YOUR OUTDOOR COOLING PROFILE

Tips & Solutions for:

• no running water
• no electricity
• low-med humidity

• • • • •

Here are some of the challenges and opportunities of your special outdoor cooling profile.

I’ve also suggested some great products to make you more comfortable in your unique outdoor setting.

Your profile is well-suited for travel, so I’ve included some suggestions to keep you cool when you get there.

You can learn about the major cooling methods in-depth by visiting our cooling methods pages.

colorful outdoor umbrellas

Your Go-To Method: Shade

This universal cooling solution for daytime heat is the go-to method for this profile and is available in limitless options. It needs no water or electricity and works great with other cooling methods for maximum comfort.

Learn more about shade.

Go to your shade suggestions.

Go to your outdoor fan suggestions.

Go to your portable air conditioner suggestions.

COMBINING COOLING METHODS

Make an outdoor area even more comfortable

Combining cooling solutions can be especially effective at making your outdoor area cooler and more comfortable than by using only one method.

Shade, by itself can make you feel 10-15º cooler or more than if you’re out in direct sunlight. Adding effective evaporative cooling can reduce air temperatures by 20º – 30º in low-medium humidity areas like yours. Add the breeze of a fan and you could feel cooler, still.

wet-rated fans mounted to structure supports cool an outdoor gathering
Outdoor fans plus a shade structure

PRODUCT SUGGESTIONS

Look for products specifically designed for outdoor or indoor/outdoor use because these are built with durability and safety features to handle exposure to outdoor elements. Appliances such as fans, swamp coolers, and air conditioners will proudly say they are for outdoor use. Since misting systems and misting fans are only for outdoor use, they may not state that claim specifically.

Most of the following suggestions are under $300.

This list contains Amazon affiliate links. Sometimes I earn commissions from those links. You never pay a higher price for that. I only recommend products I like, with or without commissions.

Patio / Stationery Umbrellas

Highly-rated brands to consider are Blissun, Bluu, and Midtown Umbrellas.


BLISSUN 9′ Patio Umbrella w/ Push Button Tilt & Crank This classic 9-foot diameter patio umbrella shades 2, 4, or 6 chair table sets or a couple of lounge chairs. It’s covered in waterproof polyester fabric which is UV resistant, meaning its wide variety of colors and patterns will maintain their color and vibrancy longer than some other fabrics. It has a vent panel at the top, allowing cooling breezes to pass through and minimizes possible damage from heavier winds.

Made of a combination of lightweight aluminum and powder-coated iron, the structure is durable and rust-resistant. It has a simple to use open and close crank as well as a tilt function that lets you easily angle the umbrella to move as the sun shifts.

You can find many umbrella sizes, colors, shapes, and accessories at the

BLUU’s “Banyan” 10-foot Cantilever Umbrella adds design flexibility at a great price. Instead of centering the umbrella over the pole, cantilever and offset umbrellas set the pole off to the side, letting the umbrella hang or “float” away from it. This gives you lots of flexibility and makes it much easier to move around under it.

These umbrellas don’t go up through the center of your table, but can be positioned to the side of it. They don’t go up through the center of your seating area, but can be positioned behind a sofa or chairs.

Bluu umbrella solution-dyed fabrics are 240G recycled material available in classic colors. They have a waterproof coating, provide over 80% UV protection guaranteed, and are recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Large, heavy duty bases are critical for these kinds of umbrellas since the design is naturally offset, making the umbrella more easily off-balance. Bluu recommends a 250-lb weight, like the C-hopetree 4-piece base, mentioned below under Umbrella Bases. Or you can use bricks, sandbags, or attach the umbrella to your deck with nails or screws.

Their tilt mechanism can be easier to use than some others.

This umbrellas includes a 1-year warranty on the entire umbrella and a 2-year warranty against color fading of the fabric, plus 24/7 customer service. Theses umbrellas have optional protective storage covers, optional 2-tier style with a large vent to maximize stability, and optional solar powered LED lights that add a charming atmosphere for 4-6 hours on a full charge.

Also check out their new Center Pole Patio Umbrella with Remote Control to control the opening and closing of multiple umbrellas from up to 65 feet / 20 meters away. It has its own umbrella base options and comes in 4 classic colors with a 5-year warranty against fabric fading.

Learn more at the Bluu Store at Amazon.


