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Building a gym in a garden shed is a great idea if you’re short on space in the house. Many sheds don’t have proper ventilation for working out in however. What can you do to make sure you stay fresh in your shed?
There are quite a few different things you can do to ventilate your gym shed. Which one or combination is best for you, depends on your situation. The best ways to ventilate your gym shed;
- Exhaust fan
- Heat exchange fan
- Roof vent
- Trickle vents
- Open the door
- Floor fan
Find out which ones are best for your situation below.
First off, let’s think about what we’re trying to accomplish with ventilation. It depends on when, where and what time of the year/day.
If you’re just using your shed for storage, you need minimal ventilation. However, when working out in one, things change a little. One thing everyone should care about is just some fresh air. Having enough oxygen is important for a good workout. And if you’re training hard, you’ll use quite a bit of it. Getting some fresh air is necessary for everyone alive.
Besides that, there are two other factors that are influenced by ventilation;
Depending on where you live and the time of year, you might want to cool it down inside your shed a little bit and keep the humidity under control.
In other places, you have to keep as much heat inside as possible.
In a gym you want to stay relatively cool and keep the humidity down for a comfortable workout. After the workout, you also want a little ventilation going on. During a workout you probably sweat quite a bit. That sweat has to evaporate and leave the shed to keep it fresh for the next workout. That means you need a little ventilation even when you’re not working out in your shed.
What your situation is will influence which types of ventilation you should choose.
Of course ventilation isn’t always enough to stay comfortable. Check out my 18 best tips to stay warm in a home gym.
So what options for ventilation are available for sheds and what is suitable for which situation?
The material your shed is made off can have an impact on what you can do. Wooden sheds are the easiest to work on and modify. Most people have tools to work with wood and it’s pretty easy to learn working with it. Metal sheds are a bit more difficult but still not too difficult to work on.
Some shacks are made of some type of plastic (usually resin). That is much more difficult to modify. That’s something to keep in mind before buying or building a shed. I’ve written a whole post about the different pros and cons of shed materials. Click here to go there.
Here are your best ventilation options;
1. Install an exhaust fan
The easiest way to get some ventilation going in your shed is to install a simple exhaust fan. Ventilation in its simplest form is just airflow. The movement of air moves old air out of a room and new air into it.
Without drawing air out of a room, there might be some air coming in but not that much. If windows and doors are closed, there will be some ‘leaks’ where air can come in but if there isn’t any easy way for the air to get out, there won’t be much flow. By putting a fan in the wall that really pulls the air out, you create a slightly lower pressure in your shed. This lower pressure pulls in fresh air from outside.
In a shed, there will be enough air leaks to easily let air in. However, if you’ve done a lot of insulation and weather proofing, there might be very few cracks where air can come in. In that case, cracking a window can help.
This fresh air brings new oxygen, takes away carbon dioxide. It also normalizes the temperature inside the shed. This is pretty much exactly what you want from ventilation.
You probably won’t really feel any airflow from just an exhaust fan depending on the strength of the fan. If you want airflow to cool down, a floor fan will be a better option. A floor fan doesn’t necessarily draw in new air though.
Make sure to get one with shutters so it’s more difficult for water and creatures to get in. When it’s turned on, it’s unlikely anything can get in. Check out this exhaust fan (amazon link) for example, it has three speeds and shutters so should cover all your needs. It’s available in different sizes so you’ll find one that works for you. Click here to find it on Amazon.
2. Install a heat exchanging fan
Probably the best option for ventilation in a colder climate is a heat exchanging fan. They aren’t very common but they can make your shed a whole lot more comfortable. It’s one of the few ways that helps you getting fresh air into your shed without losing too much heat.
This is especially useful in colder climates where every degree matters. You want fresh air but you don’t want to lose any heat. A heat exchanging fan can do that for you.
The best and most compact option in this category is the V-Tronic HRV (amazon link). This one is pretty easily installed in any wall as long as you make a hole in that wall. It comes with a remote so you can easily change the modes. You can choose between; Intake air, exhaust air (with heat exchange) or cycle between the two.
3. Roof vent
Roof vents come in many shapes and sizes. They are very effective in keeping some airflow going in a space. Hot air rises to the top of a space. If there is a roof vent, the hottest air can escape which keeps the temperature and humidity under control.
A properly designed roof vent doesn’t let any rain/water or other things in so it only lets air out.
