If you’re always in the garage, whether you are working on the car, your workshop, or anything else really, you probably noticed how it could get stuffy in there. Summer heatwaves, hot car engines, and lack of proper ventilation are the common culprits that can make the garage unbearably hot. You’ve probably already brought a fan in there whenever you need to work in the garage – no big deal.
In many cases, garages can be unforgivably hot, even with a garage fan. But if the best garage fan won’t cut it, you’ve probably thought about installing an air conditioner in the garage.
Are you looking for the most efficient way to cool a garage? Adding an AC would make sense. After all, the garage is an extension of your home, and you most probably spend a lot of time in there. Keeping the garage cool makes it a more comfortable place to use year-round.
Perhaps, you want to add an air conditioner in your garage but don’t know which one to buy. Check out our best garage AC recommendations and in-depth review, from portable, ductless mini-split, window, and evaporative ACs.
How Do You Keep a Garage Cool with No Windows?
The easiest way to cool your garage is to keep good airflow, allowing hot, trapped air to escape and let the cool air come in. Often, opening your garage doors and windows can help cool down the air temperature in the garage.
But what if your garage has no windows and opening the garage door isn’t a viable option for security reasons?
- Avoid running your car inside the garage. The car engine can go hot and increase the air temperature in the garage. Similarly, cool your car outside for at least an hour or two before parking it inside the garage.
- If your garage still uses incandescent bulbs in the garage, save money and help cool off the interior by replacing them with LED bulbs.
- Place garage fans strategically to provide better airflow and cool the air temperature inside the garage.
- Install a garage AC unit, especially during the hottest days of the summer or whenever you plan to work on your car inside the garage.
Can a Garage Be Air Conditioned?
Yes, you can put an air conditioning unit in the garage to help cool off the room, and yes, it’s safe to do so. If a garage fan isn’t enough to keep your garage cool, especially during summer, an AC is the next best thing. But not all units that you can use in other parts of your home are ideal for use in the garage. Still, there are plenty of air conditioning units suitable for garages, including mini-splits, window types, and portable ACs.
Best Air Conditioner for Garage
Best Window Garage Air Conditioner: MIDEA U Inverter
- Cooling Capacity: 10,000 BTU
- Extreme quiet operation
- 35% energy saving
- Smart control
- With dehumidifier feature
Window air conditioners allow you to take advantage of the windows in your garage, given that you have one. And when it comes to window-type ACs, the MIDEA U Inverter ticks all the boxes: function, cooling, and energy efficiency, noise control, and more.
Unlike typical box-shaped window air conditioners, this one features a unique U-shaped design, which makes it incredibly effective in blocking noise. You can expect just around 42 decibels, a super quiet noise level for this type of AC. This garage AC unit is also powerful for its size and can blow cool air up to 20 feet across from it, allowing it to cool down 350 to 450 square feet garages faster.
But one of the top features of this air conditioner is its energy-saving capability. You can save 35% of utility costs from this AC than other of its kind.
Best Portable Garage Air Conditioner: Whynter Elite ARC-122DS
- Cooling Capacity: 12,000 BTU
- Activated carbon filter
- Air conditioner/fan/dehumidifier modes
- Auto-drain function
Portable air conditioners are the perfect choice if you are looking for a less permanent cooling setup for your garage. This Whynter Elite portable AC is fantastic for many things besides that it’s easy to move around. You can also vent it three ways: through a window, using an exhaust tube through the garage door, and a hole through the wall, just small enough to insert the exhaust tube.
Installation convenience aside, this portable AC unit has remarkable cooling power to keep a 500 square feet garage comfortable. The 56 decibels operating noise is also low to moderate, no worries about disturbing the neighbors.
It comes with many other features, too: auto-drain function, dehumidifier mode, and a 24-hour programmable timer.
Best Mini Split Garage Air Conditioner: MRCOOL DIY-24-HP-230B
- Cooling Capacity: 24,000 BTU
- Digital Assistant ready
- Heating/Cooling option
- DIY installation
Mini-split garage air conditioners are typically not the easiest to install. More often than not, you need to pay a technician to install it for you unless you have a fully DIY version like this MRCOOL 3rd Generation DIY AC. It’s one of the most popular ductless mini splits in the market for its cooling efficiency and practical DIY installation.
