The location of your outdoor AC unit is far more important than you may realize. Choosing the right location makes a major difference in how effective your air conditioning system works, how much energy it uses and how long it may last. Luckily, determining which location is best is fairly easy as long as you follow these tips.

Consider Where the AC Evaporator Coil Is Located Inside Your House

AC condensers are most commonly installed on either the side of the house or in the backyard. Determining which location is best depends largely on where the AC evaporator coil is located inside your house. Ideally, you’ll want to have the outdoor AC unit installed as close to the indoor part of the system as possible. The reason is that the efficiency of an AC system decreases the further away the indoor and outdoor parts of the system are from each other.

The system will work most efficiently if the refrigerant line set that connects the AC condenser and the evaporator coil is under 50 feet long. That said, the refrigerant lines can usually run for up to 100 feet with only a minimal decrease in efficiency. If the condenser has to pump the refrigerant over a distance of more than 100 feet, the system will end up using more energy and not working as effectively.

The height difference between the AC condenser and the evaporator coil can be equally as important. If there is more than a 20-foot difference in height between the indoor and outdoor parts of the system, it will also lead to your AC not working nearly as efficiently as it could.

Choose a Location Close to Your House

Another thing to consider is the location of the AC unit in relation to the exterior of your house. The reason is not only to keep the refrigerant line set as short as possible but also to minimize the length of the line set that needs to be run outside. Your AC will still work most efficiently when there the majority of the line set runs inside your house instead of outside.

Although the outdoor lines will be insulated, the hot outdoor air will still end up raising the temperature of the refrigerant before it enters the home. As the refrigerant temperature increases, it reduces how much heat it can absorb and leads to the system cooling more slowly. If the majority of the line set runs inside where it’s cooler, the system will work far more effectively since the refrigerant won’t heat up as much as it travels from the condenser to the evaporator coil. As such, it’s always best to install the unit within a few feet of an exterior wall if possible.

Consider How Much Sunlight Your AC Will Get

This factor is similar to the previous one in that an outdoor AC unit that is constantly exposed to direct sunlight will get hotter during the day and not work as efficiently. Your house will always provide the most shade for your AC unit. As such, it’s generally best to install the unit on the north side of your house if possible so that it’s shaded during the hottest parts of the day.

If there isn’t a suitable location on the north side of your house, then the next best option is on the east side, where the unit will be shaded during the afternoon. A unit that is on either the south or west side of the house will receive more direct sunlight and not work as well. Trees can also be a great source of shade, or you could even build an awning a few feet above the unit to provide it with the shade it needs to work most effectively.

Think About Noise

While modern AC condensers produce quite a bit less noise than older units, you’ll still usually be able to hear at least some noise inside your house whenever the unit is running. Exactly how loud your AC will be depends mostly on the size of the unit and how efficient it is.

In hotter climates where an AC will often still need to run overnight, you should choose a location away from any bedrooms so that the noise doesn’t disturb your sleep at night. This is less of an issue in Oregon where your AC typically won’t run overnight, but you may still want to choose a location that’s further away from your living room or whatever parts of your home you use most.

One other thing to consider, in terms of noise, is that any nearby structures like a shed or your neighbor’s house will reflect the sound so that you may hear more noise inside your house. This is one reason why you may want to choose to install the unit in your backyard instead of on the side of your house.

Make Sure the AC Unit Has Sufficient Clearance

One of the most essential things when deciding where to install your AC unit is to choose a location that has sufficient clearance. That means making sure that there is at least 2-3 feet of open space around the unit. Any shrubs, trees, tall vegetation or structures that are too close to the front or sides of the unit will interfere with airflow and make the system much less effective and efficient.

For an AC to work properly, the compressor fan in the outdoor unit needs to be able to constantly pull air into the unit. This is because the air flowing through the unit is what allows the hot refrigerant to release heat as it moves through the condenser coil. If the airflow is blocked, the refrigerant won’t be able to release as much heat. That means the refrigerant will be at a higher temperature when it gets pumped back inside and thus won’t be able to capture as much heat from your home.

Not only will this issue limit the effectiveness of your AC and cause it to run longer, but it can also lead to your AC overheating and randomly shutting down. Even worse, overheating can cause major damage or greatly shorten the lifespan of your AC unit.

Opt for a Location Your Dog Can’t Access

Dogs are naturally predisposed to marking their territory by urinating. This can cause major issues if you have a dog that routinely urinates on your AC unit since the urine will start to corrode the condenser coil. It usually won’t take but a few years before dog urine destroys a large percentage of the fins on the condenser coil and greatly reduces the efficiency of your AC.

There is also a high risk of the coil corroding to the point where it leads to a refrigerant leak and forces you to pay a large amount to have the coil replaced. These issues are why it’s a good idea to build an enclosure around your AC unit if you install it in any area that your dog has access to.

3 Mountains Home Services has been serving the Milwaukie area since 2000, and we’re ready to handle all of your home service needs. No matter what type of plumbing, drain, sewer and electrical services you need, contact us today to get the expert help and advice you deserve.

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