Over the winter, I installed a heater in my workshop to keep it from getting uncomfortably cold. While that’s great for the 2 months of the year I need it in Southern California, the rest of the year the shop gets unbearably hot. The shop has been near impossible to work in the last couple months, so today I’m going to show you a couple steps I took to cool down the workshop so that I can make it comfortable to work in year round.
Step 1: Preparing an A/C Unit
Step one in this project is going to be installing a portable air conditioning unit in the shop. My friends at NewAir sent me their 14,000 BTU portable unit to install. If you’re also in the market for a portable air conditioning unit, make sure you stick around to the end of the tutorial for a promo code to get 20% off this same unit.This is a direct vent unit that requires either a window or a wall space to vent it. The only problem is, with my new cabinets and layout I no longer have a window in the shop, and there is only a small space near the garage door that I can install it. Fortunately after doing a quick test fit, it can just squeeze in there and still leave the garage door functional. If it were any bigger, I wouldn’t be able to push the unit back.
This unit comes with a 6” vent hose and wall adapter which requires drilling a 6” hole in the exterior wall. The biggest hole saw I had was 4 ¼” so I went and picked up a 6” hole saw from Home Depot for $40. These are also really useful for cutting ceilings to install recessed lighting so I’m sure I’ll use it again. If you don’t want to spend the money you could probably use a jigsaw to cut the hole. A quick note that anytime you’re going to be drilling through a wall, make sure you know what is inside it so you don’t risk hitting any electrical or plumbing. I’ve gutted these walls recently so I know there’s nothing running in this area.
Step 2: Drilling Through the Wall
If you’re using a big hole saw like this, remember to put your side handle on your drill or be prepared for it to kick your ass when the blade bites and torques on you. I know this because I forgot to put it on at first and quickly remembered.
Starting on the exterior wall, measure and drill where you want your vent to be and drill through your wall covering. Once you’ve gone through, continue the pilot hole through the inside wall and then come around to the inside and drill in the opposite direction.
Step 3: Attaching the Unit and Creating a Vent
Next attach the wall adapter to the exterior by adding a bead of exterior sealant around the collar and then attach it with the screws. From there you can feed the hose through and thread it onto the adapter. Feed a little more than you need into the adapter because when you thread it onto the back of the A/C unit, you’ll spin it back in the opposite direction. You could also thread the hose onto the adapter before attaching the adapter to the wall if you wanted to.
Next I added a little Great Stuff spray foam insulation around the vent hose to make sure it was nice and air tight and added some foil tape to the back of the machine to help secure the hose in place because I’ll be pulling the unit in and out from time to time.
The unit came with a cap for the wall adapter but I don’t want to have to pull the cap on and off when I want to use it so I grabbed a dryer vent cover from Lowe’s and installed it. This will help keep the lizards and critters from crawling in it when it’s not in use.
Step 4: Preparing to Insulate the Garage Door
Now, I can just plug in the unit and fire it up. On first impression this thing cranks a ton of air so it’ll definitely help cool down the shop. My shop is only about 300 sq. ft so this size unit should be more than enough; however, with the garage door as is, the air can easily escape and the heat can radiate in.
So the second part of cooling down the shop is to insulate the garage door. First I measure the panels on the garage door and then I picked up some 4x8 sheets of this 1.5” thick R-tech rigid foam insulation. I sliced them in half down the middle at the store so I could slide them into my SUV. They sell some pre-made garage insulation kits but they wouldn’t work for my door because my panels are wider.
Step 5: Installing the Foam Insulation
One side of the foam has a reflective coating on it. This side will be installed against the garage door to help reflect heat back away from the inside. So next I measured and cut the panels with a razor blade. You could use a circular saw or bandsaw or something for this as well but I found it pretty easy to just deeply score one side and then snap the foam and cut the other side like you would with drywall.
I had to remove the garage door struts on my door so I could get the foam installed. I worked my way one row at a time, reinstalling the strut for that row before moving onto the next. It was just a matter of working my way all the way up to the top. I chose to black out the windows in the top of my door for a couple reasons but you could cut around the windows if you have them in your door.
I did pick up some foam board adhesive to attach the pieces in place but honestly, I made the pieces such a tight fit that I didn’t end up using it. If you do end up needing something, some Powergrab from Loctite is a great option.
Step 6: All Done!
So that’s it! That is how I plan to help keep the shop cool moving forward. Obviously with a giant garage door opening, nothing will be perfect, but this will drastically help keep the shop cool enough to work in AND record these videos.
I want to say a quick thank you to NewAir for sending over the unit I installed in this video. And if you are in the market for something similar for your house or workshop, I encourage you to check out this model, it’s the AC-14100E. If you would like to purchase one, you can use my promo code MRFIXIT for 20% off using the following link: http://www.newair.com/portable-air-co...
It’s relatively easy to install, pumps a ton of air, and is actually quiet enough on low that I can keep it running while recording videos which is awesome. Plus it kinda reminds me of R2-D2.
If you’d like to check out more of my DIY workshop or home improvement projects, here are a few that you might enjoy!
Thanks again for reading, and I'll see you next time!