Whether you're using the garage to work on hobby projects or plan to turn the space into an epic man (or woman) cave, keeping your garage cool when it is blistering hot outside will likely be at the top of your to-do list. There are a couple of ways you can accomplish this feat, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Patch Into an Existing System
If your garage is attached to your home and you have a central air conditioning system, you can hire a contractor to extend the system to cover the garage. This would typically consist of adding air ducts to the garage that would divert some of the cold air flowing through the system into the area.
Benefits: It's easy to do. So easy, in fact, that you could probably do it yourself if you wanted to save money on contractor labor.
Drawbacks: If your air conditioner is built to only service the interior space of your home, adding another room can reduce the system's overall efficiency and result in poorer quality air conditioning all around. For instance, if the unit is only designed to cool 1,200 square feet of space and you add a 500 square foot garage, your a/c will struggle to cool down 1,700 feet of space. This can lead to higher energy bills and, if the duct is installed incorrectly, the circulation of toxic fumes into your home.
Install a Ductless Mini-Split A/C Unit
A mini-split air conditioning unit is like a compact central air conditioning system except there are no ducts to install or maintain. The unit is split into two major components: an interior unit that circulates treated air and an exterior compressor. Tubing links the two parts.
Benefits: These units are fairly easy to install and provide quite a bit of flexibility. Depending on the type of system you purchase, one exterior condenser can service multiple interior air circulators. So if one unit is not enough to cool the garage, you can simply add more units until you achieve the environment you want.
Since air circulation unit is attached to the wall, you can place it anywhere in the garage. Lastly, because there are no ducts, you don't have to deal with the energy losses associated with them. Leaks in duct systems waste up to 30 percent of energy.
Drawbacks: Mini-split air conditioning units are expensive, costing anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 depending on the model and the amount of space you're trying to cool down. You must also be careful and match the size of the unit to the size of the space almost perfectly; otherwise, you risk wasting energy.
Lastly, you may have a difficult time finding someone to install the system as many companies prefer to work on larger and more expensive projects. However, these systems aren't that difficult to put in, and you could do it yourself if you're a reasonably handy person.
Install a Window Unit
If your garage has a window, then you could simply install a good old-fashioned window a/c unit. This is, by far, the easiest option of the three. So if you're looking for something quick and simple, then this is the best choice.
Benefits: Window air conditioning units are cheap. You can typically get one for less than $1,000 (sometimes much less for lower quality units). They're very easy to install since you only need to set it inside a window. These units can also be relocated without much trouble. So if you find you don't want to air condition your garage anymore, you can just use the unit in another room or sell it.
Drawbacks: Window air conditioning units can be noisy, especially the really cheap ones. If you're turning your garage into a recreation room, the noise from the air conditioner could become really annoying really quick. Since it takes up so much window space, this type of unit could reduce the amount of natural light the garage gets, requiring you to use more artificial light.
However, the most pressing issue with window a/c units is the security risk they pose. A burglar can easily access your home by simply pushing aside the unit. Therefore, you'll need to take steps to minimize this risk if you choose to purchase this appliance.
For more ideas about cooling your garage or to get an existing unit repaired, contact an HVAC contractor in your area or find an HVAC company online at a site like http://www.capefearair.com.