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HVAC option: Coolcube (portable AC)? Dynamics Plugins
Old 22nd December 2010
Gear Nut
DrummerMan's Avatar

HVAC option: Coolcube (portable AC)?

Hi all! I've searched around for the answer to this but kind of surprisingly haven't been able to find this exact situation brought up by anyone (which maybe should tell me that it's a bad idea, but who knows...).

I'm getting ready to start converting my detached garage into a personal studio space. Room within a room is the general plan, Rod Gervais' book is my guide, as it has been for a while. My wife's uncle is a retired structural engineer and designer for the aerospace industry, who's also done some contracting/construction work for friends and family over the years. He's going to be helping me with much of the buildout, including electrical things which he (luckily) knows a lot about. First, I am building an 8x10' shed attached to the back of the garage, the slab to which is already poured. I should be able to put it together over the next couple of weeks. This is mostly for storage of things that are currently in the garage, but can also be used for additional studio uses (like housing a DIY plate reverb or something).

I'm now starting to think about HVAC. I am perfectly comfortable with hiring an HVAC specialist if necessary, but wanted to see what some different possibilities were, if nothing else than to have a better understanding going in to getting bids, etc. Now onto the actual question...

So, here's my thought: Imagine using this Coolcube portable industrial AC unit, or something like it, kind of like it's pictured below and in this link, except instead of being installed above the drop ceiling of an office or server room, it's installed in the shed attached to the back, suspended by isolation hangars, then plenty-angled ducts with baffle boxes (maybe with an in-line fan somewhere) carry the air back and forth to the studio room (as well as into an iso box for the computers built against the wall). More ducts would then carry fresh/stale air from the unit to the outside of the shed (there's all sorts of accessories available for various configurations).

10,000 BTU seems, to my calculations, to be just about right for the size of my space. This seems like a decent option. A bit pricey (about $3K when all said and done I think), but not as much as a full on central AC install I think and we could probably put it in ourselves. Only 115VAC. Am I missing something that makes this a bad idea?

I've done a rough Sketchup model of what I'm talking about. Apologies for my crappy Sketchup abilities (especially when it comes to the ductwork part). In the models, RED is the cool air coming into the room and computer iso box, BLUE is the exhaust back to the unit (You'll have to imagine baffle boxes as part of those as I couldn't figure out an elegant way to draw those out with my limited sketchup skills). Then GREEN and PURPLE are the air in and out of the unit going to the outside of the shed.

What do you all think about this?

Thanks in advance!

Old 22nd December 2010
Gear Nut
DrummerMan's Avatar

Oh yeah, I'm attaching the actual sketchup file here, in case anybody's interested.
Attached Files
File Type: skp Garage Studio rough 2.skp (135.6 KB, 214 views)
Old 24th December 2010
Lives for gear
jhbrandt's Avatar
See the attached. This is what you need to place at the entrance and exit of the room for the ventilation. Baffle boxes like these will also preserve the sound isolation of the partitions. Also, do not couple the wall partitions with the boxes or the duct work.

I do not understand your piping drawings and if I am not misunderstanding them - I would not recommend them. The attached baffle box design works.

Attached Thumbnails
HVAC option: Coolcube (portable AC)?-baffle-boxes.jpg  
Old 24th December 2010
Lives for gear
andrebrito's Avatar

jhbrandt, I don't suggest using such devices , they are not as effective as long silencers particularly at lower frequencies.
Old 25th December 2010
Gear Nut
DrummerMan's Avatar

HVAC option: Coolcube (portable AC)?

Hey John,

I AM planning on a baffle box or duct silencer of some kind. I think I mentioned that my Sketchup skills are pretty crappy, which is why the ductwork doesn't show that. What's on the sketch is just supposed to be a general representation that airflow goes from one place to another and gets sucked out somewhere else. Since the main question was about the usability of this kind of AC unit in this way, I didn't put too much effort into making the ducts look exactly like they're going to.

Thanks again for your replies so far!
Old 25th December 2010
Gear Addict

Originally Posted by andrebrito View Post
jhbrandt, I don't suggest using such devices , they are not as effective as long silencers particularly at lower frequencies.
I tend to agree. Also, the extra back pressure will reduce the total airflow. However, short of doing a full design I am not so sure what to tell the OP.
Old 27th December 2010
Lives for gear
jhbrandt's Avatar
True, guys. The baffle boxes are only part of a system.

Usually the baffle boxes are connected with acoustical flex ducting & often couplers of a smaller diameter so that the entire duct works as a long silencer. These baffle boxes also need to be isolated from the room with the same mass as the isolation walls. Also, these baffle boxes are usually fairly large and therefore restrict air flow little.

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