10 Best Portable Garage Air Conditioners For Cool Workshops

Garages are used for workshops, mechanic shops, storage, home gyms, and several other uses. Even with the large bay doors open, the heat of the spring and summer months can cause the garage temperatures to exceed comfortable working ranges and this is why finding the best air conditioner for a garage becomes a priority for many homeowners.

The size of your garage, ventilation system, insulation, and the time of year can all play a factor in heating up your garage space.

This article will examine all the possible ways to keep your garage cool, and we will review the best garage air conditioners, including mini split air conditioners, window air conditioners, evaporative coolers and portable garage AC unit systems.

1. hOmeLabs – Best Portable Air Conditioner For Garages

Dimensions 30.7 x 17.9 x 15 inches
BTU 14,000
Power Source/Consumption 115 v /1470 kWh
Coverage Area 450 – 600 sq. ft.
Warranty 2 -year limited warranty

If you are looking for the best portable option with increased energy efficiency, look no further. The hOmeLabs portable garage air conditioner pushes 14,000 BTUs to cool spaces up to 600 square feet. The large unit weighs over 70 pounds, but with its industrial caster wheels, moving the AC is a breeze.

You can position the AC next to a window and use the included exhaust hose to vent the hot air outside while keeping your work area cool.

Setup takes less than 10 minutes, including piecing together the window exhaust attachment. Once you have the exhaust routed, you plug it in and turn it on.

There is an infrared remote as well as local controls on the unit’s faceplate. You can select from various cooling options, including the economical sleep mode.

If your standard two car garage is too humid, you can choose the dehumidify mode to remove excess moisture from the air.

Follow everything up with a 2-year warranty; you can rest assured that your portable AC will bring you years of satisfying cold air.

Maintenance is trouble-free, as well. The hOmeLabs AC comes with a washable filter that you can spray off and put back to use. Total weekly maintenance is about 20 minutes.

2. Zero Breeze Mark 2 – Best Battery Operated AC For Garages

Dimensions 20 x 10 x 11 inches
BTU 2300
Power Source/Consumption 100-240V or lithium-ion battery pack/ 120 watts
Coverage Area up to 100 sq. ft.
Warranty 30-day return period, 1-year warranty

Zero Breeze has a portable solution for your home, garage, truck, tent, or camper. The 2300 BTU, battery-powered unit can go virtually anywhere. You won’t get stuck without AC either as there is a plug-in power option for any standard 100-240V outlets.

There are very few battery-powered AC units on the market and although they are not perfect, they can keep your garage cool.

This is the newest, updated version from Zero Breeze so expect the Mark 2 to be effective in cooling down small areas such as one car garage. If you have a low square footage garage (under 100 sq ft) then this can provide direct cooling relief.

It claims to drop the air temperature 30F within 10 minutes but this will depend on the size of your garage. When using this second-generation Mark 2 AC unit, we found it worked best on areas under 50 square feet.

One major difference from the previous AC unit is the dual hose which allows for more sustainable cold and hot airflow.

We recommend placing the heat dissipation pipes out of a door or window so they draw air from outside, cool your workshop area down, and flush the warm air back outside.

When you unpack the machine, it is almost ready to use. However, because of the refrigerant, you will need to let the AC sit for a few hours to allow the fluid to return to the compressor.

If you run the unit prior to the refrigerant settling, you can ruin the compressor and void your warranty.

If for any reason you do not love this unit, you can return it, no questions asked, within 30 days. After the trial period, you will receive a full 1-year limited warranty. Registration and proof of purchase are required to make a claim.

Zero Breeze is one of the best portable air conditioner units as it fits so many different categories and offers better energy efficiency. You can read our full Zerobreeze review on this particular battery-powered AC.

3. MRCOOL ADVANTAGE – Best Ductless Mini Split AC for a Garage

(For the 12,000 BTU model)
31.57 x 7.44 x 11.69 inches (indoor)
30.31 x 11.81 x 21.85 inches (outdoor)
BTU 12,000 to 36,000
Power Source/Consumption 115-234v / 15-30amps
Coverage Area 500 to 1500 sq ft. (12,000 to 36,000 BTU models)
Warranty 5-year warranty for parts, 7-year warranty for compressor.

