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Shop portable AC unit advice

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Randy Anderson, Jul 26, 2020.

  1. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    I have a shop that is a converted detached garage. Insulated and open on both ends with overhead doors. When the weather is nice I keep both doors open with a big fan blowing through. Great for cleaning out the shop with my leaf blower and looking out back at the trees while turning. That said, when the temp outside is 95, over 100 with heat index, even a fan ain't enough. Looking at portable AC units that vent to the outside with a 4" hose. Lots of options and see some with good reviews. I have 325 sq ft. I have two overhead air filtration units that can run all the time and a good dust collection system for my machines. That said, it would still need to have the filter cleaned more than if in a bedroom. Any inputs on units, brands from folks that have put one in their wood shop?
     
  2. Mark Jundanian

    Mark Jundanian

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    Over the last decade or two I've had a few of those, what I call, "R2D2" units. They have all been rather loud. Certainly I have had quieter window units. I also question how efficient they can be while relying on a single duct to both draw cooling air for the condensor and exhaust waste heat. If you could site a window unit (through the wall) that might make you happier in the end.
     
  3. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    I used a.standard too.small.for my shop air conditioner. It didnt keep.the shop cool.but knocked the humidity down. I did clean the filter regularly.
     
  4. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Pulled the trigger today on one of those portable units that vents through a 4" hose to the outside. I over sized just a bit based on sq ft it says it will handle so it should keep up. I don't have windows or that would have been my first choice. I'll just have to put a dryer vent hole in the wall to vent outside. Today was just too much. Sanding and sweating with my mask on stinks. My dog stays in my shop with me all day and even he looked at me with hey, this is just nuts. Let's go inside. He ran out of cool places to lay on the concrete.
     
  5. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    It doesn't do two way through the 4" hose. That's just an exhaust for the dampness as I understand. Pulls air into the unit through a filter on the back and blows cold air out the top. My brother uses them in his bedrooms and it uses the 4" hose as the evaporator exhaust to get rid of humidity and heat from the unit operation (motor, compressor, etc I suppose). Not exactly sure of the mechanics of the way it works but, they do.
     
  6. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    Randy, I’ve been struggling with the same issue, though I have windows I can use. I keep debating between a mini-split system (heat and a/c, about $1,600) and just a window a/c. I think in the long run I will want to go with the mini-split and am now struggling with the idea of putting $375 +/- into an air conditioner that I’ll then replace within the next year. This all has made me wonder if air conditioning the shop will have any negative effect on drying wood too quickly. Though I guess the air would only be on when the shop is being used.
     
  7. Donovan Bailey

    Donovan Bailey

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    I looked at every option out there and then I had one of those ductless mini-split systems installed in my 3 car garage shop. Outside of my lathe, it is the best money that I have spent. My garage is not insulated and I can turn comfortably in a t-shirt in both the dead of winter or the killer heat of summer...plus you can't hear it run...plus it is remarkably cheap to operate...plus it takes just a minimum of space to install.
     
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  8. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    I use a small propane heater in the winter that works fine for me so didn't want to go the extra $ for heat as well. It's easy to get the shop toasty on even the coldest day here and they're very efficient on propane. I don't keep my drying bowls in the shop so not worried about messing up my drying process any more than it likely already is. They're in a storage area in the regular garage which is open all day, closed at night, so they get exposed to whatever the humidity is for the day. Not ideal but don't really have a place for a controlled environment but hey, with my AC in the shop maybe I figure out how to make room there. If your shop is like mine there isn't a free square inch to be had for something new. I had to get rid of something today to make room for the AC unit that should arrive next week.
     
  9. Ron Solfest

    Ron Solfest

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    I just put in a Midea U window air conditioner in my shop today, got it on Amazon. It’s a little smaller than a regular window unit and the window closes down in the middle of it blocking much of the noise. Only used it a few hours but I like it, and lots cheaper than a mini-split.
     
