Holds a Master’s degree in Engineering and is keen on her own home’s climate. Sometimes we think that Carolina owns every single product she writes about – that’s how profound and insightful her reviews always are.
For 8 years, Richard had been working as an HVAC specialist and AC unit installer since his student years. Now, he’s our main consultant on every technical aspect that may arise during our tests and research.
Last updated: December 15, 2020
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Whether you are a gearhead who likes to work on their car or a DIYer who uses the garage as a workshop, you know how important having the best garage air conditioner is. Without this essential piece of equipment, this place will turn into a completely uninhabitable sauna in the summer season. With one, however, it will be a cool oasis that will let you work away on your projects in comfort.
After, we have found the 10 best garage air conditioners on the market. Of all the models we looked at, we like the FRIGIDAIRE 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner the most. This model is easy to install, puts out tons of cool air, and is small enough to fit into even the smallest of garages. Of course, the other models we found might work better for your situation, so be sure to check out their reviews as well before you make your final decision.
When we were looking for our top ten garage air conditioners, we took lots of different factors into account. The first thing that we looked into was what type of air conditioner each model is since this will determine how it is installed and where it can be used. Next, we looked at both the BTUs and coverage area, as these numbers show how well each model would work in different situations. Finally, we looked at the dimensions, since this will tell you where you can and can’t put your new air conditioner. This careful research has allowed us to put together a comprehensive list of the best air conditioners for your garage, which then also helped us to complete in-depth reviews and a detailed buying guide.
If you are in the market for the best overall air conditioner for your garage, then this unit should be your first choice. For starters, it is extremely compact and easy to move around, which makes it a great option for smaller spaces. However, it is also good for large areas as well, thanks to its powerful output of 10,000 BTUs and large coverage area. Even though this unit is relatively small in comparison to others on the market, it is still able to be used in garages up to 450 square feet, which should be more than enough for almost any garage out there.
Something else that helps to make this such an effective model is the fact that it is very easy to install. The only drawback to this installation is that you need to screw the window panel into the window frame, which might not work in every case. Thankfully, it can also be taped in place with sealing tape if you don’t want to screw in the panel. From there, all you have to do is hook the exhaust tube to the unit and the panel and turn on the machine. Since this machine is portable, you will never have to lift it into place, which is a huge advantage over window units.
Another big positive for this model is its filters. While many air conditioners come with reusable and washable filters, they are usually made out of foam that doesn’t stand up well to a lot of rinsing. The filters for this model, thankfully, are made to be much more durable. They are made out of a plastic mesh, which, in addition to being durable and washable, is also antibacterial. This will help to prevent any mold, mildew, or bacteria from forming in the inner workings of the device, which will help to keep the air a lot cleaner.
What we liked:
Antibacterial washable filter
Large coverage area
Easy to install
What could be better:
Window panel needs to be drilled to install properly
If you are someone that is lucky enough to have a very large garage and you want an air conditioner that will work in a big space, then this is going to be your best option. This mini-split style air conditioner is the most powerful model on our list. It can pump out up to 24,000 BTUs and has an enormous coverage area. In fact, this unit’s 1,500 square feet coverage space is almost big enough for an entire house, making it perfect for larger garages.
Not only is this an extremely powerful unit, but it is also an extraordinarily durable one as well. Something that helps to make this such a durable air conditioner are the filters that it comes equipped in it. While many window units come with a simple foam filter, these are made out of a plastic and silicone mesh, which allows them to last a lot longer. This design also makes them much easier to clean, which only adds to their longevity.
One thing to keep in mind with this unit is that it is a lot more involved when it comes to installation. There are actually two units that need to be installed, one for the indoors and one for the outdoors. The indoor unit isn’t too bad, but the wiring for the outdoor unit is a bit trickier. However, as long as you attach the wires before the unit is in place, you should be able to get them in position without too much trouble.
Another key feature of this model is its different modes. Not only can this unit be used as an air conditioner, but it can also be used as a fan, dehumidifier, and a heater. This versatility makes it a great investment for anyone that intends to use their garage as a workspace throughout the year. These different functions also make it a lot easier to save money on energy consumption, as you don’t always need to run the air conditioner to get your space to a comfortable temperature.
