This is 7 Tips for Using a Portable Air Conditioner for the Garage. In this post I’ll show you everything you need to know about setting up a portable air conditioner in your garage to make your woodworking area more comfortable. Enjoy.
Portable Air Conditioner for the Garage
Most woodworkers have a shop in their garage. The benefit to the shop is that the garage is often a large open space that can be easily converted. The disadvantage is that it doesn’t have the same climate control as the rest of the house.
While this is not typically as big of an issue in the winter, because you can always put on a jacket or operate a small space heater, in the summer it can be miserable. Air-conditioning units are a lot more expensive than heaters after all.
A really good option for any garage is to use a portable AC unit that you can move around the shop. These are available everywhere, and they make the job of air-conditioning your shop in the summer time a whole lot easier, and a whole lot more comfortable.
Portable Air Conditioner Tips
If you’re brand new to the portable air conditioner game, here are all of the tips that I’m about to cover, and I’ll go into each one of them in more detail further down in the post.
- Buy a Bigger Portable AC than You Think You Need
- Keeping Your Area Cool (keep it near you)
- Turn On The AC Unit Before You Go Into the Shop
- Venting Your AC Unit Through the Wall
- Venting a Your AC Unit Through a Door
- Consider More Than One Unit For Big Areas
- Add a Box Fan to Move the Air
Buy a Bigger Portable AC than You Think You Need
I’m opening up with this tip because I personally made this mistake in my last shop. It bought what I thought was a brilliant calculation based on the size of my shop and the qualifications of the air-conditioner unit that I purchased.
However, once all of the dust settled and a little bit of new information that I didn’t take into account finally reared its ugly head, I ended up making a big mistake. The air conditioner that I bought it just wasn’t big enough to cool the space.
On paper however the air-conditioner was just the right size. It matched the square footage that I was trying to cool perfectly, but I didn’t realize it in a garage there is next to zero insulation, and starting from 110 degrees, it takes a while to cool down.
The biggest piece of advice I can give you for your garage AC unit is to buy a portable unit that is bigger than you need. It takes quite a bit of effort to cool the garage without any insulation, and starting from such a high temperature.
I recommend that your air conditioning unit be at least rated for twice the size of the entire garage if not three times. This will give the unit the fortitude that it needs to blast out enough cold air to make it worth the exercise.
Keeping Your Area Cool
The beauty of a portable air-conditioning unit for your garage is that you can move it around. Window units are stuck in one place, so you have to build your shop around it. That’s not the case with a portable unit.
One of the best ways to keep yourself cool in your shop is to simply move the portable unit near you. It makes no sense to try to cool down a lonely corner of the garage that you’re not actually even working in.
Instead, bring that unit right near you and make sure that the absolute majority of the cold air is filling up the space that you are occupying. As you move around, drag that unit with you, which is pretty easy, and you’ll always feel cool.
Turn On The AC Unit Before You Go Into the Shop
It really doesn’t matter how good your conditioning unit is if you have a shop that is already over 100 degrees. This is a miserable temperature, and when you compare it to most household temperatures, it’s at least 20 degrees higher.
If you live in Arizona like I do, your garage may be well over 100 degrees in the summer. The trick to having at least a little bit cooler of an area in your garage shop is to turn on the air conditioning unit a little while before you actually plan on going into the shop.
For example, if you know that Tuesday nights at 7 o’clock is the start of your woodworking sessions, then maybe head out there at five or six and flip the air conditioning unit on. It’ll give the unit a chance to catch up, and take the edge off of the hot air.
I don’t recommend running an air conditioning unit in your garage 24 hours a day. This can end up costing a lot of money, and if the air conditioning unit can’t keep up with the heat, it may never turn off, which can cause it to break down.
Venting Your AC Unit Through the Wall
One thing at a portable air-conditioning unit needs is ventilation. This is typically in the form of a duct that is attached to the unit and blows hot air. It’s important to direct out hot air out someplace that is not inside of your garage shop.
Most of the time this is flexible ducting that can be moved around anywhere you like pretty easily. That being said, if you decide to vent the unit and keep it in a certain area of the shop, consider going right through the wall.
There are a number of different kits that you can buy that will help you create a duct through the wall. All you need to do is seal it really well, and attach the hose from the portable air-conditioning unit. This will direct all of the hot air outside, through the wall.
Venting a Your AC Unit Through a Door
A slightly easier way of venting the air conditioning unit is to send the duct underneath the overhead garage door. All you need to do is cut a couple pieces of foam to fill in the gap so the door doesn’t let in a lot of hot air.
This isn’t as difficult as it sounds, though it can take a little bit of practice to get the garage door to come down just right. Even so, if you set it up a few times, you’ll get the hang of it and it will be easier later on.
You may also decide to install a pass-through opening right on one of the garage door panels. You can trim it on the outside to match the door, and simply detach it before you open the overhead.
Remember that part. You definitely need to detach it before you open your overhead door, otherwise you might take your air conditioning unit for a ride, or break your door.
Consider More Than One Unit For Big Areas
As you work more and more in your shop, you will value comfort more and more as well. If you have more than one air conditioning unit, you can position them strategically in order to blanket the shop with as much cold air as possible.
Though these units aren’t inexpensive, you might be able to find a backup unit on a deal by looking in secondhand online market places. You might end up finding a portable unit that nobody else is using and you might be able to get it for a lower price.
Add a Box Fan to Move the Air
Another trick to using a portable AC unit is to buy a box fan. These are typically about $20, and they are the familiar square fan that you can find in almost any store. This is an inexpensive way to move a large volume of air.
All you need to do is connect that fan, and blow it through the stream of cold air coming out of the portable unit. It will help disperse that air a lot more efficiently, and it will have a better chance of cooling down the shop.
This can dilute the air slightly, so it’s best to use this in situations where blowing the cold air directly at you is a little too much. In a case like this, the fan can make the whole shop cool down pretty rapidly.
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know the seven awesome tips for using a portable AC unit in the garage, it’s time to get out in the shop and take action. Start researching portable air conditioning units, and comparing them to the size of your shop.
Purchase something that’s rated for at least twice the square footage, and keep it close to you while you are working. The cold air is a welcome change in a hot shop, and it can get you to go out there more often.
That’s the real secret of climate control in your shop. The more comfortable your shop is, the more often you will go out there and actually put in the work. This is how you get better, and you’ll be glad that you did it in comfort.
If you have any questions about using an air conditioning unit in the garage, please Post a Question in the Q&A Forum and I’ll be glad to help. Happy building.
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