  10. GRJensen

    GRJensen

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    I live in a place known to football fans as the 'Frozen Tundra', so you wouldn't think air conditioning would be a big issue for me. But after losing an entire summer a few years ago due to higher than average temperatures, I bit the dust and installed a mini-split. It wasn't cheap, but I can work in the shop year-round. The mini-split both cools and heats, so I use the gas heat (HotDawg heater) a lot less ... only in the coldest months.
     
  11. Paul M. Kaplowitz

    Paul M. Kaplowitz

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    I bought a Pioneer complete mini split system on line for $750. Hired a guy who was moonlighting from a local HVAC company and paid him $500. Bought a base for the outside unit from Home depot for $40. Total cost $ 1290. Shop(24'x24') stays at 72 degrees. The temp. today is 97 degrees. This is a heat pump. Last winter set it at 60 degrees. Love it.
     
  12. Ditto Donovan Bailey above. Mini split only way to go. - John
     
  13. Dave Hulett

    Dave Hulett

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    Randy I built a new shop and like you heating wasn't a problem. I have a 220v 17k btu shop heater from Northern Tool. But it's a little noisy and I had no help from the heat in the summer. The solution was a PTAC (Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner) PTAC's are what you see in most hotel rooms. I had a hole cut in my back wall 42"x16", into which you permently install a metal sleeve, into which any manufacturers PTAC will slip right in. (They all hold to the same size) If it fails down the road, replacement can be done in literally a few minutes. They are available from 7k to 15k btu's of cooling and heat (heat pump). The 15k unit works perfectly for my 24 x 24 shop. And it's quiet!
     

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  14. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Thanks Dave, didn't think about one of those style units. Would have still meant a good sized hole in my wall and my shop is brick on the outside so not a trivial opening to build. Hopefully the portable unit will work for me. Putting a 4" dryer vent hole in the wall is not too difficult. They're not the greatest for efficiency I know but I don't intend to run it all the time. After August here I'll likely keep my shop open front to back and let the big fan blow. It helps a lot since it blows from across the shop from my back and out the back of my shop so helps move the dust and debris in the air right out as I work.
     
  15. Donovan Bailey

    Donovan Bailey

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    Dave: You have the cleanest and most organized shop I've seen...period. Spooky. I'd have to hire 2 guys to work a week to even come close.
     
  16. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    Randy my good friend put 2 of those in his restaurant and it really made it comfortable. Dont know how often he had to clean the filters. Certainly not as often as we would. Unfortunately the covid thing killed his business and its closed and empty now.
     
  17. Dave Hulett

    Dave Hulett

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    John a fellow turner who turned me on to the PTAC started having problems with his a few summers ago. When the tech pulled it out of the sleeve it was so filthy that he said there was no use in even testing until it was cleaned. We pulled it out set it down in the driveway, the dust was 1/4" thick in some places. He had his mounted directly above his 12" disc sander which had no dust collector and had never cleaned it in 5 years of operation. Once we hosed it down and remounted it, it worked fine. Lesson learned. Mine was about 3 years old so the next week we pulled mine out (takes 5 minutes). It wasn't bad but mine was nowhere near any of my power tools. I hosed it down anyway and remounted.
    Donovan, how do you know what my shop looks like, LOL?
     
  18. Mini-split mounts on the wall. 4" hole in the wall for power and refrigerant lines. Self contained filters (easy out, easy in). No need to remove unit for cleaning. Ultra efficient. Usually qualifies for energy tax credit. - John
     
  19. Kent Jaffrey

    Kent Jaffrey

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    I have a mini split and love it.
     
  20. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Update - I've had my portable unit in for a few days now. It's been in the mid 90s here with a heat index around 100 mid day. A good test of any AC unit. If I start it up in the morning I've been able to keep my shop at a workable temp. Couldn't hang meat inside but can work inside since it does a good job of lowering the humidity. Walls of my shop are not insulated but have OSB on the inside, brick outside and attic insulation. Gets a lot of all day sun so almost like a standalone brick oven. My dust collection system is vented to the outside so if I use it as is it can suck the cooler/dryer air out in just a few minutes. I put the ol dust bag back on the exhaust and am back in business. Net - for the money a good solution for me and one that when the temp gets back into reasonable territory it will be even better. Yep, a mini split would have worked better but the cost was outside my budget for the need.
     
