What Size Air-Conditioner Do I Need For My Walk-In Cooler?

Spring/Summer 2014 Update on AC Brand Recommendations:

Our TOP recommendations for 2014 are Haire and GE.

For years we pushed LG Air Conditioners as the best brand to use with CoolBots, but the 2013 models of LG were very different. We do NOT like them. With a warranty shortened from 5 years to 1 and a slew of electrical problems happening within that 1st year, this a poor choice. We are hoping they have worked out the issues in 2014, but we aren't sure yet.

Air conditioners are just coming into stores now as of February and should be available soon.

We just found this sweet deal available at WalMart, a whole $200.00 less than last year at this time!

GE High Efficiency 24,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner

This is a chart showing the size air conditioning unit we recommend to cool a well-insulated room.

The "industry standard" insulation for a walk-in cooler is at least 4" of styrofoam in walls, ceiling and floor (minimum insulation value of R-24).

These figures are for a 38 F room, with 8' ceilings, opened no more than 4 times per hour.

Restaurants need to be below 40F to be food safe. Most set it on 38F to give themselves a buffer. If you'd prefer to be consistently at 36F, upsize at least one size. Upsize TWO sizes if cooler is opened once every 10 minutes.

Florists/convenience stores with display coolers (glass doors) need to upsize at least TWO sizes. Glass leaks a lot of cold. Florists should consider upsizing one level anyway to allow for a lower FAN speed. CoolBots are HIGHLY recommended by industry groups for Florists and flower growers. Less wind on the flowers, less drying, higher quality product in the end.

Wine coolers, cheese cave or cured meat folks that only need to be at 50+F can use smaller air conditioners. Email if we can answer any questions!

Dimensions of the Walk-In Cooler Size of Air-Conditioner
6' x 8' 10,000 BTU
8' x 8' 12,000 BTU
8' x 10' 15,000 BTU
8' x 12' 18,000 BTU
10' x 14' 24,000 BTU
(Air conditioner vs. room size for CoolBot systems @ 38F)

What BRAND of Air Conditioner should I buy?

Don't buy a "Thru-The-Wall" Air conditioner. Just buy a WINDOW air conditioner. They work fine with the Coolbot (even though you are putting them through the wall -- even if it's an 11 inch wall). Thru-the-wall units are twice the price and for some reason we seem to be having (slightly) more electrical problems with thru-the-wall units than we see with window units. Nothing serious or un-workable, but... unnecessary annoyances. If you have a thru-wall unit, don't hesitate to use it, though! We have 14,000+ units out there, I'm talking more about statistically higher problems, plenty of people are happily using thru-wall units with no problem.

CoolBots ONLY work with Air Conditioners that have a DIGITAL DISPLAY. The notes below only apply to models of that specific brand that have a digital display.
Top Three Brands -- 1000's of people use one of these three brands. Buy one of these 3 brands and we'll never have to talk to you!! Canadians -- see below
  • GE Brand: Best brand since the 2013 redesign. They now restart automatically after a power failure and they work fine in the winter. Be careful about buying pre-2010 used ones. They are very different. 2010-12 models are fine, and in 2013 they added autostart which is TERRIFIC! A small fraction of 1% failure rate on compressors so far not including problems just out of the box (could have been dropped at Home Depot). They are sold at Home Depot and WalMart. Some models (we can't predict) have a 2nd "hidden" temperature sensor that makes installation take about 5 minutes longer (our instructions cover this). We love this brand.
  • HAIER: At WalMart, Costco, Sam's Club. A bit cheaper than GE or LG. We love HAIER units. There are not great reviews for these online at walmart.com, but we have direct experience with THOUSANDS of people using them with CoolBots for many years now (and we no relationship with HAIER or WalMart) and think they are GREAT -- Specifically, if they last the first week, they seem to be lasting forever. I have fewer calls on these than on the more expensive LG's below. Starting in 2010 they added wording to their instruction saying they don't work if *outside* temperatures fall below 60F. But this isn't true, these are great through even Canadian winters and nothing changed in 2010, just the wording in their instructions.
  • LG Brand:"**CAUTION: 2013 REDESIGN WASN'T GOOD. We don't know about 2014 yet.**" We don't know what happened. We have THOUSANDS of people using LG air conditioners going back all the way to 2006 and statistically speaking, other than minor $4.00 sensor replacement problems, most of them are still running strong 8 years later! The warranty in 2012 dropped from 5 years to 1 year... and even in 2012 we were seeing some problems... but in 2013... holy cow! I don't know what's happened with them, but... forget the warranty, we are seeing a HUGE number of problems out of the box or 2-3 months down the road. AND they aren't even that cheap.

