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The Best Place to Install Your Air Conditioner

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Posted June 1, 2018
Outdoor AC unit at a Houston home

Air conditioning technology is continually pushing for improvements that reduce the environmental footprint and make cooling systems more energy efficient. The environment and your wallet benefit from high-efficiency equipment – but you won’t see these benefits if your air conditioner is improperly installed.

Placement matters

Without proper installation you can offset the advantages of a new air-conditioning system, making it perform as poorly as older models. There are several things your contractor needs to consider, including:

The right place

  • The right place is not the garage or attic – your condenser needs a continual supply of fresh air and closed spaces limit that, and such placement may even void the manufacturer’s warranty.
  • The right place is more likely on the north or east side of the house, or at least a cooler side that sees less direct sunlight.
  • There needs to be enough space around the unit for easy access when it comes time for maintenance and repair.
  • Make sure there are no objects, such as trees or shrubs, too close as to block airflow – everything should be at least two feet away.
  • Keep it away from kitchen or laundry vents, as well as drip lines, roof run offs, etc.
  • It also needs to be 6 to 12 inches away from any walls, and the fan needs about 6 inches of space for free up flow.
  • Place thermostats away from windows or supply vents so they don’t register an artificially high indoor temperature.

Proper ductwork

  • Duct size is relative to the space you’re cooling – be sure your ducts are sized according to the recommendations of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).
  • Make sure there are enough registers to circulate air properly.
  • Installing ductwork near the conditioned area is preferable to installing it in the attic.
  • Make sure all ducts are properly sealed.

Other considerations

  • Place the condensing unit where the sound will not bother you or your neighbors – new equipment is quieter, but it’s not entirely silent.
  • Try not to place it too far from the area that needs to be cooled.
  • Make sure it’s away from children’s play areas.
  • Some installers recommend putting it in a shady area, although research shows it may have minimal effect, and the risk of interrupting the air flow with organic debris may outweigh any advantages.

You may think your HVAC equipment should go in an inconspicuous spot – and not give much more thought to the matter. However, it’s good to know that positioning it properly can enhance long-term system performance and even extend its life. When you’re installing a new or replacement air conditioner, a trusted local HVAC professional can determine the best location for maximum power and efficiency and minimum inconvenience.


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