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Best Portable Air Conditioners in Canada

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Written by: Anna Chiranova
Last updated on

When installing an AC system is too much trouble (and too damaging for your budget), a good portable air conditioner can save the day. After all, who says that a smaller AC can’t keep you cool? Today, I have prepared a review of the best portable air conditioners in Canada to prove that even a compact device like that can help you stay fresh on a hot summer day.

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Our Reviews of the 5 Best Portable Air Conditioners in Canada

Best Overall - Editor’s Choice — SereneLife SLPAC12.5 Portable Air Conditioner

SereneLife
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Highlights

  • Compact design makes the storing and moving a unit a breeze.
  • A powerful compressor offers great value for money compared to others in the market.
  • A versatile AC unit with remote control and digital display panel for ease of use.

Starting the list of the best portable air conditioners in Canada is the SereneLife model, our Editor's choice. This unit is perfect for small spaces and can be easily moved from room to room. 

It features three fan speeds and remote control so the user can adjust the temperature to their liking. The swing feature adds extra circulation, and the digital display panel makes it easy to see the current temperature.

The SereneLife also has a dehumidifier function, perfect for humid summer days. With quiet operation and the three operating modes, this unit marks its place as one of the best portable air conditioners in Canada.

This AC unit comes with an enviable cooling power of 12 000 BTUs per hour and can cover an area of up to 450 square feet. This implies that it is ideal for small to medium-sized rooms.

The unit is also very easy to install as it comes with an installation kit that includes the accessories for a quick installation. So, if you are looking for a versatile and efficient AC unit, then this is the perfect unit for you.

Best Value for Money — Costway Portable Air Conditioner


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Highlights

  • compact and great for small rooms;
  • multiple operating modes for a reasonable price, offers good value for money;
  • 24-hour timer for improved adjustability and timely cooling.

Looking for a great portable AC that could offer impressive functionality for an affordable price? Then the Costway might be your ideal solution. This model belongs to the best portable air conditioners in Canada that offer great value for money, as it combines all the necessary features for your comfort during the hotter days. I especially like the Sleep Mode. It makes the Costway AC operate super quietly. As a light sleeper, I appreciate this feature a lot, as I could sleep cool without being disturbed by the AC noise.

Best for small and medium-size places — hOmeLabs 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner

hOmeLabs 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner
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Highlights

  • 14 000 BTUs give the AC an edge over others in its class.
  • Covers up to 600 sq. f.
  • A modern design with Sleep/Eco function.

Do you want more power than the Editor's choice unit? Here is the air conditioner for you! With 14,000 BTUs per hour, this unit can quickly and effectively cool your space. 

This portable unit from hOmeLabs is perfect for cooling small to medium-size rooms of up to 600 square feet. It can efficiently cool and dehumidify your home while circulating fresh and clean air. 

The easy-roll casters allow for moving the unit to the desired area. This portable AC unit is built to meet the needs of a wide range of users. It comes with a special eco sleep mode on/off timer settings, dry mode, fan only mode, two fan speeds, and an auto mode.

You'll love the easy-to-use digital controls and the remote control that comes with this unit. Plus, setup is a breeze with the included window kit. This portable air conditioner is a great choice for small to medium-size rooms.

Best Compact Air Conditioner — Danby Portable Air Conditioner

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Highlights

  • 6,000 BTU to accommodate rooms of up to 250 square feet;
  • 3-in-1 design paired up with an affordable price to offer great value for money;
  • LED display controls for easy adjustments.

Small and stylish, this model makes one of the best portable air conditioners in Canada for smaller spaces. The Danby measures only 24 inches in height, which means it won’t take up much space or make your room look overcrowded. At the same time, this little guy is pretty powerful. It managed to keep my guest room cool and even made the hallway next to it cooler as well. I also appreciate how smooth the wheels on this model are. I could move the Danby AC from room to room without any effort. It’s not that heavy either, so carrying it upstairs or downstairs shouldn’t be very challenging.