For excellent quality and customer service, check out Midtown Umbrellas store at Amazon. The company is new and is on a mission to provide high quality in every way. Consider their 9-foot umbrellas, available in dozens of colors.

MIDTOWN UMBRELLA’s “The Lean” 9-foot umbrella, while considered their value style, has some of the features of their higher end products. It has a 10-year warranty on the frame and the fabric and a generous return policy. The frame and robust 2.5 mm thick shaft are made of lightweight, rust proof aluminum that’s powder coated for extra protection. The crank and tilt mechanisms are made of zinc-alloy – lighter, stronger, and more durable than most tilt umbrellas. And they offer bases and covers specific to their umbrellas so you can be sure of highest quality and compatibility.

They offer higher end umbrella styles with fiberglass and wooden structures as well as Sunbrella’s world-renowned durable and fade-resistant outdoor fabrics. Hopefully their cantilever umbrellas and pergolas will soon be available at Amazon, too.

Learn more at the Midtown Umbrella Store at Amazon.

Umbrella Bases

About Umbrella Bases

Not all umbrellas come with their own bases or “stands.” If yours does not, you have many options to consider.

Umbrella bases need to be heavy to minimize umbrellas being blown around by winds. Weights typically start about 20 lbs. and go up to 200 lbs. or more. Larger umbrellas and freestanding umbrellas that don’t go through the center support hole of a table need the larger, heavier bases.

Some umbrellas, including cantilever or offset umbrellas may come with their own crossbar base that is typically not heavy enough to hold the umbrella steady in wind gusts. Look for 4-piece bases that sit over those crossbars, or one-piece bases that an umbrella pole can fit into.

For umbrellas without their own base, look for bases that connect securely to the umbrella’s post – usually with a screw-type connection.

If you want to move your umbrella, look for bases with wheels or bases that can be filled and emptied with water, sand, or gravel.

Look for bases that work with the ground where you use your umbrella. For example, uses bases that don’t rust if you’re using it on a patio or surface that can be damaged by rust. Use a base with wheels if you need to move your umbrella around.

Stakes can be a great option if you set up your umbrella in the lawn or dirt at your home.

Some public areas don’t allow stakes to anchor umbrellas, and heavy bases can be a headache to cart around. Fillable bases and sandbags are a great solution because you can use the sand or dirt from the park or beach, and remove it before you leave.

If you want your umbrella in a permanent location, you can nail or screw it to your deck, or consider an in-ground base.

The C-HOPETREE 4-piece base, comes in 4 locking pieces, so it can be used for cantilever and other umbrellas that already have a lightweight crossbar base, as well as center post umbrellas.

It can be filled with water or sand, making it more portable because you move the pieces while they are empty. It’s available in 4 sizes ranging from 194lb for smaller umbrellas, 256lb, which Blue recommends for its cantilever umbrellas, up to 317lb and 356lb for larger umbrellas and more stability. Filling with sand gives these the maximum weight. Filling with water weighs a bit less, but can be more convenient. Either way, 4 smaller pieces are a lot easier to move than one big one. And you can empty them before moving or storing.

The pieces are made of high-density black plastic with a simple, functional look. Each piece measures about 18″ by 19″, so the entire base is large. This is too large to fit under a small bistro table, but ample for most other uses. C-hopetree has a range of umbrella basses and offers their own line of umbrellas. You can find them all that the C-hopetree Store at Amazon.


This Fillable Umbrella Base with Locking Wheels by maple99 is a good wheeled base to consider. It’s made of rust-resistant durable black plastic in a sleek design. It fits 6-12-foot umbrellas that have poles ranging from 1.5″ to 1.9.” It secures them with two screw-type tightening knobs that ensure stability. When filled with 37 liters of water, it weighs 82 lbs; when filled with sand, it weighs 123 lbs., so you have that option based on convenience and how much stability you need.


AMMSUN Grass & Sand Umbrella anchor This anchor is made of steel and installs by simply stomping on the brackets. There are two sized pole fittings plus and screw-type attachment, so it fits most pole sizes securely. It’s suitable for lawns and soil.

AMMSUN’s Beach Umbrella Sand Anchors are specifically for shifting beach sand. 15 inches deep, they twist down into the sand and can withstand gusts up to 50 MPH. Fits pole diameters of 1.5 inches or less and is secured with a thumbscrew.