MRCOOL allows you to make your portable AC a more permanent solution. The Ductless Mini-Split air conditioner uses R-410a refrigerant, which comes precharged in the unit. This will enable you to have a DIY installation without the need for special licenses or permits.

The mini-split AC comes in two parts, an indoor unit, and an outdoor unit. You will need a dedicated power supply, some knowledge of electrical and air conditioning systems, as well as standard tools with the ability to drill a 3 ½ inch hole. Provided you have all of that, this installation can take two people about 30 minutes to have up and running.

There are several MRCOOL garage mini splits to choose from based on your square footage and cooling needs.

For example, the 12,000 BTU ductless mini split air conditioner will cool areas up to 700 square feet, while the largest system, 36,000 BTUs, will cool spaces up to 1,500 square feet, more than enough to cool both one car garage and two car garage edifice.

You also have all-in-one mini split air conditioners with a humidifier, ventilation, fan, AC, and heater.

The system is controlled by a smart remote that uses wireless communications. You will need to connect it to the home wireless network. Once done, though, you can use the remote or Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant voice commands.

Because the system is an actual air conditioner, there is a compressor and charged coolant lines. The entire system is warrantied for five years with an additional two years to cover the compressor.

While the DIY project will not void the warranty, you should read the warranty information carefully. If you short out the system while installing the electrical system, the warranty will be void.

4. LG LW6017R – Top Window AC For Garages

Dimensions 14.4 x 17.3 x 11.1 inches
BTU 6,000
Power Source/Consumption 115v/550 amps
Coverage Area 250 sq. feet
Warranty 1-year parts and labor

The LG brand 6,000 BTU window unit is an easy-to-install garage air conditioner designed to cool a smaller floor space efficiently. Installation is quick and easy, able to be accomplished by one person.

To install the window AC, you will need to place the unit in the window, setting the tracks in position on the sill and front of the lip of the top pane.

Once installed, you can use the included window fins to block the open areas on either side of the unit and the foam insulation to go around the AC to prevent air leaks. Once you plug it in, you can turn the unit on.

There are two control options. You can use the control panel to power the system on and off, select from three fan speeds, and control the mode of operation. There is also an included remote control giving you the same options.

The vent louvers are adjustable, allowing you to control where the air is blown. Followed up with a one year warranty, you can have cool air in your garage with a quiet window air conditioner unit that is both durable and reliable.

5. PIONEER WYS036G-17 – Best Garage Wall Ductless Air Conditioner (AC + Heat)

Dimensions 49.5 x 11 x 14.2 inches
BTU 12,000
Power Source/Consumption 110 – 120v/575 amps
Coverage Area Up to 450 sq. ft.
Warranty 2-year warranty on parts, 5-year warranty on compressor

The ductless mini-split system from PIONEER is slightly above average compared to the MRCOOL heat pump above.

However, this heat pump requires a lot more effort to install and isn’t a DIY project. The system does not come precharged, so you will need to hire a professional for the installation.

They are available in two units: air handler (placed within the wall) and compressor (outside the room). A refrigerant and power line connect two halves through a tiny hole, cut through a wall and a condensate drain carries water from the inside unit away.

At a minimum, once the ductless air conditioner is installed, you will need to hire an HVAC licensed professional to charge the system. According to Home Advisor, this should cost you about $100 to $350.

This WYS system is an inverter, allowing for multiple compressor speeds. Not only does this make the system more energy-efficient, but it is also useful for heating, dehumidifying, and ventilation.

If you are looking to save money on labor costs and avoid a professional installation, the MRCOOL garage gym system above is a better option.

However, with a licensed professional install, the PIONEER system will cool (and heat) your space up to 450 square feet (for the 12k BTU model) for many years to come.

You will also get an extended five-year warranty on the compressor to help alleviate any concerns you may have about the reliability.

Customer service isn’t the greatest, though, so you need to make sure you are persistent and have followed all registration and warranty claim articles before making the call.

