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I recently did an outdoor show this month (June) & the heat was unbearable. Luckily I took a change of clothes before the show started, but I still found myself dripping from the humidity & heat.

When I got back home I had an idea of adding a portable air conditioning unit to my tent. I have a 2000 watt portable generator that could handle an 8000 BTU unit.

I can't be the first with this idea. Has any one had any luck running a portable AC?

Thanks in advance


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Most shows don't allow generators. And the amount of electricity you're using at a show that offers electricity will cause circuits to blow if more artists use the same amount. There have been threads on using battery operated fans in your booth and you can create air flow by having an open doorway in the back.

Larry Berman

I don't either, but George, there are tons of threads on keeping cool at art fairs, what kinds of fans to use, fake ceilings, etc., on this site -- do a search and see what you can find. 

I already have approval to use a generator as I turn pens with a lathe. Having a generator for outdoor shows hasn't been a problem for me. I'm really just asking if anyone has tried using a portable air conditioner. Replies appreciated.

Be ready for lots of jealous artists. When I ran lights off my generator I use to offer lights to the booths on either side and the booth behind me.

Larry Berman

I've done the same. By sharing my generator I've made a lot of good friends.

Oh, and ask for a space near an electrical outlet! At Ann Arbor we backed up to a lamp post where we plugged in all sorts of things ... lots of fans, lights, etc.

Considering the impossibility of trying to air condition a ‘tent’ in summer heat humidity and wind, with people coming and going... I would think a 24,000 btu unit might have more success!! You would only then need a small truck outfitted with a massive generator! But to answer your question... I have a 2000 watt Honda generator that I use for power failures at my home. I also have an 8000 btu window unit. The unit needs 1200-1500 watts to run, but it needs about 2200 to jump start the compressor. That momentary surge trips the safety and shuts down the generator. I’ve tried multiple times with no success. Maybe consider a few battery operated fans like many have suggested?

Thanks for the reply. I'm not looking to cool the entire tent. I just need some relief for myself. If I purchase a used 8000BTU unit, I'll test it with my generator first.

A few years back I was at a trade show where someone was selling artificial pearls that actually were tiny freezer packs.  You would keep them in the freezer, and when you were going to be somewhere hot you would put them on like they were jewelry and they would keep you cool for a while.  I have no idea if they worked or not.  You could keep handkerchiefs in a cooler of ice water and pull one out  to wear.  When it fully warmed up, you could throw it back in the cooler and pull a chilled one out.

I've noticed a lot of ads on Facebook for a small portable "air conditioner" that appears to really be a battery operated fan that you put water in to make it more of a air conditioner.  Has anyone tried this?

It sounds like what I bought ten years ago for about 50 bucks. It was a hand held unit. It ran on AA batteries and had a small fan. You soaked a pad in water and inserted it. The fan blew over the wet pad and produced nothing but additional humidity... I can’t describe the utter disappointment by the total lack of anything resembling cooling. I think a wet towel hanging in front of a fan would be a better solution... but the last thing we need is more humidity!!

You may not be surprised to hear there is a discussion on this site on this topic: Is There a Fan in the House? It has a bunch of good ideas and also one of my favorite photos:

and I looked again -- there are several of these threads with very inventive tips, it you click the link above it will take you to multiple threads.


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