When you think of portable air conditioning, chances are your first thought is about emergency applications for computers and equipment. Portable units are typically rolled in only when A/C systems fail and computer systems overheat. This is true, but it’s also important to remember that spot cooling also keeps people up and running. And it’s not just for emergency situations. Portable A/C can be used in a number of applications in order to keep customers cool and comfortable.

Portable air conditioning systems can be necessary in office buildings or computer rooms when HVAC systems shut down.

Quick Relief

Garth Tagge, vice president of Spot Coolers, knows a few things about portable air conditioning. Over a 20-year span in his position with the company, he has seen portable systems used in a number of situations. The company primarily rents spot cooling systems to contractors and facility managers.

“In business, most companies need to keep the employees in place and the productivity going,” said Tagge. “Only school kids cheer when they are sent home due to climate control system failure or weather conditions.”

Spot Coolers has assisted numerous companies across the United States when their HVAC systems either break down or need to be offline in order to perform service, replacement, or upgrades.

For example, Spot Coolers has assisted AT&T nationwide on numerous occasions when its HVAC systems have shut down.

“Spot Coolers can be there within an hour or two and begin setting up portable systems immediately,” said Tagge. “When it comes to emergencies, we get things up and running right away.”

There are things to consider when bringing portable cooling systems into a space, including power, floor space, condensate removal, and condenser air removal. But Tagge said a professional portable A/C company knows how to deal with these issues and makes an audit of each space on the spot, tailoring the solution to the job at hand. Ultimately, the first issue is to relieve the heat and deal with all the other challenges as they come up.

In a situation where there is a planned shutdown of HVAC equipment, Tagge said that spot coolers can prepare and review a plan with the customer regarding where portable cooling systems can be used best within the workspace.

Some facilities can use portable systems for supplemental or emergency cooling. Flexible ducts can be used to optimize cooling results.

Enhanced Productivity

Although portable heating and cooling systems are used most often during emergency situations, supplemental cooling is another option.

“There are a number of tenant spaces within office buildings where, by nature of their work, there are uneven heat loads on the floors,” said Tagge.

One example would be office buildings that house “customer support call centers.” These floors or spaces, due to networked systems and monitors, will produce more heat than other floors in the building. And because building HVAC systems typically distribute air evenly from floor to floor and space to space, these call support centers tend to be hotter than others. Tagge said that by staging portable A/C systems strategically throughout the space, relief can be provided to employees.

Another example is manufacturing facilities where people work in close, tight circles or on assembly lines. Most manufacturing facilities have no air conditioning, and, according to Tagge, in more extreme ambient facilities such as steel or food preparation, temperatures can reach or exceed 100 degrees F.

“A 20,000-square-foot production facility may need 100 tons or more of cooling capacity,” explained Tagge. “If you only employ 25 people within this space, you are paying a small fortune to cool each employee. However, a few well-placed portables, which direct all their cooling capacity on just the people, can be operated for a fraction of the cost.”

In these situations, Tagge said that Spot Coolers can provide portables that can operate under high ambient temperatures. These units can not only make employees more comfortable, they can increase productivity while making the workplace a safer, more humane environment.

Even for manufacturing facilities with an air conditioning system, heat can still be an issue within certain areas. According to Tagge, walls, barriers, beams, or certain work centers within certain air conditioned facilities often prohibit good air distribution, creating dead zones or hot spots. One way to alleviate these types of problems is to operate cooling systems to capacity, but this can significantly increase energy consumption.

Portable air conditioning systems can help supplement cooling that already exists within this type of facility or space. By strategically placing spot coolers within these problem zones, cooling can be efficiently distributed, making workers more comfortable and more productive, and keeping the electric bill under control.

Special Events

The need for portable cooling often arises during special events. Special events are often held within tents, arenas, or spaces that are not climate controlled. According to Tagge, this presents numerous possibilities for temporary air conditioning or heating.

He explained that at outdoor festivities, weddings, or sporting events in tents or on patio areas can be equipped with portable air conditioning systems for the duration of the event. This allows participants to enjoy outdoor activities while providing relief from hot summer conditions.

Hot conditions can also be a factor for indoor events where large crowds gather.

“One example is graduation ceremonies that are held in gymnasiums or auditoriums that are not air conditioned,” said Tagge. “These are often events that attract 1,000 people or more. Put that many people together in a confined space and the temperature can shoot through the roof in a heartbeat.”

He also explained that concert halls and theatres can benefit from portable cooling systems.

“Whenever you are doing anything on a stage, portable systems can come in handy, especially under hot stage lights,” he said.

Whatever the application, Tagge believes that contractors can benefit from knowing when and where portable systems can be used.

“Portable systems give contractors another option that they can pass on to their customers,” said Tagge. “It’s another tool they can use when the situation dictates something besides a permanently installed system.”

For more information, visit www.spot-coolers.com.

Publication date: 07/21/2003