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Best air cooler 2024: Tried and tested evaporative coolers for every budget

A roundup of the best air coolers against a blue background

We’ve spent countless hours testing the best air coolers from the biggest manufacturers. Here are our favourite options for every use case

Buying one of the best air coolers is a cost-effective way of reducing the temperature of rooms in your home.

While they won’t refrigerate air to the same degree as a portable air conditioner, air coolers are significantly cheaper and more convenient. And when it comes to their ability to chill your environment, they’re a step up from most standard fans.

We’ve been putting a wide range of air coolers through their paces for the past three summers since 2021, and we’ve compiled a definitive list of the products worth buying. Each has been tested extensively and given an award based on its strengths and weaknesses relative to the competition.

Keep scrolling or click here for reviews of our recommended products, or navigate to the bottom of the page to learn more about how air coolers work, how we test them and what to consider when shopping for one.

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Best air cooler: At a glance

Best air cooler for rapid coolingBlack+Decker Manual 2-in-1 Air Cooler (~£100)Check price at Amazon
Best air cooler for control optionsPrincess Smart Air Cooler (~£105)Check price at Amazon
Best air cooler for ease of useHoneywell TC09PM Portable Air Cooler (~£140)Check price at Amazon
Best air cooler for desktopsEvapolar evaCHILL (~£99)Check price at B&Q

The best air coolers to buy in 2024

1. Black+Decker Manual 2-in-1 Air Cooler: Best air cooler for quick cooling

Price when reviewed: £100 | Check price at Amazon Best air cooler - stock image of the Black+Decker Manual 2-in-1 Air Cooler

What impressed us most about this air cooler was the speed at which it produced cold air. Used with the two included freezer blocks, it reduced the temperature in our testing room quicker than the other options on this list.

Oscillating vertical louvres ensured cool air was spread out broadly, while the horizontal louvres allowed us to angle the airflow up or down as required. The cooler is designed to humidify as it cools, but it has a fan-only option if you simply want to circulate air around the room. It’s also one of the few coolers we’ve seen with a built-in timer, so you can set it to chill before bedtime.

Its only significant drawbacks are that it’s awkward to remove the water tank and filter block for cleaning and that it creates a reasonably loud 60 dBA of noise at its highest speed.

Key specs – Tank capacity: 7l; Air circulation: 234m³/hr; Speeds: 3; Oscillation: Yes; Freezer blocks: Yes; Extra features: No; Power consumption: 65W; Dimensions: 300 x 301 x 770mm (WDH); Weight: 6kg

2. Princess Smart Air Cooler: Best air cooler for control options

Price when reviewed: £105 | Check price at AmazonBest air cooler - product image of the Princess Smart Air Cooler

This option from Dutch brand Princess can be operated using a remote, smartphone app and voice commands, making it the top pick for those in search of multiple control options.

Commands can be sent to the cooler via the Princess Home app, Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant, and we found using verbal commands to turn the unit off and change modes particularly useful. Natural mode varies the fan speed for an outdoor breeze effect, while Sleep mode ramps down the speed as you doze off. These supplement the three fan speeds nicely and a pair of icepacks are included to speed up cooling.

Tank capacity is limited to just 3.5l, meaning it won’t last much more than a day, and the cooler is louder than most, even at its lowest setting. But performance is impressive for the money and you won’t find this level of smart control anywhere else.

Key specs – Tank capacity: 3.5l; Air circulation: 1,188m³/hr; Speeds: 3; Oscillation: Yes; Freezer blocks: Yes; Extra features: Humidification, Fan, Smart App, Timer, Natural and Sleep modes; Power consumption: 70W; Dimensions: 280 x 220 x 760mm (WDH); Weight: 4kg

3. Honeywell TC09PM: Best air cooler for ease of use

Price when reviewed: £140 | Check price at AmazonBest air cooler - product image of the Honeywell TC09PM Portable Air Cooler

Air coolers don’t get any easier to use than the TC09PM from American manufacturer Honeywell. It has two dials; one to control fan speed and one to select whether you want it to cool, oscillate or do both simultaneously. Simplicity may be its key selling point, but the cooler performed admirably in testing, dishing out a consistently good, cooling airflow. Its 9l water tank is larger than its rivals too, meaning it can be left for a couple of days without needing a refill.

Refilling is a doodle thanks to a pull-out door at the rear of the cooler. This design does mean there’s no space to add freezer blocks, though, which limits how cool it can get. The honeycomb cooling membrane requires cleaning slightly more regularly than other options we’ve tested, but we think that’s a price worth paying given the blissfully straightforward user experience.

