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Stay cool in a heatwave with a Best Buy air conditioner

We’ve reviewed portable air conditioners from AEG, Argos, DeLonghi and more to find the ones that will keep your home cool and comfortable

Stay cool in a heatwave with a Best Buy air conditioner

As temperatures have soared above 30°C in parts of the UK over the last week or so, you might have been wishing you had a Which? Best Buy air conditioner to save you from sweltering. Pour yourself a glass of something chilled, and have a read of our new portable air conditioner reviews.

We’ve recently gone hands-on with a selection of portable air cons, uncovering several Which? Best Buys that can cool your living room quickly and evenly without sounding like they’re about to take off. If you need to escape the heat, they’ll get the job done.

But not all of the air conditioners to pass through our test lab have blown us away. The lowest-scoring model in our latest batch fails to distribute air evenly around a large space, so you might struggle to feel the benefit.

Expert air conditioner reviews – discover our top picks from big-name brands

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What makes a good portable air conditioner?

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. Unfortunately, most ‘portable’ air conditioners aren’t really that portable and, while we’re talking cons, they’re tough on your wallet and not as energy efficient as split system air conditioning systems (which have fixed units that require professional installation).

However, depending on your windows and on how much space you can spare, a portable air conditioner could be a genuinely worthwhile investment. If you’re shopping for a portable air conditioner, keep a look out for:

  • Portable air conditioner size a machine designed for a smaller room may struggle to cool a larger room, so check what size of room a unit says it’s suitable for.
  • Dehumidifier mode this could be a handy bonus if you want an appliance that’ll be useful all year round (not just during a sizzling summer) – though we haven’t tested this feature on air cons that offer it. We have, however, tested standalone dehumidifiers – head to our dehumidifier reviews for more.
  • Sleep mode / night mode activate this and the fans will run slower. In theory, this makes the air conditioner quieter than it usually is. However, you might prefer pre-cooling your room before you get into bed.

Below, we’ve rounded up three air conditioners (at three different price points) to get you started.

Challenge 7K (£350) – a cheaper pick

If you don’t fancy spending big on a portable air conditioner, you might want to consider the Challenge 7K. On sale exclusively through Argos, it’s best suited to modest-sized rooms and can be installed semi-permanently with the venting hose attached to a wall outlet.

The Challenge 7K is one of our smallest models on-test and weighs in at around 22kg. It has two fan speeds and three main modes for you to cycle through – air conditioning mode, fan-only mode and dehumidifying mode.

By activating auto mode on the Challenge 7K, the machine will decide the best fan speed based on the conditions of the room it’s sat in.

What sort of performance can you expect from a cheaper air conditioner? Head over to our full Challenge 7K review for the details.

AEG ChillFlex AXP26U338CW (£600) – a mid-range option

This is a portable air conditioner from AEG’s ChillFlex Pro range. It can be installed by drilling through an outside wall and fitting the vent hose, or you can place it near an open window. Considering we don’t get as many hot days as we’d like here in the UK to need air conditioning all year round, the latter might be the better option.

Like the budget-priced Challenge 7K we mentioned earlier, this model has an air conditioning mode, fan-only mode, dehumidifying mode and auto mode. Three are three different fan speeds to pick from – opt for minimum and the air movement will be slower, so the machine shouldn’t get too noisy.

At a hefty 32kg, this is one of the heaviest portable air conditioners we’ve tested. But on the plus side, you get two carrying handles and castors that make moving the ChillFlex less of a struggle.

To see if this air conditioner is a worthy Which? Best Buy, head over to our AEG ChillFlex AXP26U338CW review.

DeLonghi PAC EX120 Silent (£800) – premium buy

You’re looking at the most expensive portable air conditioner we’ve tested so far. Designed with larger rooms in mind, this 30kg model comes bundled with a window sealing kit. Once it shows up at your door, you’ll need to attach the hose, add the window outlet nozzle and use the window sealing kit to prevent warm outside air sneaking back into your house.

If you’re tempted by this portable air conditioner, note that DeLonghi suggests cleaning the filter every week to keep it working at its best. The process involves removing the filter, vacuuming it and washing it in detergent and warm water.

The DeLonghi PAC EX120 Silent can run on a fan-only mode, which moves air around your home without cooling it. But if you’re mainly looking for a fan, save yourself some money and grab a standard fan instead.

Tempted by this pricey air conditioner? Before you part with your money, consult our in-depth DeLonghi PAC EX120 Silent review.

Other air cons on test

If you’re looking for more portable air conditioners to add to your shortlist, see the rest of our recently-tested models:

Our hard work doesn’t end there, though. We’ll be adding more air conditioner reviews to Which.co.uk over the coming weeks.

Check in with our expert guide on how to buy the best air conditioner for a closer look at must-have features.

This story was first published on 7 August 2020 and is being updated as we add more portable air conditioners to our reviews.

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