Overall, it’s a relatively costly model; however, it’s surely worth the money if you seek a permanently installed, energy efficient cooling system for your garage.

6. Cool-Space AVALANCHE-36-VD – Best Swamp Cooler For Commercial Garages

Dimensions 62 x 70 x 30 inches
Power Source/Consumption 110 – 120v/ 30 amp
Coverage Area 3600 sq. ft.
Warranty 2-year warranty on parts, 3-year warranty on fan

The AVALANCHE from Cool-Space is a swamp cooler that is designed to cool up to 3600 square feet. Like any swamp cooler, humidity and your region will play a significant factor in how efficient this machine is.

Regions Perfect For Evaporative Coolers

You have two options for the water. There is a 46-gallon reservoir that you can fill to maintain the cooling airflow, or you can connect a garden hose for a constant supply.

With no assembly required, you can wheel the large fan into the space, place it near airflow such as an open door, fill with water and power on.

You should note that an evaporative cooler such as this will raise the humidity in the ambient air. While it does effectively cool the space, you may notice a damp or sticky feeling while working in your garage. This is a natural by-product of using a swamp cooler.

To avoid this, you must use it in a well-ventilated area, as close to the vent source as possible. If the humidity level is high, running the fan is not advised. However, for most situations, the increase in humidity is worth the cost of a cooler work area.

7. Honeywell CO30XE – Best Evaporative Cooler For Small Garages

Dimensions 18 x 13.9 x 33.7 inches
Power Source/Consumption 115v/228 watts
Coverage Area 300 sq. ft.
Warranty 1-Year limited warranty

If you are looking for an evaporative cooler with portability and multiple uses, Honeywell has you covered.

The 7.9-gallon water tank is easy to fill and can be easily transported even when full. This unit is ideal for those on a budget, as well as anyone that wants to use the cooler in multiple places.

The evaporative cooler is increasingly portable and has wheels that could be utilized to maneuver the unit around the garage or anywhere in the house with ease.

The case is UV protected so it can withstand long outings in the sun. With a standard house outlet 115v plug, you can take it anywhere.

One of the best features is the ice tray. For those times, when you want an even colder airflow, the top try can be filled with ice to help lower the temperature.

The included remote control allows you to control the unit from up to 30 feet away, keeping you closer to your task. In the garage, the unit will cool up to 300 square feet.

Outside, the colder air can be blown further with three fan speed selections. You also can set a timer so you don’t run the unit longer than you need to.

There isn’t a constant water feed option, so you will have to refill the water tank continually. However, there is a low water alarm to alert you when to refill, so you don’t have to monitor the device continuously.

8. Hessaire MC37M – Best Evaporative Cooler For 2 Car Garage

Dimensions 25 x 17 x 37 inches
Power Source/Consumption 110v / 250 watts
Coverage Area 950 sq. ft.
Warranty 1-year warranty

If you want more cooling capacity without having to lug around a 7-foot fan, the Hessaire MC37M is a swamp cooler that is portable and efficient.

The unit uses a 3-stage medium for cooling, unlike most others that only have a single-stage cooling material. The larger 10.7-gallon tank can be refilled with ease, as well.

With this unit, you can get up to 2200CFM of airflow cooling down a 950 square foot area with ease. The unit is perfect for two car garages; however, the brand also provides energy efficiency models that can cool two car garages easily.

You also have the option to run a garden hose for constant water cooling if you don’t want to use the tank. The machine itself is highly energy-efficient, too, using only 2.4 amps.

The downside is the pump. The water level must be at least three inches deep to prime the pump, and once powered on, the pump can take up to 5 minutes to fully prime and begin pumping out cold air.

This unit will raise the humidity of the garage, but you have the option to run on fan only to help combat this issue.

The 1-year warranty will cover the unit against defects and the fan motor. Registration and compliance with the warranty terms are required to make a claim. Most claims are settled within 21 days.

9. Frigidaire FFRA051WAE – Cheap Window AC for a Garage

Dimensions 15.25 x 16 x 12 inches
BTU 5,000-15,100
Power Source/Consumption 115v/ 4.9 amps (5k model)
Coverage Area 150 to 850 sq. ft.
Warranty 1-year limited warranty on parts, 5-year warranty on compressor.

