Best AC Solution for Your Home Theater
Nothing is worse than getting half-way through a movie and realizing that you are sweating. The rest of your home is cool enough, but your home theater is crazy hot. What you need is an AC solution for your home theater.
The easy solution would be a multi-room AC that can cool the home theater separately from the rest of the house. This would require you to either anticipate this problem before you built your home or do a major and expensive AC upgrade after the fact.
Yeah, that’s probably not going to happen.
How Did Your Home Theater Get So Hot?
You wanted that big picture, right? So you did what many recommend – you bought a projector. Now you’ve got that massive screen giving you the cinematic experience you wanted. You’ve also got a very hot bulb in that projector pumping out a lot of heat.
One of our mantras at AV Gadgets is that you need to think of your room as part of your home theater. Not just the box that contains it, but actually a functional member of your home theater experience. It contributes heavily to the bass response, it certainly can affect the size of screen you can own, and there are a lot of ways you can improve your room. One thing we often recommend is “treating” your room. This involves adding room treatments made of rigid fiberglass insulation.
If you’re interested in sound isolation, you’ve also got a lot of insulation in your walls. Between insulation IN the walls and the insulation ON the walls to absorb sound, your home theater is likely the most insulated room in your house. Add the hot projector bulb to a ton of insulation and you’ve got a lot of heat with nowhere to go. Most rooms use the space under the door as an air exchange. That’s just not going to cut it in this situation.
We’ve got a few options for you. Only one of them we really like:
The Dead Vent
You may have read about a dead vent system. This is where you have a room adjacent to your home theater. You pump the hot air from the home theater to this empty room and push cool air back into the theater. The idea is that you can cool all this air without the noise from the AC distracting you from your movie.
Aside from having to dedicate a room (or space) to this process, this isn’t a very effective solution. Yes, it can work. But you have to have the space, or you have to consider paying to modify your existing rooms. All this to keep a little AC noise out of your theater? We can do better.
There are other solutions out there. You could invest in something like an Ecobee thermostat. This is a great system if your house has hot spots. For many, the thermostat is located non-optimally. Maybe it is in a hallway, maybe it is in a large open room. Either way, the thermostat is getting readings that aren’t indicative of the temperature of the rest of the house. Ecobee has a number of sensors that you can place around the house. You can have any number/all of these active at any time. At night you can have only the bedroom sensors active. During the day, only the living areas. Whatever you want.
The problem is that your home theater is a significantly different temperature than the rest of the house. If you set it as the only sensor that is active, the rest of the house will turn into a meat locker as the thermostat tries to cool the home theater. That’s not very cost-effective and, honestly, in the end, it won’t work. But we love our Ecobee. It didn’t fix our home theater overheating problem, but it is great for keeping the house at a more consistent temperature.
Ductless Mini-Split AC Units
Enter ductless mini-split AC systems. You’ve seen these systems before. They have a unit usually mounted high on a wall. There is a secondary unit that is housed outside and that does the actual cooling (link on how they work). You may have different opinions on these units based on your experience. Just remember that this AC solution is much better for your home theater than that window AC your grandma had in her bedroom. While mini-split ACs aren’t cheap, they are a lot less expensive than upgrading your whole home AC. They are actually quite efficient and, in the end, could save you money over other solutions.
Why Ductless is the Best AC solution for your Home Theater
With some careful planning, a ductless mini-split system can be the perfect AC solution for your home theater. They can be very quiet, they can be installed fairly easily and inexpensively, and they save energy. While most installers will prefer to install a ductless mini-split on an exterior wall, they can be installed in nearly any room. There are a few things you’ll want to remember.
- Get a unit that is appropriate for your room – you don’t want something too small or you’ll have to run it on high to cool the room. Get something with a good noise rating. Remember, your regular AC vent can put out 50dB+ of noise. A good ductless system can be as low as 32dB!
- A unit that is too large can be a problem as well. Don’t overbuy thinking that you can run it on low. The larger units might be noisier than the smaller ones as the room they are designed for would be larger.
- Pay attention to the location of the outside unit. Make sure it is placed as far away from your home theater windows as possible. It might cost a little more to have them run longer lines, it will be worth it.
- Pay attention to brands. There are a couple of big names (MrCool, LG, Mitsubishi) in ductless mini-split AC units. While you might get one of the other brands for less, check their warranty and reliability. Your installer will definitely have a preference.
- If you have a non-conventional installation, make sure you vet your installer very well. Running the connections in the wall is possible, but if they leak, you can be in for some serious, and expensive, repairs. Find an installer that has done it before and talk to their previous clients. It costs you nothing but time and could save you a lot of headaches.
With a small room, a hot bulb, a bunch of insulation, and a couple of people, a home theater can get quite hot. Add a ductless mini-spit AC unit and suddenly you are as cool as your home theater!
Best thing I ever did for my home theater which is above my garage. Very quite and keeps the room cool, I simply turn it on 10 minutes before I want to watch a movie and by the time I get in there the room is cool.
Does the type of vent, return and or supply, make a difference? My AV guy is pushing Nailor diffusers. Thanks
As long as it doesn’t add any noise as the air passes it, it shouldn’t. We are not HVAC experts here so I’d ask to demo one if you are concerned.