One of the biggest issues with a lot of air conditioners, particularly window units and portable models, is that they are very noisy. While this might not be too big of a deal if you are using power or pneumatic tools to work on a car, they can be downright annoying if you use your garage for quiet work or as a hangout spot. To combat this, you could get a mini-split air conditioner, but they are very expensive and possibly overkill for a smaller space.
Or, you could get this unit from LG. This window unit uses a dual inverter compressor, which makes it extremely quiet. In fact, this unit, even on full blast, is only about as loud as a quiet conversation, making it ideal for keeping the volume down while you are in your garage.
Even with its low volume, this is still a very powerful window unit. It can put out about 9,500 BTUs of air, all while providing a pretty big coverage area. It can be used in a space up to 450 square feet, which should be more than enough for small to medium-sized garages. Its compact design also makes it a great fit for garages that have smaller than average windows as well.
This window unit is also Wi-Fi capable. You can download an app and adjust it with your phone, which sounds like a neat concept. The only issue with this is that the app takes a bit of practice in order to use it correctly. Even after a bit of practice, it doesn’t always work in the way that it was designed to work. While this can be a bit frustrating, you can always make your adjustments right on the appliance, which is how most window units operate on a normal basis anyway.
Lots of times, when folks think about window units, they think of air conditioners that are only put into place for the season and then removed when the weather turns colder. While this might be convenient in some situations, this is not always the case. Some window models, like this unit, are perfect for a permanent, or year-round, install. Even if you don’t have a window in your garage, this unit is small enough to make a space in your wall and put it in permanently.
One of the biggest reasons that this air conditioner is such a good candidate for a permanent install is because it can be used in multiple different modes. While air conditioning is certainly its strongest feature, the heating function is also quite effective. This is especially true if you keep the smaller coverage area in mind, you shouldn’t have any issue heating up your garage even in the coldest of temperatures.
As you would expect from a window unit, this one is very easy to set up and use. Once you have it properly installed, the controls are simple to utilize effectively. The LED display allows for an uncomplicated process to see the temperature and modes that you are utilizing, which helps to make its operation that much simpler.
Another reason that this unit is a good option for using in a permanent setup is because of its overall weight. While this air conditioner is quite compact, it is also quite heavy. This heavier weight makes it a lot harder to lift in and out of the window, which is precisely why it should probably just be put there permanently. That way, you won’t have to worry about straining yourself each year to lug it into place when you want to cool down or heat up your garage to make it a more comfortable space.
If you someone that has a smaller garage, then odds are that you don’t want to spend a ton of money trying to keep it nice and cool. You are also probably looking for something that won’t take up a ton of space either. If that is the case for you, then this appliance is a great option. It is nice and compact. It is a mere 16 inches in width, making it perfect for smaller windows. This compact design also helps to make this one of the lighter window units on the market, which makes the install a lot less of a strain.
Now, while you might be thinking that this model sounds perfect for any garage thanks to its lightweight design and easy to install nature, it actually wouldn’t work in larger spaces. This is due to its limited power and coverage area. While it is very effective within its 150 square foot range, it wouldn’t do very well above this level. Basically, unless you have a smaller garage, this is not going to be a very good option for you.
Another big benefit of picking this model is that it is very easy to use. The controls are very self-explanatory, which makes it simple to use. There are seven different temperature settings that allow you to find the right temperature for your needs. It also has several different fan speeds that will help you to keep the temperature and noise level right where you want it to be.
Something else that helps to set this model apart from its competitors is that it has a long warranty and a high-quality reusable filter. While many window units have a simple foam filter, this one has a washable synthetic one. This reusable filter will help to extend the life of the air conditioner considerably, and the warranty is a good insurance policy in case something were to go wrong.
When it comes to selecting a portable air conditioner, the first thing that you want to make sure of is that it is very easy to install. The last thing that you want to do is have the convenience of a portable air conditioner ruined by a difficult install, after all. This unit, thankfully, is extremely easy to hook up. Even the window vent fits in without too much trouble or work. Unlike some other portable models, this one’s vent does not need to be screwed in to be installed. Instead, it simply stays in place when the window is lowered onto it, which is very convenient.