Best for Larger Rooms — De’Longhi Pinguino 6800

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Highlights

  • powerful enough to deal with a 500-sq.ft. room, great for larger spaces;
  • no-tool installation for fast and effortless set-up;
  • Cool Surround Technology to adjust the temperature based on the surrounding temperature for optimal cooling.

If you want to find the best portable air conditioner in Canada that would work for a large room without taking too much space, consider this model by De’Longhi. It can cool big rooms effectively and fast (and without consuming too much energy). However, what impressed me the most was how the De’Longhi could maintain an optimal temperature in the room throughout the day. I didn’t even have to make any adjustments. The AC could sense the temperature and the humidity changes as the day went by and used the appropriate setting (which made me feel super comfortable all day long).

Main Types of Portable Air Conditioners

Now, even though there’s an extremely wide variety of top-quality portable air conditioners in Canada, they can all be grouped into 2 main categories. Understanding this division and familiarizing yourself with the main differences between the two types can help you make the right choice when shopping.

So, the two types of portable air conditioners include:

  • Single-hose models. Such air conditioners use only 1 hose for both air intake and exhaust. This type is usually quite cheap, which makes it a perfect choice for people on a budget. However, because there’s only 1 hose for 2 tasks, the unit is forced to work harder and the results may not be that impressive. I mean, for a smaller room or even a studio, a single-hose air conditioner will work just fine. But for larger spaces (or regions with temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, for that matter) you would need the second type.
  • Dual-hose units. As you have probably guessed, such air conditioners have 2 separate hoses for air intake and exhaust. These models are more powerful and work great for larger rooms and warmer climates. They are around 40% faster than single-hose ACs. However, keep in mind that dual-hose models are usually larger and may be a bit more challenging to move. Additionally, they are typically pricier.

Now, if we get a bit more technical, we can also divide the portable air conditioners into 2 more types:

  • Evaporative. As the name implies, such air conditioners blow the air over cold water and evaporate it, thus cooling the air in the process and “returning” it to the room. This type of portable ACs makes the air more humid. It is perfect for dry climates.
  • Non-evaporative. Such air conditioners cool the air faster and help dehumidify the room. This type is more widespread on the market since it is faster and more efficient. However, it makes the air in the room dry, which might not be suitable for some users.

For better results, you should put your portable air conditioner away from the walls. This will ensure better airflow and faster cooling in the room.

Also read: Best Humidifiers in Canada

How to Pick the Right Portable Air Conditioner

Picking an excellent portable air conditioner for your place depends on price, energy consumption, installation, room size, type, multi-function, BTUs, heater, humidity, programmability, water drainage, mobility, aesthetics, and some other factors.

Now, even though there’s an extremely wide variety of top-quality portable air conditioners in Canada. 

While a good portable AC can change the environment in your apartment, the process of picking it may become hectic. After all, we live in the golden age of shopping, when we are offered an endless number of options. Naturally, it’s easy to get lost in the process.

However, knowledge is power. Once you familiarize yourself with the main and most important features, you will be able to find a suitable portable air conditioner in Canada much more easily.

So, here are the main factors you need to consider:

