So mercury’s rocketed and you’ve decided it’s time to invest in an air conditioner. Luckily, we’ve breezed to the rescue with a guide to the best models available, whether you’re keen to cool down an overheated office space, sleep soundly with a breath of fresh air, or splash out on an all-singing, all-dancing piece of kit which will clean your air as well as cooling it.
Wall mounted air conditioners or standalone air conditioners?
Wall-mounted air conditioners are best suited to larger properties, and will generally cost significantly more. This is because there’s more tech involved, and you’ll also need to get these models professionally installed. It’s also important to remember that, although they take up less floor space, they’re more likely to stand out. While brands such as Samsung and Daikin are known for producing wall-mounted air conditioners which are compact, slimline and could even be described as stylish, we’ve yet to come across an air conditioner which we’d describe as a thing of beauty.
The good news? There are plenty of options for those who feel their walls are for art, not air conditioning units. Standalone devices are easy to install (although most have a duct which will need to be fed through a window or wall), easy to move from room to room (unlike a wall-mounted air conditioner, which will be fixed in one place) and easy to control, whether it’s with an app or the included remote controls. Our testing, during a particularly muggy week in June, prompted several revelations. To start with, air conditioners which come with window kits – panels with a pre-cut hole in, through which the duct can be fed – are a godsend, especially if you’re not DIY-savvy. A good set of sturdy castors minimises the hassle of rolling standalone units from one room to another, and air-purifying filters which help clean the air are well worth the money, especially in households with someone who suffers from allergies.
WiFi connectivity, and the ability to control your air conditioner through an app can also be incredibly useful. “In today’s world, where technology and ease of use is key, wifi connectivity is a definite game changer,” says Stephan Lang, Split and Sky Air Specialist at Daikin UK. “Our conditioners can be operated remotely using the app on your smart phone or tablet. This means you can programme your air conditioner when you’re not at home, or have the luxury of turning it on and off from the comfort of your own bed.” Stephan also suggests looking for air conditioners with air purification filters, the gold standard of which is a titanium apatite filter. “These won’t only trap most microscopic airborne particles, but will help to break down odours and absorb and deactivate bacteria.”
Another important point to consider? While there are certain advantages to wall-mounted conditioners, be aware that they come with extra costs, and often require some rather heavy-duty external fittings. “Fixed air conditioning units can be great, but they need to be professionally installed and once installed, you cannot move them to another room or house,” says Chris Michael, managing director of Meaco. “Think carefully before you install it and find out if you need permission for the siting of the external kit before going ahead. Be prepared to pay for servicing and maintenance going forward, and remember that while a wall-mounted air conditioner will be quieter than a portable air conditioner, it won’t be as versatile.”
See our tried and tested review of the best air conditioners.
MeacoCool MC Series 8000
This is hands down one of the best air conditioners you’ll find for under £300: a stylish, compact breeze blaster which is perfectly suited to smaller areas such as offices, bedrooms and conservatories - although the official blurb states that it’s suited to any room measuring between 16 and 26m². A remote control, sleep mode and timer switch means it’s wonderfully easy to customise your cooling, and we love the fact that it doesn’t just come with a window kit for those poking the 1.8m hose out of sliding windows, but a fabric flexible window, which is compatible with other types of window too. It’s also a great option for anyone concerned about noise levels and the environment. This portable air conditioner is part of Meaco’s new energy efficient range, which comprises seven ultra-efficient air conditioning units, all of which have an Energy Rating of A. Oh, and bonus marks for the extra-large digital display, too.
JML Chillmax Air Go
This is a brilliant, personal air conditioner which does all the things larger ones do without taking up a ridiculous amount of space. A portable design (the highlights of which include a sealed water tank and a rechargeable battery), makes it ideal for holidays – we recommend firing up this bad boy in sweatbox-like tents and stuffy cars on long road trips. A combination of three speed settings and a 360â° swivel hinge means it’s easy to direct the air flow, and the built-in night light makes it especially suitable for children. Our favourite feature is the ultra-tough clip, which can be used to attach it to everything from prams to the backs of seats.
De’Longhi Pinguino PAC EX120 Silent
Our favourite thing about this three-speed standalone air conditioner? It’s both incredibly easy to use and shockingly simple to install, thanks in part to its slimline hose. Navigating its hi-tech digital interface is a breeze (excuse the pun) and the temperature, fan speed, timer and cooling function can all be tweaked using the remote control, which slips handily into a holder at the top of the machine. It’s also one of the quietest air conditioners we’ve come across (the decibel range is between 49 and 53) which makes it ideal for various spaces, whether it’s a child’s bedroom or a sun-baked dining room. Shifting it from room to room won’t result in an accidental back injury either, not only because of its four slick wheels but its weight, which comes in at 32kg – surprisingly low for such a powerful air conditioner. It’s also one which will earn its keep year-round – during the cooler months, simply switch to dehumidify-only mode to keep any dampness at bay.