Something else that helps to set this model apart from its peers is that it can be used as more than just a cooling unit. While many other portable air conditioners are only good for cooling, this model can actually be used as a heater as well. This versatility makes it an awesome option for pretty much any time of the year, no matter if it is hot or cold. This unit can also be operated as just a fan too, which makes it good for spring or fall days when it isn’t too hot or too cold, but you just want the air to circulate a bit.
Another cool feature for this unit is that it is Wi-Fi capable, and can even be connected with Alexa or Google Assistant. This makes adjusting it a breeze, as long as you have the knowhow to hook it up correctly to these services. Otherwise, you can make manual adjustments on the actual unit, which is also very easy to do.
The only real issue with this unit is that it is somewhat noisy. While this shouldn’t be too big of a deal if you are using power tools in your garage, it might make watching television or hanging out with friends a bit more difficult, so keep that in mind before you make your final decision.
Even if you have a larger than average garage, you might not want to put all of the effort in to get a mini-split air conditioner installed. These systems, while effective, are pretty expensive, and are also have an involved installation process. In that sort of situation, you should probably go for a window unit like this model. Since it is a window unit, it is quite easy to install. While this unit is not too terribly large, it is still quite powerful. It can cover a space up to and including 550 square feet, which should be enough for most large garages. This model also comes equipped with 4-way louvers, which will allow you to direct your airflow wherever you want it to go.
Another key component that helps to make this such an intriguing option for use within a garage is that it can be used year-round. Not only can this machine be used to provide a cool spot in the summer, but it can also be used to keep you nice and toasty in the winter as well. This versatility makes it a prime candidate for a permanent install in your garage, which would make it possible to find the right temperature regardless of the season.
The only real issue that you will have to keep in mind with this otherwise wonderful unit is that the thermostat is not always reliable when it is being used as a heater. This might make it a bit more difficult to find the right temperature when it is cold. Of course, with a bit of practice, you should be able to figure out what feels good to you regardless of what the display says. While this will waste some energy at first, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker if you are considering getting this model.
Even though many people agree that getting an air conditioner for their garage would be a good idea, many are a bit shy when it comes to actually getting the job done. For the most part, the biggest reason for this is because they are afraid of the cost. While many different quality air conditioners will set you back a pretty penny, that is not the case with this model. This portable appliance will provide you with plenty of value without breaking the bank, making it a smart purchase for anyone looking to cool their space while also being budget-conscious.
Another good feature of this unit is its compact design. Lots of portable air conditioners are relatively bulky, but this one is the exception. In fact, it isn’t even a foot deep, which makes it very easy to slide out of the way when it is not in use. The wheels help in this regard as well, since you can simply slide it along the ground to move it in and out of position whenever you want, or don’t want, to use it. This is also a very easy to set up machine, as you would expect with a portable model.
One thing that you will need to keep in mind before you purchase this model is its coverage area. It should come as no surprise with such a small air conditioner that it has a limited coverage area. While it works perfectly within its range, it can only be used up to 150 square feet, which is on the lower end for these types of conditioners. Make sure you have an accurate area for your garage before you make this your new model, or it might not work well enough for you.
Something else that helps to make this a good purchase is its filter. The filter easily slides in and out of place so that you can clean it. Once it is clean, you can simply put it back into place and keep your unit working appropriately.
This mini-split style air conditioner is a great option if you are someone that wants a more permanent solution to your cooling or heating needs in your garage without having to use up too much space. Even though this unit needs to be permanently installed on the wall, it is not overly large, which will help to keep it from being in your way, even if you have a smaller garage.
Perhaps the best feature for this model, however, is its quiet operation. Even if you have this appliance turned all the way up, you won’t need to worry about it drowning out your music, conversation, or television. The reason for this is because the main unit needs to be installed on the outside of the garage. This helps to limit the noise from the interior to just the fan and not the compressor. Even as mini-splits go, however, this unit is extremely quiet.
