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Finding the Right Location For Your Air Conditioner

Two residential air conditioner units outside of a home.

We all love our air conditioners, but having a big grey box in the yard doesn’t look great – especially if you’ve been putting a lot of work into your garden. Finding the right location isn’t just about hiding it, but hiding it without causing problems down the road.

The most important thing to remember is that you don’t want to make your air conditioner work harder than needed. When it works harder, it will use more energy, and that will cost you more money. There are two ways to help your air conditioner work efficiently:

  1. Make sure there is always lots of room for air to flow freely around your AC.
  2. Keep it as shaded as possible.

It’s all about letting the hot air inside the unit escape as easily as possible.

Location, Location, Location

The outdoor part of your air conditioner (called a condenser) can be almost any distance from the indoor part of your air conditioner (called an evaporator). The farther apart they are from each other, however, the bigger the diameter of your connecting cables will need to be.

Try to keep the following in mind when you’re choosing a location for your condenser unit:

  1. Ideally the box should go in the location where it will get the least direct sun. In many cases this will be the northern exposure of your home. If this isn’t possible, try the eastern. Another option is to choose a location that is shaded by tall shrubs or trees.
  2. You aren’t going to want to look at the unit when you look out the window – try for a section of wall without a window.
  3. Putting your air conditioner in your front yard doesn’t make for great curb appeal, so opt for the back or a side yard.
  4. Even the best modern air conditioners make some noise, so try to situate it away from the patio if you like to entertain.
  5. Don’t put it where snow drifts accumulate, or where you’ll want to pile snow when shovelling.
  6. Don’t put it under where any water runoff from your roof will fall on it (a downspout can redirect it away if needed).
  7. Also consider your neighbours when finding a spot – if you don’t want to look at it or hear it, they probably don’t either.

It’s not always possible to find a location that is perfect, so try and find the best balance.

Blending Your AC Into Your Landscape

Once you’ve chosen a site for your AC, you’ll want to camouflage it as much as possible in your yard. There are several methods to do this. For all methods, make sure that there is at least a few feet of clear space around all sides of the air conditioner so that air can flow (your Knight technician can tell you how much is needed for your exact model).

Here’s how to hide it:

  1. Plant shrubs around it. Check periodically to make that branches don’t crowd the unit or drop dead leaves on it. A simple path may be all that’s needed to get access it for servicing.
  2. Build a screen to hide it. You will need to build a door in the screen or leave an open end so that the air conditioner can be accessed.
  3. Build a box to surround it. If you try this method, make sure there is access to all sides of the unit, like a top that is on hinges and can be lifted. Don’t forget that there needs to be a way of supporting the lid without having to hold it the whole time.

Also remember that the condenser itself must be level and elevated away from where rainwater will pool on the ground. A concrete pad or patio stone base will be needed.

If you’re looking for ideas about how to camouflage your air conditioner, we found lots of creative ideas on Pinterest. Just remember that any container has to have vents to allow airflow.

Looking for advice on installing a new air conditoner for your Calgary home? Talk to the friendly experts at Knight.

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