This is a no-nonsense, powerful wall-mounted air conditioner for anyone keen to cool larger rooms without taking up valuable floor space. It’s a million miles away from the wall-mounted monstrosities which once dominated the air conditioning market – this slick box (available in white, silver, black and blackwood) looks surprisingly stylish, and its design even earned Daikin a coveted Reddot Product Design Award. Precision-engineered flaps allow for superior air distribution, while an intelligent thermal sensor ramps up the efficiency by determining room temperature and size. It then distributes the cooled air exactly where it’s needed. This is one of the smartest air conditioners on the market – the thermostat, temperature schedules and energy consumption can all be controlled using either the included remote or Daikin’s app.
De’Longhi PACEM77 Air Conditioning Unit
Forgive us for ranting about wheels again, but this is obviously something De’Longhi does extremely well, because this is another of the brand’s remote control air conditioners which is extremely easy to move – its chunky, smooth wheels ensured this three-speed air conditioner rolled smoothly over our (very shaggy) carpet. It will quickly cool rooms of up to 70 m² (we tested it in a room with a slightly smaller size and was amazed by how quickly it worked), and the dehumidifying capabilities were also impressive – by the end of our night-time test session, which took place on a particularly muggy evening, the air felt noticeably lighter and drier. We also loved the kit designed to minimise the hassle of positioning the 1.2-metre duct, although it’s only compatible with sliding windows. But if you’ve got one of those, you’re in luck – the air conditioner comes with a plastic panel with a readymade hole cut into it, which means all you need to do is place the panel between the glass and the window frame.
MeacoCool MC Series 12000
Another member of Meaco’s new range of ultra-efficient air conditioners, the MeacoCool MC Series 12000 is, in our humble opinion, one of best air conditioners for living rooms and other larger areas. Capable of quickly cooling areas sized between 20-30m², it’s got three speed settings and four modes (a low speed partnered with “cool” mode is our favourite combo), is surprisingly light (just 29.5kgs) and will effortlessly suck 1.6 litres of water of moisture out of the air every hour. If you’re a light sleeper, simply turn off the cooling capability at night-time and leave the fan going. We also love the handy window kit which is included, but it’s worth noting that it’s only designed for use with sliding and sash windows. Our one gripe? The remote control doesn’t come with a battery.
Samsung WindFree Pure
If air quality’s a concern, stay cool, calm and collected with Samsung’s newest wall-mounted air conditioner, the pièce de résistance of which is what’s known as an PM1.0 filter. We’ll keep the tech talk to a minimum, but in a nutshell, it will filter dust particles and sterilise microorganisms with the help of an electrostatic charger, thereby providing cleaner, purer air. Another hi-tech component we’re excited about? The Freeze Wash functionality, which ensures your home or office stays bacteria-free with the help of a self-cleaning heat exchanger, which does so by developing a thin layer of frost which is then melted, prompting the melting ice to remove bacteria. See? We told you it was clever. Don’t panic if that all sounds rather complicated though – this air conditioner’s designed to be used in conjunction with an app which will tell you when the Freeze Wash feature should be activated. The app isn’t just designed to control air flow and temperature, either – it will monitor and report air quality conditions, adjusting its performance accordingly.
JML ChillMax Air Personal Space Air Cooler and Humidifier
Another personal air conditioner which strikes the perfect balance between portability (it’s mains-powered, but comes with a 1.8 metre cable) and power, the ChillMax Air Personal Space Air Cooler and Humidifier ticks all the boxes. It will quickly cool small-to-medium sized rooms with minimal noise, it’s dishwasher safe and easy to use – simply fill the tank and it will do its thing for up to 10 hours. It’s also perfect for anyone concerned about spreading germs during indoor catch-ups – its antimicrobial filter is designed to hold water without allowing bacteria and mould to develop. This air conditioner has three settings, along with a rather funky blue LED light on the top.
MeacoCool’s MC Series 8000 teams brilliant cooling power with a fantastic price tag and a compact design, and we love the ease with which the wide range of settings can be tweaked. We were also unexpectedly impressed with both of JML’s personal air conditioners, which proved that staying cool – whether at home or on the go – doesn’t need to cost the earth.