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View Full Version : Keeping cool in the shop..what works and what doesn't



Too_Many_Tools
08-20-2010, 04:32 PM
Considering that it has been one HOT summer in most of the country/world, I would like to hear what others do to stay cool in the shop.

Having sweat run down your back tends to distract from the fun of working in the shop.

I would like to hear what you have tried, the success or failure of the attempt and the volume of air, the temperatures and humidity that you are dealing with.

Thanks for any suggestions.

TMT

websterz
08-20-2010, 04:38 PM
Fans, fans, and more fans. I have at least 3 fans hitting me at all times unless I am welding. Two from the front/sides and one right in the back. I limit my time in the shop to early morning, once it hits 90* outside I call it a day. I have been known to spend a few insomnia hours in the shop at 3:00am too. I generally use those hours for cleaning and organizing...makes the limited daylight hours more efficient.

paulx
08-20-2010, 04:44 PM
...and fluids.I like ice tea unsweetened with lemon.

Toolguy
08-20-2010, 04:59 PM
I have central air now. For 4 years I sweated it out though. I got a squirrel cage fan from a home heating furnace that was being junked. Put a cord and a plug on it. It was very quiet and moved a lot of air. It made life a lot better. I just sat it on the floor aiming slightly up.

oldbikerdude37
08-20-2010, 05:04 PM
Iced tea and the swimming pool is 20 feet from the home shop. I can take a dip and go back to tinkering.

At the workshop its fans and water.

oldbikerdude37
08-20-2010, 05:07 PM
I have central air now. For 4 years I sweated it out though. I got a squirrel cage fan from a home heating furnace that was being junked. Put a cord and a plug on it. It was very quiet and moved a lot of air. It made life a lot better. I just sat it on the floor aiming slightly up.

The boys in the fab shop have a squirrel cage fan like that and it moves lots of air. those things are the best and like you said its very quiet. I know I will never throw one away, I will rebuild it if needed.

photomankc
08-20-2010, 05:16 PM
That's why I like my basement location. It sucks huge getting stuff down there at times but not working in the sweltering heat of my garage is worth it. I simply would not do it much in the summer if I was stuck out there.

Mad Scientist
08-20-2010, 05:21 PM
I go to the shop to cool off. It's in the basement and always cooler down there then outside. :D

loosewatches
08-20-2010, 05:21 PM
I spent my youth working in the Sacramento California heat as a welder. It was always a struggle. Being a youthful welder, many of my weekend activities involved drinking. I can attest, therefore, that not drinking alcohol is a first step, assuming you're the imbibing type.

In the 90's I worked in a semi-production shop located in a warehouse. Our air conditioning was the same as that in my car. Lots of air and sweat. So yes- fans, fans and more fans, and open all roll up doors. There was an 'old fart' working there who used to bring a block of ice to work every day during the heat and stick it into a low profile bucket (if you've seen a bus boy and his/her tub in a diner, it looked like that) with an inch of water in the bottom. Then he'd take an old shirt, wet it, and drape it over an industrial fan so that the icey waters might wick their way up and induce cooling upon the shop. I laughed. How stupid! It works. It won't chill you and it won't blow away your shielding gas, (the breeze being hindered by the shirt), but it works.

Fast forward to 2008 when I started my own poor boy shop. It turns out that, in a small space 1.5 gallon juice jugs, repurposed as it were, into ice blocks frozen over night, can bring down the room's temperature by, I'd say, 5 degrees. A few of these Really help.

Alternately, you can ask one of your rich friends for an r2d2 style robotic simulation of a compressed gas air conditioner. When he is so nice as to bring it over, make sure you've got heavy insulation and be prepared for massive waves of cool, noisy claustrophobia.

Wonderful!

-loose

p.s. plus Plenty of -lightly iced- water.

p.s.s. One more alternative is to move to Austria, where most shops need heaters, which brings up another distinctly similar, yet opposite, conversation.

Jim Shaper
08-20-2010, 05:28 PM
25Kbtu window mount AC unit works wonders.

I got it at the end of the season (about 2 days before they were gonna send it back) for something extremely reasonable - like 350ish I think. Money well spent!

The biggest problem with it, is standing in it's path it gets COLD. :D

It also needed a little drip cup for condensation on the inside.

oldbikerdude37
08-20-2010, 05:35 PM
25Kbtu window mount AC unit works wonders.

I got it at the end of the season (about 2 days before they were gonna send it back) for something extremely reasonable - like 350ish I think. Money well spent!

The biggest problem with it, is standing in it's path it gets COLD. :D

It also needed a little drip cup for condensation on the inside.

You lucky dog , the only place we had AC was the inspection lab and the tool and die shop, I would bust my ass and get all my work done so I could go help them and stay cool.

The crap job was the folks running parts washers, bad humidity and hot.

