Portable Spot Air Conditioners in Industrial Applications: Your questions answered
Jim Magallanes, President of Computer Room Uptime, recently presented the July 30 Plant Engineering Webcast, "Portable Spot Air Conditioners in Industrial Applications: Increase Revenue and Create a Safe Working Environment." Since there were more audience questions than time allowed, Magallanes has responded to those viewer questions here.
The full archive version of the Webcast can be found here.
Q: How often do you have to empty the condensate tank in the portable AC?
Magallanes: It depends on how hot and humid it is at your location. Hot and humid weather (i.e. Southeastern US) will fill up the tank very quickly, maybe 1-2 days. In the hot and dry southwest it may take a 3-5 days to fill up the tank. From the fall to early spring it is very dry in Colorado and can a month or longer to fill up the condensate tank. Therefore it all depends on what part of the country and season you’re using spot cooling portable air conditioners.
Q: What is the smallest size of a portable AC unit that can be used for a 10-ft. by 10-ft. area?
Magallanes: A small 10,000 Btu/hr portable air conditioner can be used to cool down a small 100 sq. ft. area. However if there is equipment inside the space you’ll want to make sure you take that into account when sizing the air conditioner. The equipment adds heat to the space, and you may need to size up in capacity to handle the extra heat load. Smaller units that operate on common 115V go up to 16,800 Btu/hr cooling capacity.
Q: What about a cooling field survey prior to installing cooling equipment?
Magallanes: A cooling field survey is always recommended prior to installing portable air conditioners. During the survey you can determine how much equipment and space is required to cool, what electrical power is needed to operate the portable air conditioner, and if you need to duct out the warm exhaust air. If ducting is needed, determine the most efficient way to remove it from the building.
Q: How do you feel about a combination of passive building ventilation and portable AC units?
Magallanes: Yes a combination of passive building ventilation and portable AC units is a good strategy to keep your industrial space properly cool. This combination of techniques offers a very efficient way to cool your critical hot spots requiring a low initial capital investment with ongoing low operating expenses. The passive building will help with removing the warm exhaust air from the warehouse space, and may eliminate exhaust ducting altogether.
Q: So, a good rule of thumb is to keep the filters on AC units clean to maintain the efficiency?
Magallanes: Keeping the air filters clean on the portable air conditioners will improve efficiency and prevent the air conditioners from working too hard. The frequency on how often you clean the filters will depend on the cleanliness of the space you’re trying to keep cool. The standard foam filters are very easy to clean with a wet/dry vac or with water.
Q: Is regular routine maintenance true for all equipment?
Magallanes: Portable air conditioners from a high quality manufacturer will require very little routine maintenance besides cleaning the filters periodically. The motors and compressors should all be hermetically sealed to prevent dust and moisture from entering, and does not require any lubrication. The only other preventative maintenance would be to check the condensate pan, tank, and tubing to make sure there is no blockage from debris. This will prevent the unit from shutting off unnecessarily or leaking water onto the ground.