If you’re planning to use your shed as an office or she shed, here’s what you need to know about climate control for a shed.
Sheds are a versatile space that can accommodate a variety of functions from storage to entertainment. Since they have walls exposed to the outside, they’re usually susceptible to the weather and can get too hot or cold accordingly, making it necessary to climate control the shed.
When we were updating our shed into my she shed space, we knew it’d be important for me to have heating and cooling. Maryland summers are extremely hot and humid, and winters can get as cold as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. All of my sewing, craft, and Cricut equipment will be stored in the shed so I need them to be protected from any damage that heat, humidity, or cold might cause.
If you decide to heat and cool your shed, make sure to check out my post about running electricity to a shed. If you use a heating or cooling system, you’ll generally need to run electric to the space.
Depending on the purpose of your she shed, however, you may not need heating and cooling. Here’s a guide to how to climate control a shed and some considerations for that.
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Does a Shed Need Climate Control?
How you climate control a shed depends on a lot of factors such as: usage, climate conditions of your location, and even financial feasibility. In terms of climate, cold weather can freeze liquid items you’re storing, humidity can cause mold growth without proper ventilation, and excessive heat can damage or cause some products to explode.
She sheds can be used in a lot of different ways. Some people want a warm spot to sit and read, or an open front shed to host small gatherings with friends. Others need an office or craft space. How you use the space will impact whether or not the shed needs climate control.
Here are some considerations.
Summer Lounge/Entertainment Area
If you’re using the shed as a summer lounge or something similar, you might need to focus on cooling more than heating. For those of you who are very early in the process for designing your she shed space, you should consider an open front shed to take advantage of the breeze. You could have an electrician install a ceiling fan for a covered area, as well as a power outlet to run a mist cooling system. These are affordable options and perfect for summer entertaining. They’re also excellent if you want the space to function as an outdoor bar or pool house.
When using a shed as a storage unit, temporary or portable solutions are often enough to make sure the space is not too cold or too hot when you are using it.
Quality sheds should be built with a good source of ventilation so heat and humidity don’t get stuck in the space. This can sometimes suffice for many storage uses.
However, when storing goods that need a particular temperature range or climatic conditions, special attention should be given to the cooling or heating system. For example, paint and many chemicals require storage within a certain temperature range or they can explode or be damaged. Items like snow globes can freeze and break if stored in a cold storage space.
Office Space, Craft Space or Workshop
An office or workshop used year-round will typically need both heating and cooling to ensure proper climate control for the space.
Can You Add Air Conditioning to a Shed?
Air conditioning a shed is possible and even recommended to reach the desired temperature inside, especially in hotter climates. These options all require electricity, although certain types of systems will require more “oomph” and you’ll want to discuss these with your electrician to ensure that your outlets can support the system.
Some options for air conditioning a shed include:
This is the cheapest solution for air conditioning, but can be a bit noisy. It’s easy to setup yourself.
Through the Wall A/C
Although slightly more expensive than window units, this system is less noisy and not too costly either.
This can be a great option if the shed is not used continuously but they usually have a lower cooling capacity than the other systems.
Ductless Mini-Split A/C
The mini split is the quietest, most energy-efficient, and powerful system for air conditioning a shed, but can be a bit costly. These systems can often dehumidify and heat the space as well, however, so it’s a good option for year round use.
Mist Cooling System
For open sheds with a roof, but that are otherwise exposed to the elements, you could use a mist cooling system. These are plugged into a hose and electrical outlet and spray water mist. You’ve probably seen them at zoos and other outdoor facilities during the hot summer. They’re very affordable to setup, but you’ll want to make sure the mist (which is water) won’t damage anything you have in your space.
While it’s not “air conditioning,” you can also have ceiling fans installed by a licensed electrician. This is a nice way to get air flow in your space without breaking the bank
Can You Heat a Shed?
Heating a shed is possible but the methods used need to be carefully chosen. You should consider safety as you don’t want to burn your she shed down. As with air conditioning units, you also need to consider how much electricity you’ll need in your space.
Space heaters are a good temporary solution, but should not be used for an extended period. They also need to be monitored and kept away from flammable objects. This means that you shouldn’t use a space heater while you’re not in the space, something that can be problematic if you need constant heat in the shed.