If you are looking for a permanent solution that won’t break the bank or don’t want to spend a lot of money on an air conditioner, you won’t use very often; Frigidaire has the solution. You won’t find any fancy bells or whistles here, just cool air from a reliable company.

The window unit is the best cheap window air conditioner. It is easy to install by placing in the window, paying attention to the guides. Close the window down on top to secure the unit in place and extend the window fins, preventing air passing through.

Once you plug it in, you can turn it on. There are no remote controls, touch-screens, or voice commands. Instead, you have two turn knobs to select cooling mode and fan speed. What else could you want?

If your garage or workshop has a window, this is the ideal cheap air conditioner to fill it with. You can cool up to 350 square feet with the 8,000 BTU model or 250 square feet with the 6,000 BTU model, enough for one car garage.

Both come with the same 1-year warranty on parts and 5-year compressor warranty, so you don’t have anything to worry about.

10. BLACK+DECKER – Best Portable AC For Your Garage

Dimensions 16.5 x 11.5 x 26 inches
BTU 8,000-14,00
Power Source/Consumption 115v/ 1.5 amps (5k model)
Coverage Area 150 to 250 sq. ft. (10k model)
Warranty 1-year limited warranty on labor & parts, 5-year warranty on compressor.

Having an air conditioning system in a room will keep you relaxed, comfortable, and cool, particularly during scorching hot summers. However, if you’ve got a small garage room, placing a wall-mounted air conditioner might be unneeded.

Looking for a way to cool your garage without installing a large AC unit? If so, look no further than Black+Decker portable AC.

This portable AC is one of the best garage room air conditioners available today. All you’ve got to do is: take it to your garage room and attach the window adapter and hose to the sliding or double-hung window and that’s all. The unit will start cooling and providing cool air to breathe.

In addition, the model comes with four unique caster wheels, carry handles, and compact size, allowing you to easily move it anywhere in the garage.

It has a modern structure with smart tech. Besides an LED display and a remote, the unit also has various other features like sleep mode, a 24-hour timer, etc. that help keep you in control of the ambiance.

Plus, it has three efficient functions for your ventilation and cooling needs with fan, cool and dehumidifying models in one system. Not to mention, the system runs at 1150 watts.

Garage Air Conditioners Compared

hOmelabs 8,600 BTU Portable Air Conditioner -...
12k BTU 19 SEER MrCool Advantage Ductless...
LG 6,000 BTU Window Conditioner, Cools 250...
Honeywell 525 CFM 3-Speed Outdoor Rated...
Zero Breeze Mark 2 Battery Powered Portable...
hOmelabs 8,600 BTU Portable Air Conditioner -...
12k BTU 19 SEER MrCool Advantage Ductless...
LG 6,000 BTU Window Conditioner, Cools 250...
Honeywell 525 CFM 3-Speed Outdoor Rated...
Zero Breeze Mark 2 Battery Powered Portable...
12,000 to 36,000
Cooling Area
450 – 600 sq. ft.
500 to 1500 sq ft.
250 sq. feet
300 sq. ft.
up to 100 sq. ft.
Power Source
115 v
115-234 v
115 v
115 v
100-240V + Lithium-ion battery pack
Energy Consumption
1470 kWh
15-30 amps
550 amps
228 watts
120 watts
hOmelabs 8,600 BTU Portable Air Conditioner -...
hOmelabs 8,600 BTU Portable Air Conditioner -...
Cooling Area
450 – 600 sq. ft.
Power Source
115 v
Energy Consumption
1470 kWh
12k BTU 19 SEER MrCool Advantage Ductless...
12k BTU 19 SEER MrCool Advantage Ductless...
12,000 to 36,000
Cooling Area
500 to 1500 sq ft.
Power Source
115-234 v
Energy Consumption
15-30 amps
LG 6,000 BTU Window Conditioner, Cools 250...
LG 6,000 BTU Window Conditioner, Cools 250...
Cooling Area
250 sq. feet
Power Source
115 v
Energy Consumption
550 amps
Honeywell 525 CFM 3-Speed Outdoor Rated...
Honeywell 525 CFM 3-Speed Outdoor Rated...
Cooling Area
300 sq. ft.
Power Source
115 v
Energy Consumption
228 watts
Zero Breeze Mark 2 Battery Powered Portable...
Zero Breeze Mark 2 Battery Powered Portable...
Cooling Area
up to 100 sq. ft.
Power Source
100-240V + Lithium-ion battery pack
Energy Consumption
120 watts

Why Does a Garage Get So Hot?

