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Everything You Need to Know About AC Portable in the UK. 5 Worst Mistakes to Avoid (May 2024 update)

  • 24 Apr 2024

In a time characterised by rising temperatures and changing weather patterns, the demand for effective cooling solutions has become of utmost importance. Portable air conditioning has emerged as a versatile tool in the battle against the heat, providing targeted relief with unmatched convenience. With climate change causing more frequent and intense heatwaves, AC portable UK units have transitioned from being a luxury to a necessity.


This article highlights everything you need to know about the present and future of portable air conditioning, exploring its development, market trends, and impact on the environment. We also explore the correlation between cooling technology and climate resilience, to establish a path towards a cooler and more sustainable future.

History of Portable Air Conditioning in the UK

Air conditioning technology dates back to Ancient Egypt. The Egyptians would soak reeds in water and then place them in windows. When hot air blows through the reeds, it evaporates the water on the reeds, hence losing its heat. This resulted in a cooler indoor environment on hot days.


Air conditioning technology dates back to ancient Egypt


Fast forward to the early 18th century, Michael Faraday, inventor of the electric motor, came up with the concept of air conditioning through an experiment with compressing and liquifying ammonia. When the ammonia evaporated, it cooled the air around it. However, there was no technological advancement back then to bring this vision to reality.


Michael Faraday was the inventor of the electric motor

Breakthrough in the 19th century

It wasn’t until the early 19th century that the first air conditioning system was invented by Willis Carrier. The invention was for a Brooklyn printing plant and the engineer used a compressor to circulate a coolant through coils to cool air. This first electrical air conditioner was designed to regulate indoor humidity and provide cooling as a by-product.


The first air conditioning system was invented by Willis Carrier


The invention of the refrigerator is what paved the way for the idea of residential air conditioners. In the late 1920s, refrigerator manufacturers were the pioneers of the first home air conditioners, as they already had experience designing smaller refrigeration units complete with automatic controls. They also could mass-produce these units.


Around the 1970s, the first ductless air conditioners were introduced into the AC market. The newer models replaced the traditional window air conditioners and could be placed anywhere, including on the ceiling and walls.


Climate change and rising temperatures

The earth is getting warmer, and in the UK, temperatures are expected to rise higher in the foreseeable future. A summary by the UK Environmental Change Network projects that the UK climate will be warmer by 0.9°C and 5.4°C in summer, and hot summers will increase by 3.8°C and 6.8°C by 2070. And if we do not prevent a high emissions scenario from happening, UK summers will become drier while the winters will grow wetter, with the possibility of frequent flooding.


Presently, the rising temperatures are making air conditioning more of a necessity than a luxury. A portable air conditioner market forecast by estimates that the global market for portable air conditioners will grow from USD 696.2 million (2022) to a whopping USD 1096.8 million by the year 2023, a combined compound annual growth rate of 4.6% for several countries, including the UK, France, the US, Canada, and Germany.


Market trends and consumer preferences

As the market for portable air conditioners grows, we are also seeing a rising trend for smart features in modern AC portable UK models. adds that consumers are willing to purchase next-gen portable air conditioners that are multi-functional, come with smart features and are integrated with the Internet of Things.


1) Smart WiFi-enabled Portable Air Conditioners

There is a noticeable shift towards smart portable air conditioners equipped with WiFi connectivity. Consumers are increasingly drawn to these models as they offer remote control capabilities via smartphone apps or voice commands, providing convenience and flexibility in operation.


2) Next-gen Multi-functionality

Consumers are showing a preference for next-generation portable air conditioners that offer multi-functionality and ease of use. These units are designed to serve multiple purposes beyond just cooling, such as acting as fans and dehumidifiers. This trend aligns with the growing demand for versatile home appliances that maximise utility at home or in the office.


3) Integration of Advanced Technologies

Air conditioner manufacturers are incorporating advanced technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and various sensors to automate tasks and enhance user experience. This includes features such as automated temperature control, adaptive cooling algorithms, and self-diagnostic capabilities, making the units more efficient and user-friendly.


