Air-Conditioned Shed: Make Your Shed a Backyard Haven
An air-conditioned shed is a blessing! Have a shed in your backyard that’s home to your gardening tools and BBQ grills? Or maybe you have converted it to a space where you store all your old photos, electronic equipment, and paints. Sure, sheds can make a great storage area, but that’s not all they have to offer.
Depending on your needs, a shed can be used as a grow room, office, study area, art, guest room, reading nook, or just a place to relax and hang out with friends.
Converting your shed into a livable space doesn’t just involve clearing the clutter and focusing on the decor. You need to pay attention to the outside weather too, considering that most sheds are not fully insulated and do not have adequate cooling/heating systems. Therefore, they are significantly impacted by extreme climate conditions. Harsh sunlight in summers will make it scorching hot, while it’ll get unbearably cold in winters. The result – you never get to have a relaxing time in your newly transformed shed.
So how do you make your shed comfortable and worth spending a good time in?
Installing an air conditioning unit or heating in your shed is the key.
How to Air Condition a Shed: Small Shed AC Units
Most sheds are at a distance from your main home and do not connect to the central HVAC system. It would be a lot of hassle to extend the connection, not to mention the hefty labor cost.
In this scenario, your best option is to install ductless AC units such as a mini-split, window, or portable AC. These units do not require extensive installation procedures like central air conditioning and thus are perfect to air condition a shed. In addition, some ductless heat pumps provide both heating and cooling, making them ideal for year-round comfort.
Ductless Mini-Split AC
If you are looking for an AC unit for a shed that is highly efficient, space-saving and doesn’t require remodeling, a mini-split is a perfect choice.
Ductless mini-split air conditioners have two units. The indoor unit circulates cool air inside your shed, while the outdoor unit ejects the hot, stale air. The installation process requires drilling a three-inch hole in the wall to connect the two units.
Mini-splits are more energy-efficient as they deliver air straight from the unit to the focused area, eliminating heat loss. They are also considerably quieter than other units, which is a plus point, especially if you use the shed for relaxation or office work.
Although mini-splits are pricier than other ductless options, their advanced features save you enough in the longer run.
Window AC for a Shed
If your shed has windows you don’t mind obstructing, you can opt for a window air conditioner. It is designed to cool a single space and can make a perfect small shed AC unit.
Window ACs are inexpensive, very simple to install and operate, and can last you a long time with regular AC tune-ups. You can also get one integrated with a heating option, but they are a little bit expensive.
Before you go hunting for a window AC for your shed, there are certain factors that you should consider:
- Window Type – If you have a sliding window in your shed, you cannot install a window air conditioner. A double-hung window is the most suitable for this type of AC.
- Shed Size – A unit too big or small won’t be able to work properly. You require 20 BTU for every square foot of the area. To calculate the size, find the length and width of the shed and multiply them to get the area.
- Window Orientation – A south or west-facing window would get direct sunlight, hindering the functioning of your aircon unit. If you have a north or east-facing window, that would be perfect. However, you can take measures and cover your window unit to protect from direct light or other weather changes such as rain.
The downside of a window AC is that it can be loud and may not look very aesthetically pleasing. It also blocks your window of course, so if you need to open it for any reason, you’ll have to take the window unit out.
You might want to take a look at this detailed guide on how to install a window AC.
Through the Wall Air Conditioners
Through-the-wall air conditioners are a common sight in a single space as they provide the right amount of comfort needed in a small area. They are pretty similar to window ACs, and you can opt for one if your shed lacks a window. They are an excellent alternative to window units if you plan to use your windows for ventilation or simply do not want to block the view.
Through-the-wall-AC is installed in an exterior wall and requires making an opening that is wide enough to fit the unit in the wall. It is more energy-efficient than a window unit due to its installation method. Cool/hot air tends to escape from the leaks and gaps in the window, while this is not often the case with through-the-wall-ACs.
It can be the same or a little pricier than the window unit as far as cost is concerned. If you are going for professional installation, it’s also going to cost more, considering it requires boring a hole in the wall.
Another downside is that the hole requires proper insulation; otherwise, your air-conditioned shed will be exposed to drafts. But if you take care of these factors, it can be a decent option for your shed.