The most difficult part about installing a roof vent is to get the roof to be waterproof again. This isn’t impossible but you have to get it right otherwise you’ll have a nice leak the next time it rains.
A roof vent is a very passive way of ventilating. Most roof vents don’t have an electric fan. It’s a completely natural way of getting some airflow in your shed. It doesn’t need any attention and just does its thing day in day out.
A roof vent is plenty of ventilation for sheds where you don’t do much in. Just for storage this will be fine. However, if you’re working out in your shed, this probably won’t be enough. So combining this with another way of ventilating that moves more air is a good idea.
Roof vents are simple and cheap. It just takes some time to install. Here is a good, cheap roof vent that does exactly what it has to do. (Amazon link)
4. Add a window
A ventilation method that has been around (almost) as long as humans have been building houses are windows.
Many bigger/better sheds already come with windows. If you’re building your own, you should definitely add one or two. Windows aren’t only good for ventilation but also letting in light. Seeing what you’re doing is always good.
Crack a window a little bit, you get a little bit of airflow. Open it wider and you get more air. Easy!
Windows are awesome but they are not always the best option. An open window lets in rain and a lot of cold/hot air. There are modern options that don’t let water in and moderate the air temperature. So if you’re living in a space where the climate is a bit more extreme, just cracking a window might not be the best available option.
5. Trickle vents
When you’re not in the shed, you don’t want to leave your windows open. Rain or other things/people could easily get in which is something you’ll likely want to avoid.
Trickle vents or slot vents are a good solution here.
The downside is that they can’t generally be installed after the windows. It’s usually part of the window. Or installed just above a window. That means you’ll have a hard time installing this after you’ve built your shed. It’s better to install this during construction.
Slot vents or trickle vents will work best combined with an exhaust fan or roof vent. This way air can get in on one side and be pulled out on the other side.
6. Work out with the door open
Of course the most effective solutions are the simplest. Just open the door and there will be plenty of fresh air. Since sheds are generally pretty small and have big doors so there will be more than enough ventilation.
Any shed will have a door already otherwise it would be pretty useless. So just leaving it open could solve most of your ventilation issues.
The downside is of course that anything and everything can also get in. Rain, insects and bigger animals will have no issue going inside. In many places this isn’t really a big problem but in others it is.
7. Consider a floor fan
Sheds aren’t usually suitable to mount ceiling fans. Floor fans are still fine though. It really depends on how you use it if it ventilates your shed.
A floor fan is great of moving air around a space.
Having a floor fan and the resulting airflow can cool you down pretty efficiently, especially if you’re sweaty. However, putting a fan in a closed room isn’t going to bring any new air into the room.
If you put a floor fan in an open doorway, it will push air inside. If that’s necessary depends on your situation. This will accomplish two things; push new air inside and cool you down with the airflow.
I’ve written a long post about the best quiet floor fans for you home gym. Click here to go there.
Obvious but not always practical in a shed. Air-conditioning does a few things. It cools the air down and lowers the humidity in a space.
Both of those things are great for increasing comfort while working out. Especially in hotter climates, a/c would be awesome for a gym. Sheds aren’t always suitable for installing A/C because there is no electricity and insulation. Of course both those things can be installed.
However, air-conditioning doesn’t bring in new air from outside. That means for heavy workouts you might want to add something else to your ventilation arsenal. Combining A/C with a roof vent or slot vents would be optimal.
Insulating your shed doesn’t ventilate it. It usually does the opposite. Insulation often stops some airflow. However, if your shed is insulated properly, it might take away the need for some ventilation. The indoor temperature will stay more stable which means you need less outside air to normalize it.
Combine this with a heat exchanging fan and you’ll have a nice temperature in your shed year round. And if the temperature is still too high or low it’ll cost much less energy to change that.
If you’re going to install A/C, insulation is especially important or your electric bill will be pretty high.
Many people often forget a few important pieces of their home gym that isn’t directly gym equipment. Here are my favorite home gym tools.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and all types of other workouts, the GymNext Flex is easily the best and easiest to use.
- Mirrors: Fab & Glass (Amazon link) makes the best large mirror sheets so you can see your exercise form.
- Flooring: American Floor Mats gym flooring (Amazon) or equipment mats make your gym quieter, easier to clean and keeps your floor and equipment safe.
- Fan: The Rowenta VU5670 (Amazon) is a great way to stay cool while working out.