Several factors can cause our garage or shops to become too hot to work in, especially metal garages. Most of the temperature increases will have to do with the time year. Late spring and into the summer months will be a lot hotter than in the winter. The sun’s heat is only one reason, though.

  • Size.
    The size of your garage will play a large role in how much heat it retains. Larger garages take longer to heat up, but they also take much longer to cool off. Often, two or three-bay garages will stay hot enough to make you sweat long after sunset.
  • Insulation.
    Most garages are unfinished. This is a fancy way of saying they don’t have any of the insulation factors the interior of your home does. From proper insulation to drywall and paint, each layer between the inside and outside of the garage will help keep the heat out (or in) when needed. Also keep note that the insulation of your garage door can also affect the temperature inside.
  • Radiant Heat.
    The sun, humidity, and ambient temperature will all play a significant role in the temperature inside your garage. Especially if you have improper ventilation, as mentioned above, the heat of the day will seep in and stay within your garage walls.
  • Ventilation.
    Because a garage is not generally designed for occupancy, there is little to no ventilation added during construction. Even if your home has central air conditioning, the vents blowing the cold, fresh air around seldom make it to the garage. Fans, extra windows, and other forms of airflow regulation are also often left out of the construction.
  • Lighting.
    Lights give off heat as well. Even fluorescent, built-in fan lights and LED lighting will cause a temperature increase. The more lights you have, or if you work with incandescent or halogen lighting, the higher and faster the garage temperature will increase.

How To Find The Perfect Garage Workshop AC

Size vs. Space

The first thing you need to consider is the size of the space you are going to be cooling down. Larger spaces will obviously need more powerful air conditioners. However, if you are working in a smaller area of the garage, a small & portable AC unit can keep that area cool.

You not only need to decide how much area to cool but also how much space the air conditioner itself will take up.

Portable air conditioner units can vary in size, and their overall footprint may be too large for the space you have designated for them.

Proper measurements should be taken of the space the air conditioner will be mounted or sit, as well as the overall dimensions of the air conditioner.

Efficiency (EER) & Power Source

Next, you should consider the efficiency rating of the air conditioner. Portable air conditioners are rated using the EER method.

This is the total BTU (see below) divided by the number of kilowatts consumed by the AC. The higher the EER rating, the more efficient the air conditioner is.

An energy star certified AC will use less energy to cool the space and save you money on your monthly energy bill as a result.

While the energy efficiency isn’t the final deciding factor, it should come into play, depending on your power source options.

Some of the best air conditioners have multiple power supply options. Most will have an AC adapter or outlet plug for direct connection to your home’s power supply.

However, you may also purchase a unit that runs on battery power. The batteries will determine how long the air conditioner will run, and recharging them will cost you on your energy bill.

However, a battery-powered portable air conditioner won’t consume as much electricity by charging the batteries as it would be plugged into a wall outlet.

The trade-off, though, is that you have a limited amount of time before the battery needs to be changed or charged. This also results in more maintenance and care for the machine.

Power Rating (Garage Air Conditioner BTUs)

So, how many BTUs of AC unit do you need? Most air conditioners have a rating measured in BTUs. A BTU, or British Thermal Unit, is the measure of energy needed to melt one pound of ice.

Heaters and air conditioners use this measurement system to determine how efficient and powerful they are at heating or cooling a specific sized area.

The higher the BTU, the more square feet that can be cooled off efficiently. For portable or battery-powered air conditioners, the BTU rating isn’t as critical as the EER rating (See above).

