The 5 Best Portable Air Conditioners For Garages

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best portable air conditioners for garages
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If you spend a good deal of time in your garage, you know how brutally hot it can get and how desperately you’ll long for cooling power). Sized to fit your space, the best portable air conditioners for garages are energy-efficient, with functions for cooling, ventilating, and even dehumidifying — plus some even have heating modes or smart-assistant capability. Alternatively, you can opt for an evaporative cooler that can tackle larger garages at an economical price.

An air conditioner’s power is measured in British Thermal Units (BTU), but you shouldn’t automatically go for the unit with the highest BTU count. If an air conditioner is too powerful for its space, it’ll eat up energy and cycle on and off too frequently. That being said, if a unit doesn’t have a high enough BTU rating for your space, it will run continuously and won’t offer enough cooling power. Because the way BTU ratings are listed has recently been changed (and multiple differing BTU measurements may be listed on a product page), it’s simplest to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations in terms of how many square feet the unit can cover. Ideally, you should measure your garage before purchasing, but for some quick reference while you’re reading, keep in mind that on average, standard one-car garages measure around 264 square feet and two-car garages are about 576 feet. Three-car garages usually run about 700 to 800 square feet, but unfortunately, most portable air conditioners won’t be powerful enough to cover that much space, so you may need to buy two units, or consider opting for an evaporative cooler.

As an alternative to standard portable air conditioners, an evaporative cooler uses water and electricity to lower the temperature. They’re more energy-efficient (so cheaper to run), but best suited to dry climates, where they add humidity to air and drop the temperature by up to 30 degrees (as opposed to 10 degrees in climates with high humidity).

Below, I’ve gathered the best portable air conditioners for garages, so no matter what kind of setup you have, you can find the perfect one to cool down your space in no time.

1. The Best For Most People

Good for: one- and two-car garages

Power: 14,000 BTU

Suitable for spaces ranging in size from 450 to 600 square feet, this portable air conditioner has the just the right amount of power to cool down a two-car garage. The versatile unit has a control panel that allows you to adjust your desired temperature and toggle between four modes: cool, auto, fan, and dehumidify. Plus, for energy efficiency, the wheeled unit lets you set timers and enable sleep mode. The included remote allows you to operate the air conditioner from across the room, and if you use your garage as a hangout space, you’ll appreciate that this unit’s sleek and streamlined design will blend right in.

If you like this pick but have a one-car garage, you can opt for a 12,000 BTU version that offers 300 to 450 square feet of coverage, but keep in mind that the relatively high BTU rating may use up a bit more energy than is necessary for the space.

According to a reviewer: “Had new garage built but unfinished inside. Needed something portable as we finish the inside. Later we'll install mini split and keep this one as a spare. Very strong built and solid. Like the sleek style and operating panel. Very easy to use. Our summers can get to 120 degrees so having an extra unit is a must...especially if your regular home a/c breaks down and you are a disabled senior citizen waiting for a repair tech for 12 hours. Highly recommended.”

  • Available coverage options: 300 - 450 square feet, 450 - 600 square feet

2. The Best For Smaller Garages

Good for: one-car garages

Power: 8,000 BTU

A one-car garage requires less cooling power, and this portable air conditioner makes for an energy-efficient choice for 200- to 400-square-foot spaces. The control panel allows you to set the temperature and cycle through three modes: cooling, dehumidifying, and a fan. The casters on the bottom make it easy to wheel the unit around, and you have the option of setting a timer, but keep in mind that there’s no sleep mode.

This unit is available in three sizes, as well as in a WiFi-enabled model. Keep in mind that most standard one-car garages are approximately 254 square feet, so you’ll have to size up or down, depending on your preferences.

According to a reviewer: “Arrived a day earlier than expected and super easy installation!!!I bought it for my garage that we converted into a bedroom and it cooled off the garage within an hour.”

  • Available coverage options: 200 square feet, 300 square feet, 400 square feet

3. The Best Air Conditioner & Heater Combo

Good for: one-car garages

Power: 12,000 BTU

To get the most out of your unit year-round, you can invest in this portable air conditioner that also has a built-in heating function. Besides the heating and cooling options, this wheeled unit also works as a fan and dehumidifier, making it the most versatile option overall on the list. You can adjust the settings, set the temperature, and activate timer and sleep modes directly on the machine or with the included remote. According to the brand, this unit is designed to cover rooms up to 330 square feet, making it a good choice for a one-car garage (or a small two-car garage, if you don’t mind a little less heating and cooling power). Investing in this unit is a budget-friendly choice, as you won’t need to purchase a separate space heater to use your garage in the winter months.

According to a reviewer: “Plan on purchasing another unit. Works better than expected. The unit has wheels on the bottom. [...] Has like 3 different fan speeds and works excellent. The remote has a display so you can see the temp you selected and other info. The ac works great as does the heater part. I expect to save money going from a space heater to a heatpump. The thermostat works great when it hits your present temp it switches to fan only.

  • Available coverage option: 300 square feet

4. The Best Smart Assistant-Enabled Option

Good for: one-car garages or small two-car garages

Power: 10,000 BTU (Department Of Energy standard)

This portable air conditioner has all your standard cooling features, a fan, and a dehumidifier — but what truly sets it apart is its smart assistant compatibility that allows you to sync it to your Alexa or Google Home for voice control. You can also operate it from an app on your smartphone or directly on the control panel, and a timer and sleep mode help increase energy efficiency. This wheeled machine is best suited to one-car garages or small two-car garages, with coverage options ranging from 200 to 375 square feet for this specific model.

If you prefer, a model that’s designed for some larger spaces uses inverter technology for more efficient cooling. Choose the one that works best for you!

According to a reviewer: “I had to turn my garage to a home gym and the garage is like inferno over 100 degrees and this AC has been great with help from a few fans. I have had it for about a month, using it off and on. It’s not the quietest, but not super loud. Alexa integration is great, don’t have to get up to adjust the temperature. It’s sleek and moves easily on wheels.”

  • Available coverage options: 150 square feet, 175 square feet, 200 square feet, 275 square feet, 375 square feet; 450 square feet, 550 square feet (smart, with inverter technology)

5. The Best Evaporative Cooler — & The Best Option For Large Garages

Good for: three-car garages (similar option for smaller garages also available)

If you live in a dry climate, an evaporative cooler is a great alternative to an air conditioner as it doesn’t strip the air of its moisture, and it’s more energy-efficient, to boot. Plus, this unit can cover spaces up to 950 square feet, making it the best option for a three-car garage since most portable air conditioners aren’t powerful enough to cover that much space. It does require you to keep its water tank filled (so there’s a little more effort involved), but there’s an option to hook up your garden hose to the unit to avoid constant refilling. You can also use the cooler as a simple fan, and the casters make it easy to move around your space, but there are no timers or sleep functions. Keep in mind that an evaporative cooler may not make your garage quite as cool as an air conditioner, but it’s an economical buy in the long run since it uses less power.

While this pick is great for three-car garages, the brand also offers a portable evaporative cooler that’s more suitable for two-car garages.

According to a reviewer: “Best investment ever! You will not be disappointed!! This thing is a BEAST! Cools our entire 3-car garage with ease! Glad I took a chance on this product after researching so many to choose from! Now, Go get you one!”

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