While we love a BBQ on the patio or sprucing up the curb appeal with some beautiful flower beds, nothing can detract more from your outdoor living space than a clunky, ugly, and maybe even loud air conditioner. We are often asked if it’s ok to conceal an air conditioner and how to do it right.

You can use a variety of materials to beautifully hide your air conditioner. Some of the most popular and effective are wood fencing and/or landscaping. A word of caution though, if done incorrectly you could severely damage the air conditioner and even void your warranty. Here is how to prevent from doing it wrong.

The two most important factors to consider before putting anything around your air conditioner are: 

Unfortunately, most of the tutorials on Pinterest and home décor blogs break both rules! Though they often mention both of these concerns the examples shown end up violating their own advice.

Show Me The Pictures!

Honestly, if you’ve come here for some beautiful landscaping eye candy you might be disappointed.

There are great ideas to hide an air conditioner already available online. The problem is the bad ideas outnumber the good ones and even the good ones are often executed poorly. 

Great Ideas Can Be Found!

The problem is the bad ideas outnumber the good ones and even the good ones are often executed poorly. 

We want to help you distinguish the great ideas from the terrible ones! Additionally, we will equip you with the knowledge you’ll need once you find a great idea to implement it correctly for your situation.

Conceal Don't Constrict

The air conditioner is an important part of many homes especially once we hit the dog days of summer. It is also one of the more expensive components in the home. So before getting into the fun part of turning something ugly into something attractive, we need to discuss how to protect this costly equipment.

It won’t matter how pretty this area of the yard looks if hiding your air conditioner shortens its lifespan or leads to costly repairs. 

Go With The Flow

First, the most crucial thing to remember when concealing your air conditioner is that airflow should never be obstructed. The air conditioning system absorbs heat from inside the home and releases it outside. In part, it does this by moving air across the outdoor coils containing refrigerant. If air cannot flow freely around these coils it will cause numerous problems.

Not only would this be very inefficient, which would be reflected in your energy bill, it could also damage the unit. Naturally this tends to happen on the hottest day of the year when it’s working the hardest and you need it the most! 

Never Block Airflow Around Your Air Conditioner

Not only would this be very inefficient, which would be reflected in your energy bill, it could also damage the unit.

Whether you’re using vinyl or wood fencing, pallets, lattice, or trees and shrubbery, the most important thing is how much space you leave around your A/C. That is why it is crucial to know what type of air conditioner you own. Although they are similar in function, each air conditioner has its own specific requirements regarding maintenance and enclosure.

The best way to determine the specifications for your unit is to check the manuals that came with it. The details you need should all be listed: how much clearance above and around you’ll need, what areas of the air conditioner a technician will need access to, and what potential obstructions should you look out for. If you don’t have your user manual most are available online by searching for the A/C’s model number.

An example from one manufacturer, Trane, recommends a clearance of at least 12 inches all around the unit if the box is easily removable. However, that clearance does not include room for servicing the unit so if it’s a permanent structure you must have a 36-inch clearance on the access side of the unit.

Trane also states any overhead structure should be at least 60 inches above the top of the unit and some manufactures recommend as much as 96 inches of clearance above the A/C. 

Again, while these recommendations are pretty standard to most air conditioners it would be best to verify what your particular model requires.

No matter what type of air conditioner you have plan on keeping the top of the enclosure open. Several very attractive tutorials online show the air conditioner enclosed in a wooden box and the top of the box is used as a table. While that might seem useful, if you’re following the manufacturers’ instructions, you’d be left with a table that’s at least 7 feet tall or more. Plus, you’ll have hot air blowing on your potato salad – yuck! The bottom line is putting a top over your A/C is a terrible idea.

Once you have your space requirements planned out the world is your oyster as far as materials go. You can use whatever building supplies work best for you. One “professional” said that you could only use one-inch wooden slats spaced four inches apart. That would not hide anything! At that point, you are just putting your air conditioner in prison.