As long as the air conditioner is rated to cool the square footage you desire, or at least the area you will be in while working in the garage, the actual BTU measurement will mean little.

Appearance & Noise

While the aesthetics of the unit may not initially mean a whole lot, they are worth considering. If you plan to have the unit permanently mounted or in a place where guests will see it, you may not want it to be an eye-sore.

The noise is another factor to think about. Most portable air conditioners, window units, and swamp coolers will make a lot of noise.

They must provide cooling air from a compact frame. While most portable units are relatively quiet, the decibel rating may be too high to carry on a conversation.

If you are using the air conditioner in a shop setting where you will be working with power tools, the noise created by the air conditioner won’t be much of an issue for you.

However, if you plan to use the air conditioner to cool the garage for use as a living space, hosting a party, or otherwise entertaining, the noise level may become a factor.

Storage & Portability

Something else to keep in mind is how portable you require the unit to be. A portable AC can be more permanently mounted, but it will still need to be accessible. The weight and size of the unit will come into play.

On the other hand, if you wish to store the unit often and only use it on an as-needed basis, the size of the unit will dictate where and how it can be stored.

Make sure you have the required space for a more permanent mount or for storage depending on your planned usage of the air conditioner.

As mentioned, you will need to be able to access the unit easily. Regular maintenance is required for these machines.

You will need to clean out the drip tray, hoses, and change air filters. If you mount the unit in an inaccessible area, this process will prove difficult.


Next, you will want to look over all of the available options and features. Some features are copyright protected and only available through certain brands.

If you require a feature, such as a programmable thermostat, you should ensure your chosen model either comes with one upon purchase or is compatible with an aftermarket thermostat.

Other features to consider are a dehumidifier and an auto-drain system. Both of these features are often forgotten about, but an air conditioner is responsible for keeping the humidity down in the area is at cooling.

Some portable units aren’t capable of dehumidifying your space. If this is something you require, you need to ensure your model can function in that capacity.

Auto-drain systems will save you on some maintenance routines and can be crucial in a permanent mounting of a portable unit. Without the auto-drain, you will need daily or weekly access to the machine.

You should also consider options that come with some models and not others. Things like remote control, voice controls, or even automatic shut-off can help you during setup and use.


Finally, you should look for a good warranty. Most units on our list below will come with a return period (usually 30 to 90 days) as well as an extended warranty to cover the unit after the return period has expired.

The important thing to remember is that all warranties are different. Not only will they cover certain aspects of the air conditioner (craftsmanship, motors, fans, etc.), but they will also require different things for making a claim.

Reading the warranty portion of the user’s guide is crucial. This will tell you if you need to retain the original packaging, hold on to your purchase receipt, or if you have a limited time to register the purchase with the company.

Suitable AC Units for Cooling a Garage

Aside from installing ducting and ventilation for your home’s central air conditioner system into the garage during original construction, you are limited in the number of ways to effectively cool your garage. Air conditioning comes in many forms, and some are suitable for garages and workshops.

Here are various air conditioner types:

Portable Air Conditioners

Portable Air Conditioner

Portable air conditioners are the second-best method of keeping your space cool, behind a central AC system.

Portable ACs don’t require a lot of setup, maintenance, or special tools or parts. You can bring them into the garage or workshop, plug them in (or install the battery), turn them on and forget about it.

Most portable ACs will require a ventilation hose that needs venting out a window.

However, in a garage setting, you can face the hose towards the open doors and leave it lying on the ground.

Portable air conditioners will also save on your energy bill because they don’t require installation, and you will only use them when needed.

If you aren’t in the garage, you won’t need to turn them on to maintain a constant temperature as you do with your house.

Related ArticleHow Does a Portable AC Work?

Window Air Conditioners

Window air conditioners or through-the-wall air conditioners are also a popular option. You can permanently mount these in a window, insulate around them and then turn them on as needed.

The biggest problem with a window AC unit in a garage is that space can be a concern. Where a portable air conditioner can be placed right next to your work area, a window unit must be strong enough to cool the entire space.

Less efficient models will require longer run times to cool a garage down to temperature, and you will need to have all other doors and windows in the space closed.

