Since they don’t have to stay in one place, portable cooling units have been known to show up in some pretty unique places. Temp-Air Inc.’s units have been used everywhere from sporting events as big as the FIFA World Cup held last year in Brazil to outdoor ice-skating rink warming houses in St. Paul, Minnesota, said Amanda Rahn, marketing manager. And, on a smaller stage, the company’s units are regularly used at baseball fields, air hangars, and in disaster relief efforts.

Here’s a closer look at how portable units are serving in some outside-the-box applications.


At Urban Till, a Chicago-based hydroponics company, plants are grown in flowing water without the use of soil. Urban Till contacted Temp-Air two years ago because its facility was getting too warm.

The entire building, which grows herbs and microgreens year-round for local restaurants, was being cooled with only four 5-ton air conditioning units.

“Due to the high level of moisture in the air mixed with the heat generated from growing lights, I recommended the company use 100 tons of cooling to control the interior temperature,” said Rick Kowalski, technical field representative with Temp-Air. “Urban Till needed precise temperature control to keep the interior air temperature of the facility below 70°F. The flowing water could not get too warm, otherwise it would destroy the root system of the plants. Plants had previously been dying when the facility got too warm due to the heat emitted from the growing lights.”

As a result of Kowalski’s recommendation, Urban Till leased two model PAC-50T4H 50-ton temporary industrial air conditioners from Temp-Air. But, it wasn’t an easy job to set up.

“At first, units were placed on the ground outside the facility with duct fed in through the windows,” Kowalski said. “We then built steel frames on the roof to set the units in. This resulted in long duct that draped over the building, which led into the interior space. Adding to the difficulty of the setup process was that there was only one access point. Since cool air was only entering through one area, we had to add eight fans inside the building to push the air through to the back of the building.”

Down the road, he said, Temp-Air may end up drilling into the roof in order to put the duct directly in from the top of the roof rather than draping over the side of the building. But, so far, the good news is the Temp-Air units have proven to be the right solution to protect Urban Till’s plants. And, since the air conditioners also serve as dehumidifiers, they’ve provided an additional benefit for the hydroponics company.

“The a/c equipment would take the moisture in the air and would pump the water out of the building,” Kowalski explained. “The customer then saw the opportunity to reuse the water resulting from the equipment condensation process rather than using public water. This developed a self-sustainable environment. The reused water is better than city water since it has positive ions, which the plant roots absorb as nutrients.”


According to Portacool LLC, a manufacturer of portable evaporative coolers that work with ambient air and water to provide natural cooling power, its coolers are used in all kinds of situations. For instance, more than 20 NFL teams, and many college football teams, use Portacool coolers to keep players cool on the sidelines during game days. And the list of interesting applications goes on — including outdoor concerts, golf tournaments, and even biker rallies.

Yet, a recent application for a utility company was also notable because, in this case, the Portacool solution did more than just provide cooling — it helped alleviate a pesky mosquito problem.

Duke Energy, an electric utility company, provides power to customers in six states: Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, and North Carolina. According to Portacool, Duke Energy was experiencing heat issues in its vehicle maintenance bays. Worker productivity was being lost due to heat and bug problems. Duke Energy’s capital tools team ruled out permanent, installed air conditioning as too costly.

While researching alternative options, the team determined the solution must offer a more comfortable work environment, operate with a low noise level, and require minimal maintenance. Ultimately, the team purchased more than 60 Portacool Classic 48-inch units, which were positioned in garages in all six states the utility services.

According to the Duke team, “The movement of the cool air cooled the shop and also helped with mosquito annoyance.” While they acknowledged that portable cooling didn’t completely solve their bug problem, the team stated the new coolers certainly “helped to cope with it.”

Publication date: 6/29/2015

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