Keep Your Air Conditioner Safe With These 9 Security Tips

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated November 29, 2021
outdoor air conditioning unit
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Protect your AC from would-be thieves looking to turn a quick profit

Your air conditioner makes your home life comfortable in those peak summer months—so of course it’s precious to you. Unfortunately, it’s also an appliance that burglars covet due to the value of its copper in certain parts, such as the coils. Thieves looking to resell this in-demand metal on the black market can walk off with your AC in a matter of minutes. But you can take home security measures to thwart would-be thieves and keep your AC units safe. 

Read on for nine tips that will protect your air conditioner and all of its valuable parts.

1. Install an AC Cage or Wire Fence

outdoor ac unit with metal cage
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ac unit  with metal cage
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Installing a cage or wire fence over your outdoor air conditioning unit, and bolting it down to surrounding concrete will make it more challenging to steal. Most thieves don’t want to deal with the hassle and time required to get past the enclosure. Many AC cages come pre-made, in a range of sizes, though you can also build a custom one. If you opt for the latter, make sure it allows for enough airflow; if the unit can’t breathe effectively, your energy efficiency will suffer and you could shorten its lifespan.

2. Lock The ACvDisconnect Box

Before would-be thieves dash off with your AC, they’d need to disconnect its power. Place a strong padlock on the disconnect box (usually located a few feet from the unit itself) to create one more barrier that will discourage most robbers.

3. Install Outdoor Spotlights

Strategically place outdoor lighting around and point it toward your air conditioner. A thief, not wanting to get caught, won’t be too thrilled about having to pull off a heist while under a spotlight. Motion sensor lighting can also scare off a thief who assumed they’d be working in the dark.

4. Install an Alarm

A local HVAC company can install special alarms on your unit to detect voltage interruption, tampering, or refrigerant loss. These security devices can issue a siren and call you or the police if your unit is compromised. 

5. Trim Back Bushes and Clean Up Your Landscaping

Trim back any hedges or bushes that are obstructing the view of your air conditioner—a thief does not like to work in plain sight. Overgrown branches can give them the cover they need to haul off your unit without getting caught. 

6. Keep Your Yard Secure

If you have secure fences around your property, make sure to lock them each night and when you leave the house. If you don’t have fencing, consider installing some—a robber won’t like the idea of having to scale a tall barrier to get to an AC unit.

7. Place Window Units On the Second Floor

If you’re worried about someone stealing your AC window units, consider placing them on the second floor rather than the first. You should also ensure they are securely mounted, ideally with tamper-proof screws, brackets/braces, and proper placement of accordion panels. Finally, check all your windows and make sure you’re following the top tips to increase window security so a burglar can’t sneak through one window to get to an air conditioner—or anything else.

8. Mark Your AC Unit

The work a thief has to do to disconnect and haul off your unit can damage it, but it could still be salvageable if recovered. Etch your name, address, phone number, and the unit’s serial number on the parts most likely to be stolen and sold, like the copper condenser. Microdot identification systems are also available, which allow you to place small, microscopic dots on your unit which contain a code unique to you.

9. Add a Dog to Your Household

No thief wants to draw attention to their crime, so adopting a dog that will bark at the sight or sound of an intruder can be a great security measure. In addition, you’ll welcome a loyal new family member to your home.