There are three basic types of portable air conditioners:

  • Single duct portable air conditioners are wholly within a conditioned space. They draw air from the conditioned space which then flows over the condenser and is exhausted via a single duct to the outside.
  • Double duct portable air conditioners are wholly within a conditioned space. They draw air from the outside the conditioned space through one duct which then flows over the condenser and is exhausted via the second duct to the outside.
  • Spot coolers are also lie wholly within a conditioned space, but they have no duct or air interconnection to the outside.

Energy efficiency regulations come into effect for portable air conditioners from 1 April 2020.

Regulatory requirements for portable air conditioners

Increases in the market share of portable air conditioners has prompted Australian governments to introduce energy efficiency regulation for these products.

From 1 April 2020, energy efficiency regulations for single duct portable air conditioners (the portable air conditioners with a single air hose) come into force under the new Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (Air Conditioners up to 65kW) Determination 2019 (the Determination).

The Determination sets Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and labelling requirements that will apply to portable unitary single duct air conditioner (single duct portables) for the first time from 1 April 2020.

Double duct portable air conditioners, with a second duct to draw air from outdoors, are covered by both the 2019 Determination and the 2013 air conditioner determination.

Evaporative air conditioners and spot coolers are not covered by either the 2019 or the 2013 determination.

Transition arrangements

Single duct portables imported or manufactured from 1 April 2020 must meet the requirements in the 2019 determination.  That is, they must meet MEPS and be labelled with the new Zoned Energy Rating Label (ZERL).

If single duct portables have been imported or manufactured before 1 April 2020, they may continue to be sold, but the requirements are different depending on whether the air conditioners meet MEPS or not.

If the single duct portable air conditioner model does not meet MEPS they may continue to be sold until sold out, but no further units may be imported into or manufactured in Australia after 1 April 2020.

If the single duct portable air conditioner model does meet MEPS, the model must be registered with the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (GEMS) Regulator, but the remaining stock may continue to be able to be sold without displaying an energy rating label.

Zoned Energy Rating Label for portable air conditioners

Upon registration of a portable air conditioner, the GEMS registration system will generate a ZERL for that air conditioner. If the portable air conditioner has only one duct (a single duct air conditioner), the ZERL will display no stars.  If the air conditioner has two ducts (a double duct portable air conditioner) it will achieve at least half a star for each climate zone.

This is because single duct air conditioners are not efficient at cooling a room.  Single duct portables blow cool air out the front of the machine, so that if you sit in front of it, you feel cool.  Their design, however, means that they are not efficient at cooling a room and may even raise the temperature in the room.  Single duct air conditioners draw air from inside the room in order to cool it, while at the same time venting air from the room to a space outside the room.  This reduces the air pressure in the room, so that air from outside the room, either from other rooms in the house or from outside the building, is drawn into the room, counteracting the cooling effect of the portable air conditioner.

To find out more about your heating and cooling options, see the energy.gov.au website.

At a glance...





New Zealand

Air Conditioners – Single Duct Portable


(from 1 April 2020)


(from 1 April 2020)

GEMS Determination

Under consideration pending Cabinet approval

Useful Resources

Visit the Australian Government's energy.gov.au website for useful information like: