The Best Portable Air Conditioner in 2021
If you’re tired of having to hunker down in your basement to hide from the summer heat, you probably aren’t alone. Central air conditioning usually costs thousands of dollars to install and since Canada doesn’t get super hot most of the year, many people would rather not make that hefty of an investment.
All that being said, there is a way that you can escape the dreaded summer heat without hiding out in your basement or shelling out thousands of dollars for central air conditioning. A portable air conditioning unit can be a great compromise – you’ll be able to stay comfortable in someplace other than your basement without paying a ton for a traditional indoor air conditioner unit.
Now here comes another problem – there’s a lot of portable air conditioners out there. And of course, you want to find the best portable air conditioning unit for your home. So, that means having to compare a bunch of different portable air conditioners until you find one that’s just right. Sifting through countless portable air conditioner reviews probably isn’t your idea of a good time, though.
Not to worry though – we’ve already gone through a multitude of portable air conditioner reviews and selected the top available portable ACs on the market for you to compare. Whether you’re looking for a tiny portable air conditioner or a powerful portable air conditioner, you’re sure to find the best portable AC unit for your home in this guide.
Our Top Picks
How to Choose a Portable AC Unit
While everyone’s idea of the perfect portable air conditioner will vary, there are still a few common things to consider about every unit that you come across.
Portability – It seems pretty obvious, but you should consider whether or not a particular unit is portable in your own specific circumstances. Some portable air conditioning units can get pretty large and heavy – if you’re not capable of moving your unit to where it needs to be, there’s no point in purchasing it. Some portable air conditioning units have wheels which help make them easier to move around.
Decibel Rating/Noise – Portable air conditioners definitely make some noise, regardless of the model or size. Make you sure you take a look at the decibel rating for any portable air conditioners you’re considering – you don’t want to be stuck with one that makes enough noise to keep you up all night on a hot summer’s night.
BTU/British Thermal Units and Coverage Area– Simply put, the BTU rating on your portable air conditioning unit tells you how powerful it is. If you know the BTU rating of a portable air conditioner, you’ll be able to approximate how much of an area it can cool down. Lowe’s has a helpful approximation of what BTU rating you should look for based on the size of the area/room you want to cool down as follows:
- 150 to 350 Sq Ft: Look for a 5,000- to 8,000-BTU unit
- 350 to 550 Sq Ft: Look for an 8,000- to 12,000-BTU unit
- 550 to 1,050 Sq Ft: Look for a 12,000- to 18,500-BTU unit
- 1,050 to 1,600 Sq Ft: Look for an 18,500- to 25,000-BTU unit
Price – Even though purchasing a portable AC is much cheaper than installing an air conditioning system, it still can be quite expensive. Some portable ACs come with basic features while others have more advanced characteristics. A small basic portable AC would cost around $300, but for the one that would have more features like high energy efficiency, smart connection to your phone, and dehumidifier, be prepared to spend closer to $1000.
Fan speed – Most portable air conditioners come with two fan speeds (although some have more), so you could control how fast the room cools off. For instance, slow speed is ideal for keeping the temperature steady during colder days, while medium speed can maintain temperature during hot days, and high speed is made for cooling off the room as fast as possible.
Built-in timer – Having a built-in timer in your portable air conditioner is not only convenient but can also help to save on electricity costs. A timer on a portable AC provides you with the freedom to set it up and leave the house without worrying it will run for hours unnecessarily.
Why Trust Us
Portable air conditioners don’t come cheap and with so many options out there, you don’t want to risk spending a lot only to find out the unit you bought wasn’t so great. We’ve spent over 10 hours comparing and selecting the best portable air conditioners via considering verified customer reviews as well as tester analysis from trusted sources, such as Consumer Reports.
The Best Portable Air Conditioners in Canada
Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner
This 14000 BTU air conditioner is ideal for cooling up 500 square feet in space and features a dual hose configuration for more efficient and fast air cooling. If you’re looking for an energy-efficient portable air conditioner, dual hose portable air conditioners tend to be more energy-efficient than single-hose variants. The Whynter ARC-14S portable air conditioner also comes with a large temperature range (61°F – 89°F) to keep you comfortable during different conditions and times of the day. If you hate draining excess moisture from air conditioning units, you’ll probably love the fact that this one comes with a self-evaporating function – no more having to periodically drain water!
You can also program this air conditioning unit and remote control it – no having to get up constantly to get your preferred temperature settings. If it’s not particularly hot out, you can even use this air conditioning unit as a fan to help circulate air. This portable air conditioning unit also works as a dehumidifier. By dehumidifying your home, your home will feel less muggy and it also has the side effect of helping your clothes dry faster if you hang them up to dry.
