Should You Air-Condition Your Garage?

Jun 17, 2016 | Tips

Warm, dry days are ideal for working on projects in the garage, because you can open the door to let the breeze in or the dust out. But once temperatures reach 80 degrees, a garage can feel uncomfortably stuffy.

If you plan to spend a lot of time tinkering in your garage this summer, you may be wondering how to keep your workspace cool. Air-conditioning could be the answer, if you’re willing to insulate your garage and spend money on the right option for your space.

Insulate first

Fiberglass insulation batting is sold in widths that fit snugly between wall and ceiling studs, so adding insulation is relatively easy. But then you’ll have to cover the insulation with drywall or plywood (check your local fire codes to determine the appropriate way to cover the batting).

You might want to replace the garage door with a new high-efficiency polyurethane door containing insulation, and add weather stripping around windows and doors to seal air leaks.

Air-conditioning capacity

Air-conditioner outputs are measured in BTUs, and the larger the space to be cooled, the higher BTU number you’ll need. An air-conditioner with a 21,000-BTU capacity could cool a space of about 1,000 to 1,200 square feet. An appliance that lacks the cooling power to suit a space will overheat and stop working.

Unit types: Window, portable and mini-split

Window air-conditioners have a much higher BTU capacity than portable units, but if you don’t have a window, a portable model might be the next best choice. It still needs to be vented to the outside, which means you may need to drill a hole in the wall. If you’re going to make a hole in your wall anyway, it may be worth the extra expense to invest in a mini-split system.

Mini-splits have an exterior compressor, connected by a small hose to an interior cooling unit. These appliances offer greater cooling power and energy efficiency than portable units and double as a heater in the winter.

Easy solutions

If you decide installing air-conditioning in the garage isn’t worth the hassle, an oscillating fan or ceiling fan may be adequate for keeping you cool during your summer projects. Whatever you decide, you can expand the functional space of your home by cooling off the garage.

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