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AC your shop?

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 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.

“We wash in the shop so the
dehumidifier removes a lot of that extra moisture,” Duane says. “It certainly
makes a difference. After three years of running constantly, it’s still in use.”

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