This AC model, in particular, is a fantastic choice for cooling a massive garage or a space up to 1,000 square feet. It’s also perfect for your garage that requires cooling year-round, thanks to its ambient cooling of up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. But besides the AC function, this unit doubles as a heater, too, keeping the system usable through winter.
Best 1-Car Garage Air Conditioner: GE 6000 BTU Window AC
- Cooling Capacity: 6,000 BTU
- Three cooling/fan speeds
- Remote control
- Energy Saver mode
Window-type air conditioners are one of the popular choices for small garages. They are easy to install on existing window frames, and for a 1-car garage that’s a bit short on floor area, this window AC from GE is a perfect choice. It won’t take floor space that you don’t have, and it has enough cooling power for a 250 square feet garage.
Window ACs are not the most energy-efficient unit, but this one comes with an Energy Saver mode. It automatically turns off the compressor and fan once it reaches the desired room temperature, saving you utility costs.
It’s easy to install and easier to maintain with its slide-out filter. This AC unit is also convenient to use with two control options. You can change the cooling settings through the electronic thermostat and the remote control.
Best 2-Car Garage Air Conditioner: MIDEA 12000 BTU Window AC
- Cooling Capacity: 12,000 BTU
- 3-in-1 comfort
- Energy Star certified
If you have a two-car garage that’s around 550 square feet, this MIDEA air conditioner can cover the space adequately with ease. It’s a window-type garage AC that fits and is easy to install on existing standard-sized window frames. The unit is ready to install out of the box as it already includes all mounting accessories and hardware.
This window AC unit can keep your 2-car garage comfortable for whenever you work in there with its three comfort modes: air conditioning, 3-speed fan, and dehumidifier mode. With its intuitive features, this air conditioner allows you to customize your garage’s cooling and comfort. You can set the cooling mode, temperature, and time using the remote control. Plus, it boasts extra quiet operation – quieter than your refrigerator.
The reusable filter helps your preserve air quality without any extra cost. It can filter out dust and pet hair from the air, and since it’s washable, all it needs is a good rinse with water.
Garage Air Conditioning Buying Guide
Before you go ahead and buy the first garage air conditioner you see, do consider checking out a few things to make the purchase worthwhile.
What type of air conditioner is best for the garage?
The first thing you most probably have to figure out before buying a garage air conditioning unit is the right type to get. As previously mentioned, not all AC units are ideal for use in garages, but there are three garage AC types you can choose from.
Window Air Conditioners
As the name suggests, this AC type needs to get mounted into the window, the simplest type of garage air conditioner to install. If your garage has a standard-sized window, this unit can fit in there.
Window-type garage air conditioners are ideal for effectively cooling small to medium-sized garage spaces.
- Less expensive than other garage air conditioners
- Energy-efficient, given you’re using an Energy Star certified AC unit
- Multiple features like fan speeds, timer, remote control operation, cooling modes, and sometimes Wi-Fi capabilities
- Not ideal for windowless garages
- Still not as energy efficient as inverter ACs
Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioners
When it comes to efficiency and consistency in cooling and air conditioning a garage space, mini splits are the best option. They are the ‘state of the art’ when it comes to garage air conditioning units. They are pretty efficient in cooling down medium to large-sized garages. But despite their high cooling capacity, mini-split ACs are the most energy-efficient.
As the name implies, this unit comes with two parts: one mounted on the garage wall and the other installed outside of the wall, connected by a power and refrigerant line.
- Highly energy-efficient, cheaper to run, and reduces carbon footprint
- Available in different sizes or capacities to suit the garage size
- Most can produce both cold and warm air, making them useful year-round
- Most expensive type of garage AC on this list
- Might require a technician during installation, plus installation cost
Portable Air Conditioners
Portable AC units are the best choice if you don’t want a permanent cooling solution for the garage. For instance, if your garage is pretty much comfortable indoors and only needs an extra cooling system during the hottest days in the summer. This type of garage air conditioner is easy to set up, and most models have wheels, so you can move them around.
