This portable air con saved me from the UK heatwave. Thanks, Princess!

Cometh the hour, cometh the portable air conditioner royalty

Princess smart portable air conditioner
(Image credit: Duncan Bell)

The weather is getting hotter again – it's UK Heatwave 2.0! This makes me think all the way back to last Friday, when it was really hot. That could have bad news, because my front room is exactly the kind of space you don't want to be in – it's got floor to ceiling windows that only open a crack, almost no blinds, and it's quite a modern building, so it's very well insulated. Oh, and the kitchen is attached to it, too. All of which is great in winter, not too bad for most of summer, but a bit sweaty on a genuinely hot day. And Friday – or 'the one-day heatwave' as I'm calling it – was all too genuinely a hot day. 

Thankfully, I was able to lay my hands on one of the best portable air conditioners I've tried, at very short notice, so massive thanks to Princess and more specifically, Princess's UK PR team. This was definitely weather in which even the best fans would not remotely cut it, so I was extremely grateful. And lovely and cool. 

With high temperatures expected for the next few weeks, now is still potentially a good time to buy a portable air conditioner. But do avoid making the mistakes everyone makes with air conditioners. This Princess model is easy to setup, powerful enough for quite large, hot rooms, can be controlled from your phone and even looks quite attractive, at least by the standards of air conditioners. It also has a nice long duct, which also proved very handy for me, personally.

Princess Smart Air Conditioner 12000

(Image credit: Princess)

Believe it or not, the full name of this portable aircon is Princess 01.353200.01.001 Smart Air Conditioner 12000 – that really trips off the tongue, doesn't it? I really wanted a 12000 BTU unit and as you can probably guess, the 12000 on the end of that very long name refers to the BTU rating of the machine. In theory, that is enough for a room 100 cubic meters in size, which is about 30 square meters, unless your ceilings are unusually high. This should be just enough for my front room, although as I mentioned, the design of it makes it quite a challenge for air con. 

The first thing I loved about the Princess Smart Air Conditioner 12000 is that I was able to get it working in minutes. Unboxing is a cinch as the box just lifts off and then it was short trundle on its handy casters to the front room. The device paired with the iOS Climate app with great ease, and could also be added to my Alexa voice control system – Google is supported too. 

An interesting sealing system is provided with the Princess – the idea is that you velcro something rather like a small tent to your partly opened window, and run the outlet duct from the air con through a hole in it. Unfortunately, my windows are not suitable for this approach. Truth be told, I didn't really fancy velcroing a small white tent to any part of my lounge anyway, so I opted instead to just run the duct out of the balcony door. It should be said that this is by no means an ideal arrangement, but needs must when the Devil is heating up your living room to a Hellish temperature.

Thankfully, even in this trying environment, with my shoddy setup efforts, the Princess proved able to cool the room to a beautiful degree. With the mercury hitting  32ºC outside, the room, even in direct sunlight, stayed in the mid 20s. Admittedly, that is still quite warm, but it's very bearable. Walking outside, even onto the balcony was a genuine shock to the system, as it was so much hotter than the lounge.

What made this even more impressive was that the unit that arrived wasn't even working properly – due to some kind of damage in transit, it was making a lot of noise, but it still managed to cool the space. Princess later replaced it with a fully functioning one, and this makes just the usual air-con level of white noise – it's rated at about 65dB, which isn't bad at all.

Another very welcome feature of the Princess is that it has an A energy rating. If we ever get a heatwave that carries on for more than one day, the cost of air con could really start to ramp up, so it's great to know you're getting the best possible energy efficiency with these beasts. 

It also is able to operate as a fan – albeit an unnecessarily enormous one – and a dehumidifier, although you'll need to add a length of hose for that.

Overall, I am extremely impressed with the Princess 01.353200.01.001 Smart Air Conditioner 12000, despite its preposterous name. The price of it is pretty reasonable as well, considering how good it is and the fact it could be a life-saver – perhaps even literally – when the temperatures next soar.

Princess Smart Air Conditioner 12000: price and availability

This fine air conditioner is just £549 at Amazon UK. 

Some fan deals right now

Duncan has been writing about tech for almost 15 years, during which time he has attended every event going, apart from Apple ones, as he mysteriously doesn't get invited to them. He has covered everything from smartphones to headphones, TV to AC and air fryers to the movies of James Bond and obscure anime. 

Duncan's current brief is everything to do with the home and kitchen, which is good because he is an excellent cook, if he says so himself. He also covers cycling and ebikes – like over-using italics, this is another passion of his. Duncan also edits T3's golf section because fuck it, someone has to. Dave Usher does all the real work on that bit, though. In his long and varied lifestyle-tech career he is one of the few people to have been a fitness editor despite being unfit and a cars editor for not one but two websites, despite being unable to drive. He also has about 400 vacuum cleaners, and is possibly the UK's leading expert on cordless vacuum cleaners, despite being decidedly messy.

Before T3, Duncan was a music and film reviewer, worked for a magazine about gambling that employed a surprisingly large number of convicted criminals, and then a magazine called Bizarre that was essentially Reddit before the invention of Reddit. There was a lengthy period where he essentially wrote all of T3 magazine every month for about 3 years. 

A broadcaster, raconteur and public speaker, Duncan used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."