Choosing the Best Air Conditioner for a Garage

Every homeowner has a unique approach to how they use their garage. For some, it’s used to house motor vehicles, bikes, and small boats. Others view a garage as valuable square footage to store tools and machinery or even to hold band practices.

Such diverse garage uses have pushed people to look for ways to make the extra space more comfortable. Installing an air conditioning unit is one of those ways.

Evaluating the types of AC units that would be perfect for a garage can be tedious and time-consuming. Fortunately, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you and created a list of the top four garage HVAC units.                 

Looking for the best AC for your garage? Here’s a list of what we found.

Best AC for Garages

There are many ways to regulate the temperature in a garage. Homeowners can use either portable or fixed air conditioners, depending on budget and the intended use of the garage. 

Read on to find the best air conditioner that will suit your needs. 

1. Ductless Mini Split AC Unit

A ductless mini split is the number one option for an average-sized garage. This unit is similar to a central AC system; however, the mini splits are comprised of an indoor air unit and an outdoor compressor.

This type is mounted on the wall and requires a 3” hole to run the conduit that carries the cables to join the two components. A mini split is very energy-efficient, making it one of the best AC units for garages. 

The mini split is also the best fit for garages without windows, since you won’t have to be concerned about energy loss.

2. Window AC Unit

If your garage has a window, the best AC unit, in this case, would be a window air conditioner. Some consider window air conditioners to be the simplest type to install.

When choosing the best AC for a garage, it’s important to consider the size of your space and your unit. You want to invest in an AC unit that is powerful enough to regulate your indoor environment properly.

Contact a professional technician to find a perfect fit for your garage needs. They will evaluate the size and conditions of your garage to help you identify or invest in an AC unit that meets your needs.

3. Portable AC Units for your Garage

Are you the type of person who only uses your garage occasionally? Or, will a permanent AC system be too expensive to install? If either circumstance matches your situation, then a portable AC unit is likely the best option for you.

A portable air conditioner comes on wheels that allow you to push the unit across the floor so you can put it wherever you want. This said, portable AC units have some limitations.

For instance, the unit uses an exhaust hose, which must vent outside. If you don’t have a garage window or any other type of vent, this isn’t the most suitable choice for you. Failure to use an exhaust vent will affect your unit’s ability to cool the room, as it won’t allow the warm air from the garage to be removed. 

Before investing in a portable air conditioner, seek the advice of a professional HVAC technician so you can get the best-sized unit for your space. 

4. Packaged terminal AC

For hotels or large properties with bigger-than-average garages, a packaged terminal is a top choice for an AC unit.

Depending on your preferences, this unit is mostly mounted under a window to help cool down or warm up the space. Similar to the mini-split system we discussed earlier, the packaged terminal unit is a two-part system, which includes a condenser and a compressor. 

The packaged terminal air conditioner requires a larger opening and extra ventilation in comparison to the ductless mini-split and other AC systems. It is also extremely energy efficient. 

Due to the size and functionality of the packaged terminal AC, homeowners should consider it the best AC for a garage when size is a concern.

What to consider when choosing an AC for your garage

When trying to determine the best air conditioner for your garage, there are a few things to consider. These include: 

1. AC unit based on the BTUs needed to cool the garage

Perhaps the most critical consideration when exploring the best garage HVAC units is the size of the garage, which determines the number of BTUs (Britsh Thermal Units) you’ll need.

An AC unit that’s too small will lead to an overworked system, which can negatively impact your monthly bills. Or, using a portable AC unit that’s too large could drain extra power and affect the humidity levels in your garage if the air cools too fast. 

Let’s get technical for a moment. Suppose you have a standard two-car garage that is 20 feet by 20 feet, or 400 square feet in total. You will need 9,000 BTUs to heat this room. Consider this chart from ENERGY STAR for more guidance: 

Size of the garage in square feetBTUs needed

Using the chart above, you can easily tell how many BTUs your garage’s AC unit will need. With this chart, you can find the best AC for your garage, even without a professional.

2. Avoid evaporative coolers at all costs

Contrary to popular belief and suggestions from your friends, family or the internet, evaporative coolers are not the best choice for your garage. 

Evaporative coolers use dry ice, which is not a long-lasting solution. To put it simply, evaporative coolers are just fans with a 0 BTU cooling effect. The same goes for the basement dehumidifiers. These reduce humidity, but don’t affect the actual air temperature.

If you’re looking for an ac unit for your garage, the best options to consider are window units, mini splits, or portable units. 


If you’re not sure which air conditioner will be the best for your garage, consider getting an expert opinion. An HVAC professional will take a look at your garage and help you decide which AC will be the best fit. 

Book an appointment with an Anderson Air professional today. 

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