Have you been aching to be able to use your garage any time without feeling like you’ve just walked in a sauna when it’s summer or inside a fridge during winter? Whether you want to turn your garage into a home gym, your sanctuary or just want to feel good getting out of your car, there are a few solutions to install an air conditioner for your garage that won't require the ductwork that come with expanding your central A/C system.
In summary, here is what you will learn about your 3 options in this post:
- Great option to avoid creating duct work in the garage
- Easy Install
- Transferable from place to place
- Less expensive option
- No Ducts Needed
- Inexpensive option
- Perfect for one room heating
- Energy Efficient
- Ideal for single event cooling
- Easy installation
- Quite Comfort
- Low Energy Savings
- Temperature Control
- Not ideal during extreme weather conditions
- Best Value
- Needs to be vented
Now let's get into detail about the best A/C option for your garage.
The Transformation of the Garage
The garage has come a long way since it started to become a normal fixture in many homes inside American suburbs in the 1920s, a period of prosperity when materialistic fervor coincides the country’s unprecedented economic growth following the first world war. Since then, the garage has evolved alongside changes in lifestyle and residential challenges.
From being a simple motor room in the early 20th century, the garage that we know today has become a versatile room. We use it to keep some equipment, and maybe some junk we refuse to throw away; utilize it as a workshop for hobbies; and at times, even use it as a personal sanctuary. The problem is, most garages are simply not designed as a completely livable space. Strictly speaking, since then until now it is made for just one specific purpose—a parking and storage space for vehicles. If, say, there’s a chance that your comfort was considered at all during its construction, it’s probably more focused on ventilation, and so it remains a place where you’ll have to constantly battle heat and cold. If this is a challenge that you have to deal with over and over all-year-round, it only makes sense to want some control over the temperature inside your garage. The obvious option, of course, is installing a comfort system. The question is, what’s the best climate control solution for your garage?
3 Garage Air Conditioners That Don't Require Central A/C
While there’s no lack of desire and effort from many homeowners to convert a garage into a new, functional, and livable space, initiatives are often stumped by difficulties on finding the right, cost-effective solution that can effectively control the temperature inside a garage. Despite the plethora of heating and cooling systems, not all of them can completely meet the installation challenges, structural requirements, cost-considerations, and efficiency needs of most homeowners. In other words, the viability and practicality of the whole project have always been the key issues. Nevertheless, if you’re resolved to control the climate inside your garage, you can have many options. But take note that these systems come with advantages and disadvantages. To help you decide, here are some of the types of air conditioning systems that are commonly used:
Window Air Conditioners
If you have a small garage, a window air conditioner might be a good fit. It is also called a room air conditioner because it is specifically designed to cool a single room. This implies that this system is best to use in a relatively small space. A window air conditioner is also a unitary system or a self-contained unit. This means that all of its components—which include the compressor, the condenser, and the evaporator—are packaged and contained in a single cabinet that houses the whole system.
A window air conditioner is the most common AC system. This is the same system that you would normally find attached to windows of any typical home in the country. A window air conditioner can also be installed by mounting it through a hole in the wall of a room.
So, what makes it a good AC solution in a garage? As a compact unit, a window air conditioner will be easy to install. If your garage is a detached structure or not connected to your main house, then you’ll have a hard time connecting it to your central HVAC system. Now, even if the garage is attached to your home, then adjusting and expanding your existing system’s ductwork just to accommodate the garage space would either be too costly, complex, and at times, even impractical if not impossible. With a window air conditioning system, you wouldn’t need to worry about this. All that you have to do is install it the garage window or wall. Once installed, you can use it right away. Compared with other traditional systems like a Central HVAC solution, a window air conditioning unit is not only easier to purchase and install, but also way less expensive.
It is worth noting, however, that some window air conditioners may come in bigger sizes and BTU configurations. While these aspects make the system seem capable enough to work for a much bigger room, it doesn’t negate the fact that this system is made for a relatively small room. And this is where the tricky part comes with this type of system. A window air conditioner may be able to effectively cool your garage, but if the system that you installed has a smaller capacity than required for a garage, then it will not properly air condition the whole room. It will just keep working but it will never give you the exact cooling comfort that you need. What's worse is it will just spike up your energy consumption and increase your energy bills.
Conversely, if you have a window air conditioning unit with much higher cooling capacities but too large for your garage, the whole room will just feel too clammy and cold. So, when you choose a window air conditioner for your garage, make sure that you have the right size of system.
Portable Air Conditioners
A portable air conditioner is another option if you want to cool your garage. Whether this will be effective is another story, though.
What is a Portable Air Conditioner?