  • Price. Of course, price will always be a factor when choosing products and portable air conditioners are not exempted. Generally, the more powerful the air conditioner, the more cost it attracts. While the better portable air conditioners will attract more price, the trick actually lies in getting value for cost. The expensive ones tend to have all the extra functions and are even more durable. However, you may end up spending more to replace parts than with less expensive portable conditioners.
  • Energy Consumption. Air conditioners consume energy and it's only right to consider the ones with energy efficiency, especially if you are mindful of how much energy is expended cooling the room. Although there are reviews on the energy consumption of the popular brands of portable air conditioners, it is better to opt for portable conditioners with customizable thermostats that can help regulate the air conditioner once the desired room temperature is achieved.
  • Installation. Every portable air conditioner is advertised as easy to set up. Sadly, this is not true for all. The least you should do is to read up on reviews on the ease of installation, especially with the window kit, so as to know what you are bargaining for.
  • Room size. You need to know your room size to get an appropriate air conditioner. Typically, manufacturers warn what room size their portable ACs are the most suitable for. If you get a model that’s too powerful for your small room, you will waste electricity (and will pay more for it, accordingly). At the same time, if your new air conditioner is not powerful enough for your big room, it won’t cool it down effectively.
  • Type. As I’ve mentioned before, there are general common types of portable air conditioners, such as single-hose and dual-hose, evaporative and non-evaporative. Each of them is suitable for a certain environment. For instance, if you live in a very hot, humid climate, you might want to check non-evaporative dual-hose models.
  • Multi-function. We all know portable air conditioners are primarily designed to cool the room. However, this primary function may not be what is needed sometimes, so it is imperative to watch out for portable ACs with double or more functions. For example, a portable AC with a fan or a dehumidifier can also work to reduce the humidity or can simply help with airing out the room. While these kinds of portable ACs can attract extra costs, they are a bargain in the long term.
  • Noise. Since a ventilator and a compressor are located in the same unit in portable AC systems, such air conditioners can be quite noisy. Of course, some just run in the background and aren’t that noticeable. But some are frankly obnoxious. Therefore, it’s important to check the noise levels beforehand. Typically, portable air conditioners range from 48 to 60 dB. To give you a rough idea, a regular fridge is around 50 dB, while a dishwasher rates around 70 dB. 
  • BTU. This abbreviation stands for British Thermal Unit and defines the cooling capacity of an air conditioner. The higher the number is, the larger volume of air an AC can cool in an hour. For instance, a rating of 8,000 BTU means that the AC can effectively cool down an area of around 300 square feet.
  • Heater. Some models have a heating function as well. This allows for all-year-round use. However, keep in mind that such air conditioners may cost a bit more. Plus, not all of them offer an equally good level of heating and cooling. Therefore, it’s always better to check the reviews first.
  • Humidity. This factor depends on the environment you live in. If your home feels too humid, an AC with a dehumidifier function would be helpful.
  • Controls and programmability. Timer, sleep mode, night mode, remote operation, or temperature adjustments will make using your new portable air conditioner much more comfortable. However, these perks might make you spend a bit more, so think in advance whether you need them.
  • Extra features. Many portable AC units come with bells and whistles such as Wi-Fi connectivity, digital interface, heating, chord storage, etc. Of course, more extras would mean a higher price.
  • Water drainage. Think about how often you would prefer to drain your portable AC. If you want a model that would require minimal maintenance, you can check the AC units that have a special system that uses the condensate for cooling. Such an approach results in less water to be drained and requires users to do that more seldom.
  • Wheels. Portable AC units can be quite heavy and challenging to move, so a set of good wheels would come in handy if you require improved portability. The wheel quality can be determined by their size and material. You can also read other shoppers’ reviews to find out how easy (or challenging) to move the AC unit is. 
  • Aesthetics. Aesthetics shouldn’t be a primary reason for choosing portable air conditioners. Still, you may be surprised by how many people consider how a portable AC affects the aesthetics of their interior decor. Since portable ACs come in different designs, you might want to consider colors, shapes, and sizes before acquiring one. However, a mobile AC's functionality must take precedence over its beauty.

Be careful when choosing the air conditioner BTU. An overly powerful model for your room may increase your electricity bills without making too much difference in terms of cooling (when compared with a less powerful model that is still suitable for the room size). At the same time, a model with a lower BTU than your room requires may fail to do its job as you expect it to.

Also read: Best Dehumidifiers in Canada

How Do Portable Air Conditioners Work (And Do They Always Require a Window)?

The way portable ACs work is pretty simple. They draw the warm air in, move it through a cooling component, release the heat outside through the hose, and return the cool air into the room.

Needless to say, portable air conditioners always require a window (or a vent) to function. Otherwise, they would simply release the hot air back into the room, which would defeat their purpose.

