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Discussion Starter #1
So, we recently finalized the purchase of a 22 acre farmstead outside of town. Unless we encounter a catastrophe, we will close on the house on June 17!

Anyways, one of our plans is build Ralphie a kennel inside the garage, with an attached outdoor run. The house is about 30 minutes outside of town, so we want to make sure Ralphie can have potty breaks if we get stuck in town for longer than 8 hours, as it's rather inconvenient to drive that far just to let a dog out and then put him back in his crate. Even so, we think Ralphie will enjoy getting to lay outside while we're gone.

The garage itself is insulated (although I am not sure of the quality of the insulation). We would likely keep it at 40 degrees in the winter to melt ice off of our cars, but I'm afraid that will be too cold for Ralphie, a spoiled house dog. Now, generally, 40 degrees is great for him outside and he loves that temp, but now that it's getting up to 70 he actually gets kind of hot, so maybe I'm overthinking. The garage is on the north side of the house with one small window, so typically shaded and generally cool in summer, but when it gets up into the 90 degree range it will probably be uncomfortably warm. The outdoor run will be in the shade 90% of the day, as well, and Ralphie would have access to water 100% of the time. He would have plenty of blankets and a bed (he does not destroy his bedding) in his garage kennel.

Are there any "micro-climate" sort of gadgets out there so Ralphie has plenty of options for warmth and cooling? Cooling mats? Heating mats?

And of course, once we return home he would once again be a house dog. The garage setup is not his permanent home!
 

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A ductless mini split heat pump system would provide the widest range of reliable heating and cooling for the whole garage (as opposed to one spot like a heated mat). If the garage door is insulated along with the walls and has a good threshold seal, it should be reasonably energy efficient. Self installed, maybe $600-800 which is a lot in some ways but can also turn the garage into a workshop area.

As far as I know, you cannot tie a garage into a whole house ventilation system due to risk of carbon monoxide and fire travelling through ducts.

In cold temps, a heated mat is easy to use but in hot temps, cooling mata aren't as functional. Heat is energy which has to be moved or transfered. For cooling, the heat removed has to have somewhere to go.
 

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I second the mini split. Until a couple years ago I did hvac for a living. Around here the system would run you about $1200 for a 2 ton which is plenty for what y'all need. You do need some know how to install though. Not difficult but you need high voltage run for outdoor unit and a vacuum pump to pull the air out of the lineset before starting it up. You can probably find a licensed company to do it for under $3000. Mini splits are about the most efficient option on the market right now. They are great. The only bad part is the better ones have alot of electronics and when they break it can be expensive. But yeah, for a large open space you cant beat it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
That's probably a bit more than we can spend on a garage. It really isn't a HUGE garage either...it's like a largish two stall. That might be overkill! Maybe a mini of the mini?! Do they have anything like that?

I mean, heating probably won't be a problem considering the dog lays out in 40 degrees for hours and we can provide all the cozy blankets he could possibly want, but cooling is the most concerning to me right now!
 

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I second the mini split. Until a couple years ago I did hvac for a living. Around here the system would run you about $1200 for a 2 ton which is plenty for what y'all need. You do need some know how to install though. Not difficult but you need high voltage run for outdoor unit and a vacuum pump to pull the air out of the lineset before starting it up. You can probably find a licensed company to do it for under $3000. Mini splits are about the most efficient option on the market right now. They are great. The only bad part is the better ones have alot of electronics and when they break it can be expensive. But yeah, for a large open space you cant beat it.
Haha, although I love the idea, $3000 is out of our reach for a garage!

What about something like a portable air conditioner, like this: https://bestsellrz.com/products/mini-air-conditioner-portable-evaporative-air-cooler-usb-fan?variant=20257605451835&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=Google Shopping&gclid=Cj0KCQjww47nBRDlARIsAEJ34bmh_-ezUKz08nLFaoKrU8rz0AyPzwwO0LJWh0eUbI0pERmN2KXMw4saAtkqEALw_wcB

Literally, all it needs to do is blow cool air into one corner of the garage where the dog will be.
 

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For cooling only, a through the wall A/C is going to cost about $400 but wouldn't need professional install if you are basically handy and have wood framed walls to cut through (masonry wouldn't be as simple).

Most garages don't have windows suitable for a window A/C but those are about as cheap as you can get for a true cooling unit.

Electrical costs/efficiency for either are not as good as a heat pump system.

Non mechanical cooling would include insulating the garage door (assuming standard overhead roll up type) which would slow the afternoon heat build up from the sun. About $300 for a double car size.

Shrubs and shade trees to keep direct sun off the walls of garage.

Ventilation-- there are different types of roof vents and soffit vents to help with the whole hot air rises thing but these may be a major negative in your cold winters.