If it isn’t practical or possible to close the doors, the air from the window unit is wasted. Your energy bill can increase because of the usage amount.

Related ArticleHow Does a Window AC Work?

Ductless Mini Split Heat Pumps

Mini-Split systems are growing in popularity because of their simple set up. You can mount them in any room, including the garage, and control them with a central thermostat, remote control, or a mobile app.

Ductless mini-split ACs are more efficient than a window unit, but the initial cost is higher, especially if you need to pay for professional installation.

However, in the long term, these heat pumps will help keep your monthly energy bill lower than a window AC and can cool a larger space like a garage more effectively.

Evaporative/Swamp Cooler

For sheer power and cooling ability, there is little else that can quickly cool a large garage or workshop better than an evaporative air conditioner.

Also known as a swamp cooler, these large units produce high-speed airflow using ice, water, or a combination to cool the air and push the hot air out.

Swamp coolers can be expensive and difficult to set up. You will also lose a lot of space, depending on the size and type of cooler you purchase.

Evaporative air conditioners, as opposed to the other options mentioned above, also require more maintenance, constant supervision for water levels, and fan damage.

While they may be the most effective alternative to central AC, they are also the most cumbersome and high-maintenance of the bunch.

Further, instead of removing humidity from the space, they add to it. This humid air moving around is what has given the nickname “swamp cooler” to the evaporative cooler system.

Other Garage/Workshop Cooling Options

If you aren’t quite ready to use air conditioning in your garage or are looking to help your portable AC in the garage to be more efficient, there are a few tips you can try.

  • Use oscillating or ceiling fans.
    Air conditioners are more efficient when there is airflow. If the air flows freely, the AC doesn’t have to work as hard. If you don’t have an air conditioner, the moving air will help keep the temperature inside the garage lower by moving the air around.
  • Ensure that the space has proper ventilation.
    As crucial as airflow is, the air moving around needs to be able to vent out of the garage. Venting the space by opening the door, window, or installing an air vent will keep fresher air coming in while pushing older, warmer air out.
  • Insulation.
    As we talked about above, proper insulation such as closed garage doors and windows will help keep the temperature regulated.
  • Use ice in front of your fans.
    If you put a bucket of ice in front of your fans, the cool air from the bucket will be pushed around the space by the fans, making it feel cooler inside. This is especially good for garage gyms on a hot summers day.

Sizing Garage Air Conditioners

When choosing your ideal portable air conditioner for your garage, the size of your garage and the power of your air conditioner (how many BTUs) will be the most critical factors.  If you do not know the square footage of your garage, it is easy to measure.

To get the square footage of your garage, you just measure the length and the width and multiply the numbers together. So for example, if your garage is 20 feet long and 14 feet wide, you have a square footage of 20×14 = 280 sq. feet.

When comparing this to the BTU power of the AC you have in mind for purchase, you should keep in mind the amount of insulation, the height of your garage, and what is kept inside.

If you store your car in the garage, for instance, the total area needing to be cooled by the AC will be less.

Likewise, if you have poor insulation (see below for tips), you will need a more efficient or powerful AC to combat the loss of colder air.

Insulating Your Garage

Transforming your garage into a living space or entertainment zone doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.

However, you will need to install insulation. According to Home Advisor, the average cost for garage insulation on unfinished garages is between $1,029 and $2,364.

However, most of this cost is labor charges. If you are capable of working with a few tools and buying the materials yourself, you can save quite a bit of cash.

The materials needed to insulate your garage properly are:

  • Insulation.
    Rolled insulation is best as it is easiest to hang and inexpensive. You will want to get insulation that matches the R-Type for the region you live in. For walls, the general standard is R-38, and the requirement is for the insulation to be 12 inches thick. Use batting or rolls for the best results.

DOE Regional R Values

  • Drywall.
    Finishing the room not to leave the exposed insulation is essential. Most fiberglass insulation is hazardous to the touch, and inhalation of the fibers can cause serious problems. Finishing off the room with sheetrock will prevent exposure.
  • Drywall tape and paint.
    To finish the wall, you will need to seal the seams in the drywall with tape and drywall mud. Follow up with a coat of paint, and you have a room fully insulated to retain heat and cold.

