Outdoor Condenser Unit: Let it Breathe

They Need Their Space Too
Air conditioners, like people, need room to breathe. The old saying “I need my space” applies to the condenser unit of your AC system too. That’s that big box outside your home, by the way.
We often give tips about cooling efficiency from the inside of your home, but it’s good to look outside as well. Your condenser is outdoors, and it needs a good amount of space to live in. The condenser cools down the refrigerant in the system and turns it from a hot vapor back into a cool liquid. The condensing coil dumps the heat picked up inside the home to the outdoor air. So the quicker your condenser can do its job, the lower the chances your system will break down. Not to mention it will save you money on electricity if it does its job efficiently.
Here are some ways you can keep your air conditioner running efficiently from the outside:
Don’t Crowd the Condenser Unit
We get it: that big box isn’t necessarily attractive. But homeowners often make the mistake of wanting to conceal their condenser unit by trying to cover it up. If you want to conceal your condenser unit, that’s cool and all, but do it properly. That means not trying to cover it up with objects that can obstruct it. In other words, don’t do something like build a deck over it to hide it. Interfering with airflow around your condenser unit will make your air conditioning system work harder, which costs you money.
Having your outdoor condenser unit shaded with bushes or perhaps a lattice fence around it can help improve its efficiency. But having too many obstructions around it can seriously damage your condenser unit. “Let it breathe, let it breathe! Speaking words of wisdom, let it breathe!” … Sorry.

Get Shady
A shaded area can be created by strategically planting different kinds of plants or vegetation around the condenser. This could help your system run more efficiently and prevent the unit from overworking. However, you want to surround it with plants that have little or no shedding of leaves. Anything that can block the airflow over the condensing coil can damage it. So planting trees or bushes that shed leaves or branches can cause the debris to block its airflow. And the less air flows over the coil, the less heat is removed. That’s a bad thing!
Keep in mind too that as the shrubbery gets bigger, it’s going to crowd your condensing unit. So it’s always important to keep the landscaping around your condenser up to date. If you decide to plant shrubs around the unit, make sure there is a good amount of space between the closest branches. We recommend at least three feet of space or more.
Keep It Clean
Dirt and leaves around the condenser unit can cut air flow, too. If enough dirt gets between the fins of the condenser, it’s going to reduce airflow. Make sure you trim the plants around the condenser and clear away any debris. We also often recommend with our shameless plugs to have your AC maintained regularly. So, you know, calling Super Heat & Air and taking advantage of our $29.95 Maintenance Special is a great thing! AC maintenance includes cleaning of the condenser coils, so it’s wise to call us and get it done!
The U.S. Dept. of Energy says that “a dirty condenser coil can increase compressor energy consumption by 30%.”
You can prevent damage and extend the life of your condenser by making sure that the coils and fins don’t get physically damaged. By installing a border such as a stone border around the base of your condenser and filling it with rocks or gravel can help keep your condenser clean. This could also help protect it from muddy rainwater runoff and from rocks and grass kicked up by your trimmer or lawn mower. Outside debris like grass, sticks, rocks, and even small critters like lizards can do a number on your air conditioning system if you neglect condenser care. … Yes, even lizards! And this is Florida, which has no shortage of geckos.
Give it Space
The location of your air conditioning unit greatly affects its energy efficiency. Allowing your outdoor unit to breathe improves ventilation. When a condensing unit is too close to the wall, it can create major problems. If there’s more than one condenser unit and they are too close to each other, they will literally be fighting for air!
Proper spacing around and above your AC unit should always be considered when laying out the area around the condenser. As mentioned before, we recommend keeping plants and other obstructions at least two to three feet from the condenser on all sides. We also recommended keeping at least five feet of clearance above the condenser.
It’s simple: maintain the area around the condenser clean to maximize efficiency and keep your air conditioner lasting a long time.
Keeping your AC system clean both inside and outside will ensure its longevity. Change your air filters regularly and have routine maintenance done inside but don’t neglect the outdoors. Get the most out of your air conditioner by keeping obstructions out of its way.
Maintaining your AC system working efficiently and free of problems is best left to the pros. So call Super Heat & Air! We’ll do some routine maintenance and ensure your AC unit is properly set up.

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