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Modern living room with brown leather couches, concrete floors and a fireplace next to a tall stack of wood logs.
We’re sharing advice on choosing the best cooling system for your home, whether it’s an air-conditioning unit, ceiling fan, pedestal fan or portable air conditioner.

Blowin' in the wind

What’s the best way to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home this summer? Whatever you’re shopping for, it pays to do your research first to make the right choice for your space, especially as there will be ongoing running costs and maintenance to factor in. 

Ceiling fans

Ceiling fans are ideal for any single room or space that regularly needs cooling, although it’s worth noting they don’t actually cool the air – they just move it around. Your body cools itself by perspiring, and ceiling fans enhance the effect by generating a breeze over your skin. Typically, running a fan is roughly equivalent to a temperature reduction of 3°C*.

On average, internal ceiling fans use less energy than air conditioners, making them cheaper to run. They come in a range of styles to suit all décors and they need to be hardwired and installed by a licensed electrician. 

Before selecting a model, size up your room. The team at Arlec advises that, as a guide, fans up to 1000mm diameter can be installed in small rooms up to 13sqm. “For medium-sized rooms up to 20sqm, consider installing a fan with 1000-1200mm diameter, while rooms larger than 20sqm suit fans with a 1200mm blade diameter or larger.”

For a large, open-plan space, you may need more than one fan. You’ll also need to install ceiling fans at least 2.1m from the ground, so a room with low ceilings won’t be suitable. Tall or raked ceilings? You can use an extension rod to have a fan installed at the optimum level.

“Timber-bladed fans are quieter and suited to bedrooms, whereas fans with ABS blades often move more air,” advise the team at Arlec.

Tip: For year-round comfort, pick a ceiling fan with a summer/winter switch. In cold weather, run it clockwise to push warmth from your heat source down into the room.

Air conditioners

Air conditioning is ideal for cooling anything from single rooms to entire homes and it brings down the temperature of the actual air in a room. Window units, installed in either a window or – in some cases – through a wall, serve a single room. Split system air conditioners house the compressor outside, with the air outlet unit in the room.

If you have a larger home and want to cool more than one room, consider a multi split system, which has a number of air outlets connected to a single compressor, or ducted air conditioning, which can cool the whole home. (Some models even allow you to operate different areas as needed.)

Reverse-cycle air conditioner systems are year-round options – they can cool down or warm up a room. It’s important to buy an air conditioning system to suit the size of your space, and don’t forget to check the energy rating for efficiency. Also, factor in ongoing air conditioner maintenance costs, plus installation by a licensed technician.

Tip: Did you know we offer an air conditioner installation service? (Ask at the Special Orders desk; not all services are available in all stores.)

A cup, a vase of flowers, and books on a retro wooden bedside table next to a bed with neutral-coloured linens and cushions.

Portable air conditioners

Like fixed units, portable air conditioners draw in warm air, cool it and vent via a hose through a window. (Check if a venting kit is included or sold separately). The operating process also means water condensation is collected, often in a tank that will need to be emptied regularly. This makes them a good option for a quick cooling fix in a small area of your home.

Portable air conditioners are generally cheaper to buy than fixed units, they don’t incur installation costs, and they can be rolled from room to room as required and move house with you. Some need to be sited near a window and a power point, as extension cords aren’t recommended for use with these models.

Portable air conditioners aren’t energy-efficient; the usual, single-duct model doesn’t rate stars for a quick comparison on the energy rating label, so check the power consumption figures to work out how much your chosen unit could cost to run.

Tip: A portable air conditioner unit offering heating and cooling will give you all-season use.

Portable fans

Portable fans are ideal for rooms or spaces where you need a targeted cooling effect. (They are especially good for renters, as you can take them with you when you move.) Available in floor-standing and desk versions, they can be placed just about anywhere you need a breeze, and they generate the same type of cooling as ceiling fans.

Styles include pedestal fans, powerful tower types that don’t take up much space, and slick bladeless fans. On average, portable fans are cheaper than ceiling fans and, since they can usually be plugged into an existing socket, you shouldn’t have to factor in any installation costs. More powerful, oscillating models may use more energy than a ceiling fan, which means they can end up costing slightly more to run.

Bunnings electrical buyer Kirsten Smith says the size of the space is the most important issue when buying a portable fan. “Choose small personal fans for a study, 40cm pedestal fans for a lounge and large 75cm industrial fans for a garage or gym,” she explains.

Tip: Some portable fans can be controlled by remote or via a smart system app.


What is the difference between AC and DC fans?

AC fans mean alternating current fan motors connect directly to the power source. Direct current fan motors connect via an inbuilt electronic converter and tend to be quieter and use less energy. For this reason, you may find DC fans more suitable for bedrooms.

What are ABS fan blades?

ABS stands for ‘acrylonitrile butadiene styrene’, a type of thermoplastic used for ceiling fan blades that can be shaped for best airflow and aesthetics.

What is BTU?

‘British thermal unit’, or BTU, is an imperial measurement of thermal energy and refers to an air conditioning unit’s ability to change the air temperature in a room.

Do I need to insulate my home?

Good roof and ceiling insulation can save up to 45 percent* on heating and cooling costs, so it’s worth having quality ceiling batts installed. (Some products can be a D.I.Y. project.)

How else can I keep my home cool in summer?

As well as considering ceiling fans, portable fans and air conditioners, don’t forget windows. Invest in blinds, curtains or both, and try to keep them all closed during the heat of the day to limit solar heat gain.


Looking for extra ways to beat the heat?

Check out our tips to reduce your cooling bill.

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.