How to Hide an Air Conditioner Unit Outside to Reduce Clutter

Bill Taylor
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Step 1: Consider the Lay of the Land

Your Air Conditioner Unit will have to be fitted into a chosen spot on your property. Is there adequate space for an air conditioner unit outside?

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How much level space (e.g. driveway) is needed?

Will the area that you have available be suitable?

How important is it to be close to an outside electrical outlet?

You will have to deal with these issues so you may as well find out if your first choice will work.

You should also consider whether you have enough space to connect the hoses that will run to where you will place the air conditioner unit.

Step 2: Measure the Space You Need to Cover

In essence, all you're doing is moving the air conditioner, but you also need to blend the existing furniture and other plantings into the new space, so measure the space carefully. You will also want the unit, if it’s outside a window, to match the window trim around it.

Step 3: Relocate the Window Unit

First, move the unit into place. If it is the larger window unit, this is going to take two people because it is quite heavy.

Step 4: Caulk and Seal the Unit

Make sure that the caulking job is a good one; you will be using it for years to come.

Step 5: Landscape Around the Unit

Step 3: Review Your Options

The first step is to really answer the question, “What do I need my air conditioner for?” You need to determine how you will use your unit and what you need it to do.

If you're expecting a large guest list at your upcoming graduation party, then you want a unit large enough to handle the crowd.

Don't wait until the big night and have to respond to a bunch of grumpy people telling you how hot they are. If you love your home and have a large family, then you will need a large unit to keep everyone comfortable.

If you live in a hot climate, then you need a unit capable of handling that type of heat and humidity. You also need to consider what time of year you will need your unit.

Harsh winters will put more stress on the unit. For example, do you have young kids and really need a unit right now, or can you find a unit that holds up better to the most severe weather?

The size of your house will also determine the unit's size and power supply. If you only have one bedroom, your needs will be very different than a larger household.

The next thing you need to consider is the unit's efficiency rating. If you are concerned about the environmental impact, then you will want a unit with a higher efficiency rating.

Live Plant Solutions for Hiding Your Air Conditioner Unit

Use live plants to hide your AC unit in a decorative accent. The most popular plants for this purpose are potted geraniums, perrenials and tender tropical plants. These plants are must-haves in your sunny porch and they keep your family cool and comfortable. The live plant solution can also work on an ugly air conditioner installed on the roof next to your house. The plants will grow from above your AC unit or on the roof around it. It is better to choose a shade-loving plant to avoid direct sunlight on the AC unit.

Considerations When Using Other Materials

The best option is to use an existing deck that is starting to age to hide the A/C unit. Like any other structure, decks can also be modified. Depending on the size of the deck, you can usually enlarge it enough to accommodate your air conditioner. However, it’s important to start your deck planning before the weather gets too warm. Waiting to add this when the weather gets hot will be counter-productive to your plan. To assure you can complete your project in the cooler months, it’s a good idea to talk with a professional about any construction concerns.

If possible, you may want to consider putting the deck and air conditioner in the same space. If your deck is big enough to accommodate a small patio table, you can consider installing an A/C unit under the deck, with the exhaust venting out of the house. This option is not only easy to install, but it is one of the least expensive. However, if you opt for this solution, be aware that ventilation might become an issue during the summer. Also, if your house is not raised from the ground, you need to properly vent the unit.

Step 4: Do Your Homework if You Want to Dig

The fourth step in digging a hole for an air conditioner is to research all the ordinances and regulations required in your local area. Some communities require that certain permits be obtained for a hole to be dug. In some cases, local utilities might have lines running right by where you will dig. This can be hazardous and result in an electric shock. Ask the professionals if there is anything that might get in your way where you intend to dig. For example, in some places they may be pushing against the gas line.

Once you have done your homework on local ordinances and utility lines that may cross your path, you can begin your project.

Step 5: Gather Your Materials

Air conditioners are an excellent part of modern life. They quickly cool down rooms, and the compressor allows you to set the desired temperature, and the air conditioner will keep the room at that temperature until a signal to lower it has been given. These devices can also control humidity to an extent, and can even help dehumidify your home when you have too much moisture in the air.

But these wonderful tools also have a few disadvantages; they are notoriously noisy, as they run on the same kind of compressor you might find in a refrigerator, and they can take up space. If you want to keep your air conditioner in good operating condition, however, you need to keep it properly ventilated. That means venting around the outside of your house to avoid eave troughs, and a vent directly into the room within which the AC is situated.

Step 6: Install Your Screen

Line up both sides of your screen with the outside frame of the window set the window screen into the frame. The screen will overlap the frame, be sure to leave room for this as you install.

Locate the center of the screen rail and center that mark on the edge of your window frame. This will be the center, of the screen around the outside frame.

Starting with one side position the screen on the window frame with the screen material fitting snugly against the inside of the frame. Measure the screen the height and width across both sides of the frame. Position two staples on each side and about every two inches on the sides, into the frame as well. Drive the staple on the screen side only.

Measure and place your next two staples on the opposite side. Then finish with the last two staples on the last side.

Check to make sure the screen is pulled tightly and is pulling the screen tightly against the inside of the frame.

Final Thoughts

There are a number of ways you can camouflage an air conditioning unit. There's no one right way. Some people cover the air conditioner with a planter and some try to make it look like another piece of the house.

The simple fact that your air conditioner is located outside can help you escape the clutches of winter. If you live in the south, an outdoor A/C unit will prop open the doors and windows in your house. But air conditioning is not just about blasting cold air in your house. Air conditioning is comfort. Air conditioning is the sound of a fan whirring on low, and it is the smell of fresh sheets, and the sound of a shower and the smell of clean skin.

There's no better way to enjoy fresh sheets than to have them fleece-soft against your skin, and there's no better way to escape the clutches of a long, hot summer day than to kindly ask the air conditioner to move a few goosebumps to your family's northernmost extremities.

Air conditioning is about all of the things that are great about being indoors and all of the things that are great about being outside. The only way we can be both at once is to have an air conditioning unit inside that we can also enjoy outdoors.