A swamp cooler or evap cooler may work if you have low humidity and hot air.

Big tub of ice and water, fan over the ice.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
For cooling only, a through the wall A/C is going to cost about $400 but wouldn't need professional install if you are basically handy and have wood framed walls to cut through (masonry wouldn't be as simple).

Most garages don't have windows suitable for a window A/C but those are about as cheap as you can get for a true cooling unit.

Electrical costs/efficiency for either are not as good as a heat pump system.

Non mechanical cooling would include insulating the garage door (assuming standard overhead roll up type) which would slow the afternoon heat build up from the sun. About $300 for a double car size.

Shrubs and shade trees to keep direct sun off the walls of garage.

Ventilation-- there are different types of roof vents and soffit vents to help with the whole hot air rises thing but these may be a major negative in your cold winters.

A swamp cooler or evap cooler may work if you have low humidity and hot air.

Big tub of ice and water, fan over the ice.
LOL the simplest solution may be the best solution. I mean, could put a big kiddie pool of ice and water in the outdoor run for him to lay in, right?

This farmyard is very protected by large trees, and the garage is on the north side of the house, meaning the sun is always to our south pretty much all the time until the "height" of summer, so it is "shaded" by the rest of the house. In our childhood home, the garage was also on the north side, and it was usually always very cool until the July-August timeframe, so I suspect this garage will be somewhat similar.

Remember, I live in North Dakota...there would only be about 3-4 months where I would have to run this thing. If you've been watching the news, some of us are still getting snow....having the most efficient system isn't a huge concern. It would be off at night and weekends when the dog is in the house with us.

The swamp cooler thing actually looks like a great solution! We don't have super low humidity, but according to some quick google searching, North Dakota is then "Less than ideal, but can still be good" sector. I think it would be perfect to keep a small portion of the garage cool enough for Ralphie to be comfortable.
 

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wouldn't have to do the entire garage,,, you could make a self contained area inside the garage.

Summer shade, airflow, and ventilation
winter have a draft free area but not air tight.

worst that could happen in the garage is the air heating up and not being released.

My laundry room /mud room has no door (Tasman lol) I put a blanket up that leaves 3ft open from the floor. it's a long narrow room, insulated by the surrounding walling since it is a part of the house open to the West side. where the light doesn't touch stays nice and cool it's .

the other set up that they loved really well... was stacked hay house.. full wall 2 bales long (3 bales stacked high, ) on the east and west with a cover of bales across the top. South and North side completely open.


it always come back to air flow and especially a roof vent system as heat rises pulls air into the building as the heat is released. no vent system it fills up with hot air and bakes like an oven.

best breeze ways and openings would be North and south.. sun doesn't touch it directly so the air is cooler.

hope it helps..
 

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That portable unit you mentioned would work. The only thing you would need to do is setup a spot for the heat exhaust. They have a duct, almost exactly like a plastic version of a dryer vent that would need to be vented. They come setup to vent out a window but you could easily cut out a spot in an exterior wall to vent. I believe its either a 4 or 6 inch round hole. I have an enclosed single car garage converted to a shop, I cut a square hole low in the wall and mounted a window unit there. Works fine for the area. Its alittle beat up now but doesn't look too bad from the outside. I'd probably go with that over a portable myself just so there wasnt a machine taking up floor space.
 

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I think a portable a/c unit would work but I would look to see if there is one that can you can operate remotely, through Alexa or similar wi-fi control. They are costly, but if you can afford it, I think a unit like this would provide ease of use and peace of mind--and maybe even save a little cash since you can turn it off remotely when necessary. Here are a couple I found on Home Depot: https://www.homedepot.com/b/Heating-Venting-Cooling-Air-Conditioners-Portable-Air-Conditioners/Alexa/N-5yc1vZc4m4Z1z1aywy

Also, for about $40, you can get a camera on Amazon that you can access via Alexa so you can check on him while you are gone. You might consider setting up a thermometer within camera view so you'll have a good idea of how cold/hot his corner of the garage is at any given time. My son and daughter-in-law use this one when they are out and about to keep an eye on his four chihuahuas: https://www.amazon.com/Wyze-1080p-Indoor-Camera-Vision/dp/B07DGR98VQ?ref_=fsclp_pl_dp_3

For warmth, perhaps a well-insulated home-built dog house in the garage would be best. Affordable, built to your standards and heated by Ralphie's own body heat. I've heard of too many stories about fires with portable heaters so I wouldn't use one without someone in the same room to supervise.
 