- Fairly inexpensive
- No installation costs incurred
- Portable and can be set up anywhere
- Still needs a vent to exhaust the hot air outside
- Relatively small but still takes up floor space and can be a hazard with kids and pets around
What size AC unit do you need?
When you buy an AC unit for the garage, one of the most important factors you need to take into account is the garage size. You wouldn’t want to use a small AC unit to cool a large garage because it couldn’t, at least not in the most efficient and cost-effective way anyway.
Proper garage air conditioning sizing is important. Because, for instance, you have a small AC for a massive garage, it will take a much longer time to cool the room than when you are using a properly sized AC. Similarly, using a high-capacity AC for a tiny garage isn’t ideal. It will cost you so much money for the cooling capacity you won’t be using.
So, we’ve established that the size or cooling capacity of an AC unit, measured in BTU, should fit the garage size. As a simple guide, remember: the higher the BTU of an AC, the larger the space it can cool efficiently.
You can always work out the proper sizing of a garage air conditioning unit using a BTU calculator, and you’ll only need to clue in the size of your garage. But for a faster reference, check out the garage AC sizing chart in BTUs below.
What air conditioning features do you need?
Choosing the best air conditioner for the garage can be a challenge if you don’t have the know-how on what makes an AC unit suitable. Perhaps you would like to consider these features in the garage AC you plan to purchase.
- Quiet Operation: Noise is less of an issue for a garage air conditioner than with your home AC. Still, a unit that operates as quietly as possible is always an advantage if you don’t want it to disturb the peace while working in the garage or the sleeping neighbors.
- Energy Efficiency: Some garage air conditioners are using less energy or electricity than other units. It’s safe to assume that the best option is the AC that keeps your energy cost at the minimum. With this in mind, choose a garage AC unit with a good SEER or EER rating.
- AC/Air Purifier Combo: Most people believe that if the room already has an air conditioner, there’s no need for an air purifier. But AC units only regulate the air temperature inside the room. Even with its air filtration system, it is ineffective against smaller particles. That’s where an air purifier function comes in – to remove pollutants, especially the harmful chemicals from car exhaust, gasoline, and other chemicals stored in the garage.
- Smart Features: Smart air conditioners are incredibly convenient. You can turn the AC unit on and off or change modes and features using your mobile device. Many garage AC units are Wi-Fi, and Smart Home enabled.
Garage Air Conditioning FAQs
How can I cool down my garage in the summer?
Opening the windows or the garage door is often the best option to let the stuffy air out. But during summer, outdoor air temperature is no better. Plus, leaving the door and windows open poses security risks. The next best thing is to install an appropriately sized AC unit to help cool the garage.
How much does it cost to have an air conditioner in a garage?
Installing an air conditioner in the garage can cost anywhere between a couple of hundred dollars to a thousand, sometimes even more. The price largely depends on the size and type of air conditioner you get, including its add-ons. Window type and portable air conditioners are often the least expensive to buy, while the mini-split can cost a lot at first but will save you more in the long run.
What is the best portable air conditioner for a garage?
Our top recommendation for portable AC for the garage is the Whynter Elite ARC-122DS. It has enough capacity to cool small to medium-sized garages and has a dehumidifier function that comes in handy come fall or winter season.
How many BTUs are needed for a one-car garage?
A typical one-car garage that measures somewhere between 10 by 18 feet requires an 8,000 BTU air conditioner. But there are other considerations when sizing the garage AC.
- Add 1,000 BTUs if you live in an area that gets particularly hot during summer
- Add 1,000 to 2,000 BTUs if the garage faces west or south.
- Add an extra 2,000 to 4,000 BTUs if your garage has little to no insulation.
How many BTUs does it take to cool a 2-car garage?
The minimum size of a two-car garage is around 20 by 20 feet or 400 square feet, and it requires at least a 10,000 BTU air conditioner to efficiently cool the room. Also, don’t forget to add extra BTUs depending on your climate, garage position, and insulation.