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Thread: Anyone use a portable ac as a "cold air" fan

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Kansas City
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    1,549
    I have a portable in an upstairs bedroom. It doesnt cool very much.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    64
    Mitchell: I have a Whynter ARC-12 unit that i bought off Craigslist a couple of years ago for a couple of hundred bucks (this is what it looks like.) Whyner ARC-12.jpeg
    My workshop is 16 by 20 and I stuffed the walls full of Roxul, I think R-23 and placed 1/2" faced sheet of Polyisocyanurate to act as a thermal break; the only un-insulated spot is the garage door which faces south and absorbs heat like crazy.
    I live in Northern Virginia and it gets hot and humid. The unit does a decent job of keeping the shop comfortable, the back part is comfortable, the closer I get to the garage door the warmer it gets. It definitely helps with the humidity since I have had the AC most of my rust problem have gone away. I use a fan to circulate the air which also helps. My shop has these dinky windows that were too narrow to install a window AC and I didn't want to go cutting holes in the workshop. Look for a portable unit that has the dual tube system, they do a better job of exhausting the heat generated by the unit to the outdoors.
    Good luck.

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Mesa, Arizona
    Posts
    1,424
    Mitchell -- I live in Mesa, Arizona. It tends to get slightly warm here in the summer. My free-standing shop, about the size of a one-car garage, was (until recently) uninsulated. It was also without A/C. So, I did as you suggested -- bought a portable A/C unit and vented it underneath the overhead door. It didn't cool off the entire shop -- not by a long shot, but it did provide me with some respite if I were working close to the machine. Or, it allowed me to cool off a bit every few minutes by standing in front of the unit. I also used a large floor fan to 'boost' the reach of the A/C. Otherwise, I had to be within about 5 feet of the unit to feel its effects. One downside to this approach, you have to exhaust the hot air to the outside. That effectively ties the unit to within a few feet of a door or window, which makes it difficult to always have it close to where you're working. (Note: In the summer, my shop would routinely be over 100 degrees. If things aren't quite as pleasingly warm where you live, the effective range of a portable A/C unit might be greater.)

    In the last couple of weeks, I've insulated the shop with R-13 fiberglass batts. After that was done, the portable A/C would cool off the entire shop about 10 degrees. By starting early in the morning, I could work until the early afternoon before it would get above 95 degrees in my shop. I know 95 sounds hot, but there's a BIG difference between 95 and 105. I can work for an hour or so in 95 degrees without needing to take a break to cool off. At 105, I need a break after about 15 minutes. So, the portable A/C 'worked' and was useful -- both before and after insulating the shop.

    However, my portable A/C unit is about to go on Craig's list. Last week I installed a MrCool DIY mini-split. It's the best $1,300 I've spent!
    David Walser
    Mesa, Arizona

  4. #19
    Just call around to your local HVAC contractors and ask them if they have any used systems that they would be willing to sell at a discount. You can get sweet deals on good equipment this way. Like I said above I run a 5 ton R22A unit in my shop and will probably be purchasing an additional 5 ton (package unit) soon. My initial 5 ton unit did not include heat but I think that I paid $500 or so for the setup and another $500 or so for the install. The package unit that I am eyeing is $500 with almost a free install, and it produces heat too.

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    East Texas
    Posts
    211
    Thanks Bobby. I'll have to look into this. I live in a town of 75K but I still might find a deal like you suggest.
    Last edited by Mitchell Garnett; 07-24-2020 at 10:06 AM.

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    East Texas
    Posts
    211
    David -

    I don't have temps as high as AZ has been getting but 95 to 100 degree days aren't unusual in July and August. The big difference is humidity; sometimes I'm in the 90% level.

    I think I've decided I have two practical solutions - portable vented under the garage door or a split unit. If I was certain I'd be in the house for quite awhile I'd go for the split but how long is uncertain due to my wife's health. I'm rationalizing but the portable until might come in handy if my house ac failed and I was facing two or three days without it. I could also run the ac on my generator if I had to.

    Thanks for the reply.

    (off topic but do you use a mister outside like under a patio cover? we're too humid for them to work very well here in East Texas but I sure liked them when I was working in Redlands California)

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Mesa, Arizona
    Posts
    1,424
    Mitchell -- We lived in the Dallas area for close to 8 years, so I understand how hot and humid differs from hot and dry. However, when it's over 110, it doesn't really matter how dry it is!

    We don't use misters. We had some on our patio and enjoyed them. But, Mesa has very hard water and misters would only work for a season or so before needing to be replaced. After doing that two or three times, we just gave up.
    David Walser
    Mesa, Arizona

  8. #23
    Mitchel I live in a town of less than half the size of yours. I would bet money that one of your local HVAC companies either has one they will sell you or will have one they will sell you if you are patient.

