Cheap air conditioners: Stay cool and save money


For many of us, summer is more than the beach and the cricket; it’s putrid sweat and the desire to be in air conditioning at all times. As we near the end of the year, the days are getting hotter and hotter, and some Australians won’t be coping well. This is the time of the year when we see a massive spike in air conditioner sales (no prizes for guessing why), but some consumers might be holding off on buying a new unit because of the perception that they’re too expensive – or just that any good air conditioner will come at a very high price.

Well, we’re here to dispel that myth – at least somewhat anyway. The truth is that air conditioners and running them can come cheaper than you may think. We scoured the web to find what we think are the best cheap air conditioners for sale in Australia. We will even calculate approximate electricity costs for you, because cheap air conditioners can also unfortunately mean a lower energy star rating.

We’ve calculated daily running costs based on the assumption that the average household uses an air conditioning for an average of three hours per day. Remember that if you plan on using your air con for longer, your annual running costs will be higher than those in this article. One more thing to note is that for our calculations, we used an electricity cost of $0.29/kWh. Rates vary by retailer and area, so keep this in mind as well.

How to stay cool on the cheap

Cheap air conditioners are more common than you may think. There are a variety of bargains out there to be had – you just need to look. We’ve taken a look at air conditioners in three categories – portable, window-type, and split system air conditioners. Read on to find out how to get the best bargain.

Cheap Portable Air Conditioners

Portable air conditioners are great if you want flexibility, as many come on castor wheels and can be moved around the house from room to room when you need them. Though, what are some cheaper ones out there?

cheap best air conditionerOmega Altise 2.9kW:

Designed with a smaller room of 20m² in mind, the Altise offers fuss-free cooling at a cheap purchase price. Omega designed it so it’s easy to use and simple to set up. It’s suited for a study or a bedroom, and all you need is a power point and a nearby window. The exhaust hose will connect the unit to an included seal plate. Control the breeze with its simple touch interface and enjoy the fact that cleaning is fairly minimal – fortnightly cleaning of its filters and emptying the water tank when it gets full will keep this little fella happy.

best cheap air conDimplex EWTC9 2.6kW:

While it has less power than the Altise, this model also has a dehumidifying function. For those people in the north of Australia, you’ll all know how much humidity can be a drag. Simply dehumidifying a room can nearly instantly make it feel more comfortable. What’s more is this Dimplex unit comes with a 24 hour timer, so you can be frosty as soon as you walk in the door. It also has a self-evaporative system, which means there’s no drip tray or pesky hose to take care of.

Cheap Window Air Conditioners

Ahh, the old window rattlers – back in the day they’d soothe you to sleep by humming incessantly, sometimes causing your window to vibrate. They’ve come a long way though, to the point where they now stand as a popular, easy and most of all cheap choice for Aussies wanting ‘bang for buck’ cooling. Window air conditioners are virtually ‘plug and play’. All you need to do is find a suitable window, take out the frame and rest the unit there where the condenser can live in harmony. Let’s take a look at some of the cheapest window air conditioners out there.

best cheap airconMidea MWF05CB4 1.6kW:

The first thing you’ll notice about this, and other window units, is that their power figures seem rather low. While this is great for ongoing costs, you might find yourself having to use the unit for longer to get to your desired comfort level. This particular Midea model aims to shed the ‘window rattler’ image, with claims of ‘barely-there operation’ – rattles and splutters are history apparently. What’s more, it includes a touch panel for easy temperature adjustments, plus dual drainage points for easy cleaning, and comes with anti-corrosive coating. The daily running costs look cheap, but consider the lack of power means it might be a bit underwhelming.

best cheap airconMidea MWF07CB4 2.13kW:

A little more powerful, and hence a little dearer to buy, this unit also focuses on quieter operation. It again comes with a touch panel for easy adjustments, a dual drainage system, a fresh air switch and automatic left-to-right airflow to hit all corners of the room. Being 2.13kW, it’s again suited to a smaller room or study, but it’ll likely take less time to cool the room down. Expect this unit to cost you more to run, but the benefits should be worth it.

Cheap Split System Air Conditioners

We’ve come to the business-end of town now. Split systems are regarded as the bee’s knees when it comes to cooling, and are probably one of the more popular air conditioner types. Overall, expect split system air conditioners to be the most efficient at cooling your room – that is to say, they’ll cool down faster. You can expect split system units to have more bells and whistles, and to operate at near-silent levels. Though, what can you expect from the bargain end of the catalogue? Here are some cheap split system air conditioners.

cheap air conditioners comparedDimplex DCSS09 2.5kW:

This Dimplex unit may be for the allergy sufferers out there. Its key feature is its ioniser which removes microscopic particles from the airflow – those that might be irritating to people with an allergy, asthma or other respiratory ailments. It’s also catered toward the power conscious, with a 10-hour automatic power-off function. Furthermore, it has a 24 hour timer, so your room can be crisp as you walk in the door. Its 2.5kW cooling capacity means it’s one of the cheaper split systems to run, but may feel a bit lack lustre in any room over 20m².

cheap air conditioningKelvinator KSV35HRD 3.5kW:

Stepping it up a notch, this Kelvinator offers a great power to price ratio. With this unit you can expect more efficient cooling of medium-sized rooms. It has a 44 decibel indoor sound level, which makes it a smooth operator. Like the Dimplex air conditioner above, it’s also a reverse cycle. With 3.5kW on board, you can expect it to cost more to run, but the extra power should keep you as cool as a cat.

Should I buy a cheap air conditioner?

Reading this comparison of cheap air conditioners, you’ve probably realised that cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean efficient. While these units are at the cheaper end of the scale, the power levels can leave a lot to be desired. You might find that the money you save now could cost you in the long run through having to run the air con for longer and under more duress to cool the room you’re in. The estimated daily running costs of these air conditioners seem pretty reasonable now, but those costs quickly add up. Over the course of a month, you can expect your air con bill alone to reach about $40.

So, which type of cheap air conditioner should you go with? The obvious pick for the most ‘budget’ air conditioner would be a portable unit.

  • Portable air conditioners represent great ‘bang for buck’ and have the added bonus of being flexible as to where you put them.
  • Split system units are more expensive, but likely to be more efficient at cooling and will be quieter, too.
  • Window air conditioners tend to sit somewhere in the middle – not particularly efficient, but not very costly either.

Overall, there are lots of factors to consider and every home is different. It’s really about finding the best risk versus reward trade-off. You could buy cheap and be left disappointed, but you might also just bag a bargain and walk away with a low price air conditioner that serves your purpose just fine. Good luck!

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