If you want to put a six-foot-tall, solid vinyl fence all around your unit that is fine…as long as you have the right distance between the unit and the fence. But if you want to provide a little extra airflow by installing lattice or other open spacing in your enclosure that works too. The key is the area between the enclosure and the unit.

The Key Is In The Clearance

You can use whatever material you'd like. Just follow proper clearances.

Our preferred method for concealing an air conditioner though is landscaping. One reason is plants also cool the area around the unit. Some plants and trees can provide some much-needed shade for your A/C, as well as, hiding it. 

One word of caution about using trees, shrubs, or other landscaping, you must maintain the distance from your A/C unit as they grow. Of course, you can allow things to fill out and provide better coverage around the air conditioner, but you want to prune everything back to keep at least the minimum required clearance all around and above your air conditioner.

This is especially important if you use vines around an A/C. These can grow into the unit and seriously block airflow.

If you decided to plant trees or bushes that will lose leaves, nuts, needles or the like then you may want to consider getting an air conditioner cover for the heating season. Read why we recommend those here.

Sturdy Covers AC Defender - Universal Winter Air Conditioner Cover

Can You Help A Brother Out?

Secondly, no matter how well you maintain your air conditioner including properly hiding the outdoor unit, it will likely need serviced by a professional technician from time to time. When deciding how to conceal your A/C consider how a technician and their tools will get to the unit so they are not trampling plants or unable to get a good look at it.

Like it or not, if you make it too difficult for the technician to work on your A/C they’re likely to charge extra or at the very least unlikely to give you a deal. Remember they charge based on how long a repair will take. An extra hour fooling around with poorly designed fencing will come out of your pocket not the technicians. 

If possible, we also suggest giving a little more room around the unit than the minimum space required. Though an average size technician might be able to fit in the minimum space around your A/C it would not be the most comfortable working environment. It’s a bit like having a desk the exact dimensions of your laptop. It does the job of holding up your main workspace but where do you put your second monitor or more importantly, your coffee mug!

So, help your technician out, they are there to help you too! Give them a path to your air conditioner so you do not have to worry about damage to the work you have put into beautifying the space.

Remember they drive around in large vans and trucks because they use a lot of tools and equipment to thoroughly clean, maintain, diagnose, and repair every type of unit they encounter. They need room to remove panels from your unit, bring in their tools, replacement parts, and themselves. That likely requires more than twelve inches even if that is the minimum required in your owner’s manual!

Do It Right or Don’t Do It At All!

When you are choosing how to hide your air conditioner you should do it in a way that makes you happy to see it! After all you’re the one looking at it when you are enjoying your yard. So, use whatever building materials or plants you love as long as you keep in mind these guidelines:

1

Check the owner’s manual for your model air conditioner.

2

Allow space for at least the minimum required distance between the outdoor unit and any enclosure or landscaping.

3

Do not put anything over the top of your unit.

4

Prune landscaping to maintain the distance required.

5

Allow space for a technician to easily access and repair your air conditioner.

Whether you are adding air conditioning to your current system or you need to replace an old, broken unit, you have every right to question, “How long can my air conditioner last?”

After asking around and doing your research you were given the same old standard answer: a maximum of 15 years. You almost accepted that as the sad truth until you learned that some homeowners have had their air conditioners for two decades now and it is still as functional as ever. How did they do it?

People are often told that their air conditioner will only last 10 to 15 years. The truth is an air conditioner can last for 20 to 25 years. The three biggest factors to getting a long-lasting air conditioner are 1) Proper installation by a high-quality contractor; 2) Accurate sizing of the unit; 3) Identifying and minimizing factors that shorten the life of an air conditioner.

The most crucial aspect of these three is a quality installation. That does not necessarily mean purchasing the most expensive equipment, but it could mean spending more on top tier installers. Choosing a contractor that uses best practices and takes the time to do the job right may come with a higher upfront cost but believe me, it is worth it and yields long-term benefits for your home. If it can double the life span of your equipment, then it will more than pay for itself!

A Quality Installation is Crucial

That does not necessarily mean purchasing the most expensive equipment, but it usually means spending more on top tier installers.