If you have exposed beams, the insulation will fit between the beams from floor to garage ceiling. A staple gun is recommended to hold the insulation in place.

Once you have a section insulated, cover with drywall, and repeat. Finish up by taping the seams and painting the drywall.

Insulation should cover the walls, as well as around the garage windows and even the garage door. Professional garage door insulation may be required depending on the type of doors you have. This can cost anywhere from $200 to $600.

Related Article – Garage Door Insulation Reviews

Installing a Garage Air Conditioner

Installation of your garage air conditioner will depend on the type of AC you purchase. It will also depend if your air conditioner will be permanently mounted or if it is going to be a amount that will only house the air conditioner while in use.

For window and through the wall air conditioners, you will place the AC unit in the garage window or wall square.

There will be a guard to latch onto the bottom sill so you can screw the frame into place. Once the air conditioning unit is in the garage window, you will use the fan-style wings to extend out to cover any leftover open window space. These will also be screwed in place.

From there, you can use the included rubber or foam insulation strips to go around the indoor unit where any air may be able to escape. Plug the garage AC unit in, and you are good to go.

For portable units, having a more permanent mount is preferable. This will keep them out of the way of your work and help prevent them from getting damaged.

For portable AC unit systems, a semi-permanent mount may not be feasible. If you get the larger models on wheels, you can build a stand for them. For the smaller hand-held style air conditioners, though, a shelf or table mount is ideal.

You will want them to be off of the ground, but close enough to a window or door to vent the exhaust hose. If your portable AC has a drain line, it will need to be appropriately routed as well.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How often should I clean garage air conditioners?

Garage air conditioners have a tenancy to require more maintenance than other ACs. Because they are more exposed to dirt, dust, and debris from the workshop, car exhaust, and the large open doors, regular cleaning is crucial. At least weekly, the units should be wiped clean, fan blades (if applicable) cleaned off, and the air filters cleaned or exchanged. Every month the exhaust vents and drain lines need to be inspected and cleaned as needed.

What is the difference between an AC and an evaporative cooler?

The main difference between an air conditioner and an evaporative cooler is that air conditioners use chemicals, oils, and refrigerants to cool the air. Evaporative coolers use only water. The other main difference is that air conditioners remove humidity from the surrounding air while evaporative coolers, or swamp coolers, add to the humidity levels.

Why is it not ideal to connect one’s garage with a central air conditioning system?

There are several reasons not to connect the central air conditioner to the garage — first, the cost. Adding ductwork to run from the AC unit to the garage will cost thousands. You will also need to access most of the walls and ceiling areas between the garage and air conditioner.

Second, the lack of proper insulation in the garage will cause significant air leaks causing your monthly energy bill to skyrocket. Finally, Because of the ample space, the central air conditioner will work harder to cool a space that won’t be adequately cooled. This will result in most of the home being too cold while the garage is a more nominal temperature.

Can I vent an AC into my garage?

While you can vent an air conditioner into the garage, it isn’t recommended. The air conditioner will need to vent the exhaust outside to be the most effective. If you vent into the garage, the hot air will only add to the temperature and humidity levels, the very thing the air conditioner is trying to remove. Making the air conditioner work harder will not effectively cool the space and will shorten the lifespan of the AC.

How much does it cost to install an air conditioner in a garage?

Installation costs will be determined by the type of air conditioner you purchase, how well insulated the garage is, professional labor costs versus a DIY project, and any additional items needed to install the unit properly. On average, professional installation of a window or through the wall unit will be less than $1,000. For a more permanent solution with the addition of insulation and drywall, the cost can exceed several thousand.


For cooling down your garage, you have a lot of options. Portable garage air conditioner units make the process quick and easy, while evaporative coolers are energy efficient.

If you want the best air conditioner and a permanent solution, a window air conditioner may be what you are looking for.

We can’t recommend the hOmeLabs portable air conditioner highly enough. With an energy-efficient rating, efficient cooling, controllable cool fresh air, and super fast set up, there is nothing to be disappointed about.