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Best portable air coolers to get you through the UK heatwave

Jul 09, 2023Jul 09, 2023

Cooler than a fan, and more cost-effective than air-con: is this your hot weather saviour?

hen it’s too hot, it’s all you can think about. It’s certainly all anyone can talk about, if the noise around the latest heatwave is anything to go by.

British summers are set to get more predictable in terms of heat and dry spells (higher and longer on both fronts), but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing for it but to sweat it out.

While sales of air conditioning units for home use are on the up, not everyone can spare the space or expense to accommodate a unit. The sweet spot between an energy-guzzling AC unit and a fan?

Say hello to the air cooler.

A less energy-hungry home climate controller than its lookalike (the air conditioning unit), an air cooler is good at reintroducing moisture into hot, dry rooms quickly and efficiently.

An air cooler works by sucking in hot air and cooling it by funnelling it though drenched cooling pads. As the water re-evaporates it is expelled back into the room via a fan or blower, gently lowering the temperature (around 3 degrees).

Price is one of the biggest pros; they don’t cost nearly the same amount as air conditioning units, for the initial purchase or to run - most operate at 100W or less. Compare that to between 3000 and 3500W for an air conditioning unit.

Air coolers also offer more effective cooling than fans alone, something that you can give a helping hand by adding ice blocks to the cooler’s water tank.

If you’re fed up with being a hot mess come the summertime, it might be time to invest in an air cooler for your home. A lightweight or wheeled one could be the best option, allowing you to move it from room to room if you need to.

We’ve rounded up the best options across price points below.

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Now this is one cool box. The bestselling device has rave reviews thanks to its efficient cooling and features like the removable water tank and changeable full spectrum LED lights. What’s more, it’s highly portable and whisper quiet; you can power it through a power bank or laptop as well as mains power, making it perfect for remote working or taking on trips in lieu of a fan. It offers a triple attack against hot temperatures, chilling, purifying and humidifying the space. And all on 10W. A little bit magic.

Offering both cost-effectiveness and functionality, this compact cooler from Igenix will help return your space to a comfortable temperature. It’s great in medium-sized spaces, with a 5L removable water tank and three speed sweeping fan to create a cool solution to high temperatures. There’s even an integrated ice cooling chamber to give your breeze a turbo boost.

Control the wind through the LED display or via remote, and if you want it on when you’re heading to bed, the 7 hour timer will ensure it shuts off when you want it to.

It may look like an unassuming white box on the outside, but take a peek inside ProBreeze’s cooler and you’ll see where the magic happens. It uses a honeycomb waterfall system to cool warm air and turn it into cooling vapour. This is then propelled into the air with a three-speed fan that works in four operational modes to create exactly the right environment.

Other features include a 7.5 hour timer and Night Mode to keep the cooler working quietly as you kip.

Thought the buck stopped at bed stuff at Silentnight? Think again. The brand also offers a range of home appliances including this five-litre air cooler. It’s a hardworking thing, packing a fan, air cooler and humidifier under one roof, and it’s on wheels to boot.

A wide-oscillating fan means cooler air can reach every corner of the room, leaving no hot pocket unturned. There’s also a timer that can run up to 7 hours, and a remote control to operate if you’re too comfortable to get up to use the digital control panel.

Promising cooler vibes than Elsa’s castle, Klarstein’s device offers no less than five functions in one - how’s that for bang for your buck?

The 85W remote-control operated unit cools, humidifies, ventilates and ionises as well as offers a Night Mode to keep you cool while you snooze.

Everything can be controlled via a phone app for ultimate convenience while a generous 7L water tank means you won’t need to refill it constantly. A double filter expands the cooling surface while trapping dust particles at the same time. The timer also runs up to 24 hours, so you can set it to turn on when you get home and walk into a lovely, cool room.

If you’re looking for something to cool a nursery or child’s bedroom, it can be tricky trying to find the right balance. A cooler offers less of a temperature extreme than an air-con unit and one like this comes with rainbow lights too, working double duty as a night light.

This futuristic-looking cooler also operates as a table fan and mini humidifier, making dry gritty air softer and more comfortable to breathe.

Set the timer up to 8 hours and forget about it; well until the 600ml water tank runs dry that is. Perfect for any room that’s hot and bothered.

Offering ionsed air as well as chilled and purified, this is an air cooler at an excellent price. It’s set on castor wheels and has integrated handles for ultimate portability, while the 6L water tank is a decent size for day or night use. As well as the device, it comes with a set of ice packs to cool the water vapour even further. Prepare to feel very refreshed.

An air cooler is the sort of device you can use year-round: from cooling in the summer to reintroducing humidity into dry spaces in winter. Black & Decker’s 7L machine uses dual ice packs to enhance the cooling system and return your home’s temperature back to comfortable levels. There are three wind modes to choose from to customise your breezes and a 7.5 hour timer to keep it running without supervision.

What is an air cooler, and how does it work?What are the benefits of an air cooler?