Getting the correct sized air conditioner for your home is of utmost importance because it significantly impacts how the unit functions. If an air conditioner is too large for your home, it will chill the air very quickly but will not dehumidify it. This greatly affects how comfortable your home feels. 

On the other extreme, if the air conditioner is too small for your home it will never stop running as it attempts but fails to cool the environment. Again, your comfort is compromised but even worse you will be stuck with a huge electricity bill. 

Finally factors such as climate conditions where you live, voltage spikes, and lack of regular maintenance are the most common indicators of an air conditioner that will only last the minimum amount of years. Most, if not all, of these issues can be mitigated to maximize your investment.

Considering the cost of installing a new air conditioner you no doubt want it to last as long as possible while still keeping you comfortable. Especially since it’s not even a fun home purchase like new cabinets or a bigger TV! This article will show you exactly how you can get your air conditioner to reach that 20 years or more lifespan.

Get It Right from the Start

If you have priced out a new air conditioner recently you may have had a bit of sticker shock! The rising cost of raw materials as well as government mandates for higher efficiencies have pushed prices to an all time high.  You might be tempted to try to save costs by going for the cheapest unit you can find or hire the first guy that offers discounted installation. You might even think you could do the installation yourself.

 Your best bet is to view an air conditioning system as a long-term investment.

We don’t blame you. In this economy, all of us are trying to get a bargain and save some hard-earned money. However, you could be economizing now at the risk of costly repairs or even a replacement before they should be necessary. Your best bet is to view an air conditioning system as a long-term investment. The more thought you give on which contractor to trust and which unit to buy, the longer you will enjoy its benefits. So how to get started:

Keep It Simple

When we say think of your air conditioner as an investment, we do not want you to simply focus on the unit with the most staggering price tag. In fact, the more “high-tech” a machine is, the more complicated the parts and repairs can be.

For example, you might be pressured to go for a two-stage air conditioner or the even more techy variable speed, instead of just a single-stage unit. If you research these options online, most sources will tell you to purchase the more expensive units. They might persuade you with phrases like “more energy efficient” or “more comfortable”. What they don’t tell you is, not only are the upfront prices of these "higher end" significantly more expensive than the single stage, but the costs to maintain and repair them could also be much more expensive and frequent.

The key point to remember is to keep it simple. The more “technologically-advanced” a machine is, the shorter its life will be. Why?

Since a more high-tech unit such as two-stage or variable-speed air conditioners has more complex designs, they normally have a larger number of parts. These components are expensive and often more difficult to find.

Additionally, not all technicians are skilled enough to repair the more complicated mechanisms of these air conditioners. Sadly, many contractors use this opportunity to charge you gross amounts for repairs or pressure you to replace the unit altogether since the repairs are so expensive.

All in all, more expensive units live relatively shorter than a standard priced version due to costly repair.

Choose a Top-Notch Contractor

A quality contractor is your best partner in the pursuit to get your air conditioner to last 20 years or more. Most long-term problems with air conditioners are caused by poor installation. A true professional will be proud if you tell them you got 20 plus years out of a unit they installed. A product pusher will act shocked and dismayed that you are living with an A/C any older than 10 years!

Know Your Contractor

A product pusher will act shocked and dismayed that you are living with an A/C any older than 10 years!

What might stop you from picking a high-quality contractor is the upfront installation cost. They may charge higher than your average technician, but it is truly the biggest factor in a durable air conditioning system.

So, how can you pick the right contractor to get a quality installation?

The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE), known for promoting “the development and availability of energy-efficient products and services for lasting public benefit”, makes excellent suggestions on how to find a high-quality contractor.

First, ask around for referrals. Your friends and neighbors would most likely tell you straight what they do or do not like about contractors they have worked with. You can compare their responses to online reviews, but I would always put more stock in the opinion of a trusted acquaintance. 

However you find the referral be sure that it lines up with what you are looking for in a contractor: the exceptional installation of an efficient cooling system that will last you for many years! If the highlights of the referral are “super cheap” or “really fast” then that might not be your best source of information.

