Sporting a build that’s chunkier than a tower fan, Black+Decker’s portable air cooler doesn’t actually take up any more floor space. And while it isn’t exactly quiet, its steady thrum settles quickly into the background as it creates a reasonable breeze. There aren’t much in the way of features here – just mechanical speed controls and automatic horizontal oscillation.
For the money, the Black+Decker 7-litre portable 2-in-1 air cooler offers decent fan performance, with the bonus that it can gently cool a room. It isn’t bad upgrade from a tower fan, but it can’t match an air conditioner for true cooling power.
- Powerful fan
- Moderate cooling effect
- Good value
- Basic controls and features
- Water-filling can be tricky
- UKRRP: £99
- TypeAn evaporative cooler, this portable air cooler uses a tank of water to reduce the temperature of the air it blows through the process of evaporation
While a fan simply produces a breeze, air coolers and air conditioners create a cool one. Air conditioners – which essentially work like a fridge –can be highly effective, but they tend to use lots of power and make a fair bit of noise. The Black+Decker 7-litre portable 2-in-1 air cooler offers a good compromise, using evaporative cooling to reduce the temperature without running up a huge bill.
This is a medium-sized air cooler, designed to lower the temperature in a small room. It has a far more powerful fan than personal coolers such as the HoMedics MyChill Plus and, in theory, offers stronger cooling performance, too.
Evaporative coolers work in a similar way to how humans dissipate heat through sweating on a hot day. As they blow air across a damp filter, water evaporates, cooling the filter and, in turn, the airflow. This cooler has a big seven-litre water tank, and comes with a couple of ice packs, which should help it cool harder for longer. In practice, like other evaporative coolers, its ability to reduce temperature is heavily dependent on the relative humidity of the room in which it’s placed. It’s greatly diminished as it approaches roughly 70%.
Design and Features
- Relatively compact and smart
- Usefully big water tank
- Very basic controls
The Black+Decker 7-litre portable 2-in-1 air cooler looks like a medium-sized tower fan that’s bulked up for a new role. At roughly 30cm square, it takes up about the same floor space as a tower fan’s pedestal, despite its significantly thicker body. Round the back you’ll find an air input with a removable filter. Below this is a space for the seven-litre water tank.
Filling the tank involves turning a catch, sliding it part-way out and either filling in situ, or unclipping the pump hose block and taking it out fully. Either way is fiddly, particularly when it comes to reconnecting the hoses.
It’s worth noting that, although the cooler comes with casters and is relatively portable, there’s no top to the water tank. While this makes it easy to drop in the supplied ice packs, it also allows water to slop out if you decide to move the cooler while it’s full. You’ll need to fit the supplied casters for easy wheeling around, but this device is light enough for most to lift quite easily.
The front is home to a substantial grille, but look closer and it’s apparent that air only exits from an area to the left. It’s an odd quirk, but unlikely to be an issue in practice. Below this, a cutaway shows the tank’s water level at a glance.
On the top panel you’ll find some very basic, push-button controls. There’s one button to toggle the cooling on and off, and another to swing the vertical louvres – and hence the airflow – left and right. Four smaller buttons set the fan to one of three speeds, or turn it off altogether.
While I can live without cutting-edge features, it’s a shame that this cooler lacks a sleep timer and remote control. There’s no temperature display or thermostatic cut-off, either. On the plus side, the mechanical buttons mean that you can use a smart plug such as the Tapo P100 to integrate it into smart routines. Since it cools the air, rather than simply circulating it, there’s actually a point to running it before you enter a room. You might, for example, want to set it running in the bedroom an hour or two before turning in.
- Produces a fast blast of air
- Modest room cooling
- Not excessively loud
We wouldn’t be surprised if you only ever use this cooler on its lowest setting. At this speed, it’s reasonably quiet, power consumption is at its lowest, yet there’s still a decent breeze. I measured this at a remarkable 5.6 metres per second (m/s) from just 15cm away, an impressive 2.8m/s from 1 metre, and 1.4m/s from 2m. Switched to full power, the Black+Decker 7-litre portable 2-in-1 air cooler ejected air at 8.3m/s, measured at 15cm. By 1 metre this had only fallen to 4.4m/s, and even at 2 metres I measured 2.2m/s.
Despite these record-setting speeds, it’s worth pointing out that this fan produces a tightly focused ‘column’ of fast-moving air, with speeds dropping quickly off-centre. While it’s certainly very capable, it doesn’t move as much air as very powerful circulators such as the Vonhaus 18” floor fan.
This Black+Decker is only a little louder than a typical tower fan, with the cooler function contributing a barely audible trickle. With no harsh or high-pitched notes, it’s surprisingly easy to ‘background’ on its lowest speed, at which power consumption was 55W. I measured noise at 49.1dB from 15cm, and 48dB from 1 metre. Measuring from the side, completely out of the airflow, I recorded 45.5dB and 41.8dB at the same distances.
Turn the speed up to full and you’ll need to raise your voice slightly to hold a conversation. I measured the noise at 56dB from 15cm, rising to 59dB from 1 metre. Again, from the side my noise measurements were lower, at 52.5dB and 48.8dB. At this speed power consumption rose to 63W.
It’s hard to give a definitive verdict on such a unit’s cooling performance, since much depends on the humidity of the environment in which you’re using it. I tested it in a room with an ambient temperature of 22.9℃ and a higher-than-ideal humidity of around 60-63%. I recorded a minimum output temperature of 21.4℃ at 15cm, a drop of only 1.5℃.
While only a modest chill, this cooler treats a larger volume of air than smaller, personal devices. From 2 metres away you can feel a slight coolness to the breeze. In practice, you could improve it by topping up the tank with chilled water, and using ice packs to cool it down further. However, the necessary refrigeration would use more energy, negating some of this cooler’s energy savings over an air conditioner.
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Should you buy it?
If you’re happy to put up with a little noise to get a powerful, slightly cooler upgrade to a room fan, this is a good-value choice.
If you want noise-free cooling then choose a whisper-quiet room fan. For powerful cooling, opt for an air conditioner. This device sits in-between, both in price and performance.
The Black+Decker 7-litre portable 2-in-1 is a basic device, but it looks smart and works reasonably well. It comes with a powerful fan, doesn’t make too much noise, and creates a moderate cooling effect. This certainly results in a fresh breeze, but it may not always be sufficient to lower the temperature of a room. The supplied ice packs help, at the cost of extra hassle and more power use.
Although the Black+Decker air cooler’s basic controls are a shame, I like the ability to pair it with a smart switch. And while it’s nothing like as quiet as the best room fans, many would find it possible to sleep with it running. For reasonable money, it offers a slight step up from a room fan on hot days, but check out the guide to the best fans for alternatives.
How we test
Unlike other sites, we test every fan we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always reveal what we find. We never accept money to review a product.
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Used as our main fan for the review period
We measure the fan speed using an anemometer so that we can accurately compare performance between models
Yes, it uses a tank of water that slowly evaporates to cool the air flow.
No, all of the controls are on top of the fan.