Dr Stan
08-20-2010, 05:48 PM
When I built my shop I included a 3 ton central AC unit. :D

Most of the time I do not need to use it as I have three ceiling fans and three skylights that open. Open the overhead door on one end and the 6' double door on the other and I get a very good cross breeze.

BTW, the central HVAC includes gas heat for the winter.

Falcon67
08-20-2010, 05:52 PM
My 24x20 shop has full insulation and a 12K AC unit. A timer kicks the AC on before I get home and on low it keeps the place 82~84F. If I turn it up, mid - high 70s is no problem even with outside at 100F+. I also have electric heat and can work in there year around. When I built it in 1997, I made it a point to be decently tight and condition-able. :D

Last week I shot a laser temp gauge through the access hole to the roof decking. Underside of the roof was 156F.

KIMFAB
08-20-2010, 06:01 PM
No choices here.
We had a few 120 degree days this summer, it has cooled down to the low 110 area now so central air in both shops is mandatory.

I will only turn it on in the shop I am using tho. I have been cleaning parts in the open welding area lately so that gets done at 5 AM.

Too_Many_Tools
08-20-2010, 06:41 PM
Thanks for the replies so far.

One issue this summer seems to be the very high humidity that so many of us are dealing with.

Evaporative cooling doesn't help when you have high dewpoints.

TMT

Jim Shaper
08-20-2010, 11:16 PM
I only use it a few days a year. I don't keep the temp out there down in the summer like I keep it up in the winter. My machines and gear have to suffer in 85+ heat (sometimes it gets hotter, but it's insulated pretty good), but part of that is from the dehumidifier running all the time.

I'd really like to find a way to make the dehumidifier's heat vent outside (like an AC does), but I haven't looked into it yet.

BWS
08-21-2010, 08:39 AM
Big honkin azz York at work here.........reason for post however is squirrel cages.Can't seem to pass them up either,whether its on the "curb" or in a bud's HVAC trash.Anyhow,mine is part of our overall clean air system.Fabbed up a sweet inlet plenum to accept 24x24 $$3M filters..........It was on a rollaround for a cpl years.Heck,even used it as part of a fold-spray booth(see below).Nowadays its hung w/dogchain from ceiling and is switched from a convenient location.When dust collector isn't sucking or whatever,its mighty handy to hit the squirell switch.The filtered exhaust blows on assembly area.




Note:Hillbilly squirell cage portable paintbooth.Took 3 discarded,albiet matching of course,doors.Think,one centered and the others hinged on this cnt dr so the whole thing folds up.Squirell cage was on a rollaround that matched height of hole cut in center door.Assembled,a pc of E conduit was screwed as spreader bar on fr/top leading edge of drs,this serves for hanging parts.Clear plastic and a flourecent light makes top.The mtr on blower is out of airstream for fume reasons.How do those Brits say it....Works a treat?BW

Prototyper
08-21-2010, 11:06 AM
I'd really like to find a way to make the dehumidifier's heat vent outside (like an AC does), but I haven't looked into it yet.

I use one of those portable air conditioners that blows the hot air through a hose run out the window. Yesterday was 85, but the humidity made it feel like 105. My puny little 6000 BTU AC kept the shop (20x24) around 77 with 45% humidity. I run the condensate drain into my shop sink, and there was a continuous stream running from it. It uses a similar amount of electricity as a mid sized dehumidifier, but gets the heat out of the room. Seems to remove just as much moisture from the air too.

I spend a lot of time out there, and with the equipment I have, consider AC a necessity. It only takes a tiny bit of rust on a toolholder taper, and I can run into a stuck tool situation on my VMC spindle. Collets, lathe chucks, welding table, tooling, are all reasons to keep it dry. I HATE rust, and being comfortable is a bonus!

moe1942
08-21-2010, 11:56 AM
I have a 18K BTU A/c in the end wall of my shop. You know how hot it is by my location. My largest bill so far was $46. It runs everyday..My shop is about 600 sq ft..the 32 X 32 metal roof I installed over my shop and apron area helps greatly..

Too_Many_Tools
08-21-2010, 02:25 PM
Note:Hillbilly squirell cage portable paintbooth.Took 3 discarded,albiet matching of course,doors.Think,one centered and the others hinged on this cnt dr so the whole thing folds up.Squirell cage was on a rollaround that matched height of hole cut in center door.Assembled,a pc of E conduit was screwed as spreader bar on fr/top leading edge of drs,this serves for hanging parts.Clear plastic and a flourecent light makes top.The mtr on blower is out of airstream for fume reasons.How do those Brits say it....Works a treat?BW

Good idea.

TMT

Too_Many_Tools
08-21-2010, 02:26 PM
I use one of those portable air conditioners that blows the hot air through a hose run out the window. Yesterday was 85, but the humidity made it feel like 105. My puny little 6000 BTU AC kept the shop (20x24) around 77 with 45% humidity. I run the condensate drain into my shop sink, and there was a continuous stream running from it. It uses a similar amount of electricity as a mid sized dehumidifier, but gets the heat out of the room. Seems to remove just as much moisture from the air too.

