Outdoor AC Unit Clearance: Top, Multi-Unit, Heat Pump

outdoor AC unit clearance

In parts one and two of this multi-part blog series, we’ve gone over everything you need to know about clearance between your outdoor AC unit and other items. Keeping the unit clear of obstructions allows it to properly carry out its air intake and output functions, and these obstructions can range from physical structures to plants, trees and other forms of nature.

At Accurate Air, we’re proud to assist clients with numerous HVAC services, including air conditioner installations that involve specific measurements and calculations done to ensure your outdoor unit will have the proper clearance from any surrounding items. For today’s final entry into our series, we’ll dig into a few specific measurement areas to consider, including clearance atop your unit, plus a quick word on clearance for those who utilize outdoor heat pumps on their property.

Top Clearance

While the most important and well-known areas for AC unit clearance refer to the distance from the sides of the unit, clearance on top of the unit is also important. Generally speaking, HVAC professionals will recommend at least 60 inches (five feet) of clearance above any standard AC unit.

This allows air to properly circulate in and out of the unit. If there isn’t enough space on top of the condenser, your AC may pull in air that’s too warm, making it operate less efficiently – and creating a cycle that will only worsen with time while increasing your energy bill.

Between Two Units

What about cases or properties that utilize more than one outdoor unit? In these situations, clearance between the units themselves is also important for a few reasons, including the potential for both units competing for air if they’re too close together.

There isn’t a specific recommendation here in the HVAC world, largely because these situations are somewhat rare. Exact clearance between two units will depend on the units in question, but HVAC installers will usually ensure there’s at least 4-5 feet of space between any two separate units.

Outdoor Heat Pump Clearance

Finally, clearance will also be an important consideration for homes that utilize heat pumps – which involve outdoor equipment. Just like the AC, an outdoor heat pump unit needs proper clearance for the right levels of airflow; clearance levels are pretty similar to AC units, though you should inquire with your HVAC specialist about specific clearance needs.

In addition, it’s important to take some basic clearance-related care steps with your outdoor heat pump. Remove snow on and around the pump to improve efficiency; also be sure the coil always sits above snow, and that the inside of the unit is clean.

For more on clearance around AC and heat pump units, or to learn about any of our HVAC services, speak to the staff at Accurate Air today.

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