    Another thing that works way better than a portable AC unit is a Portacool I believe they are called. I have heard them called “swamp coolers” but I don’t know if that is the correct technical term. They put out a ton of cold air. One of the shops that I used to work in used like 7 of the biggest Portacool units and even on 100+ degree days with very high humidity those units would keep you ice cold.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    East Texas
    Posts
    211
    Thanks again Bobby.

    I'll check it out. I had my ac serviced a couple of weeks ago and didn't think about asking then.

  10. #25
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    The old pueblo in el norte.
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    674
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobby Robbinett View Post
    Mitchel I live in a town of less than half the size of yours. I would bet money that one of your local HVAC companies either has one they will sell you or will have one they will sell you if you are patient.

    Another thing that works way better than a portable AC unit is a Portacool I believe they are called. I have heard them called “swamp coolers” but I don’t know if that is the correct technical term. They put out a ton of cold air. One of the shops that I used to work in used like 7 of the biggest Portacool units and even on 100+ degree days with very high humidity those units would keep you ice cold.
    Swamp coolers are evaporative coolers. They work great, when the humidity is low. They sort of work when it's humid out (they're no where near as efficient) I can't imagine them working worth a darn in east Texas. Other than the fan.

    I have a 1600cfm unit in my shop, it's functional even this time of year, but instead of dropping the temperature 20ºf, it's more like 10º.. and it's humid (ok, so 65% Rh). For most of the last 20 years, I lived in a house with only evaporative cooling.. it works, with other fans to keep air moving. Drop a couple 20lb blocks of ice in there, and it will get noticeably cooler.

    David, I agree... misters are great, the maintenance required sucks (for the use level we gave them, at least). Now I just have a portable swamp I can use when needed on the porch (and ceiling fans on the porch, shade cloths etc).

    FWIW, our current home has both AC and evap. The evap hasn't even been turned on since we moved in.
    Last edited by mike stenson; 07-28-2020 at 6:55 PM.
    ~mike

    scope creep

  11. #26
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Mesa, Arizona
    Posts
    1,424
    Our first home in Arizona, a rental, had a roof mounted swamp cooler. It blew the cooled air through a duct in the ceiling of the hallway. Swamp coolers work by drawing outside air through pads that have been saturated with water. This causes the heat in the air to evaporate the water, which cools the air. During the monsoon season, Arizona's humidity is much higher than it is the rest of the year. (It's still less humid than it is in other parts of the country.) Because the air has almost reach its saturation point, there's not nearly as much 'room' for the air to take in additional moisture -- which greatly reduces a swamp cooler's efficiency. Ours would all-but quit working from July through the end of August. It would still cool the air somewhat -- maybe 5 degrees, but that was all.

    Our next house had a swamp cooler, too. It also had a roof-mounted A/C unit. When the swamp cooler quit working, I would get up on the roof and remove the damper closing off the duct from the A/C unit and use it to close off the swamp cooler. We only used the A/C 2.5 months each year, but those months were MUCH more comfortable! Our utility bills were also a lot larger!

    Our current home does not have a swamp cooler. The two story structure would make using a roof mounted swamp cooler impractical. The home is also well-insulated, so it's not as expensive to use an A/C unit.

    More than any of you wanted to know, I'm sure.
    David Walser
    Mesa, Arizona

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    McKean, PA
    Posts
    12,847
    Be aware that many of the "new" small portable air conditioning units are simply swamp coolers. They will provide some cooling, but they also increase the humidity in the air coming into the space being cooled, which is not a good thing for most shop tools.

    Mini split systems have may ways they can be mounted and how the cooling pipes are routed. They are much quieter than window units. I have a geothermal Heating and A/C set up for my house and we rarely hear it when it is running. It has easily maintained cool temperatures in our home and my shop.
    Lee Schierer
    Captain USNR(Ret)

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Please Contribute

  13. #28
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    1,914
    I could see the condensate reservoir of a portable unit filling pretty instantly on an East Texas summer day. You’d need a drain line of some sort along with the exhaust hose.

    I’d really consider splurging on a mini split. Most of the bigger brands even have 120v models up to 12k BTU nowadays.

  14. #29
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    5,054
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobby Robbinett View Post
    Just call around to your local HVAC contractors and ask them if they have any used systems that they would be willing to sell at a discount. You can get sweet deals on good equipment this way. Like I said above I run a 5 ton R22A unit in my shop and will probably be purchasing an additional 5 ton (package unit) soon. My initial 5 ton unit did not include heat but I think that I paid $500 or so for the setup and another $500 or so for the install. The package unit that I am eyeing is $500 with almost a free install, and it produces heat too.
    This works. I just bought a 6 year old, 6 ton single phase gas pack, for $500, that works fine, and has never needed any repair. An HVAC guy that I have done some favors for, called me, and asked if I could unload it off his trailer with a loader. I asked him if he had plans for it. He said no. I asked him what he wanted for it, and when he told me, I told him we could unload it right here. It's going in the mechanic/metal shop building that has only had a wood heater.

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