It’s also worth noting that Whynter ARC-14S portable air conditioner was among the top 2 highest scores for its category in 2019 for Consumer Reports and several positive customer reviews on Amazon, averaging out at about 4 stars. In particular, reviewers liked not having to manually drain water from this portable air conditioner as well its ability to maintain a consistent temperature.
- It cools a relatively large space (500 square feet).
- Dual hose configuration.
- Self evaporative functionality.
- It requires a lot of space (19” W x 16” D x 35.5” H).
Whynter ARC-14S 14,000 BTU
Haier HPNFD14XCT 14,000-13,500 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
At a rating of 13,500 BTU, this Haier portable air conditioner will be sufficient to cool an area of up to 500 square feet. It’s priced a little lower than the comparable Whynter ARC-14S portable air conditioner (usually around $40 cheaper on Amazon) and has many of the same features, such as having a self-evaporative feature as well as a dual-hose configuration.
The Haier HPNFD14XCT also has a rating of 4.2 stars on Amazon. In particular, one customer appreciated that this Haier portable air conditioner was able to lower the temperature in their room from 30 degrees Celsius to approximately 21 degrees Celsius.
- More affordable than the Whynter ARC-14S AC
- Considered noisy by many consumers.
- The window kit may not be enough for installation.
Danby Portable Air Conditioner (DPA060B7WDB, 6000 BTU)
If you’re looking for a small portable air conditioner or a mini air conditioner, this Danby air conditioner is perfect – it only weighs about 18.8 kg. Regular sized portable air conditioners usually weigh upwards of 30 kg. There is a trade-off in exchange for this air conditioner’s small size though – it’ll only be able to cool spaces of up to 250 square feet since it only has a BTU rating of 6000. While this might be a decent portable AC for a small room, it probably won’t cut it for larger living spaces.
This Danby portable air conditioner is also a decent option if you’re looking for a cheap portable air conditioner – you can usually find it for less than $300 on Amazon.
In terms of features, you’ll find only basic features with this unit, such as dehumidifying modes and fan modes.
On Amazon, the Danby DPA060B7WDB Portable Air Conditioner has an overall rating of 4.1 stars – customer reviews sum it up as a basic portable air conditioning unit that does what it needs to do.
- Easily portable.
- Integrated handles.
- It can be loud.
- Single hose.
Danby Portable Air Conditioner
Frigidaire Portable Air Conditioning Unit (FFPA1222U1, 12000 BTU)
With a BTU rating of 12000, this portable air conditioning unit can cool areas up to 550 square feet. Something unique about it is that it features an antibacterial filter that reduces bacteria and odours in the room that it’s cooling. It also features a sleep mode with quieter operation, so you’ll be able to sleep throughout the night without being woken up. This feature also increases the temperature of your room a few degrees overnight, since most places tend to be cooler during the night.
In general, verified customers on Amazon were pleased with this unit and it’s cooling capabilities – one customer noted that over the course of an evening, this unit was able to bring down the temperature in their room from 90 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 32 degrees Celsius) to about 79 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 26.1 degrees Celsius).
- Anti-bacterial filter that improves air quality.
- This unit maintains the set temperature instead of shutting off once the desired temperature is reached.
- It doesn’t come with a self-evaporation feature.
Frigidaire FFPA1222U1, 12000 BTU
De’Longhi Pinguino Portable Air Conditioner (PACN110, 11000 BTU)
This De’Longhi Pinguino portable air conditioner will cool areas of up to 350 square feet. It also only reaches a maximum noise level of 53 dB, so this unit might be one to consider if you’re looking for a reasonably quiet portable air conditioning unit. It’s also worth noting that this portable air conditioner comes with a free one year warranty on parts and labour for the air conditioning unit.
On Amazon, the De’Longhi portable air conditioner has an overall rating of 4 stars – many reviewers liked that it was easy to set up and also easy to take out of your window when you feel you don’t need it. One reviewer in particular noted that it works to cool rooms reasonably quickly – the temperature in their room went down from 25 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius in 30 minutes.
- This unit automatically recycles condensation within the unit and helps prevents leakage.
- Some online reviewers didn’t like the window kit.
How We Picked the Best Portable Air Conditioners
For this buying guide, we chose the best available portable air conditioners regardless of the price for the most part. Portable air conditioners are a little bit of a pricey investment, so we feel it’s worth it to spend a little more to get a unit that works really well and that has all the features you need.