Portable AC Unit for Sheds
A portable air conditioner is a free-standing floor unit with wheels that you can move around anywhere. While it is movable, you need to make sure there is space to eject the hose outdoors. Portable units follow the same cooling/heating pattern as other air conditioners. It takes in warm air and ejects it using an exhaust hose.
There are two types of portable ACs:
- Single Hose Portable AC: It has only one hose that expels the moisture and heat outside. It is lower in cost and only suitable for small spaces.
- Double-Hose Portable AC: It has two hoses, one to exhaust the heat outside and the other to draw in the fresh air. It is more efficient and can be used for larger areas.
Some models also have a heating capacity, which is convenient to fulfill your shed’s needs all year round.
The disadvantage is that portable ACs have limited cooling capacity, can be noisy, and require holes for the hoses. If you have windows, that won’t be a problem, but otherwise, you will have to drill a hole in the wall to let the exhaust hose out.
Heating a Shed With a Space Heater
Space heaters can warm up closed spaces such as your shed in a cost-effective way. They can quickly heat small areas and provide spot heating to add a cozy touch just where required.
Space heaters work by circulating the hot air in the room. Some types also work by emitting infrared radiation.
Every year, 25,000 residential fires are associated with the use of space heaters, as estimated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. So, when using a space heater for your shed, do take into account these safety guidelines:
- Space heaters are either vented or non-vented. Do not buy the non-vented ones as they can introduce carbon monoxide into the air.
- Only purchase space heaters with the latest safety features and ensure that it has the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
- For liquid-fueled heaters, only use the approved fuel and never use gasoline.
- Have space heaters inspected by a professional every year.
A smart space heater is a safe option. It comes with a sensor that can detect carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide levels and ensure they don’t exceed the acceptable range.
Maintaining the Perfect Climate in Your Air-Conditioned Shed
Be it a reading corner or an art studio, your shed has to be comfortable at all times, and it starts with maintaining the right temperature. Smart air conditioning can add intelligent features to your shed’s ductless AC and automate the climate.
You can either opt for a smart air conditioner or couple any ductless AC with a smart AC controller to automate your shed’s climate.
In addition to temperature regulation, smart AC controllers come with various features to maintain a perfect environment inside your shed.
- Scheduling – If you plan on using the shed as your home office, maintaining the ideal temperature is essential as it can affect your productivity levels. You can set weekly schedules on your smart controller to achieve your preferred settings. This means your shed will be precooled before you arrive, and the AC will automatically switch off during lunch or off-hours.
- Global Control – Thanks to the global control feature in smart AC controllers, you can control your AC from anywhere in the world. It’s a pretty convenient option if you want to leave your kids to play in the shed for some time or have pets in the shed that need a relaxing environment. You can ensure their comfort by controlling the settings from your smartphone.
- Comfy Mode – Cielo Breez smart controllers have a Comfy Mode feature that uses intelligent triggers to make adjustments based on your desired settings automatically. For example, if you want the temperature to stay between 70-72 degrees, Comfy Mode will turn your AC on/off if the temperature falls below 70 or goes above 72. You can also manage humidity levels utilizing this feature.
- Smart Home Integration – You can connect your smart AC controller with Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, or Samsung SmartThings for complete hands-off temperature control in your shed.
- Energy Savings – Installing an extra air conditioner in your shed can lead to increased energy bills. But a smart controller can help you eliminate the constant worry of high AC bills. Cielo Breez smart controller, for instance, can help you save up to 25% energy. It keeps track of your usage patterns; you can view daily, weekly, or monthly usage stats to manage your energy consumption better.
Upgrades to Consider Before Installing an AC Unit for a Shed
While installing an AC unit for your shed is the ultimate solution to achieve your desired temperature, it can require a little help to work at its best.
Upgrades such as insulation and taking care of indoor air quality and humidity levels can make a huge difference in making your shed much more comfortable to be in.
Even if you want to use the shed just for storage, these upgrades will help protect your things as storage items can get affected by fluctuating temperature and humidity levels. Pests and molds can damage clothing materials. Weather changes can cause the wood furniture to split or even break beyond repair. Poor storage conditions can also affect the consistency and color of the leftover paint.
