The Aussie summer is a real scorcher no matter which state you happen to live in. And to withstand the heat, air conditioners have become a MUST in most households. But buying and installing a permanent AC unit is not always an option, whether time, space or budget constraints are at play.
Thankfully, portable air cons can save the day. These self-contained, lightweight units typically come with castor wheels, allowing you to move them between rooms, between your home and office and just about anywhere you like. Mobile air conditioners are also much more economical to buy than wall-mounted or central air conditioning units. If you’re in the market for a portable air conditioner and a good deal, we’ve compiled a list of cheap units to check out.
Cheap portable air conditioners for less than $300
Looking to nab a bargain on a portable air con? Here are some affordable models worth a look:
- Portable Mini AC with Cooling Fan & Humidifier Purifier: $79.95*
- Kmart 10L Evaporative Cooler: $89*
- Arctic Air Tower: $99*
- Devanti Portable Evaporative Air Cooler: $129.95*
- Devanti Portable Air Conditioner with Fan Cooler & Dehumidifier: $278.95*
- Stirling 1.9kW Portable Air Conditioner with Wi-Fi (ALDI): $299*
- Onix Portable Air Con 1.9kW (Big W): $299*
- Click Portable Air Conditioner (Bunnings): $299*
Portable Mini AC with Cooling Fan & Humidifier Purifier − $79.95
For a bargain buy, it’s hard to beat Kogan. The online marketplace sells this portable mini air con, which features a cooling fan and humidifier purifier. This is perfect to pop on a table in a baby’s room or home office for example. The electric fan in the unit is designed with a filter and spreads the water into the air from a 200ml container. This means it can cool as well as clean and humidity the air! This mini air con has a 2m² blowing range and comes with a USB charging cable. It retails for just $79.95.
Kmart 10L Evaporative Cooler − $89
As the home of trendy homewares and apparel, Kmart also keeps it cool with this 10L evaporative cooler for $89. This unit comes with three speed settings (low, medium and high), remote control and touch control, a 7.5-hour timer and water level indicator, to help you stay on top of maintenance. It features a slim design and easy-rolling castor wheels to easily slot in any corner of the house. This model is also kitted with honeycomb cooling, including a fixed and oscillating function and a 60° up and down adjustable window to direct cool air where you want.
Arctic Air Tower − $99
This Arctic Air tower from eBay is said to use hydro chill technology to turn hot air into a cool breeze quickly. Just add water, press the button and chill. As well as providing cooling, this unit doubles as an air purifier, using an evaporative reusable air filter to remove dust and other allergens from the air. The air tower also features a swing function and an adjustable multi-directional air vent to direct airflow. It’s on sale for $99.
Devanti Portable Evaporative Air Cooler − $129.95
This Devanti unit is a portable air cooler and humidifier rolled into one. It comes with ice crystals which you just pop in the 8L water tank to create a nice cool breeze throughout your room. This evaporative air cooler features an LED digital control panel to adjust your settings easily in one go. Plus, there’s a remote control included for extra convenience. Other specs include three-speed settings and fan modes (normal, natural and sleep), a nine-hour timer, built-in ioniser and detachable dust filter. This unit retails for $129.95 on Kogan.
Devanti Portable Air Conditioner with Fan Cooler & Dehumidifier − $278.95
Another model from Devanti, this unit features an air conditioner, two-speed fan and dehumidifier in one. It also comes with an LCD display for a clear view of all settings available and a remote control to allow you to operate your unit from anywhere in the room. Additionally, it features a 24-hour timer, plus swing function, adjustable louvres and sleep mode to cater for all your cooling needs. This model is suitable for rooms sized 10m² to 15m² and is on sale on Amazon for $278.95.
Stirling 1.9kW Portable Air Conditioner with Wi-Fi (ALDI)− $299
If we need another reason to love ALDI, this is it. As part of its seasonal Special Buys, the discount supermarket slings this $299 Stirling portable air con from time to time. This three-in-one unit comes with a cooling, fan and dehumidifying function, an LED display control panel, Wi-Fi control with Google Assistant, 24-hour timer, auto swing, adjustable louvres and other nifty features that make it a worthwhile buy!
Onix Portable Air Con 1.9kW (Big W) − $299
This Onix portable AC features a sleek, white design to match any living space. In terms of specs, it comes kitted with an LED touch control panel, three functions (cooling, dehumidifying and auto), a 24-hour timer, remote control, castor wheels and a window kit for venting. This unit can cool spaces of up to 10m²-16m² and costs $299 from Big W.
Click Portable Air Conditioner (Bunnings) − $299
Bunnings may be the home for all your hardware, DIY and garden (and sausage sizzle) needs, but the retail giant also offers some decent cooling solutions – including this Click portable air con for $299. This unit is said to be able to cool down your living space with minimal noise using 300m3/hr air movement. It comes with a touchpad control panel, remote control and is suitable for rooms up to 16m².
Do all portable air conditioners have to be vented out a window?
The short answer is yes. While portable air conditioners are self-contained and don’t require permanent installation, they still DO need venting (just like most other types of air con). That’s because they work by extracting hot air from a room, cooling it and then blowing it back into that same living space as cold air. The remaining warm air and moisture at the back of the unit will need to be vented out of the room typically via an exhaust hose through a window. That’s why most mobile units are sold with a window kit.
What’s the difference between evaporative coolers and portable ACs?
The main difference is in the cooling method. Air conditioners use refrigerants to extract heat and cool air inside a space, while evaporative coolers use water and a fan to cool a room via the natural process of water evaporation. Another point of difference is that portable air cons need venting, while evaporative coolers just need a fresh air source (even just an open door) for evaporation.
Is a portable air conditioner worth buying?
Think of a portable air conditioner as a middle-ground option between a fan and a mounted AC unit. This is a great alternative if you’re looking to keep an individual room cool, if you’re renting or if your budget simply doesn’t stretch to a central air system. With that said, it’s worth noting a portable AC unit isn’t the most energy-efficient way to cool your home in the long term.
*Prices taken from respective retailers, current as of November 2020.
Pictures credits: Mile Atanasov, Shutterstock.com/Retailer websites.