Next, talk to these contractors yourself. Make your requirements clear since not all homes or homeowners are alike. The more they know about the installation project, the more equipped they will be to do it. A competent professional will be happy to thoroughly answer all your questions. It is better if you can get more than one estimate to compare the prices, services, and information offered. 

Finally, educate yourself with the standards of proper installation. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) aims to improve the quality of heating, ventilation and cooling installations by raising the awareness on what homeowners should look for in a contractor. ACCA even made the HVAC Quality Installation Specification available to the public with a downloadable PDF on their website.

A high-quality contractor would adhere to these standards to guarantee a comfortable, safe, and energy-efficient indoor environment for their customers. It is never a waste of money to find superior contractors because it always pays off in the long run!

Why Size Matters A Lot

A good sign that you have found a high-quality contractor is that they would pay close attention to sizing the air conditioner for your specific house size and structure. They understand that how long that air conditioner will last depends largely on how well it was sized. This is the second most important factor to getting 20 plus years out of an A/C.

Unfortunately, most incompetent or dishonest contractors will push an oversized unit. It will cost more, and many people are willing to believe that bigger is always better.

Air Conditioner Size Matters

Most incompetent or dishonest contractors will push an oversized unit. It will cost more, and many people are willing to believe that bigger is always better.

However, if an A/C is too large for the house, it will turn on and off quickly, which is called short-cycling. An air conditioner is designed to release cold air into an area until the temperature set by the thermostat is reached. Since an oversized unit can quickly chill the home, it will short-cycle many more times than it should throughout the day.

Air conditioners will suffer excessive wear and tear because of this relentless on and off. In an air conditioning system, the compressor, which is the most critical component of the unit and most expensive to repair, would experience the most damage. 

Another disadvantage of an oversized A/C is it will not run long enough to dehumidify the house, leaving it cold yet damp which will still feel extremely uncomfortable. As if being uncomfortable was not bad enough it could allow for the growth of mold and mildew in the home. 

On the other hand, if an air conditioner is undersized for the house it would have to work extra hard to even reach the thermostat setting. This means your A/C could be running all day and you will never feel comfortable. You know what comes next, soaring electric bills! Check out this article if you want more information to help lower the cost of running your air conditioner.

Most importantly, this day-to-day strain could seriously shorten the life of your unit to the point that it might not even reach the shortest life expectancy of 10 years.

A highly qualified contractor will be able to properly size an air conditioner for your house and they should be able to provide a load calculation if you ask for it. They can factor in such vital elements such the age of your home, how many windows it has and what state are they in, how well insulated your home is, how many stories it has, and many other technical factors.

Factors That Kill an Air Conditioner

So, you did well by getting a professional high-quality contractor to install your air conditioning system. You got a simple yet properly sized air conditioner. Are you all set for a 20-year or more relationship?

The third strategy accomplish this is to identify common causes of issues that shorten the lifespan of an air conditioner, and then eliminate these or at least minimize them.

Neglected Regular Maintenance

Probably the most underestimated factor in having a long-lasting air conditioner is thorough and regular maintenance.CNN Money highlighted the need for proper maintenance of HVAC systems to reach that desired 15 to 25 years lifespan.

This report is backed up by the Department of Energy which states that "Neglecting necessary maintenance ensures a steady decline in air conditioning performance while energy use steadily increases.”

How often should you schedule your air conditioner for maintenance? Most sources would suggest once a year but if your schedule or budget do not permit it, at least every other year would suffice. 

Just as you wouldn’t wait for the check engine light in your car to come on before you had an oil change, do not wait for an issue to pop up with your air conditioner before you have maintenance done. It will not be maintenance then; it will be a repair!

There is one warning about maintenance. You must use a well-qualified technician to perform this maintenance. They will have the proper tools, equipment and training to do a thorough clean and check that most individuals do not have.

In addition, if you pay less than $100 for the maintenance, you didn’t get a tune up. You paid for a salesperson to come to your home and see if they could sell you a new system. Most low priced maintenance offers are used just to upsell. In fact, low priced tune ups are expected to convert at least one in five to new equipment.

