Shop Cooling Options

Advice on space conditioning for a shop in a hot climate, touching on "swamp coolers" and on creating cool zones. June 15, 2014

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
I am considering the purchase of a fan type shop cooler called Port A Cool. This is a large fan in front of a water drip radiator. My shop is in Texas and things can get brutally hot. Air conditioning would be obscenely expensive in a 4000 square foot building with 20' ceiling height. My concern with the cooler is too much moisture in the air creating problems with products. Does anyone have any experience with this type of thing? The shop produces furniture and interior millwork including veneered paneling.

Forum Responses
(Dust Collection and Safety Equipment Forum)
From Contributor O:
I believe those items are also called swamp coolers since they cool by adding humidity to the air. They are effective only in very dry environments - maybe West Texas, but not East Texas. If there is humidity with heat, then you first want to limit the humidity to around 35% tops and then cool from there. Good air conditioning will do both, but you noted the expense. Keeping windows and doors closed sounds barbaric, but it is one way to keep out/limit the humidity. Use of fans to keep the dryer air moving will help with comfort.

From contributor U:
I appreciate the concern of cooling a large building. We actually installed a drop type ceiling made of waferboard in one building. We believed the cost would be offset by a lower electrical bill and we were right. It helped with the heating too. Another thing we did was to put up several drywall partitions and created designated areas that would be cooled. Where we were doing certain functions, or where we were only working a couple of hours a day was left out of the cooling and heating. The big bonus was by our workers getting a least a partial break from the heat for even a few hours, it really helped our productivity. Our current shop is air conditioned 80%, it is one of those things you wish you had done earlier. We did run swamp coolers in one of our previous shops, but only in certain parts of our shop. We also used enough regular fans to move the air through the building that we never noticed any problems associated with the humidity concerns. Depending on how your building is set up, maybe you could do this in certain places. From the fans you describe, I believe the cooling mist effect is only going to be in close proximity to the fan.