This is also, unfortunately, one of the more difficult to install ductless air conditioners available today. Unless you are an experienced electrician or someone that has installed HVAC systems before, you might want to have a professional install this unit. The condensate line for this unit is very difficult to get into position correctly, especially on the outdoor unit, so be sure to keep that in mind before you try and install this air conditioner on your own. Once it has been installed correctly, it will work for a good long time, but it needs to be done right, or you will have continuous issues with the appliance.
As you expect from this style of air conditioner, this unit is quite powerful. It also has a large coverage area that makes it good for pretty much any sized garage. The easy to read display and Wi-Fi capability makes it a cinch to use, even if you have never used a conditioner like this one.
If you have a larger garage and don’t want to fiddle with a mini-split installation or lug in a window unit, then this model is a good option. While this is a portable air conditioner, it has plenty of power. In fact, it can produce up to 14,000 BTUs and has a coverage area up to 650 square feet. When looking at all of this power, and when you consider how easy the machine is to install, it is easy to see what makes this air conditioner so appealing for anyone that has a larger than average garage.
Something else that helps to set this model apart from others is that it comes with an easy to read and easy to use remote. While many newer air conditioners are using apps to remotely adjust their machines, this model goes for a tried and true exclusive remote. That way, you can adjust your portable air conditioner at a distance, but you don’t need to deal with any ornery apps that don’t always work the way that they should on your phone.
As you might expect with a portable air conditioner that is this powerful, this model is quite noisy, at least in comparison to others on the market. While the noise level certainly won’t make it impossible to hear your friends, music, or television, it might be too loud for anyone that can’t handle ambient noises.
This device also will allow you to operate in several different modes. The first is, obviously, as an air conditioner for warm weather. The fan function is good for days where it isn’t too hot or too cold, but just because you need some air circulation in your garage. The last mode is a dehumidifier. This mode is good for both cooling your garage and saving you some money on your electricity bill.
What we liked:
Large coverage area
What could be better:
Things to Сonsider
In this section, we will guide you through everything that you need to know about finding the right air conditioner for your garage. We have also taken the time to answer several frequently asked questions, so be sure to read through those as well if you need any more information.
Why you need an air conditioner for your garage
Installing an air conditioner in a garage isn’t always as straightforward as installing one in your home, so you want to make sure that it is worth your while. In the right situation, adding an air conditioner to your garage is not just a wise investment, but a necessary one. If you are on the fence as to whether or not adding an air conditioner to your garage is right for you, please consider the following:
Cooling – The first, and most obvious, reason to get an air conditioner in your garage is that it will help to make that space a whole lot more comfortable. The last place that you will want to get any work done is an extremely hot room, which is exactly what a garage will be without an air conditioner. By adding one, you will make your workspace a lot more bearable, which will make it all the more likely that you will be there to get your projects completed.
Saves money – Now, this might seem a bit counterintuitive. After all, you will have to spend some money to install your new air conditioner and also use some money to run it. However, if you have an attached garage, this will end up helping your whole-home cooling system so that it doesn’t need to work as hard. This will, in turn, save a bunch of money in operating costs on your central unit. If you have a room over your garage, a cooler garage will also help this space as well without costing you a lot of extra money.
Filtration – One of the added benefits of using an air conditioner anywhere is that they work to filter the air. This extra benefit is especially helpful in a workshop setting like the garage, as it will help to keep the air a lot cleaner. This will help to keep you breathing easier and, in your shop, longer.
What is the best place to install it?
Where you install, an air conditioner is going to depend very much on the type that you choose to purchase. If your garage has some large windows similar to those that are inside of a standard home, then you should probably go with either a portable model or a window unit. These units are very easy to install since all you have to do is fit them into the window and turn them on. This way, they are vented directly to the outside without any further work, which means that they can operate safely. Obviously, if at all possible, you should install your unit as close to your workspace as possible so that you get the maximum amount of cooling possible.
Of course, not all garages feature fully functioning windows, or, at the very least, windows that are too small to properly install an air conditioner. In this case, you will have to do a more involved installation where you actually put the unit into the wall. While this can be done with window units and portable ones, it is best to do this kind of install with a mini-split type of air conditioner like the Senville SENL-24CD.