If you want to extend the look of your air conditioner then a cover during the winter months is a good idea too.

Watch Out For Low Priced Offers

Most low priced maintenance offers are used just to upsell. In fact, low priced tune ups are expected to convert at least one in five to new equipment.

Low Voltage and Voltage Spikes

Most homeowners fear power surges due to lightning but what is more common and oftentimes ignored are voltage spikes and low voltages.

Voltage spikes are abrupt increases in electrical energy which lasts for less than 3 nanoseconds. While low voltage, usually referred to as brownouts, happen when the flow of electricity is reduced due to disturbance in the electrical grid or for prevention of a power outage.

These sudden changes in the current powering your air conditioner can cause major damage to the compressor, capacitor, breaker, and wiring.

Even though it is out of your control when these voltage spikes and low voltages happen, you can still take some preventative measures to minimize the harm when they do occur. This can be especially helpful if you live in an area where these are common occurrences.

A product called Compressor Defender by Intermatic is one of the many devices you can employ to protect the compressors and circuit boards in cases of brownouts, surges and short cycles.

Intermatic CD1-024R Compressor Defender

Protects Central Air Conditioner and Heat Pump Compressors and their Circuit Boards

Salt Air in Coastal Areas

Not many people know that where you live can affect how long your air conditioner is going to last. Living near the ocean, for example, can expose your unit to salt air which can harm the finned coils.

Condenser coils are commonly made of aluminum fins bonded to copper or aluminum tubes. These fins easily disintegrate due to the high amount of salt in the environment which reduces the performance to transfer heat. 

If this corrosion of fins persisted, the compressor and condenser would work too hard to cool your home and result in remarkably cutting the lifespan of the AC.

If you live in a coastal area where the salt level in the air is high, there are practical ways you could still minimize this problem and prolong the life of your air conditioner. One of the best ways is to use copper tubes and aluminum fins with a polymeric dipped coating that is baked on.

Washing the outer parts of the unit with fresh water at least monthly also reduces the damage caused by salt. To aid in this there are even some in-place wash systems available.

For the most lasting effects and the best solutions you need to reach out to your trusted HVAC company.

How To Extend the Life of Your Air Conditioner

1

Have your air conditioner installed by a high-quality contractor.

2

Ensure the unit is properly sized to your unique home. (See #1)

3

KISS. Keep It Simple Silly. Don’t be fooled by all the bells and whistles of the “high end” equipment.

4

Add devices that protect from low voltage and voltage spikes.

5

Be sure to maintain your air conditioner at least every other year.

6

Minimize the damages caused by salt air if you live in a coastal area.

​A friend, a neighbor or a blog may have advised you that putting your air conditioner in the shade makes it more efficient. While other sources tell you, it is a myth and the benefits of shading your AC are quite questionable. What is the truth?

The truth is, IF DONE PROPERLY, studies show that placing your air conditioner in some form of shade can increase the efficiency by 2% to 10%. A well shaded A/C can save money from reduced energy consumption and potentially increase the lifespan of your system. IF DONE IMPROPERLY, shading your air conditioner will do the opposite and could possibly damage the unit. 

During the blazing hot days of summer many folks keep their air conditioner on for most, if not all, of the day. This means that the use of electricity in most households can double, or even triple, during summer which of course translates to higher electricity bill. So you want your A/C to run as efficiently as possible for as many years as possible.

Shading your air conditioner can be a practical and inexpensive way to increase the efficiency of your unit for many years to come if you follow this simple rule: DO NOT BLOCK THE AIRFLOW AROUND YOUR AIR CONDITIONER!

Whenever you are considering putting something near, surrounding, or most importantly, above your air conditioner please check the manufacturer’s guidelines. If you restrict airflow around the A/C unit it will severely decrease the efficiency, capacity, and even lifespan. Now that we have that important caveat out of the way let’s talk about getting the most out of this expensive and important system through shading.

