy two separate units.
Also if you have an issue with a built-in air conditioner, you will need to hire a professional to come out to your home to asses the situation. With a portable unit, you can bring it to any repair store at a cheaper cost to get the unit fixed.
Understandably, most of us are price conscious and are working to a budget which is one of the most important factors to consider.
This is especially relevant to those that don't want to spend the excessive cost of regular air conditioning unit and have just about enough to cover the price of a portable air conditioner unit.
Portable units are considerably cheaper and require less additional professional help and support. Built-in units may also need to you to upgrade your home electrical capabilities which then costs extra money.
An air conditioner unit allows you to avoid all the potential health risks that come with rising summer temperatures, by keeping a constant cool environment enabling your body to continue to function efficiently.
Also, air conditioners circulate filtered air around the room, and this air is free of dirt and dust particles, microorganisms, bacteria and smoke which creates a healthy environment inside the room and leads to your health improving over time.
Remember you spend around a third of your life sleeping. So you need to make sure you are sleeping in the healthiest environment.
Air conditioner units will allow you to regulate the temperature of your room while you sleep, allowing you to get higher quality sleep leaving you feeling more refreshed and revitalised in the morning.
Many people think that the noise made by air conditioner units may be loud, but this depends on the type of unit you purchase. Different units produce different amounts of noise, but generally, they are relatively quiet.
When you use a portable unit, you can now keep the windows closed so you no longer have to hear all the external noise such as traffic, planes, people and wildlife that can keep you awake.
These noises are more disturbing than an air conditioning unit, and with the windows closed you can create a more relaxing environment to provide you with a calming sleep.
Higher work capacity
Research has proved that when humans are in more comfortable conditions, their work capacity increases.
If the temperature of a room is too high, then a person will become uncomfortable and will struggle to concentrate leading to tiredness and a decrease in productivity.
In more comfortable conditions created by an air conditioner unit, a person can concentrate and perform more work. So if you work from home, this is even more important.
Air Conditioner Unit Drawbacks
The main drawback for air conditioner units is it requires a constant stream of electricity to power, and they will often be on for many hours especially if you plan to sleep with it turned on.
They're not precisely green energy friendly, but it must be understood that technology is improving all the time and AC units are becoming more and more energy efficient in their use.
Using a portable unit will still require significantly more power than static inbuilt units.
Best Portable Air Conditioner Buying Guide
There are several factors to consider before committing to purchase as they play a large role in how effective a unit will be:
Of course, this is the most critical consideration and displays how effective the unit is at cooling down the surrounding air. British Thermal Unit measures the amount of heat that can be removed from a room per hour.
As a general guide, the higher the BTUs per hour the stronger the cooling ability. If you get a unit with insufficient BTUs per hour then it will take considerably longer for the room to cool down, or it may not be able to cool down the room at all.
On the other hand, you don't want to a buy a unit that has a BTU that is too high because they will often be more expensive and consume significantly more power so essentially you will just be wasting money.
Predicted running costs are linked to the BTU rating, and the number will refer to the cost of running the unit per hour in pence. For example, an 8000 BTU air conditioner will cost just 8p per hour to operate while an 11,0000 BTU air conditioner unit will cost 11p per hour to run.
You also need to use some common sense when choosing your unit, if it's hot where you live, if you have lots of heating creating appliances or if your room is not insulated correctly then you'll need a higher BTU rating.
Price is an essential factor to consider, but several things will affect the final cost price of a unit.
Additional features such as an extra remote or timer function can raise the price. Reputable brands will also often have a higher cost price because their products may have a better build quality and be longer lasting.
You may not need a more expensive unit if you feel that you won't need to use all the additional features.
However if you do decide to purchase a cheaper unit then you may end up having to replace the unit more frequently, so in the end, you will spend more than you would have if you bought a higher quality model from the beginning.
Energy efficiency is vital for both the cost of your electricity bills and the impact that an appliance has on the environment.
It's important to remember that the most potent air conditioner units can also have the highest energy efficiency rating.
As with many household appliances, air conditioning units are given an energy rating to show their efficiency.
A-rated units are the most efficient at using energy, whereas G-rated units will be the worst. The higher the rating, the less money it will cost to operate.
All types of electrical items that you purchase have a chance of developing faults, especially after the first year of operation.
To limit the risk you should see whether the unit has a warranty included, this will not only protect you from any faults that surface, but it also shows that the manufacturer has faith and believes in their product.
Size & Weight
You'll need to consider the size and weight of the air conditioner unit because this is important for portability reasons.
If it's big and heavy, then it will need to stay in one place, but a smaller and lighter unit can be moved quickly. You also need to consider the space where the unit will be operated and if the area is big enough.
The units that are in this guide are the latest models using the best technology so will not have these portability issues.
If the primary use of the air conditioner unit is to help you sleep during stuffy hot nights, then it's going to be a hindrance if the unit you purchase is noisy and begins to disturb your sleep. With this in mind, you'll need to check the decibel level of your unit before buying.
The decibel measuring system is easy to understand even if you don't have a scientific background but for some people can be a little more difficult to understand. Using the Decibel system, any 10-decibel increase means that that the sound has become ten times larger.
So 40 decibels is ten times larger than 30 decibels. Sixty decibels is often described as the sound of a normal conversation.
So you will need to bear this in mind when making a final decision about which unit to purchase. The majority of newer technology units will fall into or below this category so are very quiet units that you will have no problem sleeping through.
Installation & Maintenance
Though we agree that portable air conditioners are relatively simple to set up and maintain, what one person finds natural another person may find challenging. A 90-year-old may find it a little more challenging to install and maintain an AC unit.
To the make the process more comfortable you should read reviews written by actual buyers so you can see their thoughts and find out how hard it was for them to install.
You can also usually download product manuals for free, so you can get an idea of what it requires to install the unit.
Some units naturally need less maintenance than others apart from cleaning the filters.
It's essential to discover whether these units have built-in timers that allow you to select a specific operating period.
Once this selected period has ended, the unit will then automatically switch off. The time periods will usually be 12 or 24 hours, and this reduces energy wastage which in turn saves you money and helps the environment.
Some air conditioners have a number of different settings, allowing you to cool, dehumidify, heat or fan the air as and when you require it. This makes the units suitable all year round no matter the season or temperature.
Additionally, these mode settings allow you to choose the speed of the fan so you can either increase or decrease the level of air conditioning that is happening within the room.
Washable pre-filters remove hair, dirt and dust from the air that is drawn into the filter as they clean the air.
This improves the quality and cleanliness of the air that is circulated your home. The filters stop your air conditioner unit from clogging up.
If the unit is allowed to clog up, then they slowly operate less efficiently over time. These filters are easy to remove, clean and replace.
An adjustable thermostat gives you complete control over the room temperature when the unit is operating.
This is hugely important if you require a constant, consistent temperature when you sleep as a sudden change in temperature can disturb your sleep.
How the unit collects water is essential, does it have its water tray? Is it self evaporating? Or do you have to use your container to collect the water and empty it?
Which unit will you buy? Now you have made it to the end of the guide it will be clear that there is no right answer because it depends on each person's requirements and preferences. Different units have different uses.
We recommend that the best air conditioner unit is the Igenix 3 in 1 due to its multi-use and you can use it all year round so you have no excuse if you can't sleep due to being too hot or too cold.