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In terms of a portable a/c unit, you do not need to get a 'smart' unit. Many have timers built into them, but for those that don't you can just buy a smart plug and plug it into that. 99% of window and portable a/c units will work - you cut power to them and when they come back on, they will resume where they left off (they will retain their settings). Old mechanical units do the same thing. You then need to install the app on your phone and can set up a schedule. TP-Link makes the 'Kasa' line of smart plugs and those are the most popular:
https://www.amazon.com/TP-LINK-HS103P2-Required-Google-Assistant/dp/B07B8W2KHZ/ref=sr_1_7
here is an article you might find interesting too:
https://www.doityourself.com/stry/making-an-air-conditioner-colder
 

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If a 5000 BTU window AC unit will fit in the window and the window is on an outside wall (IOW's you can look through the window to see outside) that is what you do. If you must use an extension cord be sure that the cord is 12 ga AND be sure the dog cannot get at it.

For heat you can get a simple heat lamp that you hang (but they can be pricey to run). Another option is a thermostatically controlled Milkhouse heater. They run about $35 and you point it where you want the heat to be and set it so that when it gets up to 55 degrees it shuts off. Be sure to use a mat and if you can, put the mat in a box on top of wheat straw. Blankets and stuff like that hold moisture. Straw is warmer. Or.. if the garage does not get below freezing simply put a dog house filled with straw bedding in the indoor part of the run. Dry straw holds heat unlike blankets that get moist and most other bedding.
 

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The thing you're not considering is electrical usage.

I know you don't want to spend a ton of money on this, but the lower initial costs in these, the higher the cost of sustaining them. Like just cooling part of the garage? Isn't going to really be how that works. It means it's going to run nonstop, anyway, trying to cool the rest of the space. Which is, long term, going to give you super high electric bills unless you either wall off - and insulate - the space you're using for his run.

The pool of ice and fan will SORT OF work but frankly the ice is going to melt within hours on a truly hot day, at which point it's just a fan and providing no real effective point. Also filling a kiddie pool with ice takes forever and is not really a thing you can do before you leave for work in the morning. Also also pretty expensive if you're buying ice or making it at home via whatever method because of the additional electric and water costs.
 

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That's a good point, and it really depends on your electric rates and the weather you are contending with. We have sort of a similar situation in our home - we do not have a/c and do not have forced air heating (so central air or a heat pump are out of the question), we could go with a mini-split at some point. In the meantime we have a large kitchen/living/open area that is way too big to cool overall with a portable unit. What we have done is put a small window unit in the living room - only 4000 BTU if my memory serves me. It does not cool down the entire area, but if you are in proximity to it, you definitely get a nice cool breeze that is very comfortable. Luckily for us, this is only needed for a few hours per day, a few weeks during the summer, due to the way the house faces. We just turn it off and on depending on if we are in the room. My point is that you do not necessarily need to cool an entire area properly, you can cool a part of the area with an undersized unit too. The catch is that it may run almost continuously. It will cycle, but nowhere near as seldom as it would if it were properly sized for the area.
 

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Yeah, the weather will influence things a lot. I just tried to use one window unit to cool part of my open plan upstairs once. The 500.00/month electricity bill quickly convinced me that I was not going to actually save money doing that.
 

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It got hot today (90 or 91) but that got me thinking about the description of the garage and fenced pen area. I think before making any purchases, that you measure the temps on the floor of garage, general air of garage and outside in shaded area on a hot day. It may be that the concrete of the floor stays cool for longer than expected and that air flow and shade could make for safe temps.

How much longer than 8 hours are you regularly planning to be gone? It may be that its more comfortable and safer to leave the dog inside if its a rare occasion than its more than 9.5 or so hours gone.

Are there storm risks often ? Lightning, high winds and hail are things to consider aside from the slightly more predictible snow and summer heat.

I think the setup idea could be really great for a combo of space and shelter, but if temps are a concern then I'd error on the side of keeping indoors that day or for a few weeks when temps are highest and use the kennel setup during more comfortable temps
 

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My dogs all sleep in the house at night but I wanted somewhere to put my four big dogs during the day. Last summer I insulated the small tackroom at the end of my barn that adjoins their huge big outside run. I used an electric heater during the winter but found it was way too expensive so am now looking for a small propane heater which would be much for reasonable to run. I don't need anything to cool it off during the summer as it is always cool in the barn, lots of trees around and we do not get the extreme hot weather that others may get.
 

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all the dogs need in winter is draft free and packed with straw.. Straw not only insulates but it pulls the moisture off the coats too... if they are going in and out of the weather ,, you don't want to heat them up...
 

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Our weather from November through to March ranges between -15 to -25F. I do let their coats start to grow longer in the fall so they have a good covering of coat in the winter. They are Poodle crosses so do have very dense type of coats and they are bedded down in straw. The electric heater kept it at about 40F.
 
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