We also considered features that go hand in hand with air cooling – for example, dehumidifying functions can help a room feel more comfortable by reducing mugginess. We went through over 20 portable air conditioners and only took into consideration portable air conditioners with a rating of at least 4.0 stars on online retailers for our top picks.
Frequent Portable AC Questions
What is a portable air conditioner?
It’s pretty much what the name suggests – portable air conditioners are air conditioners that are mobile. For the most part, they have wheels so you can easily take them to whichever room that needs cooling.
How do portable air conditioners work?
The answer varies slightly, depending on if you have a single hose portable air conditioner or a dual hose air conditioner. A single-hose portable air conditioner will pull still air from inside a room, cool the air and distribute it through the room. In addition to this, single-hose portable air conditioners take excess warm air and moisture and funnel it outside through a window via the hose. Dual-hose portable air conditioners essentially function the same, except one hose pulls in air from outside to cool and distribute in the room while the other hose is used to funnel excess warm air and moisture outside through a window.
What are the main portable air conditioner benefits?
A portable air conditioner has plenty of benefits that can make your life more convenient during hot seasons. Firstly, you can use it in an apartment/rental house where installment of window AC is prohibited. That also means that, unlike a window air conditioner, a portable AC would not block sunlight.
Secondly, they take very little space. Most portable ACs are compact in size and they look slick and minimal enough to fit well into any home interior. A portable AC is also easy to install and most importantly it is affordable to run for it does not draw too much power. And lastly, a portable AC is an ideal choice for an RV or a trailer when you need efficient cooling during travelling.
Do portable air conditioners work?
If installed properly and used in an appropriate environment, portable air conditioners should definitely work to cool whatever room you’re in. This guide should give you a good idea about if a portable air conditioner is right for you and how effective it’ll be in your home.
How do self-evaporating portable air conditioners work?
Whenever you use your portable air conditioning unit, you’ll probably notice that your unit needs to be drained of water occasionally, through emptying a water tray or through a drain hose. This is because air conditioners remove warm, moist air from the room they’re cooling. While they’re cooling this air, moisture is also removed from the air and it condenses into liquid water. Self-evaporating portable air conditioners will empty any collected water out through the vent hose, saving you the hassle from having to empty the water out yourself.
What is the best portable air conditioner on the market?
The best portable air conditioner on the market will mean something different for everybody. Some people might want a portable air conditioning unit with the most cooling power possible, while someone else may want a portable air conditioning unit that has additional features such as self-evaporation and dehumidifying. However, in general, our Top Picks list has what we at Product Reviews by EnergyRates.ca think are among the best available units out there.
Are portable ACs and evaporative air coolers the same thing?
A ventless air conditioner (or a portable air conditioner without hose) isn’t actually an air conditioner– it’s an evaporative cooler. However, it serves the function of making a room cooler, though by a different method. Evaporative coolers essentially pass air over a wet pad and the water from the pad evaporates into the air, which cools it.
Portable AC with or without hose: Which one is the best?
When you’re trying to decide between a portable AC unit with a hose or an evaporative cooler (sometimes called a portable air conditioner without hose), consider the humidity of where you live. If you live in a very humid place, chances are an evaporative won’t work too well since it adds moisture to the air and can even lead to problems with mould growth. However, if you live in a climate that has little humidity, using an evaporative cooler could be beneficial since it adds moisture.
On the flip side, if you live in a place with a lot of humidity, making use of portable AC units is a smart idea, since they remove moisture from the air.
How to install a portable air conditioner?
In general, most air conditioners will come with a window adapter kit, since one of the most common places to vent an AC unit is through a window. It’s usually as simple as securing your portable air conditioner’s hose(s) through a window or a door and plugging in your unit. Note that you may have to purchase extra materials (such as plexiglass) if the kit that comes with your portable air conditioner doesn’t have enough materials to fill in the gap in your open window or door. Whenever possible, you should follow the installation manual that comes with your portable air conditioning unit.
How to find the quietest portable air conditioner?
If you’re concerned with finding a quiet portable air conditioner, many of them come with a decibel rating that indicates how loud they are. As you can imagine, a lower decibel rating means a quieter portable air conditioner. For reference, normal conversation is around 60 dB while a lawnmower is about 90dB.
How do portable air conditioners drain water?
Some will have a water tray that you’ll need to empty out while others will have a drain hose. Self evaporating portable air conditioners will empty out any water that collects through the vent hose of your portable air conditioner.
How effective are portable air conditioners?
