How To Cool Garage Gyms (Best AC Units For Summer Exercise)

Over the past year, we've seen a dynamic shift away from commercial gyms to home gyms. More people than ever are setting up gyms in their garage, and it's never been easier because there’s a wide variety of great gym equipment that works perfectly at home. The one thing people sometimes forget is the temperature and airflow within your gym.  

A good gym needs to be cool so you can push yourself to the limits. This stops your body from being under unnecessary strain and means you can perform at your best. Using air conditioning units is the best way to have a cool garage gym, and, in this guide, we’ll give a breakdown of some great options so you can decide which is best for you.    

Having a cool garage gym is important. First and foremost, it helps protect you and keep your body at the right temperature while you exercise. This helps prevent fatigue and keeps you working out for longer.

Hot temperatures can also cause you to feel faint or even pass out. In addition, it can lead to higher water loss through sweating and dehydration.  

Without cool air circulating in the gym, the moisture won't be able to evaporate from your skin, and you'll feel even hotter. Maintaining a cool temperature will help to protect anyone using the gym.   

home gym with ac unit

Maintaining the right temperature is also good for your equipment. Prolonged exposure to high heat can impact the performance of certain machines and, in some cases, can cause long-term damage. You should check the user manual for your machines and see if they need to be kept at certain temperatures. If they become damaged, then they can become hazardous to use. 

The truth is that there are many different methods for cooling your garage gym. We’ll come onto the other options later in this article, but AC units are almost always the best option. They're affordable, simple, and require minimal effort to get the temperature right. Plus, they offer more precise cooling, and many modern AC units even come with built-in thermostats so you can get it to the exact temperature you want.


What To Look For When Choosing An AC For Your Garage Gym 

An AC unit for your garage is a great investment, but there are many different options out there, and it can be difficult to know which is best for your home. To keep things simple, we’ve given a quick breakdown of the key factors to consider when choosing your AC unit: 

Air Conditioner Size & Cooling Capacity  

Your air conditioner should match the size of your room. If you get one that's too small, then it won't have the desired effect, and if it's too large, you'll be paying more to run it. The output from an AC is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). This is essentially the amount of energy that is produced by the machine to help cool the area. The higher the BTU, the more cooling impact the AC will have.  

As a rule, you need about 20 BTUs for every square foot of living space, but if you have high ceilings, then you may need slightly more. Most ACs will advertise what BTUs they offer in their specifications, so you should be able to measure your room and find the best unit for you. If your garage doesn't have any insulation, you should add on an extra 1000-2000 BTUs.  

Noise Level 

A loud AC unit can be, at best, annoying and, at worst, really distracting. The noise level for a garage AC isn't as important as the noise level of a fixed AC unit in your home, but you still don’t want something too loud in a confined space.

The sound output from your air conditioner is measured in decibels (dBA), so it's worth checking the specs before you buy. Try to avoid anything that's over 60 dBA, and go lower if your garage is smaller.  

Portability 

How portable a unit you need is influenced by your home gym setup. If you think you'll want to move it around the garage, between rooms, or store it when it's not in use, then you'll need to get a more portable AC. Look for a lightweight conditioner with small dimensions if you think you'll need to move it. Not all types of AC are portable; more on that later, so if you don't need to move it, you'll have much more choice.  

Efficiency  

Not all ACs use the same amount of energy, and finding an efficient unit can help you save money on your running costs. Portable air conditioners tend to use more power, and generally the more BTUs produced by the AC, the more power it will use. Look for a good SEER or EER rating as this indicates it uses less power. This could save you a lot of money in the long run.  

Ease Of Maintenance 

Nobody wants to spend hours maintaining any home appliance, but some air conditioners are more work than others. You should look for an air conditioner with easy access filters as this is what will need to be cleaned and replaced most often. Modern AC units will also come with indicators that tell you when cleaning is needed, though these models can be a bit more expensive.

An AC unit that’s been fitted within easy reach, or a portable conditioner, will be easiest to maintain. Mini-duct air conditioners are normally a bit more challenging because they’re installed higher up on the wall.  

Value For Money  

As with any home appliance, you need to consider the best value for money. You should look for a reliable brand and a good warranty to help protect your investment. Remember, spending more upfront can often save you more in the long run, so don't be afraid to buy a more expensive modern AC unit.  

garage gym setup with ac

Air Conditioner Options For Your Garage Gym Reviewed

There are 4 main types of air conditioner that you can install in your garage. Not all of them will be suitable for your home, but each has pros and cons. Let’s explore each: 

1. Window Air Conditioner - Midea U Inverter

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As the name suggests, window air conditioners need to be fitted into a window so they won't work in every home. They work well in small and medium-sized garages but might not be as suitable if you have a larger garage gym.  

They are installed to replace your window, draw cool air in from outside your home, pass it over refrigerator coils, and then blow it into your garage. They generally come with a built-in thermostat and often have remote controls and other features. 

