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AC your shop?

01/25/2011 @ 8:48am

One particularly hot and muggy day several summers ago, Diana and Dave Mitchell were sweating away in the shop wishing for a cool breeze. “We’re not given to luxuries,” Diana says. “But Dave got the idea to go get a window air-conditioning unit, and he mounted it in one of the casement windows in our shop. It cost about $200, so we figured it was worth a try.”

The Houghton, South Dakota, farmers had few expectations about what a 10,000-Btu-rated air conditioner would do for their 50×50-foot shop. At the least, they hoped it would dehumidify the interior overnight and provide more comfortable working conditions during the day in the closed-up area. “After the first day, it cooled the shop down to where it was almost comfortable,” Diana recalls. “Plus, it removed a lot of humidity from the structure.”

As it turned out, they were so pleased with that window unit’s abilities, they bought another 10,000-Btu air conditioner for the shop’s other casement window.

“They both run for about $100 a month, operating pretty constantly, which keeps the shop around 68°F. to 70°F. even on the hottest days,” Diana says. “It was well worth the $400 it cost us for those two window units.”

Comfort And Dehumidification

Air-conditioned shops may appear to be an extravagance to some. But in addition to a comfortable working environment, air-conditioning units also remove humidity, which can rust tools and parts. And in comparison to the price of some tools, a window air conditioner is relatively cheap.

As is the case with heating systems sized only to maintain warmth in a structure during the winter, a window air conditioner will be hard-pressed to keep a shop cool if that structure’s doors are constantly being opened and closed during the day. So it’s important to size the air conditioner to maintain temperature and to rapidly remove humidity.

Rough Estimate For AC Needs

A general guide to sizing air conditioners, How to Calculate Air Conditioning Needs, can be found online at www.ehow.com/how_4899871_calculate-air-conditioning-needs.html. It’s generally a good idea to work with a local contractor to size a central air-conditioning unit to your shop.

If you are interested in only removing rust-causing moisture from your shop, another option is to go with a simple dehumidifier as did Dean, Duane, and Chris Damman. The Melbourne, Iowa, farmers experimented with a dehumidifier (which cost less than $100) in their 60×72-foot shop.

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