DO NOT BLOCK THE AIRFLOW AROUND YOUR AIR CONDITIONER!

 Shading your air conditioner can be a practical and inexpensive way to increase the efficiency of your unit for many years to come if you follow this simple rule.

Why Shade Could Benefit Your Air Conditioner

In simple terms, an air conditioning system draws in the warm air inside your house, removes the heat, and sends back the chilled air, creating a cool and comfortable environment. The heat removed from the air inside your living space is then released outside your home. This process happens so many times each day, you may not even notice it anymore.

HVAC professionals are always harping on airflow around an air conditioner because once the refrigerant in your air conditioning system absorbs the heat from in your home and circulates outside to release it, it needs substantial airflow to then release that heat and return to do it all again.

Without proper airflow, meaning allowing the released heat to dissipate from the area around the unit, the refrigerant cannot fully release the heat and circulates back into your home with a reduced capacity to absorb more heat. It is like trying to clean up a spill with a half full sponge. You will get the job done eventually, but it will take longer and be a lot more work!

So, what’s that got to do with shade? Well even if you have proper airflow around your A/C, if it is sitting in direct sunlight for the majority of the day, especially when the sun is highest in the sky, then the air around the unit is going to be hotter and will reduce the refrigerant’s ability to release heat completely.

Now your air conditioner must work harder and longer than it would if it were enjoying a cool, shady spot! Consequently, it is less efficient, less capable to cool your home quickly, and the harder it works the more likely the air conditioner is to fail well before the 20 year mark.

What Are Your Options

Shading your air conditioner from the full blast of sunshine can be accomplished in a few ways: shading through trees or other plants, structures, or positioning it on the north side of the house. Often the bonus of properly shading your air conditioner is being able to hide it as well.

We will discuss these means of shading separately and determine which one fits your home the best and can give you substantial savings on electricity. Whichever option you choose you will need to determine if the benefits outweigh the costs. Spending thousands to shade or move an air conditioner will not be offset by energy savings! However, there are inexpensive ways to provide shade and reap the benefits.

Spending thousands to shade or move an air conditioner will not be offset by energy savings!

However, there are inexpensive ways to provide shade and reap the benefits.

North Side is the Best Side

We’re not trying to start a turf war, but this is the most straightforward option! The best time to consider moving your A/C to the north side of the house is when you are getting a new unit installed.

If you are planning on purchasing a new HVAC system be sure to discuss placement of the condenser unit, with your contractor. It may add a little to the cost of the installation if it is not where your current unit is placed but it’s still the cheapest time to change its location.

If you are not planning to replace any time soon then on your next maintenance appointment (which should be annually) ask the technician if it is possible to move the outdoor unit to the shady side of your house and how much it would cost. Most companies will provide free quotes even if they are not already there for an appointment and it never hurts to ask. It may cost less than you think!

Nature Wins Again

If you cannot place your air conditioner on the shady side of your house, and truthfully even if you can, making use of trees and plants to provide shade is the best option!

The study, Effectiveness of Shading Air-Cooled Condensers of Air-Conditioning Systems, summarizes the positive effects of shading your A/C with landscaping to 1) lowering condenser inlet air temperature, and 2) decreasing the solar heat directly received by the condenser.

In other words, shading provided by trees keeps the surrounding air and the ground in a much cooler temperature. It also blocks the sunlight that directly hits the air conditioning unit and even the sunshine that enters your home through your windows. All in all, your A/C does not have to work harder than it should when shaded.

Plenty of studies have been published showing the substantial impact of shading using trees and other plants on the energy consumption of households. There were even benefits that ensued from using trees as shade to reduce carbon emissions in the urban setting.The article entitled The Value of Shade: Estimating the Effect of Urban Trees on Summertime Electricity Use (Donovan & Butry, June 2009) discusses the result of observing 460 single-family homes in Sacramento, California.

Their research reveals that there is a significant impact of planting trees around your house in reducing electricity use in the summertime. Specifically, there is a cutback of a 185-kilowatt hour or 5.2% in energy consumption in houses that utilize trees on the west and south sides of their property.