I spend a lot of time out there, and with the equipment I have, consider AC a necessity. It only takes a tiny bit of rust on a toolholder taper, and I can run into a stuck tool situation on my VMC spindle. Collets, lathe chucks, welding table, tooling, are all reasons to keep it dry. I HATE rust, and being comfortable is a bonus!


What brand is your portable air conditioner?

Any problems with it?

TMT

snowman
08-21-2010, 02:27 PM
Having sweat run down your back tends to distract from the fun of working in the shop.

Did you read this on someones blog? Yahoo news?

I wasn't aware that you actually work in a shop.

Too_Many_Tools
08-21-2010, 02:33 PM
Did you read this on someones blog? Yahoo news?

I wasn't aware that you actually work in a shop.


LOL...have you paid your dues yet? ;<)

TMT

kc5ezc
08-21-2010, 07:27 PM
The machine shop used to be an apartment when we were building our house. 24K BTU in 15x40 (600 sq ft) set at 84 when not occupied and 80 when working in the shop. also use a dehumidifier. It adds heat, but gets the moisture out. No rust! Bill for late July thru late Aug was $75. area was 10 degrees above normal for the past couple of months. Highest bill in several years.
Heated by propane in the winter, but only to 55 degrees.
I love being able to work comfortably in the shop. I make less mistakes when comfortable.

randyjaco
08-21-2010, 08:23 PM
+1 for the 18000BTU AC set in the South wall. It has been close to 100 degrees here with similar humidity. AC is a must here on the Texas Gulf Coast. It makes life so much more pleasant.

Randy

Jim Shaper
08-21-2010, 09:47 PM
I use one of those portable air conditioners that blows the hot air through a hose run out the window. Yesterday was 85, but the humidity made it feel like 105. My puny little 6000 BTU AC kept the shop (20x24) around 77 with 45% humidity. I run the condensate drain into my shop sink, and there was a continuous stream running from it. It uses a similar amount of electricity as a mid sized dehumidifier, but gets the heat out of the room. Seems to remove just as much moisture from the air too.

I spend a lot of time out there, and with the equipment I have, consider AC a necessity. It only takes a tiny bit of rust on a toolholder taper, and I can run into a stuck tool situation on my VMC spindle. Collets, lathe chucks, welding table, tooling, are all reasons to keep it dry. I HATE rust, and being comfortable is a bonus!

My wall ac unit has a dehumidify mode, but I question it's efficiency.

75 dollars a month for electricity isn't bad at all. Our local power plant switched from coal to NG a couple years back and stuck us with the fuel cost surcharge even though it saves them millions in labor. We're at $200, but 60 of that is the surcharge. We keep the house at 74 all the time, I only cool the shop down when I'm going to be out there for an extended period. I've got a whole house fan installed out there, so I can suck out the hot air so long as it's better outside.

RetiredFAE
08-22-2010, 03:35 PM
No choices here.
We had a few 120 degree days this summer, it has cooled down to the low 110 area now so central air in both shops is mandatory.

I will only turn it on in the shop I am using tho.

Ditto the above, almost exactly.
Pahrump, NV, 8 miles from the edge of Death Valley, 50 miles from Furnace Creek CA(Highest reported air temp in USA, 136 F).

Guy who built my home (3,800 Sq Ft) and the 2,700 Sq Ft, 2 story shop next to it (built it himself, for himself, and did a superb job of it) was cautious.
He didn't want any equipment failures resulting in uncomfortable living conditions I think.
Shop has two 5 ton central HVAC units, one handles it, second is a backup, and then he installed a large Swamp Cooler that can have its output directed to just the part of the shop you are in. I don't use that as much, generally just for the second floor where there are no machine tools to rust.
There are also a couple of big wall fans on each wall of the shop, and I have lots of floor fans as well. Keeps it very comfortable if I don't open the big roll up doors during the day.

House is similarly equipped.

Electricity here is outrageously expensive, so I try to keep things shut up and shuttered to keep the temps down inside. Fortunately he also built both buildings with 2x12 walls and heavily insulated the walls, attic and the undersides of the roof as well. And the house has a 15 Ft wide porch all the way around it.

We added sun cloth sun shades to the outer edge of the porch, keeps the last little bit of sun from hitting the exterior house walls directly in the summer. That was good for about a $50 reduction in the summer cooling/electrical bill.

Still the average electrical bill for both buildings runs right around $400 a month during June, July, August and about half of September. Rest of the year runs $250 a month. Place is all electric unfortunately, if we had gas heat it would be a bit cheaper in the winter.

Have been thinking of a combination of solar panels, wind generator and battery backup to help ease the costs. This is our retirement home, so spreading the cost over the 30+years we expect to be here, could help out a bit. We get more than enough wind to make the wind turbines effective, and the local electrical coop is going to be offering zero interest loans (so they say!) to help get both of these systems installed here in the valley in residences.