Installing Air Conditioning in your garage.
So I know my friends from colder climes think I'm nuts when I complain about the
summer heat. But the reality is that unless you've spent a summer in Phoenix you
just don't know what hot really is. From mid-May to the end of September the average
temperature in my garage ranges from 90 degrees in the morning to 115 in the afternoon,
and can be even hotter on really hot days. While our winters are nice, the summers
are just plain misery out in the garage. I opted to finally do something about this:
install an air conditioner.
Also, if you live in a colder area, many of the newer windows units have heat pumps
in them. So, you can use it to heat your garage in the winter if need be.
Now, my garage is actually a converted car port. When the walled in the garage the
original owners didn't put in any sort of windows. So, instead I've a blank wall
to look at. Even though the unit we're installing is a window unit, it's not necessarily
going to be simple because there's no window to install it into. I did note, however,
that this patch of wall looks like it should be easy to disassemble and I think
there's a stud running down the center.
The builders used thin sheet boarding for the wall instead of sheetrock, which for
disassembly purposes makes life a lot easier. There were two panels that made up
this section of wall. The larger lower panel, and the smaller upper panel. Once
they were removed this is what I saw. Thankfully, they did insulate
the walls when they built it. Considering some of the other work I've uncovered
in the house this must have been a different contractor.
Now that the wall panels are gone it's time to remove the fiberglass insulation
and see what we've got for framing underneath. This isn't a load bearing wall, so
it was framed solely for integrity of the wall and mounting the wall board.
The top of the wall needs some additional framing to fully block it out. Here you
see I've measured the space between the studs and marked it on the existing pieces.
Next is to cut down some stock 2"X4" to finish out that upper frame.
Here you can see the additional framing screwed into place.
The AC Unit breaks into two pieces. There's the cage that mounts to the building
And the primary AC Unit assembly (which slides into the mounting cage for final
The cage height is measured against the framing to determine the correct placement
and where to cut. In addition, we need to leave enough space on the bottom to allow
for additional 2"X4" supportive framing.
Here you can see a close up of the measurements marking the bottom of the AC Cage
and the gap for the necessary 2"X4" framing.
Using a circular saw followed by a sawzall makes quick work of the center stud.
Now we're ready to test fit. You see two pieces of 2"X4" set on top of the central
stud. These are to simulate the framing that will be added once we successfully
Here you can see me test fitting the AC Unit cage into the opening. The clearing
doesn't have to be perfect. Here you can see that the cage fits well within the
planned opening. You'll note that It's being mounted very high in the wall. This
is to allow the shelving which was underneath to be replaced afterwards.
Since we know everything will fit, it's time to add the remaining supporting framing.
I've put in a double cross brace with extra studs tied in to the outer studs. This
should provide more than enough capacity to support the AC Unit.
With the extra studs in place the cage was set back up to the wall and traced. I
then used the Sawzall to cut out the traced outline. From there it was a matter
of test fit the cage and tweak the opening as required. Remember, it's always easier
to cut too small and widen rather than too large and have to figure out how to close
Here the AC unit cage is now in place within the wall.
There's a top retainer for the unit. It's traditionally used for window placement
and buts against the base of the window when installed. I've flipped it around and
reattached it. This way I can drill into it and bolt it to the header for extra
This particular unit came with support brakets for the exterior. Here you can see
the braked installed into the two by four. With the wall mounting I had to add a
little trimming to the bottom of the opening for the bracket to fit correctly.
With the brakets bolted down and the cage replaced, the brackets can be mated up
with the cage and finally installed into the wall.
Now, there wasn't any wiring in the wall to support something of this size (it's
220v, not your normal 110). Here you can see that we've started fishing romex through
the wall. This will go up, through the attic and out to the circuit breaker. And
man, if I thought the garage was hot, it must have been 120 degrees + in the attic
running the cable!
If at all possible, always plan for the future. Here you can see the breaker that
will be installed. Now the AC Unit is a 20 amp unit, but I eventually want to put
an enormous air compressor in the same area, and will need 220v for that as well.
This breaker is rated for 60 amps, so I'll be able to easily add an Air Compressor
to this circuit.
Via the magic of the internet, the wiring's done. (it took at least an hour to get
it all run and hooked up correctly).
With the help of a couple friends (it took 3 of us to lift/guide the unit into place)the
AC Unit is installed and running!
To give you an idea of the power of this unit, my garage was 90 degrees at 10pm
when we started the unit. By 11pm it was 77 degrees. Boy what a difference!
Aside from the AC unit, insulation is the most critical factor to keeping an area
cool. Here you can see that I've filled the gaps around the unit and the area in
between the unit and the studs with expanding sealant foam. This stuff expands to
fill voids, it's pretty cool stuff. (It's also instanely sticky, so don't
get any on you!)
The insulation is trimmed down and put back into place. And yes, I know the fiberglass
is reverse of the original. The paper side should face towards the living area.
The wallboard has been trimmed to fit around the AC unit and nailed back down to
The final bit of wiring is done, the cover is now on the electrical outlet.
Finally the rolling shelving is now back in its proper spot. I've got a good couple
hours of cleaning up / neatening before everything is completely back together,
but at least now I can do it in cool comfort!
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