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Re: Air Conditioner Enclosure

Shade but do not enclose the unit..The hot discharge air will recirculated back into the unit and cause hi head pressure and trip- you need clearance to draw air in the sides and blow straight up and out.

Re: Air Conditioner Enclosure

"Enclosure" may be the wrong word. I'm envisioning a box made from lattice. How much clearance would be required? What other options exist for creating shade?

Re: Air Conditioner Enclosure

Nope . No lattice either . Sorry .

Re: Air Conditioner Enclosure

Nothing over the top. Any wall or lattice on the sides needs to allow for airflow & maintenence. 2' is about a minimum. A vertical plant like arborvitie could provide shade. Just be sure to plant them far enough away to allow for growth.

Re: Air Conditioner Enclosure

It would also have to be removable for service, (washing down clearing clogged fins for example) and nothing interfering with access to the shut off box/lock-out sub panel. As mentioned restricting air flow (both intake and exit) for air cooled units is a major no-no; you'll burn out your unit quickly (costing mucho $'s to repair/replace) and your unit will run very inefficiently (costing you mucho $$ in higher electric bills to run it).

In these parts the unit can't be within a foot or two of the drip line depending on the height of the overhang of the building - warranty and installation specs info for the condenser you can get from the manufacturer. Depending on location we also have rules regarding offset from lot lines for new projects, even if the old location, replacement A/C is grandfathered in, a new screening or fence would not be if it is encroaching on newer zoning set-back rules.

Ask your local building department for more info on whatever local guidelines may exist.


You might also find this tech Q & A article of interest:


Re: Air Conditioner Enclosure

I agree with the other posters. You really shouldn't enclose your air conditioning unit. As for having plants anywhere near the unit I would advise against that too. I say that because at our house we have grass near the air conditioning unit and a service technician told me that you really need to keep the grass away from the unit and if you can't do that clean the unit more often.
So I really envy you in a way because your unit is on a patio that I assume from what you told us is in your back yard. I also assume that you have either french doors or sliding glass doors that open into your back yard from the basement. In that case you could have an awning installed that would cover both the doors and the unit from the sun without having any air flow problems.
As for it really being necessary I don't really think so because we have had units both at our house and a house we rent out both shaded and unshaded and the units last about the same amount of years. One unit that was unshaded for instance we had for twenty five years before we had to buy another unit and other units we have had for maybe seven years and the whole thing dies on you. These units were both in the shade and out of the shade so it really doesn't matter.
I say buy as best a unit as you can afford from a reputable manufacturer with an excellent warranty and forget about the shade. On the other hand depending on how much snow you get you could cover the top of the unit while it is not in use if it is not a heat pump also. Just remember to remove the cover in the late spring. Even covering it though isn't absolutely necessary but might possibly give the unit a few more years.:)

Jacques Bouchard
Re: Air Conditioner Enclosure

Since most of the work done by an air conditioner is taking the moisture out of the air, dehumidifying the air might help. It's also worth the expense of putting in a central air conditioner instead of a small window AC if you're planning on living in the house for several years. It'll add to the value of your home and help pay back for the investment somewhat in the long run, and it saves energy in the meantime.

There's a good article about energy efficiency in the home here, if you're interested: http://www.basementsystems.com/press/view.php?id=58

Re: Air Conditioner Enclosure

The unit needs airflow as already suggested, but it will work more efficiently shaded. Lattice could be used with a nice climbing plant or vine to 'disguise' the purpose on one or two sides with 2-3 feet minimum clearance. That won't inhibit the airflow and will beautify the unit while allowing service access too. More and more I'm seeing plantings used to achieve this purpose as energy costs rise. As long as you know to keep the airflow maintained it can help though I personally think there is more is gained aesthetically than in operating costs, but every little bit helps!


Rodney H
Re: Air Conditioner Enclosure
kentina wrote:

I've heard air conditioners are more efficient when shaded from the boiling sun. My air conditioner sits on my patio. Where can I find a simple blueprint to use in building an enclosure for my unit?

Is it possible to reroute your air conditioner lines, so you can put the unit on the north side of the house?? If you have a full basement, it should be real easy to move the air conditioner lines, so you can have the compressor in the shade. Do not build an enclosure!!!

Good luck.

Re: Air Conditioner Enclosure
Infraredsurvey.com wrote:

Shade but do not enclose the unit..The hot discharge air will recirculated back into the unit and cause hi head pressure and trip- you need clearance to draw air in the sides and blow straight up and out.

This was great advice. I couldn't have said it better myself. Covering it in general would not be advised. Having something in the general vicinity to shade the unit from the sun is the way to go. Good luck to you.


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