4) Focus on Noise Reduction

Consumers prioritise quieter operations when purchasing portable air conditioners. Manufacturers are responding to this demand by introducing advanced settings such as quieter compressors (like GMCC) quieter operation modes and sleep-mode functionality. This trend caters to individuals seeking a comfortable indoor environment without the disturbance of loud appliance noise.


Morris portable AC in UK with noise reduction


5) Lightweight and Versatile Designs

There's a growing market for lightweight portable air conditioners that offer versatile functionality, serving as both air conditioners and dehumidifiers. These compact units appeal to consumers living in smaller spaces or seeking portable cooling solutions for specific rooms or areas within their homes.


6) Voice Control Integration

Another emerging trend is the integration of voice control features in portable air conditioners. Manufacturers are partnering with cloud-based voice services like Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit, and Google Assistant to offer voice-activated operations. This enhances the user experience by enabling hands-free control and seamless integration into smart home ecosystems.


Is a portable air conditioner worth it?

Heatwaves can have far-reaching effects on both our health and productivity. As temperatures rise, so do the risks to our well-being and ability to perform at our best. From heat-related illnesses to decreased cognitive function and reduced physical endurance, the impact of heat waves on our bodies and minds is significant.


A scientific study was conducted on the effects of heat waves on physiological strain and productivity. The study discovered that increasing environmental heat caused psychological strain on workers and impaired their ability to maintain efficiency while working (LG et al., 2021).


Impact on health

Heat waves can increase the risk of heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, dehydration, and heatstroke in both humans and pets. These conditions can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening emergencies, particularly among vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions.


Excessive heat can damage body organs like the lungs and heart, and it can exacerbate cardiovascular and respiratory problems. Those with pre-existing lung and heart conditions are more at risk of being hospitalised, or even worse, losing their lives.


Thirdly, heat waves can also have adverse psychological effects on people. It can trigger stress and anxiety and disrupt normal sleep patterns, which negatively impacts the mental health and overall well-being of humans and animals.


Is a portable air conditioner worth it?


Impact on productivity

Abnormally high temperatures during a heat wave can decrease workforce productivity due to increased discomfort, fatigue, and heat-related illnesses. Also, a heatwave can reduce concentration, cognitive function, and physical performance, thereby lowering efficiency and output in employees and workers.

Heatwaves can result in economic losses for businesses due to absenteeism, reduced work capacity, and increased healthcare costs associated with heat-related illnesses. Additionally, industries reliant on outdoor work, such as agriculture and construction, face heightened risks to worker health and safety during extreme heat events.

Why you should invest in a portable air conditioner in a heat wave

A portable AC unit in the UK is a viable solution for beating the heat wave. They are handy gadgets when you want localised cooling and are ideal in areas where built-in air conditioners are not available. They are also inexpensive to run and offer a lot of flexibility in usage, wherever you use them.


Cooling relief

An AC portable UK gadget provides instant cooling relief from the sweltering heat of summer. It helps maintain optimal indoor temperatures, making it easy to relax, work, or sleep. Portable air conditioners are great for localised cooling in places that lack a built-in air conditioning infrastructure or where installing a centralised air conditioner is expensive or impractical.

Energy efficiency

Portable AC units in the UK are more energy-efficient compared to central cooling systems. Central ACs cool the entire home, including areas that are not in use. Air con portable UK gadgets are energy efficient because they provide localised cooling, hence using less energy.


Easy installation

Unlike central air conditioners or window ACs that require professional installation, a portable AC unit UK offers a more plug-and-play solution. You can quickly set them up by plugging them into a power outlet and ensuring the venting pipe is connected. Once you dial the unit to the desired cooling settings, you are good to go.


Morris AC portable UK ideal for the living room

Flexibility in usage

Portable air conditioners provide a level of flexibility that central air conditioning systems do not. They can be easily moved from one room to another, ensuring that cool air is available wherever you are in your home. This is especially advantageous if there are specific areas in your house that tend to become hotter than others.