You can find these and other clever products to keep you cool and shaded on the go at the Ammsun Store at Amazon.


US WEIGHT Tailgater Set of 4 Canopy Weights total 40 lbs (10 lbs each) and come with their own carry strap. They fit square and round poles up to 1 1/4″ wide. They take up little space, so are good in small spaces or where someone might trip over larger weights. They can be stacked if you need more weight for larger umbrellas and shade structures.

Visit the US Weight Store at Amazon.


Travel Shade

About shade for travel

Most public areas have size limitations on your shade structures and may have restrictions on how you anchor them. Contact your park or beach for details. The following suggestion is suitable for many public areas.

AMMSUN’S 6.5-ft Telescoping Travel Umbrella with a built-in sand anchor has a two-part pole that allows the umbrella to fit inside its own shoulder bag that’s just over 29″ / 79 cm long. Some durability was sacrificed to keep it lightweight and portable. It has an attached sand anchor so there are no extra parts to think about. It has an extra large air flow vent – perfect for handling moderate wind gusts, although bringing a fillable sandbag would make it even steadier. It even has a tilt mechanism to block the sun’s rays as the day goes on.

It’s sized for 1-2 people. After anchored, it’s height is best for sitting or reclining under. Like most portables and popups, it offers minimal UV protection, so wear your sunscreen.

You can find this and other helpful products at Ammsun’s Store at Amazon.


About Freestanding Structures

There is a dizzying variety of shade structures. You can learn a bit about those structures here and learn about some shade materials here. With shade as this profile’s go-to solution, consider them all!

Like umbrellas, freestanding structures need to be well anchored so they don’t get blown around or knocked down. Portable and temporary structures can use weights and sandbags so they don’t fall over. Permanent structures need to be drilled into wooden decks or attached with corrosion-resistant wood or metal footings into soil or hard surfaces like concrete.

There may be building codes in your area to consider, too. For example, in my area, permanent structures must be set back a minimum of 5 feet from the property boundary or the city can force its removal. Also, if certain kinds of patio covers are attached to a building, it’s taxed as part of that building, so freestanding structures are a great alternative. Contact your local government to avoid any surprises.

Also learn about shade planning and how to do a shade assessment if you are going to install a permanent structure to be sure you’ll have shade where you need it when you need it.

Freestanding Shade

QUICK SHADE’s Pop Up 10′ x 10′ Canopy has features to keep you cool that most pop up canopies don’t.

  • Lined with a radiant heat barrier material that ensures cooler shade, 99% UV protection, and water resistance.
  • Double-vented at the top, which allows for better air flow that also keeps you cooler.
  • Half awnings on two sides are lined with the same heat barrier material and have ventilation panels. You can raise them, which increases the shaded area from 100 square feet to 170 square feet. Or you can lower them, which protects you from heat and sun glare even when the sun is not directly overhead.
  • Includes a roller storage bag for easy transport.

Anchor these with something like US Weight’s Canopy Weights.

See what else is in store at the the Quick Shade Store at Amazon.


MASTERCANOPY 8 x 5 Grill Gazebo with 2 LED Lights is lightweight and can be set up quickly for your next outdoor barbeque. It’s a good size to give the master chef some shade, while the vented fabric cover allows the grill’s heat to escape. Two shelves are convenient for grill accessories, to set a drink or food fresh off the grill. And two included LED lights can hang from the overhead hook.

I suggest you get the gray or brown color, which are less likely to show any collected smoke on the fabric cover.

This is also good size for a cozy seating area. With two bar stool-height seats, the shelves are at a perfect height to rest your drinks, snacks, etc. And you can hang your sun hats or pool cover ups on the hooks.

While this canopy is sturdy on a wind-free day, it could be knocked over by winds or someone who’s having fun at your party. So secure it, to be safe. It can be anchored or staked into the ground, or you can stabilize it with weights. Plan ahead where the sun will be when you’ll use your gazebo it so you can position it to cast the best shade when you need it most. For this reason, you might start out with weights until you know where is the best spot for it.
Anchor these with something like US Weight’s Canopy Weights.

The 11′ x 5′ version has a hydraulic side awning that you can position all the way up, all the way down, or anywhere in between. This kind of adjustability is helpful to keep an area shaded when the sun keeps shifting.

