7 Cool Tips to Hide Your Air Conditioner

Garrett Kelly
Written by Garrett Kelly
Updated August 4, 2015
Outdoor A/C and flowers
Ornamentation can beautify an A/C, but be sure to leave room for service as well. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Todd Betts of Ormond Beach, Florida)

Looking to hide your air conditioner? Follow these tips to disguise your outdoor A/C unit.

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Whether you’re working in the yard, playing with your kids or walking the dog this summer, there will be times when it feels like the devil himself is breathing on your body.

To combat the heat, air conditioning units are essential, but they don’t always look aesthetically pleasing plopped next to your home. Learn how to disguise your A/C unit with advice from a landscaper, fencing contractor and HVAC provider.

1. Pick the Perfect Landscaping

Peter Klinkenberg, owner of Floridigenous Landscape in Clearwater, Florida, says ornamental grasses are perfect for hiding A/C units because they don’t get overgrown. “Ornamental grasses top out at 3 to 4 feet and are low maintenance,” he says. If you prefer the look of shrubs, Klinkenberg recommends Indian hawthorn.

2. Forgo the Fitted Cover

Rob Smith, service manager for Bartlett Heating & Cooling in Marietta, Georgia, advises homeowners not to use fitted cloth or vinyl covers to shield A/C units. Smith says covering them impedes air circulation. “Worst case is it damages your compressor and you have to replace the unit,” he says.

3. Leave a Little Space

Jon Lindstrom, owner of Pinnacle Fencing Solutions in Phoenix, says a fence constructed to conceal an A/C unit should leave at least 3 feet of empty space around the unit. He says that distance maintains good airflow and leaves space for a service technician to access the A/C. “I suggest you have a gate that is at least the same size as the unit or larger in case you need to replace it,” he says.

4. Investigate Alternative Irrigation

Klinkenberg acknowledges you may have different companies asking different things of you. While your landscaper might suggest keeping plants wet, the HVAC provider doesn’t want water corroding the unit. Klinkerberg suggests installing a drip irrigation system, which uses tubes and emitters to guide water directly to plants and away from the A/C unit’s fan system.

5. Bypass Building Above

According to Smith, A/C units should have about 5 to 6 feet of clearance above them. He says covering the top of the unit lowers efficiency and actually heats up the space around it.

6. Cover the Ground

Klinkenberg says if you opt to plant around the A/C you need to cover the bedding. He suggests using rock rather than mulch. Although rock is more expensive, it won’t get caught in the fan.

7. Maximize Masking Efforts

Turn the area around your A/C into a mini storage unit. Build a fence higher than your A/C and use the space to store shovels and hoses.

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