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Thread: AC, Venting, ideas for a Darkroom Shed?

  1. #1

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    Cool AC, Venting, ideas for a Darkroom Shed?

    I'm starting to outgrow my bathroom darkroom a bit and started to put together cost estimate for a darkroom shed and was curious what other people's experiences are that have done something similar? I've read a few articles and postings, but all of them seem to be in areas where it doesn't get super hot.

    It gets hot enough where I live where I would definitely need air conditioning which seems to be the biggest complication I'm running into, since I'll need an AC unit itself, probable radiant barriers and perhaps even insulation. I'll also probably need a fridge to keep the chemicals cool enough when I'm not actively in the darkroom. Likewise I thought about not leaving any of my enlarger lenses mounted to avoid any fungus.

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    Above is my mock up using a 10x10 shed. I modelled it in FreeCAD. If anyone wants a copy just let me know and I'd be happy to provide it. It's just a block diagram mostly.

    Enlargers (Omega D2 and I may have enough space to use my Besseler 67 as well) will be on the left will be my dry space. Back wall is the start of my wet space and will be for dev trays. The right side can be used then for paper or film washing being right next to the sink. Next to the sink would be the fridge followed by my breadrack that I'm currently using in my bathroom tub to store odds and ends.

    I was thinking the shelves would be 3 feet up there about since I like to stand in my darkroom and that leaves space along the bottom for storage.

    What is missing is where I may put the AC and a suitable vent by the wet area, along with where I may put the lights (will probably due red LED strip lights for a safelight and was thinking tube style fluorescent or LED lights for working lights). Oh and also water and power connections.

    Water, I was thinking, might be easy as there is a hose connection close enough I can just run a hose from the house to a hookup on the shed (maybe with a filter). That's just for wash water. I mix all my chemicals with distilled. Electrical would be easy to solve were it not for the heat - could have powered the whole thing with a solar panel and a battery even, but the fridge and AC unit will need way more than that. As such, I'll likely need to run power, I'm hoping I can do so with underground conduit perhaps.

    Pretty big project, all told, compared to my bathroom which I build using extremely modest costs (I use a shelf above the toilet for my enlarger :P). It works but there is no concept of wet vs dry areas and given it has no AC itself, it can get pretty muggy and warm during a darkroom session in the summer unless I decide to freeze the rest of the house out.

    Thoughts, concerns?

  2. #2
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: AC, Venting, ideas for a Darkroom Shed?

    Trenching electric to my shed is my issue, 60 feet across soft Vole infested soil.

    I just paid $2500 for a plumber to destroy my front yard using a backhoe to replace my street to home water main 150 ft. It was leaking 200 gallons a day making the yard very wet. He installed 1" PEX 24" deep per local water main depth requirement. Water here is cheap. but the lawn was not drying out.

    So for the backyard shed I found another legal way to trench locally. IF I can DIY. I recently bought this tool. http://www.wiltonthinlinetrenchingspades.com/index.html The big one does 16" and all I need here is 18" so it may work. Nice tool, well made by a tiny business.

    Nobody is going to inspect anything here.

    Watch the video.

  3. #3
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: AC, Venting, ideas for a Darkroom Shed?

    The only comment I have is that one should design the air flow to bring fresh air past one's head, then over the chemicals trays, then out. Reverse that and one might as well not have any venting.

    Good luck with your project!!
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  4. #4

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    Re: AC, Venting, ideas for a Darkroom Shed?

    Haha clever thoughts Tin Can. Does make me think I should (covertly) look up what our HOA allows. Maybe they somehow allow running power across (doubt it). I wouldn't mind running an extension cord out there when I use it, not a big deal for the AC. An issue for the chemicals but I could store those in the house I suppose if it really came down to it.

    Thanks Vaughn! Good point also. HOA doesn't allow window mount units (though I don't think says anything about a hanging AC mounted directly to a shed all nicely framed) so either it's going to be an (inefficient) floor/roller AC unit or, preferably, one of the models that keeps the condenser on the outside and has an inside bar or box you mount. In either case, I was thinking of having that be near the rack which would be across from the enlarger. The vent then would be somewhere next to the trays. I think that'll give me some nice flow through the shed without being so close to my paper that it starts blowing things around.

