How Much Clearance Should My Outdoor AC Unit Have Around It?

The amount of space you have around the sides and above your outdoor AC unit can have a significant impact on its ability to cool your home effectively. Eventually, it can affect your unit’s longevity as well. It’s important to ensure that you have enough clearance around all sides of the outdoor unit; here’s what you should know.

Air Conditioning Unit

Basic Clearance Guidelines

At the bare minimum, you should have at least one foot (12”) of space on each side of your outdoor air conditioning unit. That said, some AC manufacturers suggest that you have at least two feet (24”) of clearance on all sides.

You should also have 60” minimum of vertical space above the unit for air to properly circulate throughout the HVAC system. If you place two outdoor AC units too close together, the airflow from each could impact both systems. The minimum recommended distance between two outdoor units is four (4) feet. Additional space may be necessary for larger systems.

Check with your HVAC equipment’s manufacturer to determine how much clearance is needed for your specific unit before proceeding with your AC installation.

Common Obstructions  

There are a number of common obstructions around air conditioning units that need to be accounted for. The material these obstructions are made of also play a role in how much space you need between the object and your AC unit.  

Fences, Walls, and Solid Objects

Walls and fences are almost always involved in some way during an AC unit installation, simply because it’s more efficient and aesthetically pleasing to have outdoor units closer to the house in a more hidden or unobtrusive area.

Wood fences or walls with little airflow need much more space between them and the unit. If your unit is too close to a solid wall or other object, it will not be able to adequately pull in or exhaust out enough air. However, if you have a chain-link fence, this is generally less of a problem because airflow remains largely unrestricted.

You should also make sure the unit is far enough away from any doors or windows in your home that exhaust doesn’t make its way into your house, decreasing your indoor air quality.

Bushes and Landscaping

Surrounding your outdoor AC unit with shrubs, bushes, and other types of landscaping can help it appear more attractive and increase your home’s curb appeal. That said, landscaping obstructions also result in decreased airflow around your outdoor air conditioning unit, causing it to work inefficiently.

If you do have landscaping around your outdoor HVAC unit, keep it at least two feet (24”) of clearance in between thick bushes and trees. Loose vegetation that allows plenty of airflow can be a little closer to your unit, but make sure you’re keeping your landscaping well maintained and trimmed back so there’s no overgrowth on your unit.  

Mechanical Objects

Your HVAC contractor should also pay special attention to any mechanical obstructions that may be in the way of your intended outdoor AC unit placement. For example, dryer outlet and kitchen exhaust vents should also have plenty of clearance around them and placing your AC unit too close to them can result in your unit pulling in contaminated air from your kitchen or dryer exhaust.  

What to Look for During New AC Installation  

If you’ve purchased a new HVAC or air conditioning system, make sure your technicians are able to provide you with clear specs that show where your outdoor unit(s) will be placed and how much clearance will be in between each one.

If your HVAC contractor fails to adequately plan for enough space around your units before the installation process, you could be out a lot of money for inefficient cooling and equipment that will end up burning itself out in half the time as a properly installed outdoor unit. Before signing any installation contracts, make sure you’ve seen the proposed schematics on how your equipment will specifically be placed in the context of your home.

Contact Massachusetts Veteran HVAC Service Providers N.E.T.R., Inc. Today for AC Repair or Installation

At N.E.T.R., Inc., we value the total comfort of our customers. We know that inadequately installed HVAC systems are a complete waste of our client’s resources; they cost too much for the poor performance they give, and both your comfort and indoor air quality can suffer.

Our team has decades of combined experience in helping customers build customized heading and cooling solutions for their homes and businesses and can help you do the same. Contact us today for more information about AC unit installation or to schedule an appointment by calling (781) 933-6387.

Our team of Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Elite Contractors are standing by ready to provide you with the top-quality service N.E.T.R., Inc. has become known for in the Boston area over the years. 

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