  21. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    I bit the bullet and ordered a mini split for my shop. Should be here in about 10 days. While I‘m waiting, I ran the power line from the panel around to where it will connect (just rough in - an electrician neighbor will make the connections and install a fused cut-off box), and I built this platform for the outside compressor. I was thinking of mounting the compressor with a commercial bracket on the wall, but decided to get a bit more creative, after all, it is a wood shop. C016649D-58D8-4140-852E-CA3F883A9F00.jpeg
     
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  22. RichColvin

    RichColvin

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    Randy,

    How big is your shop?

    Kind regards,
    Rich
     
  23. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    About 20 x 22’. An old two car garage.
     
  24. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Mine is 325 sq ft.
     
  25. GRJensen

    GRJensen

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    My shop is 14' x 23' (322 sq ft).
     
  26. Doug Freeman

    Doug Freeman

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    Mini splits are great if one wnts to spend that kind of $. If you have a window already, a window ac is only ~ 1/3 the cost. Over 20 yrs you can buy 3 window units for the cost of one mini split. While portable ac units do work they are pretty limited in the actual btu/hr cooling provided. Not a good value proposition. A much better choice is a mini split or make a hole for a window ac unit. I cool a 672 sq ft insulated garage with a 120v 10k window unit, in SW MO.
     
  27. RichColvin

    RichColvin

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    My new shop is a 30’x40’ pole barn that has insulated walls and roof. Has anyone used a split unit for such a building?
     
  28. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Mini splits come in many sizes. Compressor is outside. Inside there is a fan cooling unit (Evaporator) some configuration can drive several of these.

    Our shop building is a 50x50 steel building. The previous owner boxed in a 25x25 room with 10 ft ceilings. Bath and kitchenette. a mini split cool this quickly heats too( might not heat efficiently in the north) . Also when we turn it on we can set it to turn off in so many hours.
     
  29. GRJensen

    GRJensen

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    I have both a mini-split (Mitsubishi 24K BTU) and a gas heater (HotDawg 30K BTU). Here in the Frozen Tundra (Green Bay, Wisconsin), the mini-split handles cooling and heating about 9 or 10 months out of the year. In the coldest months (December, January, and February) the efficiency drops off on the mini-split and I crank up the gas.
     
  30. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    My new mini-split is up and running. It’s only been a few days, and the outside temp has only been up to the very low 90’s, but so far, I’m thrilled with it. Curious to see the next power bill to see what kind of dent it makes there, but it’s supposed to be pretty efficient, and worth it, I think, if it lets me turn on days when the shop would have been pretty oppressive. I couldn’t resist including a picture of my daughter and our 8 week old grandson enjoying the cool as he gets a tour of his future inheritance. AB216373-68B8-4CF7-8B32-B4BFBAB9DC8F.jpeg 5E6DF8DC-89CB-43CA-BC83-77042324C656.jpeg 84C72B09-7932-48CA-9A6A-BCFEA7297CF2.jpeg
     
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  31. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    It will serve you well.

    doesn’t look like you installed the compressor above the snow line. :)
    Might need to shovel around it once or twice a year.

    Lived in Annapolis for 30 years the first 25 had one snow accumulation to 24”
    Then we got 36” before we left and several repeats after we left.
    So much more water vapor in the atmosphere.
     
  32. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    Al,
    The bottom of the compressor is 24” above the ground, and also mostly under an overhanging eave. Yes, on occasion we get that much or more snow, but I’m not concerned, if I’ve got to shovel, I will, but the compressor is designed to be placed on a pad on the ground, as most folks’ central a/c units are.
    lou
     
  33. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    We have our on concrete pads. we never get snow.
    Go to any city and you will see them hanging on walls outside of apartments.
     
  34. When you file 2020 income tax, check for energy efficiency investment tax credit. - John
     
  35. Lou Jacobs

    Lou Jacobs

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    Thanks John! I read something about that. I’ll look into it further.
    Lou
     

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