  5. #5

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    Re: AC, Venting, ideas for a Darkroom Shed?

    First, Insulate! It is amazing how the temperature changes in an enclosed room the size you are suggesting.
    Exhaust vent fan over the sink.
    Small window A/C low in wall opposite the sink, this will keep it from occupying what soon will be wall and counter space.
    Small portable electric heater for those very cool times.
    Solar powered vet fan in the ceiling.
    My darkroom is in the house, but my model rain shed is 8x12 feet and it gets hot here. This schemekees the shed relatively cool in hot weather,and cools off even more quickly.
    An under counter refrigerator should fit under the counter.
    In order to be comfortable while processing, stand with your arms at the side, elbows bent 90 degrees. Measure the distance from floor to bottom of arm. This is the correct height of the sink rim. My sink is built like an inside out boat using plywood wells coated with an epoxy designed for the outside of the boat hull. Built in 1980,still doesn't leak.
    Probably more than you wanted, but good luck with the project.

  6. #6
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: AC, Venting, ideas for a Darkroom Shed?

    Quote Originally Posted by m00dawg View Post
    Does make me think I should (covertly) look up what our HOA allows.
    My deepest sympathies to our friends that have to live under Home Owners Associations. I will spare you all the horror stories. My take? Get the hell out of there!

  7. #7

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    Re: AC, Venting, ideas for a Darkroom Shed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jac@stafford.net View Post
    My deepest sympathies to our friends that have to live under Home Owners Associations. I will spare you all the horror stories. My take? Get the hell out of there!
    My thoughts exactly, sell the place and move to a home that you OWN. HOA is nothing but apain. First hand knowledge.

  8. #8

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    Re: AC, Venting, ideas for a Darkroom Shed?

    Re HOAs, sure but the complexity of moving is several orders of magnitude more complicated just to build a darkroom shed :P That and I can't just rip my kiddo out of his school to move far enough away to avoid an HOA just to build a darkroom. Our next house won't have an HOA but for the sake of this post, we're stuck with one for several years.

    That said, I don't often agree with most of their stupid rules but they don't have any issues with my somewhat extravagant lights-to-music holiday lights display. They also DO allow sheds and I actually managed to find the restrictions documentation and they even allow window units as long as they can't be seen from the street, which is great since window units are both cheap and (reasonably) efficient. I'll just have to see what options there are to mount just a unit without ideally having to install an actual window that I'll then have to cover up.

    I haven't found info about running wires though. I'm liking my extension cord idea more and more. I just have to coil it up when needing to mow the lawn. Suppose I could get fancy to see how long a fridge would stay cool without power by just putting my Arduino powered weather station inside of it. Probably long enough to mow the lawn heh.

  9. #9

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    Re: AC, Venting, ideas for a Darkroom Shed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn View Post
    The only comment I have is that one should design the air flow to bring fresh air past one's head, then over the chemicals trays, then out. Reverse that and one might as well not have any venting.
    Yup, I'd put the A/C on the opposite wall to the wet area and put the exhaust over the wet area. That way the AC blows past you & the trays and onto the exhaust. Why are you going to put a filter on a potable waterline? If it's good enough to drink, it's good enough for the darkroom. All the filter will do is remove particulates which shouldn't be there in potable water anyway!

    I paid more than $2500 for my plumber to run a 1" waterline 200' from the meter to the darkroom, and then paid double that for the plumber and backhoe to run a gravity line for the drain to tie into my house sewer. It isn't cheap if you want to do it right! L

  10. #10
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: AC, Venting, ideas for a Darkroom Shed?

    If you have soft soil, rent a trencher for the day.. It's sort of like a walk behind chainsaw for cutting a slot in the earth for your electrical conduit.

    Definitely insulate the shed, especially the ceiling.

    If you can't install a window unit AC, perhaps find someone with AC/hvac experience and tools to help you install a heat pump. The pioneer brand on amazon is around $1000 and works great if professionally installed. I installed one at work and hired a hvac guy for a couple hundred $ to finish the job (deal with vac pump and refrigerant and testing) Quieter and more efficient than a window unit and your darkroom can stay dry.

    If you can use a window unit, just remove the the window and frame. Put some waterproof material where the AC sits since it will leak water, and frame it back in.

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