Window air conditioners are safe, affordable, and energy-efficient. They aren't portable, and you are slightly restricted by the size of the window you have in your garage, or if you have one at all. However, if you do have a suitable window, then this type of air conditioner is practical and works well to cool your garage gym.  

One of the best garage window ACs on the market is the Midea U Inverter. It offers 8000 BTUs, which is more than enough for most garages, and is much more efficient than similar models.

It also has a very quiet run, coming in at under 42 dBA, so you'll barely even hear it running. It has a range of features and is Wi-Fi enabled, so you can control it remotely. This is perfect for cooling the gym before you even start using it.  

The reason the Midea U Inverter Window Air Conditioner is so popular is the design. It has an adaptable, curved shape that can fit into a range of different openings. This versatility helps counteract some of the limitations of window AC units and allows it to work in awkward garage windows.  

The Midea U Inverter and window air conditioners generally are great in a garage. They aren't the most efficient, but they are pretty cost-effective and very affordable to buy. You also get a good amount of power which will be more than enough for any medium-sized garage.   


2. Portable Air Conditioner - The Whynter ARC-14S

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Portable air conditioners are standalone devices that can be moved between rooms and provide cooling as needed. They usually have an electric cord that can be plugged in directly to any outlet, though some have other power sources and can be charged. 

This means there are no installation costs with portable air conditioners, and you can get them going within minutes. In terms of operation, portable air conditioners work just like any others and draw warm air in, cool it with refrigerator coils, and then blow it back into the room.  

Portable ACs are usually very cheap and are small and lightweight. This means you can move them to specific parts of the room or store them when they're not in use. This makes them fairly well suited to garage gyms as you will probably only need the AC when you're in there.  

The disadvantage of portable ACs is that they generally have less power than fixed units and are much less efficient, so your running costs will be higher. They also take up floor space, so even though they're small, they will take up valuable space in your garage gym.

The other challenge with portable ACs is the exhaust, as they will release hot air back into the room through their operation. If you can't vent this properly, your AC can make the room warmer.  

Portable air conditioners can cool a garage gym effectively, and they're very affordable, but you need to make sure you get the right model. You need something durable that will cool quickly and is at least reasonably efficient, or you may end up spending more than with other options.  

The Whynter ARC-14S is one of the highest-rated portable ACs for garages, and it's certainly not what you would expect from a portable unit. It has a sleek design and remote-control functionality, so you can switch it on and off simply. It also offers over 10,000 BTUs, which is a lot of power from such a small device.

It comes with an exhaust hose which lets you vent the hot air simply. It's pretty economical too, and while it will cost more to run than fixed options, it's noticeably cheaper than other portable units.  

The downside of the Whynter ARC 14S is the noise level. The device itself isn't actually that loud, but the vibration on the floor and walls can make it seem really loud in a small or medium garage. It is pretty compact, at 16 x 35 x 35 inches, but it still takes up valuable floor space. If you struggle to fit your gym equipment in anyway, then this could be a real negative for you.  

The Whynter ARC-14S, and other portable AC units, will work well for anyone who wants to use the AC in multiple rooms and not just the gym. It's a huge asset having an AC you can store when not in use, but it can be annoying getting them in and out all the time.

If you're looking for a temporary AC solution, or none of the other options work for you, then a portable garage AC will work, but you should be prepared to spend a little more.  


3. Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner - Senville LETO Series

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Ductless mini-split air conditioners were historically only used commercially, but since they've made their way into residences, they're regarded as one of the most effective options. They work using two permanent installations, one on the outside of your home and one on the inside. 

The outer section is used to draw cool air in, and this is where the vents and filters are located. The air then passes through a refrigerant line where it's cooled and blown through the interior section into your garage.  

Ductless mini splits offer a lot of cooling power (high BTUs) but are still efficient. They have the highest energy efficiency ratings and are the lowest cost to run. They come in all shapes and sizes, so you can always find a model that works for your garage.

The big advantage of ductless mini splits is that they can offer heating and cooling, and you can alternate between them. If you live in an area with cold winters and warm summers, then ductless mini splits are a great option.  

The disadvantage of ductless mini splits is the cost. They have a much larger price tag than other varieties, and you are likely to need to pay extra for professional installation. If you have a limited budget, then this is probably not the option for you.  

The Senville LETO Series Mini Split Air Conditioner is well suited for garage gyms. It offers 24,000 BTUs, which is enough for even the largest garages, and even has a turbo function if you need to cool the air more quickly. It features heating and cooling modes which you can alternate between easily so you can warm your garage in the winter months.

The Senville has a design that allows it to blend in and become a part of the room. It is one of the quietest home AC units on the market at 32 dAB, so you won’t even notice it’s running.  

The Senville LETO is really impressive and is actually one of the best value ductless mini splits around, but it is still expensive. However, it's durable, protected by a 5-year warranty, and efficient, so you will realize some long-term savings. Ductless mini splits are probably the best option for home gyms and can be installed in any garage. If you can afford it, then it's a great investment.  


4. Evaporative Air Cooler - Honeywell CO60PM

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Evaporative air coolers work in a slightly different way to conventional ACs but can be effective. They use pads that have absorbed cold water, and this is evaporated into the air to give a cooling effect. 

