Aviation is a wonderful hobby, and those who indulge in it are prepared to sacrifice a lot to enjoy it. Money? You bet – this is not a hobby for penny pinchers. Time? Absolutely – aviation is one of those hobbies that can take up more hours than a full-time job. Comfort? Airplane hangars are notoriously cold in the winter and very hot in the summer, especially in the South.
But does it have to be this way? Are there ways to keep your hangar cool? Possibly. Here are some tips to help maintain a more comfortable temperature in your hangar.
You’ve probably heard this joke: “When is an airplane hangar too hot?” “When it’s on fire.” Rimshot. Bitter laughs all around.
But there’s an important truth here. To some extent, airplane hangars are going to be hot in the summer and cold in the winter. And while there are ways to make the hangar cooler, it’s likely not going to be perfectly cool. It’s possible, for a lot of money, to make your hangar perfectly air-conditioned. But if you wanted to stay perfectly cool, you’d spend your time on your couch or in the office. For the amount of money it costs to air-condition the hangar, you can make significant upgrades to your plane(s).
Accept that a “cool” hangar is going to be relative. You can stay out of triple digits, but save the cozy cardigan and sipping hot cocoa for the autumn.
One affordable way to keep your airplane hangar cool is with insulation. This is a one-time investment, and it makes a huge difference.
Most airplane hangars have little to no insulation. Adding even a little bit will dramatically cool your hangar in the summer and help it stay warm in the winter. You only have to pay for this once, and if you are so inclined, you can make it even more affordable by doing the installation yourself.
It’s especially hard to find a cooling solution that will achieve the comfortable temperature you’re looking for by itself. Often, technologies are designed to accomplish one particular goal, but not all of your goals.
For example, a high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fan is good at stirring the air, but it doesn’t do anything to cool the air it moves around. You can combine this with something that effectively cools the air, like an evaporative cooler, to magnify the effect. Of course, these all work better with insulation.
When you are air conditioning a living space or office space, you take it for granted that you’re trying to cool the entire area. You want your whole house and entire office cool. But is this really necessary in your hangar?
Often, you’re really only concerned about cooling the area where you’re spending time. For the sake of efficiency and effectiveness, you should consider a spot-cooling solution. This would blow air on you and others in the hangar to help you stay cool. There might still be a lot of hot air in the hangar, but you don’t have to worry about that. Pick a portable solution that you can move around to follow you to different parts of the hangar as you work on the plane, tinker at your tool bench, or just hang around with your guests.
With a big, open door to let the plane in and out, an airplane hangar can be hard to keep cool, even if you manage to get it cool in the first place.
However, that big open door means that you have access to virtually unlimited fresh air. A simple strategy to benefit from this would be opening the door at night or early in the morning when the air outside is cool and letting the hot air exhaust out. A more effective strategy would be to find a cooling method that benefits from that air access.
Along with insulation, a Portacool portable evaporative cooler is a smart, efficient, and cost-effective approach to keeping your aircraft hangar cool. The evaporative cooler can be moved around to blow cool air on you wherever you’re working. It can also dramatically cool the air. In hot, dry conditions, it can drop the air temperature by 30°F, plus the cooling effect of having the cool air move over you. Even in hot, humid conditions, it can decrease the temperature by 13°F, and that makes a huge difference.