So what do you do when you have to take a building’s A/C system offline in order to make repairs? Or worse yet, what do you do when a system breaks down, and you’re going to have to wait a few days for a part? One answer is portable, or temporary, cooling.
These days, a number of portable cooling equipment distributors and manufacturers can get the right equipment to just about any corner of the U.S. very quickly. Whether it’s a huge chiller or a small room unit that’s needed, these companies will help you and your customers keep cool.
“Record heat in recent weeks has given rise to numerous requests for temporary or supplemental air conditioning solutions,” said Ted Doyle, product manager for Koldwave (a Mestek Company), a manufacturer of air-cooled and water-cooled portable air conditioners based in Westfield, MA. “Portable air conditioners, whether purchased or rented, are an ideal way to cool people, places, equipment, and processes in almost any situation.
“For example, they can provide temporary air conditioning during a cooling tower repair or replacement. Many companies keep units on hand all year round to protect their computers during an air conditioning repair, or when the overall system is insufficient. There’s almost no limit to the applications.”
“We are constantly surprised by innovative applications,” says Stu Taylor, tech support, Quietside Corp., Whittier, CA. (Quietside manufactures portable A/C units ranging from 12,000 to 24,000 Btuh.) “Today, a contractor made a semi-permanent installation in an elevator pump room. Using outside air for supply air, he keeps the evaporator coil oil free and minimizes maintenance. He also installed a condensate pump instead of using the built-in sump.”
There are many applications in which portable air conditioners can be used permanently, notes John Doran, sales manager, MovinCool, Long Beach, CA. (MovinCool offers nine UL-listed portable air conditioning units ranging from 10,000 to 60,000 Btuh.) “For example, contractors can recommend MovinCool for their customer’s manufacturing processes to help reduce their cool-down time, heat-related defects, and additional scrap.”
Doran adds that portable units can also be used to protect expensive equipment from shutdowns in a client’s office; telecom, computer/server/network facilities; healthcare/hospital/laboratory facilities; and manufacturing environments. In addition, portable units can cool employees on the spot, preventing heat exhaustion and improving manufacturing quality and productivity.
Taylor notes that more applications now require permanent portable cooling. “Whether for industrial or human comfort, many portables have permanent homes. Their design makes them easy to replace when they are in extreme-use environments.”
Employing portable equipment is also a benefit to the contractor, notes Doran. “Contractors can offer their clients [portable equipment] for emergency backup cooling and as an uninterrupted service replacement during maintenance repairs.
“By providing this service,” says Doran, “a contractor can gain a competitive advantage over another contractor bidding for the job. Contractors can also generate additional revenue by selling or renting MovinCool to their customers.”
Taylor adds that while contractors wouldn’t necessarily want to own a fleet of portable A/C units, it might be in their best interests to own a few in order to be able to service customers immediately. “When a job requires it, then using a rental group would be perfect for them. The suppliers have abundant stock in clean, working order.”
Depending on the rental group being used, portable equipment can usually be to a jobsite within a few hours, or in the worst-case scenario, possibly a day.
Tagge states that rental rates are very reasonable and vary depending on the rental period. “Equipment can be rented by the day, weekend, week, or the month. Charges are calculated on a sliding scale, getting cheaper the longer the term.”
It is true that when comparing dollars per Btuh, the cost to operate portable equipment is higher than most conventional air conditioners. “This cost difference is primarily due to higher component/manufacturing costs caused from the more stringent design requirements required to meet the rugged demands of portable air conditioning,” says Doran.
However, when compared to installing or reconfiguring existing air conditioning systems, the total cost of portable equipment is often less expensive. Doran adds that MovinCool portable air conditioners’ operating costs are as low as 13 cents per hour, “a fraction of what most central air conditioning systems cost to run.”
If there’s any question as to how much cooling a particular application requires, most rental companies have staff on hand to answer questions. “At MovinCool, contractors can call our application engineers to determine what units are needed for a job. Or, they can call their local MovinCool distributor. In addition, we have an application guide, which can help contractors calculate the cooling capacity required for a customer’s application,” says Doran.
Tagge notes that contractors sometimes already know what they want for an application, but if they don’t, help is only a phone call away. “Our nationwide call center is staffed with spot-cooling experts whose sole function is to size the job and dispatch the appropriate equipment to the jobsite. More often than not, a Spot Cooler technician determines the product requirement.”
Taylor adds that if contractors have not familiarized themselves with portable products in the last year or so, it’s worthwhile checking them out for pricing, features, and availability. “They can be a profitable tool in your business.”
Among the many applications for portable air conditioning are:
If you’re looking for a way to provide a valuable service to your customers and expand your profits, portable air conditioners may be the answer.
Publication date: 07/15/2002