Insulating Your Shed
If conditioned air keeps escaping through gaps and cracks, your AC will have a hard time maintaining your desired temperature in the shed. This can also place a dent in your energy bills.
Insulation slows down heat transfer, helping to maintain a perfect climate all year round. Insulation also helps in keeping the pest and pollutants out of your shed. Moreover, to provide you with a relaxing atmosphere, some insulation materials also soundproof your shed.
To achieve the ideal climate in your shed with air conditioning:
- Opt for Window Insulation– Caulk the holes and gaps in the window. Use weather stripping to seal the windows and put a window film on the glass panes.
- Insulate Interior & Exterior Walls – Fiberglass foam insulation is a suitable type of insulation for the walls. Use spray foam insulation or blown-in insulation for exposed wall cavities.
- Insulate the Doors – A leaky door can let the cool air escape. To avoid that, caulk the gaps around the door and apply weather-stripping to the sides of the door. Finish by placing the door sweep at the bottom to seal the crack.
- Insulate the Ceiling & Floor – Use loose-fill or blown-in insulation to cover the whole ceiling. For floor insulation, use rigid foam insulation and plywood sheets to cover the floor and seal it with paint or epoxy.
If you are looking for a detailed guide on home insulation, read this article.
Indoor Air Quality
Paying close attention to indoor air quality can go a long way in ensuring your comfort in your air conditioned shed.
Using your shed as a workshop or storage space can lead to the accumulation of dirt and debris over time. Further, high humidity can cause mold and bacteria growth. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene and formaldehyde are released from paints, cleaning products, markers, adhesives. These indoor air pollutants can be highly irritating and can cause a variety of health problems.
Some ways to remove air pollutants from your shed include:
- Using an Air Purifier – It can be a great source of comfort, especially if you suffer from allergies. The air purifier has various types of filters to remove a wide range of indoor pollutants. Carbon-activated filters are used to remove harmful gases from the air. A UV light air purifiers use ultraviolet light to remove mold, bacteria, and viruses.
- Improving Ventilation – Opening windows can help remove the stale air from the shed and bring the fresh air in. You can also install an exhaust fan to keep fresh air circulating in the space.
- Vacuuming Regularly – Vacuuming can help if you have carpets in your shed as pollutants settle on them. When cleaning, slow down the speed so that the contaminants don’t escape in the air.
- Avoiding VOC Products – Use paints and cleaners that are labeled as ‘No VOC.’ Also, if you plan to use the shed as a gym, home office, or any other activity, do not store the paint indoors. Unused paint lying around can emit dangerous, volatile compounds.
Controlling Moisture in Your Shed
In addition to improving indoor air quality and insulation, moisture control is also important to make your shed usable. It prevents mold growth, makes your insulation more effective, and increases the efficiency of your air conditioning.
Excess moisture causes a feeling of stickiness and discomfort, making spending time in the shed almost unbearable. Besides, it can trigger allergy symptoms, cause nasal congestion, and make asthma symptoms worse.
Even if you are using the shed just for storage, high humidity levels can harm your items.
To avoid any damage, consider:
- Installing Storm Doors & Windows – They can help minimize condensation on these surfaces by keeping the moist air out.
- Ventilation – It helps to keep the air flowing in the shed. You can open the doors or windows at night to let the cool air in.
- Using a Dehumidifier – It is the best option to achieve ideal humidity levels. You can also make it smart by connecting it with smart thermostats or smart AC controllers for automated controls.
- Installing an Air Conditioner – Since ACs cool the air by removing moisture, it can also be effective for moisture control. However, keep in mind that it won’t remove enough moisture from the air to keep your shed comfortable in high humid areas. For additional information, you can also check our post on ‘Dehumidifier vs. Air Conditioner: Which Is Better?‘
Regardless of how you plan on using your shed, adding a heating/cooling device allows you to have a comfortable space all year long. And to take your comfort to the next level, don’t forget to automate your air-conditioned shed with smart climate controls from Cielo Breez!