Visit the MasterCanopy Store at Amazon.


Larger shade structures get expensive fast. It’s hard to find quality in the lower price range simply because of the cost of materials, and it’s nearly impossible to find something that will last more than a couple of season.

Less expensive structures are perfect if you won’t be in the same location for long. Or you can use the less expensive structures to fine tune what you want in a permanent shade structure – the size, features, materials, and exactly where you want to put it.

LAUSAINT fabric-covered gazebos are among the best quality and lowest prices of their kind that you can find on Amazon.

The LAUSAINT HOME Outdoor Patio Gazebo 10’x13′ is a popular size, and smaller sizes are available. (note that size usually refers to outside dimensions.) Each of these gazebos has a vented roof, allowing for good air flow and breezes. Each has mosquito netting for the sides and the vent opening, plus side curtain that helps block the heat of the sun. Available in classic neutrals and a red, white, and blue version perfect for summer holidays.

They can be installed by one patient and nimble person, or by two who get along together. : ) You’ll need to anchor these with either the provided expansion bolts, stakes, or ropes.

Consider the Lausaint Home Collection of outdoor shade structures including pergolas and metal top gazebos on Amazon.


PERGOLAS are a simpler structures than gazebos. They usually have flat, louvered (lattice-like) roofs. This makes them perfect for additional cooling materials, like a simple fabric “sling” covering, a retractable shade, solid shade panels, or plants, such as beautiful vines.

Like gazebos, they work well with other cooling methods.


A Note About Permanent Shade Structures

If you’re considering investing in a permanent shade structure – manufactured or custom, take a moment to consider something –

Since the sun shifts, where your structure looks best might not be where it gives you the best shade when you need it. A shade assessment and a shade audit help you find out where the shade will fall when you need it. That way you’ll know in advance if you want to modify your plans. It could save you some money, some disappointment, and give you the coolest outdoor shade.

Wall-mounted Shade

Be sure whatever you attach your shade to can support it’s weight in wind or rain. Also check with any restrictions. Some apartments won’t allow permanent installation, but might allow something than can easily be taken down, like shade curtains.

VIVOHOME Polycarbonate Window Door Awning comes in a variety of sizes and classic brown or

Vertical Shade

NICETOWN’s Insulated Outdoor Curtains with Rust Proof Grommets offer a stylish break from the heat with their added layer of insulation. They can be hung by a rod pocket or tabs on the top with grommets on the bottom to add weight and limit the curtains being blown by breezes. Or they can be hung by the grommets and either hang freely or be anchored through the tabs with an included anchoring rope. Of course, take them down or tie them back if winds kick up.

The fabric is lightweight, waterproof and washable. Available in a range of colors and sizes. Darker colors tend to fade, so order lightest colors that are less affected by sun bleaching.

Because you can take them down easily, they can be a great short-term solution to cooling your balcony, patio, or deck.

It’s reassuring to know every component is certified by international standards to be safe for human health. Visit the Nicetown Store at Amazon.

Portable power stations are also called backup batteries. Unlike generators that run on gasoline and can be noisy and smelly, batteries and portable power stations can be recharged by plugging in to a wall outlet, car charger, or solar panels, and won’t bother you with noise or bad smells.

The ALLWEI Portable Power Station 300W(Peak 600W) can be recharged in many ways such as a AC wall outlet or car charger in 5.5-6.5 hours, or with a compatible solar panel like the ALLWEI 100W/18V Portable Solar Panel for 300/500 Power Stations in about 3-4 hours of full sunlight. Protects your devices, like with a flashing LCD alert signal when power runs low and is ETL certified to meet established manufacturing safety standards. Can be recharged from empty to full more than 1500 times. Comes with a 5-year warranty.

A USE EXAMPLE: the Hessaire swamp cooler uses 85 watts (per hour). The Geek Aire misting fan uses 180 watts (per hour). The Allwei 300 can power both of these at the same time – totaling 265 watts – for about an hour. Keeping 10 – 20% under the maximum seems to give the system some helpful “breathing room.”

You can extend that use time with a higher wattage power station. For example, the Allwei 1200W Portable Power Station can power those same appliances – or other appliances that run about 265 watts – for 4 hours without recharging.

