Beginning a journey to live more simply…

Air Conditioning.

Saturday, June 11, 2011:

We should begin by sharing that we tend to pride ourselves in holding off as long as we can each summer, closing up the windows and finally turning on the AC only about the time books on our shelves start curling in the Southern Illinois humidity. We like to challenge ourselves to conserve energy as well as to not become too spoiled, opting to ‘tough it out’ for weeks into the hot season.

Having said that, we always knew that we’d need to figure out how to address the heat and humidity concerns in the tiny house, but it was always a bit of an afterthought. While we put a great deal of thought and planning into many other aspects of this project, the air conditioning was something that we left for figuring out ‘later’.

Later arrived, and in full force.

As we’ve been topping the high 90’s with stifling humidity this week, it occurred to us that it may be time to solve the airconditioning needs in the tiny house. Of immediate concern was electrical consumption and space. We are operating on a 30 amp system, and every electrical component we bring in has to be carefully chosen to stay within our supply means. As well, the thought of giving up the limited space we have for a creature comfort has been a tough sell.

We had originally thought that it would be a good idea to utilize a small window unit placed in the storage loft window. Upon ordering our windows, however, we quickly realized that the loft windows were too small and wouldn’t allow for an A/C unit. The thought of blocking a ‘great room’ window felt like too much sacrifice, so we experimented with a stand alone unit.

We picked up a 9 amp, 10,000 btu portable air conditioning unit thinking that it would be nice to be able to tuck it under a desk and simply run the vent hose out a window. The concept was great in theory, but once in the tiny house the small portable unit was HUGE. The vent pipe was enormous, and the window venting adaptor took up almost as much space as a window unit.

The portable option was looking like the greater of the two evils so we traded it in for the smallest window unit we could find, a 5,000 btu unit by LG. We placed the unit into a ‘Great’ room window and have been pleasantly surprised with how little space it actually took up. And, at 4.5 amps, we are quite pleased with how well it will fit within our 30 amp parameters..

While we probably could tough it out each summer, addressing the humidity inside the tiny house will be key. After all, air conditioning is not just for creature comfort, but will help us minimize mold, mildew, and curly books.

O.K., it will also be nice not to sleep in a blazing hot loft as well…

A great many thanks to Larry Davis for helping us place the window unit. We’ve added that to the growing list of things we’d never done before this project!

Comments on: "Air Conditioning." (4)

  1. JBryant said:

    Thanks for your post on air conditioning. I’ll be interested to learn just how well it does cool the loft area.

    • It seemed to work fairly well on our first trial run, though it did take a while for the cool air to make a noticeable difference up there. Some strategic fan-pointing may be in order in the future.

  2. Hi. It would make a huge difference if you could rework the loft window to take the AC unit. I lived in very humid Panama many years ago. There were two window units installed–a smaller one upstairs, and a larger one downstairs. The entire house (about 1500 sf) was dehumidified and cooled to a comfortable level with just the 6000 BTU upstairs unit. I rarely turned on the downstairs one (except when company visited) and ended up switching the units around because the downstairs one was newer and more efficient. The second floor always had nice dry, cool air for sleeping. The sound of the unit was white noise at night when I left the fan setting on. Otherwise the starting and stopping from the thermostat can often wake a light sleeper!

    Make sure you periodically clean out the crud that can eventually build up in the bottom of the unit and also the dust that accumulates inside. Additionally, it can be a security issue if it is mounted in a low window. It should be secured in such a way that does not allow for exterior window entry. My unsolicited two-cent’s worth. I really like what you both have done!

    • Hey Jim, great thoughts! We will be sure to check for the crud build up.

      Yes, we are a bit concerned about the security issue. It has a couple screws to secure the window from opening up from the outside, but these could likely be broken with some force.

      Regarding the placement of the unit: you are correct. We really did intend to do just that. However, the windows we were able to get our hands on for the loft gable ends were just too darn small for any window unit we could find. We’d MUCH prefer to place the AC unit in the storage loft window. For the time being, we’re making the best out of what we have to work with…

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your insight!

      Evan & Gabby

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