When most people think of August, they think…hot. From coast to coast, north and south, it’s critical to keep interior spaces cool during these dog days of summer.

Not surprisingly, August’s heat can tax HVAC systems, sometimes to the point of causing malfunctions, component breakdowns or even system failures. In retail environments particularly, foot traffic is the lifeblood of business. So if HVAC problems do occur in a retail space, that space must somehow continue to be cooled, or customers will likely stay away and business will evaporate as the heat continues to build inside.

Thankfully, portable cooling systems can be used to bridge the gap between the time that an HVAC unit experiences problems, and the time that repairs can be completed.

Portable cooling (sometimes referred to as temporary cooling) is a great short-term alternative, provided that it’s implemented correctly. As a national HVAC services provider, we at CLS Facility Services field many questions each summer about portable cooling. Of those, we hear three questions in particular most often: How does it work? Can I plug it into the wall? And will it cool my space?

Let’s consider each question separately.

How does it work? Contrary to conventional wisdom, an air conditioner’s job is not to cool a space; rather, it’s tasked with removing heat from a space. An HVAC unit’s condenser coil does just that – it literally collects and then releases the heat trapped inside a built space to the outside world. That, in turn, enables cool air to occupy that space.

A typical portable cooling unit is generally about the size of a home dishwasher, so it occupies a relatively small footprint in a store. Yet because the unit removes heat from a space, it should ideally be vented, either through a drop ceiling into the mall or retail center’s attic, or in the worst case, through an exterior door. However, if there is no way to vent a portable cooling unit, an alternative method is available. We’ll touch on this in our next blog.

Can I plug it into the wall? Yes, you can. Portable cooling units are designed to run on normal current. For larger spaces, some additional consideration of electrical requirements may be warranted. In these cases, a national HVAC services company should already know its customer’s equipment and building specs, so it’s best equipped to handle these issues.

Will it cool my space? Again, yes – assuming that the right unit is used for the right-sized space. For a typical 2,000 square-foot retail store, a one ton portable cooling unit should be sufficient. For a larger space, additional units may be needed. A qualified technician or service provider can help you make the right call.

A facility manager’s bottom-line goal is customer comfort, so if an HVAC unit isn’t functioning properly, and air doesn’t circulate through the store, portable cooling may in fact be the answer until repairs can be made.

In our next installment on portable cooling, we’ll touch on several other questions we often get in regard to portable cooling, including: Is temporary/portable cooling a cost-effective strategy? How do you determine the amount of temporary/portable cooling that is required for a particular space? Can a space be cooled if the portable cooling unit can’t be vented? Who do I call? And what advantages can a national HVAC services provider offer?

CLS has decades of experience with portable/temporary cooling solutions for a multitude of spaces and requirements. For more information about CLS’s national HVAC services, or all other facility services we offer, please call us at 800-548-3542.