Allwei power stations have a pass through function allowing you to run any cooling solution while you are recharging the solar panels so you can run and recharge during the hottest part of the day. Or use a wall outlet or car charger to recharge the station when the sun is not so high.

Allwei makes power stations and solar panels sold individually or in bundles that can handle up to 4,000 watts. Max. charging power for different brands of these kinds of units is in the 4-5,000 watt range. The

About misting systems

Many misting systems describe themselves as “high pressure” because they know that high pressure means better cooling. But if they are powered by running water or a pump with less than 300 psi, they are actually low pressure.

Low pressure misting creates a larger droplet mist that is less effective but can still cool you down. It will also get things – including you – a little wet. Mid-pressure systems (around 300-500 psi) are a little better at cooling and not getting things quite so wet. But there is a big jump in cooling and keeping things dry with high-pressure systems (700-1000 psi).

In general, get as high pressure a system as you can afford. If possible, get a kit to ensure all components work with whatever water pressure the pump generates. Mismatched components can damage the system.

Learn more about misting systems, especially if you want to build your own, by visiting our pages on lines and connectors here. Misting pumps here. Misting nozzles here. You can also see our pages on installation, maintenance tips, and other topics.

Without a source of running water, you need a pump for a misting system, even for low-pressure systems. Low-pressure systems usually make use of city-supplied low water pressures. Without running water’s supplied pressure, you need a pump to bring nearly zero pressure up to even low pressure standards.

Learn how water pressure affects how much cooler you’ll feel. If the description of a system does not specify water pressure, you should conclude it’s a low-pressure system.

If you don’t have an electrical outlet, you can use a battery or power station to run that pump. Many high pressure pumps use about 150 watts, so Allwei’s 300 Power Station mentioned above would power one of them for about 2 hours. Allwei’s 1200W Portable Power Station would power it for about 8 hours.


Portable Misting Systems

Extrememist’s larger 6-nozzle PRO version with a 270 psi (18.6 Bar) pump can keep you even cooler and drier.

Keep in mind that it takes a high pressure system of 700 psi or more for maximum cooling and to really stay dry, but both Extrememist systems are great solutions for the particular challenges of portable misting.

These Extrememist systems draw water from any kind of container you supply – a bottle, bucket, drink cooler, etc. You can chill the water for a greater cooling effect. All misting system nozzles clog easily, so use only distilled or filtered / purified water.

If a nozzle clogs in these systems, remove it, soak it in white vinegar or a calcium & lime remover like Plumbers Tape” rel=”nofollow sponsored” title=”plumbers tape”>plumbers tape around it can ensure it doesn’t leak when replaced. These systems offer replacement nozzles in case a nozzle can’t be cleared. Some misting systems use non-removable nozzles – there is little you can do to fix those.

Extrememist says that on the highest setting, the 4-nozzle system will use about 1 gallon (3.8 liters) of water per hour. The 6-nozzle system may use about 1.5 gallons (5.7 liters) per hour.

Both systems include a 6600mAh 3.7V battery pack and a micro USB wall charger. According to Extrememist, after a full charge the battery will run for about 16 hours on the lowest power and 6 hours on the highest power for the 4-nozzle system. For the 6-nozzle system, you can expect 12 hours on the lowest power and 5 hours on the highest power.

Visit Amazon’s Extrememist store to see their other area and personal cooling solutions.


Stationary Misting Systems

Smart Mist USA offer something unique to the Amazon marketplace – high quality high pressure misting kits designed for DIY installation. All their systems come with a .26-.80 gallons per minute (.98-3.03 liters per minute) 1000 psi (68.95 bars) pump, durable stainless steel tubing with slip lock fittings that withstand high pressure, and anti-clog no-drip nozzles suitable for most hot climates. Their mid and high end systems can be controlled by touch or app and programmed by day, hour, continuous or interval spray, which can save on water use.

This is all backed up with great customer service and a very reasonable warranty.

Smart Mist’s basic value system is the 20 foot, 700 psi Mister System Kit. This will cool a small seating area, patio, two sides of a 10′ x 10′ popup tent, or mid-sized table. This smaller system has 700 psi (48.26 bar) – the bottom range of high-pressure systems offering cooling without making things wet. It’s available with 12 – .006″ nozzles for most hot climates, or 7 – .008″ nozzles – most effective in the hottest and driest desert – like areas.

This is the most affordable and highest quality DIY high pressure system available on Amazon.