How Much Do Portable Air Conditioners Cost?

Luckily enough, portable air conditioners come in all price segments, so there’s a suitable model for pretty much any budget. Quality AC units, however, typically range from $400 to $1,000 and up.

A higher price often means quieter performance, faster cooling, a larger range of operation (suited for bigger rooms), extended warranty, and quality parts.

Are Portable Air Conditioners as Good as Traditional Window Units?

In general, window units tend to be more efficient than portable air conditioners. At the same time, portable ACs are a better option for those users who need to move the unit from room to room. They also tend to be cheaper than window ACs (and much easier to install). 

Clearly, portable air conditioners have a lot of benefits to offer. But the best solution (a window unit or a portable one) would depend on the particular needs of the shopper.

How To Choose the Right Portable Air Conditioner Based on Your Room Size

A good portable AC has to be powerful enough to deal with the whole room. Otherwise, it will only cool the air next to it. And that simply can’t suffice on a hot summer day.

Now, while BTU ratings can be somewhat confusing for first-time shoppers, that’s one of the most important aspects they need to account for.

So, here are the general recommendations considering the suited BTU for different room sizes:

Room size

Recommended BTU

150 sq ft5,000 - 7,500 BTU
200 sq ft8,000 - 9,000 BTU
300 sq ft10,000 BTU
400 sq ft12,000 BTU
450 sq ft13,000 BTU
500 sq ft14,000 BTU
700 sq ft16,000 BTU
1,000 sq ft18,000 BTU

F.A.Q.

How do I know what size of a portable air conditioner I need?

The general recommendation is to pick a portable air conditioner that can offer around 20 BTU for each square foot of the floor space you want to cool. So, to calculate what BTU number you will require, simply multiply the square footage of your room by 20. And to measure the room, you should multiply the width of the floor by its length.

Are portable ACs worth buying?

A portable AC is worth buying if you want to save on your electricity bills by cooling only the room you are currently in. It might also be a good option for those who live in smaller apartments and don’t need to cool down a lot of space.

What is the main downside of a portable air conditioner?

The noise is probably the biggest drawback that usually accompanies portable air conditioners. The thing is, with a central air system, the condenser unit is placed outside. With a portable AC, it’s right there in your living space, which means you will hear it work at all times. Here’s the good news though: many modern companies make their postable ACs quieter and less disturbing.

Do you have to drain a portable air conditioner?

Yes, you need to drain your portable air conditioner regularly. That being said, most modern portable ACs need to be drained much more rarely thanks to the advanced technologies they use.

Conclusion

Summer doesn’t have to be hot as hell, at least when you’re inside.

And we have 5 top devices to help us with that.

And there are plenty of great air conditioners that can help with that. To choose the best one, shoppers should pay attention to the BTU numbers and pick according to their room size. Additionally, it wouldn’t hurt to check how many adjustments and features their desired portable AC can offer. And reading other users’ reviews can help shoppers find a quiet air conditioner for disturbance-free use.

And if you don’t mind, I would love to recommend one model that, in my opinion, stands out from the rest of the competitors. I am talking about the SereneLife SLPAC12.5 Portable Air Conditioner

This stylish-looking AC could be an excellent solution for those who want something powerful and easy to use. The unit works fast and allows for precise adjustments, which means there’s a perfect set-up for every user. Plus, it’s rather well-made, which is always a big plus.

So, have you made up your mind? Which model managed to impress you the most? Let me know in the comments below!

References:

  1. Molly Price (July 15, 2020). Portable air conditioners: How to buy the right one and stay cool. Retrieved from https://www.cnet.com/news/how-to-buy-the-ps5-what-you-need-to-know-about-restocks-at-best-buy-walmart-gamestop-amazon-target-and-more/ 
  2. Marshall Brain, Charles W. Bryant, Sara Elliott (July 24, 2018). How Air Conditioners Work. Retrieved from https://home.howstuffworks.com/ac5.htm

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