A shop is not designed for comfort. It’s a practical building designed around the need to get cars in, then out and have access to all the relevant parts inside. Cinderblock walls, metal roofs, and minimum or no insulation can turn the shop into a solar oven. As temperatures climb outside, they can get even hotter inside. Sometimes a garage can be as much as 20 degrees hotter than the outside air. The lack of a cooling solution can have serious consequences.
When the heat climbs, it’s hard for auto technicians to concentrate. The mind starts to wander, and even people who typically work solidly through the day begin to lose focus on their work. They might be more likely to walk around without knowing what they got up for, or perhaps forget what they’re in the middle of.
Under heat stress, auto technicians can repeat steps or skip crucial steps in procedures they usually know by heart, forcing them to take much longer at tasks than at average temperatures. This can dramatically impact the productivity of your shop.
As attention wanders, techs are more likely to make mistakes. Some studies show that workers can make up to 12 times as many errors at high temperatures as they do at more comfortable temperatures. For an auto technician, these errors can be costly and dangerous.
If you find the error in your shop, the cost might only be in money, supplies, and time. If your customer breaks down or has an accident because of the error, the cost can be even greater in terms of customer goodwill, your shop’s reputation, and even liability.
Sometimes the temperature in a shop gets so high that workers just can’t work. This can force a shop to close and tell their customers that repairs won’t be completed on time.
Other times, a shop may elect to stay open despite the heat. When the temperature gets very high, auto technicians can suffer even more serious consequences. Techs can push themselves so far that they end up passing out. Once this happens, a technician may be in serious danger. Sometimes they may recover, but other times they might need to be hospitalized if they develop heatstroke. Some technicians never recover from this.
To combat the effects of heat, you might have tried several solutions for your shop. Likely you know how effectively air conditioning works in the office, where there’s a small, sealed area for the air conditioner to concentrate the cooled air.
However, an air conditioner may not be the best solution for the shop itself. First, the large space is hard for the air conditioner to work in. The shop doors typically aren’t well sealed, letting much of the cooled air out. In addition, any cool air that is produced will escape every time the shop door opens.
Many shops rely on fans, but these do little as the temperature climbs. Sweat is the only effective way the body has to release heat in high temperatures. A fan can help this, but it doesn’t help much when you wear uniforms, and any exposed skin can be covered with oil and grime that keeps the sweat from evaporating.
An evaporative cooler is a great way to cool the air in your shop. Even in hot, humid conditions, an evaporative cooler can drop the temperature of the air by 13°F. In hot and dry conditions, it can drop the temperature by 30 degrees. That’s a tremendous benefit. In addition, the large fans of an evaporative cooler can circulate the cooled air through a large space, pushing out the hot air quickly to create a comfortable environment. A Portacool portable evaporative cooler can be moved around the shop to provide cooling where it’s needed most at all times.