The past year has led most people to spend more time at home than perhaps they ever envisioned doing. While life is slowly returning to normal with COVID-19 vaccines becoming more widely available, you may still plan to do more things at home than you did before.
That means you want to maximize every inch of space in your home, including your garage.
Homeowners are transforming their garages into everything, including gyms, home offices, homeschool spaces, and craft areas.
You do have to figure out a way to control the temperature in a garage, however, whether that’s with portable air conditioners or something else.
The following are some key things to know about cooling a garage.
Avoid Tapping Into Your Central Air Conditioning
While everyone’s situation can be different, you should probably avoid tapping into your home’s central air conditioning. This can seem like the logical option by adding ductwork through your home and into the garage, but there are issues with this solution.
A garage doesn’t usually have an air return feeding back into the HVAC system, for one. This creates pressurization in a garage, and it makes the rest of the home become depressurized because garage air can’t get back to the return.
When your home has negative pressure to relieve, it may bring in air from the outside, which means pollutants and allergens as well. It also becomes harder to cool your home.
Depending on how you use your garage, you might also be letting dangerous fumes like carbon monoxide into your home.
Types of Air Conditioners
Instead of connecting your central air to your garage, consider using a separate air conditioner in your garage.
- Ductless mini-split air conditioners: Split mini-systems are smaller than a standard split AC and there’s no ductwork required. With these systems, there’s a condensing unit on the outside of your garage with a compressor that has refrigerant. You may use just one indoor unit, but maybe more depending on the size of your garage, and wall-mounted units are most popular. These systems are efficient and good if you’re looking for something you can install on your own.
- Through-the-wall air conditioning: Through-the-wall air conditioning is somewhat like a window unit, and they cost less than mini-splits. These units need a hole cut in the wall, and then a sleeve goes in that space. The unit can be moved in and out as needed. These are quiet and efficient units.
- Window air conditioning: If you have a window, you can use a window air conditioning unit in your garage, but a lot of garages don’t have one. Window conditioners are affordable and have convenient features like remotes and timers. They’re pretty loud, though, and a lot of garage windows aren’t the right size to accommodate a window unit.
- Portable air conditioners: A portable air conditioner isn’t great for a garage. They’re good in many situations, but this isn’t necessarily one of them. Portable air conditioners take up floor space, and they have to be vented through a window. They’re not as efficient as some of the options above, and they don’t do much to tackle the humidity frequently occurring in a garage.
Making a Garage More Efficient
You want to do some things to ensure that your garage is efficient and also stays cool and comfortable for whatever you plan to use it for.
- Insulate and seal your garage to the same specifications you would any other living space. That means that you use house wrap insulation and make sure to seal the gaps around your doors, windows, and outlets. You can even add thin foam board to the inside of your garage doors and it usually won’t affect their operation.
- When you’re choosing an air conditioner, you probably want to go with one that’s a bit bigger than what your square footage technically calls for.
- Before turning on the air conditioning in your garage, let the hot air out first. For example, if your garage has been closed up all day and you want to go in there, raise the garage door about a foot, and then you can use a fan to blow that hot air out and pull fresh air in.
- Add some insulation to the floor of your attic or the ceiling of your garage.
Finally, keeping your garage clutter-free can actually keep it cooler because it improves airflow. When you have a lot of items on the floor, it impacts your air quality and impedes airflow.