Outdoor AC Unit Clearance: Importance and Guidelines

outdoor AC clearance guidelines

As we enter the primary cooling season of the year, homeowners naturally will be paying more attention to their air conditioner components, including the vital condenser unit outside the home. And for anyone performing installation of a new condenser unit, or even those dealing with related areas like landscaping or even major gardening nearby, there’s a theme it’s important to consider: Clearance, or the distance between the condenser unit and any surrounding items.

At Accurate Air, we’re here to help with air conditioning installation, repair and numerous related AC services for all our clients, including assistance with general themes like condenser unit clearance. Why does this theme matter for homes, what are the general spacing guidelines you should be keeping in mind for your condenser, and what are some of the obstructions that may be present and methods for dealing with them? This multi-part blog series will investigate.

Why Spacing Matters

Clearance from your condenser unit, also known simply as AC unit spacing, is important for a few reasons. The most important is simple: If the unit is obstructed by various objects or blockages, it will not be able to maintain full airflow, which includes venting out hotter air that’s been pulled from the home. Here are some of the trickle-down effects that may take place if you allow this to happen:

  • The home will not receive adequate cooling.
  • The AC unit will have to use far more electricity to produce the same amount of cooling, and your utility bill could go up – often by a major amount.
  • Heat generated inside the condenser and compressor will not be able to fully flow out from the unit. In many cases, this creates long-term damage to interior components and limits the effective lifespan of the condenser unit.

General Guidelines

So how much space does your condenser unit need? Generally speaking, HVAC professionals will tell you that there should be at least one foot of clearance on each side of the unit – however, there may be some manufacturers who recommend a longer distance, such as two feet on each side. There are also other factors to consider, including the types of obstructions that may be present, and these will be covered in part two of our series.

Site Inspection

If you’re performing any kind of home upgrade or landscaping alteration that may impact the AC unit, you should strongly consider a site inspection from an HVAC professional. This is especially true if you’re installing or replacing your condenser unit. Our contractors will assess your area and note any potential issues that may obstruct the unit, plus design the ideal location for installation on your behalf.

For more on how to determine clearance needs for your outdoor AC unit, or to learn about any of our heating and air services, speak to the staff at Accurate Air today.

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