  • Customers from CANADA: Readily available to you locally you probably LG (only in low-btu sizes -- and we don't like this brand anymore) or DANBY (see below. We like Danby!!!) and then you have our most-favored HAIER units available as well now for 2013 through mail-order at www.airconditionercanada.com out of Quebec. They may be available mail order from other places, but airconditionercanada.com specially ordered in a bunch of larger 24,000 BTU HAIER units for CoolBot customers. We are not affiliated with them and have never met them, but they seem nice on the phone, and that they bought in the inventory is pretty awesome for us! I know a lot of our customers buy from them and I have never heard a single complaint.
  • Danby: Popular Canadian model. Seems to be working fine, now since 2011. We do NOT like pre-2011 Danby's, so don't buy used. The compressor was great but tons of electrical problems. Now... there's no problems. We have hundreds of people using these in Canada with under a 1% failure rate since 2011
  • Samsung: Sold on the internet and at some of the Lowes stores. Also a great choice. I only have hundreds of people using these rather than "thousands" for the top 3 brands, but... no one has trouble with these either. I don't know if they have "auto-restart" in case of an electrical failure.
  • Frigidaire: VERY bad choice. Here's why: They don't work when it's cold OUTSIDE (like even in the 40's -- they shut the compressor down and won't restart it until you UNPLUG THEM. Wait for 30 seconds... and then replug them in. They also don't work if your inner room gets below 38F even when it's hot outside! Plus the electronics are WACKY. Although very few people buy this brand (because I write such bad things here about trying to get them to work with CoolBots, still a few people DO buy them -- I think we have more tech support calls for those people than all other brands combined (because all the people with Frigidaires need to call us a couple times a year with some new weird problem -- that then suddenly goes away. This doesn't happen with GE or HAIER or LG. Even if you get it on a half-price sale it's NOT WORTH IT.
  • Maytag, Tappan, and Westinghouse Are all the same as Frigidaire (made by Nordyne)
  • Sharp:Not a good choice. Finnicky. Sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. I don't know why. I wish no one would buy these. People get them to work with us, but I can't predict their success rate.
  • FRIEDRICH: We think this is in the same class as Frigidaire and can't get too cold, *and* can't run when outside temperatures are even in the 40's.
  • Sears KENMORE: This is a hard one. Kenmore doesn't make their own stuff. Frigidaire used to make Kenmore, so we didn't like them. Then they switched to Toshiba, and we LIKED them again. Then LG was the real manufacturer behind Kenmore... For 2012 I heard that Frigidaire was back to making them... yuck. I don't know about 2013. Find out before buying one!
  • Soleus: Not many people have used these with CoolBots, but some of the few people that have sent us emails that they are working fine so far. No word on how they work in the winter, so they might shut off when outside temperatures get cold. It's only a FEW people that have tried tried these, so I don't have a big sample size to share.
  • Comfort Aire: VERY few people have tried these, so we don't know a lot about them. The few people that HAVE used them called to tell us that they do work. No word on how they work in the winter, so they might shut off when outside temperatures get cold.
  • SPT: Another brand we had never heard of. Two people have tried them. BOTH report they work so far. The smallest sample size so far. We don't know how they work through a winter (no winter users using them)

  • More brands that we have learned do NOT work well with Coolbots

  • Emerson: (all the models tested so far have metal temperature sensors).
  • Whirlpool: Such a terrific old American brand, but these do NOT work with CoolBots due to electrical problems so far. The compressor seems solid, but just can't make them work. Haven't tried recently.
  • Goldstar: Cheap LG-owned Brand. These are a bad choice for multiple reasons.
  • WESTPOINT: A bad choice. We can only get them to cool down to about 47 degrees.
  • PerfectAire: A horrible, horrible, choice. We won't do tech support for anyone that tries to use the coolbot with this brand. If it works for a while, that's great, but otherwise we can't support it.

Portable A/C units

Any and all brands of "portable" A/C units - There are single and double hose models. Single hose models do not work AT ALL with the CoolBot. Double hose models work, but they are extremely inefficient and you won't be able to get the room very cold (only okay for 45F or above). People making cheese caves are the only people that seem happy enough with them, but even if you are doing a cheese cave, for efficiency sake we still don't love these!

Mini-Split Air Conditioners

Mini-Split Air conditioners work great with the CoolBot. Most of our EU and Asian customers use them. They are very expensive in the US, I don't know why. They are more efficient, but CoolBot systems use very little electricity anyway. So far the CoolBots have worked with every brand of mini-split, including multiple off-brand chinese units that no one has heard of. We had trouble with a Fedder's unit but only because the sensor is hidden and just 1 inch long. Annoying. Everyone else has 6-12 inch sensor cables. Ask the mini-split manufacturer what is the lowest OUTSIDE air temperature the unit will function in and compare that with your climate. Obivously even if the CoolBot works perfectly with your air conditioner, if it's a brand that stops working when outside temperatures fall below 40 and you live in Canada and need the cooler to be running over the winter, you will be unhappy! Brand recommendations below do NOT apply to Mini-Splits since so far every mini-split we've tried has worked.

Across all brands of air conditioners, compressor failures or coolant leaks are extremely rare in our experience (with almost 12,000 units in use as of Spring 2013!). If the unit runs for 1 week or isn't bad out of the box, it will run for years (20 years is our estimate based on compressor run-times). Air conditioners in CoolBot systems run LESS HARD than they do in a home living room! (See the FAQ for details). The most common problem we hear about is sensor failures ($3.70 plug in replacement part, not worth a warranty call, and it's like a 2% chance after a couple years).