Portable air conditioners are typically less expensive than installing a centralised air conditioning system, making them a viable choice for people in areas without built-in air conditioning infrastructure who may have limited financial means. They provide an affordable solution to stay cool during hot weather without requiring a substantial initial investment.


Improved air quality

Modern portable air conditioners have integrated air filters that enhance indoor air quality by trapping dust, allergens, and airborne particles. This feature proves particularly advantageous during high temperatures, such as heat waves, when air pollution or pollen may compromise air quality.


Technologies used in portable air conditioning

Portable air conditioners are perfect for use when you want to focus cooling in a particular spot or when cooling small spaces. These cooling units employ various technologies to cool and dehumidify a room. When shopping for portable AC in UK units, some of the technologies you will come across include;

● Compressor cooling

● Evaporative cooling

Compressor-based portable air conditioner

Most portable air conditioners on the market use a compressor-based setup for cooling. These cooling units feature three main components;

● Compressor

● Condenser coils

● Refrigerant

The compressor is the heart of the AC portable UK gadget. It compresses the refrigerant and transforms it into gaseous form before pumping it through the condenser coils. As warm air passes over the condenser coils, heat and humidity are absorbed, hence cooling the air. Cold is blown back into the room.


Compressor-based portable air conditioners do not produce cold air. They draw in hot air from the environment, cool it over the condenser coils, and then blow it back outside as cold air, hence making a room cooler.


How the portable AC in the UK working?

Evaporative coolers

Evaporative coolers use the natural process of water evaporation to cool the air in a room. A fan inside the cooler draws warm air, which is passed over water-logged pads or a moistened evaporative cooling pad. As hot air passes over the wet pads, the heat causes moisture to evaporate, lowering the temperature of the air.


Evaporative coolers are more energy efficient because they require fewer internal components to run. However, they are not ideal in humid climates because they add moisture to the environment.


Environmental Impact and Sustainability

With rising temperatures and the effects of climate change becoming more pronounced, air conditioners have become a common feature in many households around the world. While these cooling devices provide relief from the sweltering heat, their widespread use has significant environmental repercussions.


The impact of air conditioners goes beyond just cooling the air; it affects local ecosystems and contributes to global climate change. From increased energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to the strain on water resources and the worsening of urban heat islands, the consequences of using air conditioners are extensive and far-reaching.


What are the global impacts of air conditioners?

The portable air conditioners in our homes and workplaces are contributing to global climate change in several ways, chief among them being the increased use of electricity and the emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.


1) Increased energy consumption

Although modern portable AC units in the UK are energy efficient, they still require a significant amount of electricity to run, especially in those hot summer months. As we burn more fossil fuels (natural gas, oil, and coal) to meet the rising demand for electricity consumption, we also release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This, in turn, leads to rising global temperatures and climate change.


2) Portable ACs use refrigerants

AC portable UK gadgets, especially the older compressor-based ones, use a refrigerant to cool air. These units use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons as refrigerants, two known greenhouse gases that damage the ozone layer and trigger global warming. While initiatives like the Montreal Protocol have managed to phase out these older units, some are still in use in many homes.


3) Leakages and improper disposal

If portable air conditioners are not handled or maintained correctly, it can lead to refrigerant leakages, thereby causing greenhouse gases to leak into the atmosphere. In addition, when portable air conditioners reach the end of their lifespan and are not disposed of correctly, refrigerants can leak out and contribute to global greenhouse emissions.


4) Heat island effect

The increased use of electricity on portable ACs in the UK contributes to the urban heat island effect, which is where cities experience increased temperatures due to infrastructure and human activity. Air conditioners release heat into the outdoor environment, elevating the temperature in urban cities.


The United Nations Environment Programme is sounding an alarm on how air conditioning units are fueling the global climate crisis. If the widespread use of portable air conditioners continues, we may likely see a soaring rise in life-threatening humidity and heat by the year 2100.


“By 2050, if we continue on the same trajectory, close to 1000 cities will experience average summer highs of 35 °C, nearly triple the cities that already do.”