This conclusion was supported by an earlier 2002 study written by Hashem Akbari of Concordia University with the subject, Shade Trees Reduce Building Energy Use and CO2 Emissions from Power Plants.

His analysis did more than just show the paybacks of using trees as shade in percentages but actual dollars. It states that there are $200 savings related to the benefits of planting each tree in an urban environment.

You may be surprised by this figure, but Akbari’s accredited research suggests that this reduction takes into consideration the savings for your heating and cooling energy use alone.

Granted that there is also a cost in planting and maintaining trees and plants especially when purchasing more mature plants. With creative design you can get some benefit now and even more down the road as your landscaping grows.

By combining fast growing but inexpensive plants such as, tall grasses, bushes, shrubs, or even a thick vine on a trellis, with some small saplings you can provide some shade to your air conditioner quickly. As everything grows you will get more and more protection which will help as energy costs continue to rise.

By combining fast growing but inexpensive plants such as, tall grasses, bushes, shrubs, or even a thick vine on a trellis, with some small saplings you can provide some shade to your air conditioner quickly.

We hate to be redundant but before planting anything please check the manufacturers instructions on how far to keep plants from the unit on all sides and top. As everything grows you will need to maintain that distance through pruning. As wonderful as plants and trees can be for providing shade and reducing energy costs, they can also impede airflow if they enclose the area around the unit too much.

Shading with Structures

If you live in a climate where your choice of trees and plants is limited, you don’t have a green thumb, or you don’t want to wait for landscaping to grow, building a structure could be your best bet.

You can take advantage of a wall or other parts of a building to block the sunlight when the temperature is at it’s highest. Another option is to build an awning or pergola over the air conditioner. Even using a sun shade canopy could provide quick and economical shade!

However, shading with these structures must be done with caution. Most air conditioners sold nowadays release the hot air removed from inside of your house upward. Meaning, any obstruction not at least 48 inches away from the top of your air conditioner will risk recirculating the removed heat.

Another factor to consider is the possibility of increased noise because the structure could serve as a bouncing off surface for the sound waves.

As previously mentioned, spending thousands to build a structure just to provide shade to your air conditioner will not be offset by energy savings. If you are planning a she-shed, garage or other type of structure on your property then positioning it to shade the A/C could be an added benefit!

If an out-building is not in the works then consider an attractive awning, pergola, or canopy. Always keeping airflow and manufacturer’s guidelines in mind before utilizing any of these options (we just cannot say it enough).

What If I Can’t Do Any of Those Options?

If providing shade just is not an option, you do have another way to lower the temperature around your air conditioner. You can use an evaporative or "misting” system that automatically sprays water droplets the size of microns around the condenser. This could also be used in addition to shading your condenser.

Evaporation of water helps in lowering the temperature around your AC. A high-pressure misting system sprays fine droplets of water without drowning the area because they evaporate before hitting the ground.

There are plenty of evaporative cooling devices you can choose from online that are easy to install and operate, and use very little water to be functional. But some of the best are homemade. Here is an example on Youtube:

The Bottom Line

Whether it's by covering your air conditioner in the winter or shading it in the summer. We all want our air conditioners to last as long as possible and use as little energy as possible.

Based on the evidence presented above, we recommend shading your air conditioner from direct sunlight if it can be done economically. It can improve the efficiency of your unit and gain you some savings.

Important Tips To Remember

1

Mind the clearance

Any method of shading should not prevent the A/C from releasing the hot air. Otherwise, the efficiency would be worse, and the unit could be damaged.

2

Shading with trees is better

The comparison between shading your A/C through plants or with structures shows that plants are superior in lowering the neighboring temperature in addition to shielding from the sun.

3

Place your AC on the north side

If at all possible, position your unit to the north side of your home as it is known to stay the coolest all day.

4

Pair your shading with an evaporative or “misting” system

For optimal benefits, combine shade and an evaporative system. If you can’t shade though using a misting system can go a long way to cooling the area around your air conditioner.

Copyright 2022 The Comfort Academy
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