To cover larger spaces, you need a 1000 psi pump. Smart Mist offers these larger, more powerful systems.

Visit Smart Mist’s home page on Amazon to see their full range of high-pressure, high-quality DIY mist systems.

Water Tanks with Spigot

To make these systems work without running water, use a tank with a standard garden hose spigot at the bottom to attach to the the provided connector.

WaterPrepared offers this kind of tank at Amazon in 35 gallon (132.5 liter), 55 gallon (208.2 liter), and stackable 160 gallon (605.67 liter) sizes. The small size gives you XX hours of mist with the smaller systems. Larger systems will use more water.

These are enclosed units that use evaporation and fans to cool outdoor areas. A few 1-5 gallon jugs to fill the water tank are the only water that’s needed for hours of cooling. You can add ice to the tank to reduce the temperature a bit more. The Hessaire coolers listed below also have built-in hose adapters for a continuous water supply option.

They require a source of electricity, and since their energy use is low, portable power stations or 12-volt car chargers can make these a good cooling solution for many outdoor spaces. In fact, both Hessaire coolers listed below can be powered by a 300 watt power station, such as the ALLWEI listed above.

Cools up to 500 square feet

Hessaire 1300 CFM MC18M Replacement Pad” rel=”nofollow sponsored” title=”Replacement pad for the Hessaire MC18M”>Replacement pad for the Hessaire MC18M -about $32. Low odor, low static, OEM Xel50 corrugated 19″ x 17″.
Cools up to 950 square feet

HESSAIRE MC37M 3,100 CFM Indoor/Outdoor Evaporative Air Cooler with 3-Speed Fan. Can effectively cool up to 950 sq. ft. in partially enclosed areas and generous spot cooling in fully open areas. The 10.3 gallon tank provides 3-4 hours of cooling and can be filled manually or by garden hose with its built-in adapter. HOW MANY DB? 250 watts – can be powered by a 300-watt power station. Gray.
Cover for Hessaire MC37M/MC37V Black high density 600D polyester oxford fabric, waterproof, dust proof; drawstring closure. Adjustable strap with buckles.

Features:
3 fan speeds, oscillating air vents, and an 8-hour timer, and oscillating air vents that disburse cool air over a wider area. Includes heavy-duty wheels and a convenient carrying handle for smooth transportation.

CONS
Can be a little loud when the fan is on high.
Does not have an automatic water sensor so you must keep an eye on the water level window.

PROS
Since humidity is lowest during the hottest times of day (late morning through late afternoon), the evaporative feature is effective throughout the United States, Australia, The Middle East and areas with similar climates. In mornings and evenings and in more humid climates, the fan-only feature can create a cooling wind chill effect. Then you can add the evaporation as the humidity drops.

Also consider units such as the ——————— with openings on 3 sides, or the —————————- with automatic water level sensor.

Portable Misting Fan

Learn about airflow and outdoor fans.

It’s powered by a waterproof 15,000 mAh (1.5 volts) battery that charges in 2-3 hours. Geek Aire says a fully charged battery will give you 3-23 hours (depending on fan speed) with the fan only (great for more humid days, mornings, or evenings) or about 1.5 hours with mist alone. Fan plus mist will give you up to 1 hour of excellent cooling. The backup batteries are sometimes sold out, so check the Geek Aire store at Amazon.

Amacool 40000mAh Rechargeable Battery Operated Outdoor Fan with Light & Remote, 4-Speed Auto-Oscillating 12″ fan. Smaller, personal sized versions are available from Amacool and other sellers.

Floor Fans

iLiving 12″ Rechargeable Battery Operated Outdoor Floor Fan 5830 CFM, which is more than enough for a 10 x 10 x cubic foot area (about the size of a typical popup tent) using only 13 watts. Has a built-in 22.2 volt lithium-ion battery that includes a USB charging port for your cell phone. The battery will last 6-40 hours on a full charge, depending on fan setting. It has a safety rating of IPx4, making it safe around splashing water. Durable metal construction. 58dB.

The iLiving Floor Fan is also available in a rechargeable 18″ size using 16 watts with its battery lasting 4-30 hours on a full charge.

Features for both sizes
Battery level indicator, folding stand, tilt head.