They don't need any connection to a window, and very little power is needed for this style of AC. They are usually standing units, so they will take up floor space, which means they can be moved and stored as needed.  

The advantage of evaporative air coolers is that you don’t need any pre-existing ventilation. This is great for garages because they often don’t have windows you can use. They’re also incredibly energy efficient and use up to 75% less energy to run. They also keep your air cleaner by trapping any dust and allergens before they can circulate around your home.  

The disadvantage is that they aren't as effective as other ACs. They can't reduce the temperature in your garage as much and won't work as quickly as the other types of air conditioners, and they won't work in humid environments. Many garages suffer from dampness and humidity, so this may mean evaporative coolers aren't for you.  

The Honeywell CO60PM evaporative cooler is one of the simplest ways to cool your garage and will work in most homes. It’s light and compact but will work in any area up to 850 square feet. It has a large loading compartment to hold a lot of water which allows the device to work for long stretches.

There’s also an ice compartment to help get the air temperature down even further. Designed for tough outdoor environments, this is a durable cooler and should stand up to heavy use.  

It needs an electrical power source but does just plug in and go, so there’s no need for expensive installation. You’ll also barely need to spend anything to power it, so that’s a plus. The Honeywell evaporative cooler is relatively small, but it will still take up valuable garage floor space. The device will cool the room, but you should expect it to take longer than with alternative AC units.  

Technically, evaporative coolers aren't AC units, and the way they operate is quite different. It's a slower, more economical way to cool your garage, and you shouldn't expect the same results. If you're dealing with very hot conditions, then this type of cooling may not work for you. However, if you just need to lower the temperature slightly over time, then an evaporative cooler could work well in your garage gym.  


Other Ways To Cool Down Your Garage Gym When Working Out

AC is generally the best option for cooling your garage gym and maintaining an ambient temperature, but some other cheap options can work well: 

Open Garage Doors & Windows 

This sounds pretty obvious, but by opening your windows and doors, you'll encourage airflow and lower the temperature in your garage gym. You'll probably feel the benefit straight away, but the disadvantage is that your neighbors might be able to see you working out.  

Add Powerful Fans  

Well-placed fans can encourage airflow and give a cooling effect. You can get very cheap freestanding fans, but these will take up floor space, so ceiling fans and wall mount fans are preferable. Wall-mounted fans are useful for directing airflow around your room, and we'd recommend putting them, so they face the entrance for maximum benefit 

garage gym with powerful fans

Choose The Right Time To Workout 

The temperature peaks around midday, and in the summer months, this is when the heat can become unbearable. In contrast, early mornings and late nights once the sun has gone down can be a lot cooler. Try to structure your workouts to avoid the hottest times of the day, and you won't need to cool the room as much.  

Use Dehumidifiers

Dehumidifiers don't actually provide any cooling action and are no replacement for AC units, but they can help you feel cooler. They work by drawing moisture from the air, and if they remove enough of the hot moisture from the air, it will feel noticeably cooler. This will help you feel more comfortable while working out. 

Add Insulation 

Insulation doesn't just work to keep heat in; it prevents heat transfer. This works in both directions, so if your garage is well insulated, it will stop heat coming in and help to keep the room cool. Consider investing in draft excluders, window insulation, and spray foam to help maintain an ambient temperature in your garage gym.  


What Is The Recommended Garage Gym Temperature For Exercising?

The temperature makes a huge difference when you're working out. If it's too hot, then you can sweat too much and become dehydrated, too cold, and you can become tight and risk injury. The humidity can also have an impact, and if there's too much moisture, it can be uncomfortable and prevent you from performing.  

The ideal temperature for working out is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This varies from person to person, and you may like it hotter or colder, but aim for this level. Remember to dress appropriately and wear gym clothes that suit the environment you’re in.  


People Also Ask (FAQs)

How do I install an air conditioner in my garage?  

You should start by fitting some insulation around your garage so you can limit the heat transfer. Then, to fit your air conditioner, you'll need to follow the specific instructions for your device. They're all different, but for mini split ductless ACs and window ACs, you'll probably need to get an HVAC professional to help you.  

Should I work out with an AC on? 

Working out with your AC on can cause you to cool down too quickly, which can have an adverse effect on your body and can even cause you to catch a cold. You're best to run the AC just before your workout and just after. 

Will I sweat if I work out with an AC on? 

You will still sweat with the AC on, but your sweat will dry very quickly, so you won't get the same cooling effect.  

Is an AC or a fan better for a garage gym? 

A fan will help you feel cooler while working out, but an AC unit will help to cool the entire room. AC units give you greater control of your environment, but you should only use them when you aren’t exercising.  


Conclusion

Your garage gym can be really well equipped, but if it isn’t the right temperature, then you won't be able to work out effectively. Not all air conditioners will work in a garage, but if you search around, there are some great options out there. Hopefully, this guide has given you some helpful information and helped you understand what will work best in your garage gym.