Key specs – Tank capacity: 9l; Air circulation: 300m³/hr; Speeds: 3; Oscillation: Yes; Freezer blocks: No; Extra features: Humidification; Power consumption: 65W; Dimensions: 301 x 280 x 660mm (WDH); Weight: 4.6kg

4. Evapolar evaCHILL: Best desktop air cooler

Price when reviewed: £99 | Check price at B&QBest air cooler - product image of the Evapolar evaCHILL

The evaCHILL is pricier than most USB-powered desktop coolers but blew us away during testing. It circulated air more effectively than cheaper units and its basalt-based filters, which slow the build-up of bacteria, stayed sterile over long-term use. This meant the cooler avoided the kind of unpleasant smells that often plague desktop models if not cleaned daily.

The tank may only be 800ml but provides around nine hours of effective cooling and can be filled from the top, which makes the refilling process very easy. Cycling through the three speeds is a breeze using the one-button controls, and the evaCHILL is also significantly quieter than its rivals when cooling.  Its size means it can only cool one person, and the evaporative cartridge needs replacing every three or four months, but if you’re looking to reduce the temperature at your desk or in your home office, this cooler has you covered.

Key specs – Tank capacity: 800ml; Air circulation: 83.25m³/hr; Speeds: 3; Oscillation: Yes; Freezer blocks: No; Extra features: Humidification; Power consumption: 7.5W; Dimensions: 170 x 170 x 172 (WDH); Weight: 750g

How do air coolers work?

There are two basic types of air coolers: compact, USB-powered ones designed to cool a narrow area from a table or desktop, and larger options that look a little like portable air conditioners and seek to cool larger spaces.

Both use fans to blow air through an absorbent pad or membrane structure. As water on the pad or membrane evaporates, it cools the air around it and this cold air is then blown out into the room by the fan. The cooler the water on the pad or membrane, the cooler the air that is produced, which is why some air coolers come with ice packs or freezing blocks.

It’s important to note that this method of cooling is not as effective as air conditioning and won’t suddenly transform a roasting room into a chilled-out sanctuary. It’s much cheaper and convenient, however, and uses less energy, too.

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How we test air coolers

Choosing products for the page

All of the products that feature on this page have either outperformed similarly priced rivals in one or more of the tests detailed below or have a unique selling point that makes them worth your consideration.

Because different air coolers have different strengths and weaknesses, we attempt to select a range of products that meet a variety of needs. But rest assured, if an air cooler fails at its primary task of cooling us down, you won’t find it on this page.

Testing tools and metrics

A range of tools are used to test the performance of air coolers across various areas. We use a handheld anemometer to measure the speed of airflow generated by the air cooler in metres per second and then convert it into metres per hour, while a digital thermometer is used to record changes in ambient room temperature.

The tool of choice for tracking changes in humidity is an air quality sensor, while a smartphone sound meter is used to record noise levels at both minimum and full power. Finally, we use an AC passthrough power meter to check the energy consumption at both levels.

There are some things we can’t test using tools, such as how intuitive a product is to use or how easy it is to fill or clean. By spending extended periods with a product and regularly using its full range of features and functionality, we can assess these more abstract qualities relative to the competition.

Testing conditions and process

Our air cooler testing is conducted in hot rooms during the summer months as these are typically the conditions in which they’re used. We close any doors or windows to maximise the heat and minimise the impact of external factors such as wind on a cooler’s ability to cool its environment.

Things to consider before buying an air cooler

Size and portability

  • Desktop coolers are very compact and easy to move, but less effective than larger options. Larger units have greater cooling power, but you’ll need to find more space to accommodate them. If you plan to move your cooler from room to room regularly, we suggest looking for an option with rolling feet.

Fan speeds and oscillation

  • Most air coolers offer a choice of fan speeds, but larger ones often use movable louvres that move airflow left and right and up and down. These are handy as they allow you to direct the cooling breeze as you see fit.

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Ice packs or freezer blocks

  • These reduce the temperature of the water absorbed by an air cooler’s pad or membrane, resulting in cooler air when it evaporates. For optimal cooling power, look for a cooler that comes with these.

Built-in humidification

  • Some air coolers offer humidifier settings that actively put moisture into the air. This is useful for hot and dry rooms but isn’t advisable if the air is already humid.

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Tank capacity

  • Different air coolers use water at different rates but generally speaking, a larger tank capacity means you’ll be able to leave it running for longer. The presence of an open water tank does mean there is a risk of spillage, which is something to be aware of, particularly if you’re using a desktop cooler near a PC or laptop.


  • To avoid nasty smells, you’ll need to wash your air cooler’s pad or membrane regularly and ensure the water is changed regularly. Some smaller coolers, however, simply require you to change a filter every few months.

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