-Mark Radka, Chief of the Energy & Climate Branch, UNEP

Sustainable solutions to reduce air conditioning use

Fortunately, it is not all doom and gloom, as there are a couple of measures we can take to mitigate this rising global crisis. If we play our cards right, it is possible to reduce global emissions and global warming by the year 2030. There are sustainable practices we can employ to ensure the planet is protected as we efficiently cool our homes.

Some of these measures include;

● Building insulation

● Green roofs

● Improving indoor ventilation

● Strategic window design


Switch to safer refrigerants

We cannot phase out portable air conditioners completely, but we can make them safer for the planet by using environmentally friendly refrigerants. For example, the Morris 3-in-1 portable AC in the UK uses the R290 refrigerant, an environmentally friendly gas whose global warming potential index is lower compared to other refrigerants like R32. The global warming potential of R290 is indexed at 3, while R32 has a potential index of 675 (“Global warming potential values of hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants” 2021).


Morris air con portable UK ideal for the bedrooms


Building insulation

Adding insulation to building walls helps reduce heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Insulation keeps buildings cool by preventing air from escaping. Air leakage and improper insulation are the main reasons for heat loss or heat gain in buildings, and why your portable air conditioner works twice as hard to maintain a cool indoor environment. Sealing up these air leakage points also prevents moisture intrusion in buildings, especially in humid climates.


Cool or green roofs

Rooftops are one of the major entry points of heat into our buildings. Adding a layer of insulation to your roof will prevent heat from sipping through and raising the temperature indoors. One way to do this is by adding reflective surfaces on the roof to reflect heat away.


Another convenient option is embracing the new green roof trend. This is mainly growing vegetation on the roofs of buildings with shallow-pit or low-sloped roofs. It can be a basic plant cover or a full-blown homemade garden. When the sun shines on the roof, the heat from the sun evaporates the water on the vegetation, hence cooling the green roof and, in turn, the building. In addition, the soil layer adds extra insulation for the roof.


Improving indoor ventilation

The flow of cold air cools our bodies by increasing evaporation on the skin. On hot days, a simple way to improve indoor ventilation is by opening the windows. An even smarter way to cool your home is through the cross-ventilation technique. Place your AC portable UK gadget on one side of a room facing an open window. The portable air conditioner cools the incoming air while stale air is blown out of the house.


Strategic window design

While windows are a good source of natural light in our homes and offices, they are also a great inlet for heat in summer. Installing double-pane or triple-paned windows offers the needed insulation against rising heat. Alternatively, consider installing high-performance glass windows that regulate solar heat gain.

If you are building your UK home, consider facing the windows slightly away from the direct Southerly sun to keep your house cool in summer.


5 Worst Mistakes to Avoid When Using Portable AC in the UK

When it comes to cooling down a room, utilising a portable air conditioner (AC) can be quite convenient. However, it's important to avoid certain mistakes to maximise the benefits of your unit.


Here are five common errors that you should steer clear of:


1) Choosing the wrong-sized portable AC in the UK

One common mistake people make when choosing a portable air conditioner is selecting the wrong size. It's important to choose a unit that is neither too small nor too large for the room you want to cool. If the AC is too small, it will struggle to effectively cool the space, while an oversized unit may cycle on and off frequently, wasting energy. To avoid this, make sure to measure the square footage of the room and select a portable AC with the appropriate cooling capacity, measured in BTUs.


2) Poor ventilation

Another factor that can affect the performance of a portable AC is poor ventilation. It's crucial to ensure proper airflow for the unit to work effectively. Avoid placing the AC in a corner or against a wall where airflow is restricted. Instead, use the window kit provided with the unit to vent hot air outside. If the AC is not properly ventilated, it will have to work harder and less efficiently, resulting in increased energy consumption and reduced cooling performance.


Where to place your portable air conditioning?


3) Neglecting maintenance of your portable aircon

Just like any other appliance, regular maintenance is essential for portable air conditioning units to function effectively. Failing to perform tasks such as cleaning the air filters, removing dust and debris from the unit, and checking for leaks can result in decreased cooling performance and potential damage to the unit over time. It is crucial to follow the manufacturer's maintenance instructions diligently to keep your portable AC running smoothly.