Electric heaters are a cost-effective option that can usually be used overnight, although the heat might not be evenly distributed.
Underfloor heating is a more expensive solution, but will make sure the temperature across the shed is stable. It can be fairly affordable if you haven’t adding flooring to the space, but it is pricey if you have to tear up flooring to install it. This type of heating is fairly energy efficient which is nice- and who doesn’t love to have warm feet?
If you are looking for portable heating solutions, fan heaters could be the way to go.
The ductless mini-split is, again, a good option for both heating and air conditioning a space. It’s also energy efficient.
If you have an open “shed”, you can opt for an outdoor heater to heat the space. This would work well for a patio area with a pergola, etc. Patio heaters CANNOT be used indoors as they can create carbon monoxide gas, and are a fire risk as well. While this isn’t a traditional option for a traditional she shed, I’ve seen a few people opt for she “sheds” with a roof and only one side to block wind/rain.
Ductless Heating and Cooling Systems for a Small Space
In most cases, ductless heating and cooling are the ideal options for a small space like the shed. They can be used year round, they’re energy efficient, and they aren’t terribly expensive to install compared to a full HVAC system. The downfall of these systems is that they’re better for a small space versus a whole home.
Ductwork can lead to a lot of hassle during the installation process, this makes ductless systems a breeze to install.
Some mini-splits also have heat pumps which means they can both heat and cool the space. The mini split that we chose also has a dehumidifier.
No Duct Leaks
Having ductless units can prevent a lot of air leakage that occurs through the ducts in other systems.
Indoor Air Quality
Ducts accumulate a lot of dust and dirt and lead to a polluted indoor environment. Ductless units do not have this problem and can provide a healthier indoor air quality.
Even though there are no ducts to clean and maintain for ductless units, regular cleaning of the vents and filters is necessary for smooth airflow.
Ductless heating and cooling can often be more expensive than other systems, but they are inexpensive compared to running ducts and a full HVAC.
Our Mini-Split HVAC System
Overall, a ductless mini-split HVAC system is the best option for heating and cooling your she shed if you plan to store computers, sewing equipment, or craft supplies. It is easy to install, energy-efficient, less noisy, and can incorporate heating and cooling into a single unit. This is what I decided on for my she shed.
Care should be taken to ensure that these are not installed in areas that will be particularly dusty or will use aerosols. This is because the mini-split system is not made to handle dirty air, which can quickly block the filters and eventually lead to a shorter lifespan for the system. Ideally, I should have installed the mini split last, but I’ve been cleaning the filter out as we needed the A/C to finish the shed this summer (it was MISERABLE in there).
When choosing a mini-split system, you need to look at how large your space is. Systems are rated for different size spaces. I purchased the 12,000 BTU CoVac Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner which heats, cools, and has a dehumidifier. It has been perfect for my 10×20 shed. It is 120V.
Cost for System: $856 after tax/s&h
Cost to DIY the concrete pad: $105
Cost for Installation: $780
Total Cost to Heat/Cool Shed: $1741
We have a local HVAC guy that we use to maintain our home’s HVAC system and he was willing to install the mini-split for us. Some places may require that you buy the system through them, however, so make sure to consult with your service person before you buy the mini split.
The biggest cost was Running Electric to the Shed because my she shed is quite a distance from our electrical panel. I’ll cover that expense in that posts though (prepare yourself, it was the #1 cost for my she shed).
When installing heating or air conditioning for your shed it is best to take care of the insulation, humidity levels, and weather stripping needs, to ensure the best results. If you don’t insulate your shed properly, you’ll lose a lot of heat and cooling, and waste money on electricity.
You can also consider planting shade trees near your shed, or placing your shed somewhere with lots of shade (if cooling is a problem). If you need heat, adding more windows and making sure the shed is in a sunny spot can help.
Make sure to follow along on my she shed renovations on my blog as I’ll be covering all of the upgrades we make to the shed, and eventually I’ll post the FINAL She Shed Reveal. If you decide to do the mini split, you can save money if you pour the concrete pad yourself. Here’s my tutorial on how to pour a small concrete slab.
Interested in another DIY project to renovate a “shed” space into a living space? Check out my DIY office that I made from a tack room in our barn!
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