We all know and love the mobility of a floor fan, but with outdoor highs of 35°C and above, not even the coolest fans can do much indoors. Enter portable air conditioners; roll these convenient units from room to room to save on bills and the expenses of having a permanent in-the-wall solution. Suited for small spaces, a portable AC offers targeted cooling for different parts of the house at a time, as long as the unit is stationed near a window.
What is the cooling area of a portable AC?
We asked Tomcy Aloysius, co-founder of Aura Cool Air Condition Trading Co. LLC in Dubai, about a portable unit’s cooling capacity. He said: “Most portable air conditioners are one ton, which is the starting capacity in the UAE market. One ton means that the AC can cool 12,000 British Thermal Units (BTU) in an hour. A one-ton AC is good for an area of 100 to 120 square feet, so it’s a very small room. A studio apartment will need a two to 2.5 ton AC.”
The higher the tonnage of the portable air conditioning unit, the more warm air it will recycle within an hour. Some brands like Super General offer 1.5 ton ACs in their mobile line, as well.
How do portable air conditioners work?
Portable ACs rely on capturing part of the ambient warm air inside a room, cooling it and then pumping it back out to lower the temperature of the area. One caveat is that the unit needs an outlet for all the hot air it removes and makes during the process.
“These units have an exhaust running from the condensing unit to expel the hot air outside the room. The exhaust pipe needs to be outside a window to withdraw the air and remove it,” said Mahaboob Basha, a mechanical engineer with Masterminds Electromechanical Works in Dubai. So, do ensure that the area you want to spot cool has an opening.
Which portable AC is the best for me?
According to Aloysius, your choice of AC brand will depend on the duration of use. He explained: “We usually suggest Midea and Gree portable air conditioners to our customers because their airflow efficiency is better than most, and they’re also pleasing to the eye. But if you’re looking at a long-term investment, then go for Gree, or Super General will do for yearlong usage.”
Basha says a mobile air conditioning unit works best as a seasonal solution for warmer months in the UAE. Since they’re limited by capacity, they cannot run all year round like central ACs. But, it’s important to note that just as with central and window ACs, the higher the ambient temperature in the room, the faster the compressor or the engine of the unit will get tired - so there are general limitations to consider.
Here, you can find some of the bestselling portable air conditioners below to keep cool this coming summer, no matter where you are at home. Installing the unit on your own can be risky, especially with the attachment and placement of the exhaust pipe, so call over AC technicians via Amazon Home Services when you shop for a unit. Make sure you’re a Prime member to avail free, same- or next-day delivery.
1. Best Overall: Gree Portable Air Conditioner, C'matic-R12C1
- Remote control adjusts temperatures using a sensor
- Fan automatically cleans moisture on the unit
- Uses eco-friendly R410A refrigerant
- Weighs 39kgs
- No auto-swing
Operating at a quiet 49 decibels, this Gree one-ton portable AC is as sophisticated as it looks. It’s built with the ability to remove up to 1.6 litres of moisture from the air, while it cools the room by 12,000 BTUs per hour using three fan speeds. On turbo mode, you get even faster results. Besides its reliable timer function and child safety lock, its best feature lies within the remote controller – a smart sensor that takes note of the surrounding temperature and tells the unit to adjust accordingly. Reviewers do note that there seems to be no auto-swing option, though the machine's 3D air flow ensures cooling in all directions.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh125.75 for 12 months with select banks. Add professional installation for Dh469.80.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers five years of warranty on the product.
2. Best for Cooling and Heating: Generaltec Portable Air Conditioner
- Cools and heats, with a dedicated dry function
- Adjustable temperature
- Eco-friendly refrigerant
- Can be noisy, per reviews
A close alternative to the Gree machine is the Generaltec one-ton portable air conditioner. From offering both heating and cooling to de-humidifying the indoor climate, the unit does it all. The air conditioner carries the same rotary compressor and eco-friendly refrigerant, too. What’s more, it comes with a high-density filter to pump back out as much fresh air as possible. A clear-cut display panel on top of the unit lets you control the temperature as you like, with options for heating, cooling, drying and just fan. Switch to turbo cooling for a blast of cold air when the room gets too warm. Reviews attest to the cooling, but point out that the unit can be noisy. It's far more suited for a working space, like the kitchen or the office, instead of the bedroom.
3. Best for Medium-Sized Rooms: Super General Portable Air Conditioner
- Higher tonnage (1.5 tons)
- Works as a cooling fan as well
- Comprehensive installation kit included
- Comes with a remote controller
- Customer service is not responsive, according to reviews
- Can be noisy at 58 decibels
Super General’s 1.5-ton portable air conditioner is slightly more powerful because it cools 18,000 BTUs in an hour. It has an attractive all-white build so it blends into your décor without trouble, and its cooling capacity can easily take on a medium-sized room. The SG P184T3 model comes with strong copper pipes, an eco-friendly refrigerant and six air blades – the unit also functions as a cooling fan, which can be a refreshing alternative to the AC when you’re working out. While other ACs arrive with just the hose included, your Super General air conditioner brings all the installation accessories with it, from a window connector to funnel. The unit is equipped with a 24-hour timer and air-swing control, all of which you can control using the included remote controller. Reviewers do say that the brand's customer service can be hard to get in touch with.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh129.25 for 12 months with select banks.
4. Best Value: AUX Portable Air Conditioner
- 4D airflow for even cooling
- Self-diagnosis function
- Anti-bacterial filter
- Lightweight at 20kgs
- Comes with the window fixture and a remote controller
- Can get noisy
Portable air conditioners typically throw out air in two or three ways, but the AUX one-ton AC is a little different. It employs a 4D airflow technology that spreads cooling to even the farthest corners of the room, so there are no random warm spots. The rest of its features offer the same convenience as other brands – the unit clearly communicates the temperature via its sleek digital display, has a timer function and an anti-bacterial filter as well as the ability to troubleshoot itself for errors. According to reviews, it comes with the window fixture to remove hot air.
5. Best for Energy Savings: Crownline Portable Air Conditioner
- Offers water cooling technology to save energy
- Activated carbon filter for removing odours
- Comes with a remote controller and an installation kit
- Can be noisy
Crownline’s one-ton mobile AC claims to cool an area of 425 square feet using commercial-quality components. There’s more to this discounted buy – you have the option to save energy by adding water to the tank. The machine will then function like an air cooler, a kind of cooling unit that evaporates water to lower the temperature. Thanks to its activated carbon filter, the recirculated air will always smell clean and fresh - never stale. It even removes up to 1.4 litres of humidity per hour from the air around you. Like the Super General AC, this unit offers a 24-hour timer that you can adjust with the remote controller. It's slightly less noisy than the former, operating at 53 decibels.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh96.17 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh69 and two-year warranty for Dh97.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.