Generally speaking, it depends on a few things, such as whether you have a single hose or double hose air conditioner and the size of the area you want to cool. However, you should note that portable air conditioners are generally going to be less effective at cooling than central air conditioning or a window air conditioning will be, in exchange for being a fraction of the price.
What are window kits for portable air conditioners?
Window kits are usually included with most portable air conditioners. In most cases, you’ll be putting your air conditioner’s hose(s) outside through a window. A window kit will include everything you need to secure the hoses in your window and fill in the open space in your open window so that warm air or insects don’t come in from the gap.
What is the best air conditioner for apartments?
Apartments usually have limited space, so we’re inclined to say portable conditioning units that don’t take up much space. However, it really depends on what you’re looking for – for example, you might care more about cooling power than the space taken up by a portable air conditioner. With what you want in mind, this guide should be able to give you suggestions on what portable air conditioner is right for you.
Where can I find portable air conditioners in Canada?
A pretty good bet would be in any home improvement stores or home hardware stores. Some places where you’d probably be able to find portable air conditioning units would be: Costco, Amazon, Kijiji, Home Depot, The Brick, Walmart and Canadian Tire.
Other Portable ACs
These products didn’t quite make the cut as the top portable air conditioning units, but they’re still quite popular among consumers.
LG Portable Air Conditioner (LP1417GSR, 14000 BTU)
This LG portable air conditioner can cool areas up to 500 square feet and features auto-swing air vent technology and angled slats so that there are no hot spots in whatever room it is cooling. It also comes with an auto-evaporation feature, so you don’t need to constantly empty the unit of water. However, many reviews state that this unit is noisy and that some people may have issues with tripped breakers.
Here’s another 14,000 BTU portable conditioning unit you might be taking into consideration. In particular, reviewers like that this unit was easy to install and that this unit comes with dual filtration for improved air quality.
Some common complaints associated with this unit are that the exhaust hose is too short and limits the placement of this unit and that this unit doesn’t come with a self-evaporation feature.
However, this unit seems to be difficult to find in Canada so this probably isn’t the best option for someone who needs a portable air conditioner immediately.
In comparison to other portable air conditioners, this model is an older one but still does a solid job of cooling your home. With a rating of 10,000 BTU, this unit will effectively cool spaces of up to 350 square feet. It’s also on the lower-middle end of pricing – you can buy it for $459.99 at Home Depot. However, some common complaints concerning this unit are that it’s bulky and noisier than some people would be able to tolerate.
Here’s another option to consider if you want to cool a small area (up to 300 square feet.) Something worth noting about this Tosot portable air conditioner is that it has a sleep mode function with a decibel rating of 49 dB – that’s approximately the same amount of noise as the hum your refrigerator makes. If you need to run your portable air conditioner throughout the night, this unit can be a good, quieter option in comparison with other units.
Garrison Portable Air Conditioner (8500 BTU)
With a rating of 8500 BTU, this Garrison portable air conditioner should be able to cool areas of up to 350 square feet. As far as portable air conditioners go, this unit is fairly basic, with only a few features such as a 24-hour timer and auto-swing louvers for multi-directional airflow. At a price point of about $429.99, you could probably find a portable air conditioning unit with more features and more cooling power.
Noma Portable Air Conditioner (NOMA 9,000 BTU 3-in-1 Portable Air Conditioner)
Although this portable air conditioner has a low noise level (50-52 dB) and comes with features such as dehumidifying and multi-directional airflow, the reviews are quite mixed. In particular, it’s worth noting that a lot of customers find that this portable air conditioning unit is only able to cool a room down by a few degrees.
Arctic King Portable Air Conditioner
This 8000 BTU air conditioner might be on your list of considerations if you’re looking to cool a space under 400 square feet. While it comes with features such as auto-restarting after power outages and air direction control, the reviews for this model seem pretty mixed. While some reviewers are impressed with this unit due to its reach, other reviewers dislike how noisy it is.
In combination with the fact that this portable air conditioner unit seems to be difficult to find, you may be better off looking at other portable air conditioners for better availability and more consistent reviews.
Zen Cooler portable AC reviews are pretty sparse, but there’s one thing you should take note of first and foremost. It’s actually an evaporative cooler and not so much an actual air conditioner. It has a water tank on the side that you need to fill up periodically and uses a USB charging cable for power. In essence, it cools the air by evaporating water. While it’s light (740g) and doesn’t have a hose that needs to go outside, it cools a much smaller area than most portable air conditioners. And since it relies on the evaporation of water for cooling, it might not work very well for you if you live in a humid area.