4) Place your portable AC unit in direct sunlight

If you position your portable AC unit in direct sunlight, it will have to work harder to cool the room due to the additional heat from the sun. It is advisable to place the unit in a shaded area or use curtains or blinds to block out sunlight. This simple step will help the AC operate more efficiently and contribute to lower energy costs.


5) Running the AC continuously

Although it may be enticing to keep the portable air conditioner running constantly, this practice can lead to a significant rise in energy consumption and utility expenses. Instead, it is advisable to use a timer or programmable thermostat to control the unit's operation, allowing it to run only when necessary. Furthermore, switching off the air conditioner when you leave the room or when the temperature drops can contribute to energy conservation and prolong the lifespan of the unit.



A glance at the future of portable air conditioners

In future, portable air conditioners are set to undergo a transformative evolution to fully embrace the term ‘smart air conditioners’. These gadgets will fully leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) revolutionising how we interact with our smart portable air conditioners to manage indoor climate control.


Some of the advancements to expect include;

1. Integration of sensors: Smart AC portable UK units will come with an array of sensors embedded in them. They will include humidity sensors, temperature sensors, occupancy sensors, and air quality sensors. These sensors continuously monitor indoor conditions and relay real-time data on humidity levels, temperature changes, occupancy status, air quality metrics, and more.

2. Data processing: Data from the portable AC units in UK will be transmitted to a cloud-based service or central computing point where advanced machine learning models will analyse the data in real time. These algorithms will identify patterns, trends, or anomalies in environmental data, allowing the air con portable UK gadget to dynamically adjust settings for energy efficiency and optimal comfort.


Morris portable AC in UK connected to the cloud


3. Interactive user interfaces: Processed data will be presented to the user through an interactive user interface on their mobile devices or web-based dashboards. Portable AC in the UK owners will be able to control their air gadgets, set temperature differences, and schedule custom cooling on the go. They will be able to monitor humidity, air quality, temperature and energy consumption right from their phone or tablet.


Based on the “Cooling is Hotting Up in the UK” research (Khosravi, 2024), the cooling of buildings currently accounts for 20% of the total electricity used worldwide . This number is speculated to triple by the year 2050, as the demand for efficient cooling increases in the UK in tandem with the rising global temperatures.


The hotter it gets, the more we crank up our AC to keep cool, the more energy we use, and the more greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. This rising demand for portable air conditioning could make global warming worse unless we take some precautions.


In the future, embracing cooling alternatives like shading, building insulation, double glazing our windows, adapting to cool roofs, or embracing natural ventilation can help us lower our carbon footprint and reduce global warming.



Portable air conditioning technology aims to find a careful balance between comfort, affordability, and environmental sustainability. These devices provide immediate relief during scorching heatwaves and offer flexibility in terms of usage, all at a relatively lower cost compared to centralised cooling systems. However, the widespread adoption of portable air conditioners raises concerns about energy consumption and the emission of greenhouse gases.


To address these environmental concerns, it is crucial to embrace sustainable practices and advancements in the field. This includes the development of energy-efficient designs and the integration of smart features. By prioritising solutions that provide comfort and minimise environmental impact, we can ensure a cooler future without compromising the health of our planet.




1. Khosravi, Fatemeh. 2024. “, Cooling is Hotting Up in the UK.” , - Science Direct.

2. LG, Ioannou, Konstantinos Mantzios, Lydia Tsoutsoubi, and Zoe Panagiotaki. 2021. “first_page settings Order Article Reprints Open Access”. Article: “Effect of a Simulated Heat Wave on Physiological Strain and Labour Productivity.” MDPI Volume 18 (Issue 6): 3011.

3. “Cool Roofs.” n.d. Department of Energy. Accessed April 15, 2024. 

4. Dahl, Miriam S. 2020. “The feedbacks between climate change and air pollution — Exhaustion.” EXHAUSTION project.

5. “3.5 Climate change in the UK.” n.d. UK Environmental Change Network. Accessed April 15, 2024.

6. “Global warming potential values of hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants.” 2021. DCCEEW.




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