A portable air conditioner is also a unitary system, which means it is a self-contained unit with all of its key components contained in one single package. As a portable system, you can practically choose where to place this unit inside the room and move it anywhere anytime you want to; normally it is placed on the floor. The question is, will a portable air conditioner be able to cool the garage? Yes, but not always in the level that you want to or expect. It might work for you if you will only use the garage occasionally, but if you’re looking for a cooling system that you can use as effectively as any other system, especially during extreme weather conditions, then this might not be the best option. It may be slightly less expensive as another system, but it the long run, it might even cost you more because it will be consuming energy without giving you the exact cooling comfort that you need.
Why its not the Best Option
The issue, really, is not about the system, but more on how the system is designed and how it can adapt to your cooling needs in a particular environment like a garage. To really make this work, your garage needs proper insulation. One other difficulty in air conditioning a garage, however, is the lack of proper insulation. Understandably, this is the case for many homes because a garage is, well, a garage—a place that you would not normally expect to be air conditioned. But then you need it now, so you’re faced with the issue on insulation. Keep in mind that a portable air conditioner needs to be vented to let out the exhaust heat that it normally discharges. You can do it through a wall or near the door, but if there’s no way for your portable air conditioner to be vented, then this system would not be an ideal solution for your garage. You might able to cool the garage space, but in the end, you will just be wasting too much energy.
Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners
If there’s any system that’s really perfect to cool or heat your garage, it would be the ductless mini split air conditioners. A ductless mini split system is a type of cooling and heating system that consists of an outdoor compressor/condenser unit and one or more indoor evaporator units called air handlers. These two units are connected by a power cable, the line set or the refrigerant lines, and the condensate drain line. The line set is composed of the bigger copper tubing called suction line that connects the evaporator outlet and the compressor inlet and the smaller copper pipe called liquid line that connects the condenser to the expansion valve. All these wires and piping system are passed through a small hole in the wall, which is usually a 2 ½-inch hole or a 3-inch hole that serves as a conduit that links both the indoor and outdoor units. Unlike the traditional systems, a ductless mini split does not require the use of ducts. It is called “mini” owing to its small size and compact design. It is a “split system” because, unlike other systems, its compressor/condenser unit is separated from the air handler/evaporator unit, making the system more efficient and less noisy when in operation mode.
Why Choose a Mini Split Air Conditioner to Cool or Heat Your Garage?
A ductless mini split air conditioner can efficiently and effectively cool your garage for a few simple reasons:
Easy to Install. Whether your garage is attached or detached to your home, a ductless mini split air conditioner can be easily installed. You just need to mount the outdoor unit in any suitable spot outside the garage, mount the indoor unit inside, and let these two units work as one efficient system by connecting both units through all the piping and electrical systems that you can conveniently pass through a small conduit in the wall.
Complete Control Over the Temperature. A mini split air conditioner is a zonal system, which means it can cool different spaces inside the house, including the garage, by installing different one compressor-connected air handler for each zone. Each indoor unit can be controlled independently of the others, enabling you to have more control over the temperatures in different rooms. When it comes to your garage, a ductless mini split system will serve as perfect single-room application, enabling you to have more flexibility to set the system based on your desired temperature at different times of the day.
Low-cost Solution. Compared with other systems, a ductless mini split air conditioner is comparatively more expensive, but you can easily offset the initial cost through the high savings that you would eventually get from this system. Because it is easy to install, does not require ductwork, and usually pays for itself due to efficient energy-use and energy-saving functionalities, it is unquestionably the most practical solution for your garage.
Quality Indoor Air. A garage is one place in your home where dusts and dirt can quickly accumulate. As a result, there’s a high concentration of air pollutants in this environment. If you’re planning to convert your garage into a new livable space, it is important that you make sure that this will be a place with healthy and cleaner indoor air. With ductless mini split air conditioners, you would be spared from this concern because most of these systems are usually built with advanced air filtration technology.
Cooling and Heating Solution. One of the most beautiful things about a ductless mini split air conditioner is its capability to cool and heat any space, including a garage. With this system, you will have powerful cooling solution especially during summer, and a highly efficient heating source especially during winter. It can’t be denied that a garage is no longer that unheralded space inside our homes. As our lifestyle changes and our specific needs for space evolves, we begin to look at garage and its purpose not in the same way that most people do in the olden days. So we start to convert our garages into new functional spaces. The problem, however, is that a garage is not typically designed with our comfort in mind. So, however we try to appreciate and use this particular space for different personal purposes, we are usually shoved away by the most common but difficult challenge of all—how to control the temperature. The truth is, while we are presented with many options, the issue on controlling the climate inside a garage is not just about temperature or successfully tackling the discomforting heat and cold. It also is an issue that touches on efficiency, cost, and practicality. Ultimately, of course, we can always choose to install such options like a window air conditioner or a portable air conditioner. But as it has been proven, these systems are often not so effective, too expensive in terms of value, or just plain impractical to use.
Thankfully a new system like ductless mini split has emerged, enabling us to grapple with the usual issues that hound many homeowners when it comes to cooling and heating a garage. Where most of the other systems fail, a ductless mini split air conditioner has proven to be successful in providing a cost-effective, efficient, and powerful solution.