Garages are more than just covered parking slots. They can be workshops, hangouts, storage spaces… even birth places for entrepreneurial ideas.
Whatever purpose you use your garage for, one thing is certain: this enclosed part of the house can get very hot, very fast. Just ask anyone who’s ever had to do some spring cleaning, or repair a broken lawnmower in the summer.
So how do you make up for this? With a garage air conditioner, of course!
Why Do You Need a Garage Air Conditioner?
Soaring summer temperatures can turn the garage into a baking oven, particularly for southern states. A garage AC unit helps keep temps to a comfortable level, especially if you use the garage as a workshop or stay for extended periods of time.
Excessive humidity in the summer can cause a number of garage issues, including:
- Cracking and warping of wooden beams and supports
- Formation of mold and mildew
- Storage items and cardboard boxes can become damp and rot
A garage AC unit that’s separate from the central house AC is actually safer for indoor air quality. This is because a central air duct that gets extended into the garage can create abnormal pressurization, making the rest of the house slightly depressurized.
When this negative pressure happens, the house will draw air from outside to compensate, which can bypass the HVAC system and allow pollutants and allergens in.
At the same time, this negative pressure makes it harder to keep the home cool, due to the constant flow of warmer air coming from outdoors. This can strain the central AC and thermostat, shorten their operational lifespan, and lead to higher utility bills.
Types of Garage Air Conditioners
Portable – Compact and wheeled, these have the advantage of being moved to other areas when not needed in the garage. However, they are less efficient and are not suitable for many garage spaces.
Through-the-wall – A more permanent unit, these are more efficient than portable garage ACs, and some offer heating in addition to cooling for the colder months.
Mini-splits – The most energy efficient and quiet option, however they also carry the highest price tags and require the most difficult installation.
What to Look For When Choosing a Garage AC Unit
Make sure the AC’s BTU can handle the size of your garage. Use our handy BTU Calculator to determine what capacity you need, based on your garage dimensions.
2. Heating and cooling options
If you live in a region with large seasonal temperature swings, consider getting a garage AC that also offers heating. That heating pump will come in handy once the colder season starts.
3. Inverter technology
Inverters or variable compressor technology allow the AC unit to adjust its power consumption based on demand. This allows it to be much more efficient, emit less noise, and last longer than traditional non-inverter ACs.
4. Newer refrigerant
Most AC units use R410A, a refrigerant for cooling. However, newer models use a new type of refrigerant, R32, which is more efficient and friendly for the environment.
5. SEER2 rating
The SEER rating measures the AC unit’s seasonal energy efficiency. Beginning in 2023, the EPA has a new standard, SEER2, which provides a more accurate measurement of efficiency, so look for a SEER2-ready AC.
For more garage AC shopping tips, check out our guide to garage air conditioners.
The Best Garage Air Conditioners for 2022
Best portable AC unit
This 3-in-1 portable air conditioner combines the power and functionality of a Friedrich window unit with the flexibility and no-installation convenience of a portable AC unit. The ZCP12DB has a cooling capacity of 11,000 BTUs and can service up to 400 sq. ft.
This unit boasts three modes: air, fan and dehumidifier, and includes built-in WiFi for on the go control through the FriedrichGo app. It also works with Amazon Alexis and Google Home. This allows you to control it from virtually anywhere so no matter when you can walk in the door, your garage will be ready for you!
Other features of this portable air conditioner unit include a 3 speed fan with Auto setting, auto restart after a power outage, and a washable anti-microbial air filter for easy maintenance.
Best through the wall garage AC
This through the wall AC unit offers both air cooling and heating, perfect for keeping the garage comfortable during the cold season. It packs 11,800 BTUs of cooling power, with 9,000 BTUs reverse cycle heating (heat pump) plus electric heat of 10,600 BTUs.
Features include a 24-hour on/off delay timer, an energy saver function that temporarily shuts the AC off when the desired temperature is reached, and WiFi connectivity that allows it to be controlled via smartphone or web app.
This compact unit offers a true built- in look with only a minimal 5″ extension into the room with front, whereas competitor units require a 7.5 minimum extension into the room with front.
Best single-zone mini split
This package includes both the CU-XE12WKUA Outdoor Condenser and the compatible CS-XE12WKUAW indoor wall unit, giving you 11,500 BTU cooling capacity and 12,000 BTU heating capacity, plus 24.6 SEER, 14.2 EER and 13.0 HSPF ratings and an Energy Star Qualified system. It boasts Panasonic’s ClimaPure XE mini-split systems specifically engineered for the post-Covid era. It uses Nanoe X Technology, which has been found to be highly effective at inhibiting the Novel Coronavirus at up to 91.4% after 8 hours of running, and up to 99.7% after 24 hours of operation.
It uses nano-sized electrostatic atomized water particles rich in hydroxyl (OH) radicals, to inhibit 5 pollutants that may find their way into the garage, including bacteria and viruses, mold, allergens, pollen and hazardous substances.
Other standard features include low ambient operation and built-in WiFi. Low ambient operation includes cooling capabilities down to -0°F and heating capabilities down to -15°F. You will never be too cold or too warm – everything can be controlled at the unit or through WiFi from anywhere you have an internet connection!
This item includes both the indoor and outdoor units. You only need to add the line sets!