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The best portable air conditioners available in Canada

Keep yourself cool, from room to room

Credit: Getty Images / AlexLMX

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With temperatures rising, it’s important to keep yourself cool. Fortunately, there are many options when it comes to keeping comfortable. Regular fans are a good option when the needle is below 30°C, but an air conditioner is better for higher temperatures.

When it comes to air conditioners, the choice will be between a window or a portable model. Each has its own set of pros and cons. Window air conditioners are a pain to install, but they're very efficient. Their design ensures the hottest and loudest parts are located outside your home, which results in less heat and noise getting recirculated back inside.

Portable air-conditioners (PACs) are ideal for a low-occupancy household that only needs to cool one room at a time with the flexibility to move from room to room. Unfortunately, PACs need to vent the heat they remove through a hose and out the window. While most of the heat gets blown outside, some radiate back into the room, either from the device itself or from the sides of its ventilation tube.

After testing some of the highest-rated portable air conditioners currently available, we've determined which ones deserve a spot in your living space.

1. Whynter Elite ARC-122DS

Credit: Whynter

The Whynter Elite ARC-122DS packs a lot of cooling capacities into a relatively inexpensive package. During testing, it cooled a 27°C room down by about 11°C in roughly 35 minutes. While not the fastest unit we tested, this was a remarkable performance for a PAC at this price point.

The Whynter has a high-quality build, and it boasts the best filter system out of the bunch. While most other PAC filters were large and flimsy—making them difficult to maneuver or snap out of place—the ARC-122DS's filter is a sturdy panel you lift out of the device vertically. It is, by far, the best-designed and easiest to use filter of the bunch.

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The ARC-122DS is also fairly small and easy to move around and store. It is one of the more portable units we tested, which is useful if you plan o lug your PAC up some stairs.

Get the Whynter Elite ARC-122DS at Wayfair Canada

2. Frigidaire FGPC1244T1

Credit: Frigidaire

The Frigidaire FGPC1244T is capable of creating some very cold air. We noticed our central sensor measured a temperature drop of 11°C in only six minutes, which is incredibly fast. But the cooling was mainly registered directly in front of the unit near the fan. The FGPC1244T emits a more concentrated column of air, which can be great if you're the type to plop down in front of the AC while it works its magic. If you're mainly trying to cool the whole room, though, it may take longer or require enabling oscillation to spread air around a little better.

While the FGPC1244T is a bit tall, it's also thin, making it easy to maneuver via its large handles. While its height means it won't be the easiest portable air conditioner to fit into storage, its narrow form does make it easier to maneuver from room to room.

Like the LG, the FGPC1244T also features control via a smartphone app. A physical remote is included, but as we tend to prefer a world where our phone is the one remote we have to worry about, the app is very welcome.

The only minor annoyance we had with the FGPC1244T came to its filters. Both were simple to access, but they were also very thin and long: They tended to hitch and buckle when we tried to return them to their slots. Otherwise, though, a solid portable AC and one of the more refreshing ones on our list.

Get the Frigidaire FGPC1244T1 from Amazon

3. Frigidaire FHPC132AB1

Credit: Frigidaire

The Frigidaire FHPC132AB1 offered nearly identical performance to the FGPC1244T. It was capable of some very cold air, chilling the sensors in its path about 11°C in a speedy seven minutes. The other sensors around the room took about 20 minutes to get down to their lowest temperatures. Again, it is not our fastest cooling unit, but it's not the slowest either.

Unlike the other Frigidaire, the FHPC132AB1 is much smaller and squatter: It's one of the easiest to fit into storage, but you have to bend pretty far over to access its handles. Also, this PAC lacks WiFi control support, so you're stuck with onboard controls or the tiny included remote.

Get the Frigidaire FHPC132AB1 at Lowes Canada

4. Whynter ARC-14S

Credit: Whynter

The Whynter ARC-14S can cool an area about 11°C in 20 minutes, about average for this group of portable air conditioners. During testing, the sensors that were less directly in the cold air path took about another 20 minutes to get the room down to its maintenance temperature.

While its small size makes it easy to move around, the ARC-14S doesn't have any handles to grip onto, making portability more difficult than most. The unit features edges towards its bottom, but these can only accommodate fingertips. Pushing it from room to room is relatively simple, but hoisting it up is difficult without any real handholds.

One of the more notable aspects of the ARC-14S is that it uses more eco-friendly parts than the typical portable air conditioner. Its refrigerant is CFC-free, and the unit uses lead-free, RoHS-compliant components. Historically, air conditioners haven't been the most environmentally safe of appliances, largely in part to their refrigerants. So, we're glad this Whynter tried something new here and is fairly successful at it.

Get the Whynter ARC-14S at Wayfair Canada

5. Black & Decker BPACT14HWT

Credit: Black & Decker

The performance of the Black & Decker BPACT14HWT was one of the slower PACs on our list, albeit by a small margin. It required about 25 minutes to cool down our testing chamber, and even so, its cooling spread was a bit uneven, leading to a few degrees difference between our sensors.

The implementation of the removable filter could have been better: Its outer panel is a bit awkward to get to snap back into place.

The Black & Decker BPACT14HWT's small size and relatively low weight make it easy to store away or lug up the stairs in terms of portability. On the other hand, its pocket handles are located a bit low on its sides, making it a bit awkward to move around without stooping over.

Get the Black & Decker BPACT14HWT at Wayfair Canada

6. De'Longhi Pinguino PACEX390LVYN

Credit: De' Longhi

The De'Longhi Pinguino PACEX390LVYN rounds out our list. Looking at the graph of temperature over time, the Pinguino does a pretty good job at cooling down a room. In the first eight minutes, the average temperature in the room had dropped by about 11 degrees, and after 15 minutes, the room was within a degree of the unit's target temperature, 17°C. Of course, the issue here is that just about every other PAC on this list can hit temperatures a few degrees colder, which puts this Pinguino at a slight disadvantage. If 17°C is cold enough for your needs, then the Pinguino will do a great job.

In terms of portability, we think the Pinguino lands in the middle of the pack. It has an average height and weight, with pocket, handles located about halfway down the sides of the device. While you'll have to stoop to pick it up, it is easy to grip and lug around once you have it lifted.

Get the De'Longhi Pinguino PACEX390LVYN at Best Buy Canada

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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