That way, the installation will be minimally invasive, as you will only need to drill through the wall for the tubing and wires, rather than an entire window unit or vent for a portable model. In this type of install, you are going to need to make sure that you have a minimum of 6 inches of clearance from both the sides and top of the air conditioner so that it can properly circulate the air. Aside from this consideration, you can place it as close or as far from your work area as you want, based on the layout of your garage.
Features to consider when choosing a garage air conditioner
As you can imagine, there are lots of different things to consider when you are looking for the best garage air conditioner. In this section, we will tell you all of the different things to keep in mind before you make your final decision.
As we alluded to in the above sections, there are three different types of air conditioning units that you can get for your garage. These include the following:
Window – If you are looking for a quick fix when it comes to your air conditioning conundrum, then this is going to be your best bet. These air conditioners, like the LG LW1019IVSM, are lightweight, easy to install and work effectively. They do usually have a smaller coverage area than some other types, but they work very well if space is the right size.
Portable – Portable air conditioners, like the FRIGIDAIRE 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner, are nice and easy to install, even though they are usually pretty heavy. Their vent system works perfectly in a window, and, as the name would suggest, these air conditioners are very easy to move about. This would be a great option in a garage with a limited floorplan since you can easily move them out of the way when you are not using them.
Mini-split – This is one of the better types of air conditioners for a garage that doesn’t have any windows. Since this situation will necessitate a more in-depth installation, a mini-split will make your life a lot easier. All you have to do is drill holes for the water drainage pipe and electric to hook up to the outdoor unit. From there, you simply need to connect the power supply to your breaker box. While this sounds involved, it is much easier than using either of the other two types in this situation and much more efficient.
After you have settled on the type of air conditioner that you want for your garage, the next thing that you need to consider is the number of BTUs you need. BTUs are the measurement of how much air an air conditioner or heater can cool and move. The higher the number of BTUs, the faster your new unit will be able to cool down your garage.
If you want to cool down your garage as fast as possible, then you should go for a model like the Senville SENL-24CD. This mini-split style conditioner is able to crank out up to 24,000 BTUs, which is the top number on our list. Of course, if you aren’t worried about cooling your space quickly and want to save a bit of money, then you could go for something like the hOmeLabs 5000 BTU Window Mounted Air Conditioner, which can only produce 5,000 BTUs.
The next thing that you need to think about when it comes to finding the right air conditioner for your garage is the size of the area that you need it to cover. To figure this out, you should carefully measure the length and width of your garage. From there, multiply those two numbers together to get your square footage. That way, you will be able to figure out your coverage area needs and buy accordingly.
If you are someone that has a smaller garage, then the hOmeLabs 5000 BTU Window Mounted Air Conditioner is going to be your best bet. It has a limited coverage area that makes it an awesome option for smaller garages. If your garage is on the other hand of the spectrum, however, you should go for something along the lines of the Senville SENL-24CD, which has a coverage area of 1,500 square feet.
Cooling and fan speeds
You should also carefully consider how many cooling speeds or fan speeds you need to keep your space as comfortable as possible. It is always a good idea to have as many options as possible. Of course, these extra options do come at an extra cost, so be sure to keep that in mind before you make your final choice.
The Koldfront WAC12001W is a good window unit if you are looking for lots of different cooling modes and fan settings. It offers four different speeds to help get your work area as cool as possible as quickly as possible without costing a ton or taking a long time to install. The BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT is a good model if you are looking to save some money and don’t need a ton of different modes to keep your garage cool.
Something else that you need to consider is the overall dimensions of your new air conditioner. These dimensions will inform where you can install your conditioner, especially if you are thinking about using a window-based unit, like the MIDEA MAW08R1BWT. Since these units will only fit into certain sized spaces, you need to make sure that you have an accurate understanding of where they will and where they won’t fit.
If you are going to get a portable model, then you need to make sure that you have the right amount of floor space so that the unit can work correctly. This is also true if you go for a mini-split style conditioner. In this case, you will need to make sure that you have enough clearance both above and to the sides of the unit. Usually, you need at least 6 inches on all sides for the airflow to work correctly.