About Portable Air Conditioners

The effectiveness of any true air conditioner (those that use a compressor and refrigerant) depends largely on how well insulated and enclosed your outdoor area is. Sheds, recreation vehicles, and garages are likely to be better insulated than patios, vans, or tents, but you can add insulation to most areas. There are a number of materials you can use to line walls, windows, overhangs, and even floors that can make a dramatic difference in the cooling effect of portable air conditioners.

See below for insulation suggestions.

BTUs and SIZING

BTUs estimate how big an enclosed area an air conditioner will cool.

Some portable air conditioners list different kinds of BTUs. The standard ASHRAE rating has been in use for decades and many people are comfortable with it. The newer SACC rating (might be listed as DOE, SACC, or SACC/CEC) is specifically for portable air conditioners and can give you a more accurate estimate of cooling efficiency.

But they are both just estimates, especially for outdoor cooling, which varies so much more than indoor cooling. If the product lists the SASS rating, use that one for your estimate. Learn how to size outdoor portable air conditioners.

The bottom line: get a higher BTU rating than you think you’ll need, especially if the area is not perfectly insulated. Consider 2-3 times BTU estimates for whatever size your area is, depending on how enclosed and insulated it is.

INDOOR / OUTDOOR RATINGS AND SAFETY

Some portable air conditioners are not rated for outdoor use – they must be placed inside the area being cooled and protected with a solid overhang / ceiling, a dry floor, and at least a couple of walls. Keep these units from getting wet, dusty, or dirty to protect the electrical components and ensure safety. If exposed at all to the outdoors, cover them when not in use and check the electrical connections regularly to be sure nothing is frayed, wet, or coming loose.

Placing them inside means the mechanics are inside, too, meaning they will push the hot air out by 1 or 2 hoses through some kind of opening in a wall, window, etc. It can seem rather noisy with the mechanics inside. But that can be an important trade-off if you need this kind of cooling.

Others that are rated for outdoor use can be placed outside the area you want to cool. This is more efficient and creates a quieter cool area. If possible, place the unit in a shady, dry area to keep it from overheating.

1 OR 2 HOSES

Two-hose units are much more effective and less expensive to operate than one-hose units, but are usually more expensive to purchase.

Whether rated for indoors or outdoors, use the air conditioner’s supplied hose(s) to manage air flow. Set your unit at a moderate and consistent temperature for best cooling and lower costs. Also, clean or replace the air filter regularly.

ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS

Portable air conditioners have historically been damaging to the environment. Some areas like California, USA have high environmental standards for air conditioners to protect the environment. This includes the kinds of refrigerants used and efficient electrical use.

Products that don’t meet these standards cannot be shipped to California. Fortunately, products that do meet these standards can be used anywhere in the USA and most countries.

Manufacturers go to great lengths to meet these standards, and these are often better performing units. I’ll note when my suggestions meet California standards.

AC for room-sized areas

insulation to keep the cool air in and the hot air out.

These Black+Decker units meet California’s high environmental standards, so you can use them confidently just about anywhere.

These must be located in areas protected from outdoor elements like wind, dirt, dust, puddles, water spray, critters, etc. Think about areas like inside your shed, garage, or a protected corner of your covered patio. They don’t have the durability and safety features of other outdoor cooling solutions, so read about indoor / outdoor ratings and get some installation tips. I suggest them because of their quality. In protected and insulated locations, they can help keep outdoor locations cool and comfortable.

You will need solar panels and/or a power station like those mentioned above.

AC for small areas and spot cooling

solar panels, or a power station like those mentioned above.

Insulation

Rigid or flexible, shiny, padded, thick with lots of insulation or thin with less insulation. Which you use depends on the area you want to cool, how well-insulated you want it to be (more insulation is more effective), and how permanent you want it to be.

Many DIY solutions are not as effective as manufactured solutions that make basic technologies more efficient, reliable, and convenient. But DIY can be fun, educational, rewarding, and inexpensive to put together and use.

For example, for low-med humidity areas like yours, you can soak a sheet, towel, or length of fabric in water and hang it in an opening of the area you want to cool. As the water evaporates, it will cool the air around it. Breezes passing through the area will carry that cooled air, helping to cool the area. You can re-soak or spray the fabric as it dries. It will stay damp longer if you hang it in a shady area. Experiment with different kinds of fabric to find which can hold the most water and still allow breezes to pass through.


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