Hangars can be hot places. Even if other service doors or garage doors are open providing a cross flow breeze, there may not be any escape from the heat. In the past, HangarSphere has looked into the benefits of very large, ceiling-mounted fans that help cool the environment in your hangar. The benefits of these fans were obvious but they are not the only option in keeping your workplace cooler during the summer heat.
Evaporative cooling fans have been around for decades and are starting to find a foothold within the hangar industry niche. Maintenance shops, corporate flight facilities, and avionics centers are using them on an increasing frequency. My first experience with an evaporative cooler was at EAA’s AirVenture in 2012 when the temperatures were exceeding 105 degrees. It was an excruciatingly hot event and people were succumbing to the heat just about everywhere you looked. I found one of these machines in an exhibitor’s tent by inadvertently walking into a zone of air about 25 degrees cooler and immediately experienced relief from the heat. The source of the cooler air was not obvious at first but then discovered it came from a fairly small plastic box behind a clothing rack. I stood there cooling my core for about 30 minutes. It was a lifesaver.
With the sun high in the sky in the northern hemisphere and temps surpassing 100 degrees Fahrenheit (~38 degree Celsius) on a daily basis in some parts of the country, it is probably time to investigate the nuts and bolts of how evaporative coolers work. I reached out to a Texas-based company called Port-A-Cool that specializes in all types of evaporative cooling systems for a multitude of industries and had the pleasure of talking with their Public Relations Representative and Director of Engineering, Melodie Elliott and Scott Jacobs, respectively.
The system relies on two principles: absorption of water and the evaporation of water. A circulatory system of water exists within the machine that continuously pumps water from the tank to a permeable membrane. The membrane’s (or pad) design is crucial and helps wick away the moisture into the surrounding air as air passes through it. Any excess water returns to the tank where it gets cycled through the system again. A large fan draws air through the saturated membrane and expels it out into the work area or wherever you desire. This newly saturated air (through evaporation) is what helps cool down the local environment. Jacobs states, “the fan and pad is what drives the efficiencies” and capitalize on the endothermic (draws heat) properties of evaporation.
Jacobs pointed out a few other key items to understand. First, it is important to know that the system provides “humidified air but it is not a mister.” Standing within the wash of air from the fan will not saturate you like sitting in an outdoor café in Phoenix with their overhead misters. Second, in the context of a hangar, it is best used for “directional cooling.” It is assumed that the hangar door would be open on hot days and therefore the use of the machine is to have it aimed where one is working. The third take away is that during dry winter months, the evaporative cooler could be used to add humidity to the hangar as proper humidity levels will help reduce the potential of static discharge, help reduce the chance of an aircraft’s leather interior from drying out, and help maintain a comfortable environment that isn’t too dry.
Specifically, the Port-A-Cool Hurricane is designed to be a very efficient system both in terms of electricity used and its ability to effectively saturate and cool the air. Other convenience items were designed into the system that make operating the hurricane very easy to use. Electronic displays and digital controls assist the operator with a simple user interface, the unit stands on four 6-inch wheels allowing it to be positioned anywhere with ease, and finally, the system is built to utilize an internal water tank or be continuously supplied water through a traditional garden hose hook-up. Below is a list of some of the key facts and figures.
Facts and Figures – Port-A-Cool Hurricane
- May provide up 30 degrees Fahrenheit of cooling depending upon ambient conditions
- No CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons)
- Can provide directional cooling, even outdoors
- Inexpensive operating cost
- Empty Weight: 270 lbs
- Water Capacity: 67 gallons (may be hooked up to standard hose for continuous supply)
- Dimensions: 74.25” W x 35.25” D x 76.5” H
- Digital control and display
- Easily maneuverable on four wheels
- Rust free and leak proof
- Most advanced pads in the industry
- Made In The U.S.A. since 1990
If you have any questions you can navigate to the Port-A-Cool website HERE. They are based in Center, Texas USA where they have been designed and manufactured since 1990.