Another consideration that you need to keep in mind is the weight of your unit if you are getting a window unit or a mini-split air conditioner. Since portable models have handles and casters to move them from place to place, their weight isn’t quite as consequential. For window air conditioners, the reason that the weight is so important is that you will need to be able to lift them into place each cooling season. If you are by yourself, you will want to go for a light model, like the LG LW1019IVSM.
The reason that you need to be careful with the weight of a mini-split is that you have to permanently mount it to the wall. You need to make sure that you find the studs within your walls so that you can mount it properly. The last thing you want is for your air conditioner to fall off the wall when you are working. Not only would this ruin the unit, but it could also be quite dangerous for you or your family.
Whenever you are buying a new appliance, be it a washer, drier, or air conditioner, it is always a good idea to look for one that comes with a good warranty. That way, you will be covered should anything fail through normal use. You just have to make sure that you read through the warranty information very carefully.
Even though all of the companies on our list are very reputable, it is still a good idea to read through the information as closely as possible. Many companies will say that they offer a long warranty, but actually only cover a limited amount of parts. By reading through the warranty info as carefully as possible, you will have a better understanding of exactly what is and what isn’t covered under the terms.
How to maintain an AC unit
The first step to properly maintaining an AC unit is to make sure that you have it properly installed. This involves being certain that the unit can drain properly. After that, as long as you follow a few simple steps, you can keep your air conditioner working correctly for years and years.
Clean the filter – this is perhaps the most important step in making sure that your unit continues working correctly. The air filter takes dust particles out of the air and keeps it out of the inner workings of the appliance. If dust gets into these coils, the air conditioner won’t work as efficiently and will eventually stop working at all. Thankfully, cleaning the filter is very easy. All you have to do is pull it out of the unit and brush it or spray it off. Then let it dry and put it back in. This should be done once a month when the unit is in use.
Clean the coils – The coils on the inside of the unit are what actually cools the air. These coils will need to be occasionally cleaned off so that dust doesn’t accumulate on them. You can usually do this with a wet cloth. Once you have wiped the coils clean, allows them to dry before you use the unit again. The coils should be cleaned every 2 to 3 months.
Clean the fins – The fins are what direct the air from the unit. These fins are usually made of plastic and need to be cleaned every 2 to 3 months. This can be done with a wet cloth, which will remove any dust particles that got caught on the fins.
Keep the drain line clear – Even if you have the drain set up correctly, it will not be uncommon for minerals to buildup in the line. This can be done by taking off the line and flushing it with a mixture of soap and water. For tougher buildups, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water. This only needs to be done every other year or as necessary.
Installing a mini-split is not something that you should try to undertake unless you have a clear understanding of both HVAC systems and how to hardwire appliances into an electric system. If that is something that you have experience with, installing these air conditioners shouldn’t be too difficult. If not, however, you should seek professional help to get the job done correctly.
The good thing about air conditioners is that the filters that they come with are reusable, as long as you clean them regularly. They will need to be replaced after 10 years or so, even if you do keep them clean. Thankfully, they are not very expensive.
Air conditioners cannot be run continuously. Thankfully, if you have them set in the right mode, they will go through cycles where they run 15 minutes at a time. This will allow them to work properly. Even if you have run them for a longer amount of time to get your garage cool, you should limit it to 30 minutes at a time at maximum.
If you are in the market for the best overall air conditioner for your garage, then the FRIGIDAIRE 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner is going to be your best bet. This powerful and portable model will get your garage nice and comfortable without a ton of effort and can easily be moved out of the way when it is not in use. We highly recommend that you check this model out!
The Senville SENL-24CD is an excellent mini-split air conditioner that is perfect for any size garage. Its powerful output provides it with a splendidly large coverage area that should easily keep your garage nice and comfortable.
For some folks, the best garage air conditioner is going to be the quietest. If that is the case for you, then the LG LW1019IVSM is for you. This model has a dual inverter compressor that makes it very quiet and very light.