How Much Clearance to Have Around Your Air Conditioner

To avoid the need for premature air conditioning repair in Chicago, you’re going to need the proper amount of clearance above and on each side of your outdoor air conditioning unit. That said, the amount of clearance you need depends on what is surrounding the unit.

Generally, if more porous material such as shrubbery—which air can travel through easily—is surrounding the unit, you’ll need less clearance. Alternatively, if it’s a solid wall that’s surrounding the unit, you’ll need more clearance. But before you go planting shrubs or building a wall around your air conditioner, keep reading for more details and considerations you’ll need to make about air conditioner clearance.

Air Conditioner Clearance by the Numbers

The general rule of thumb is to have at least one foot (or 12 inches) of clearance on each side of your air conditioner. Your air conditioner’s manufacturer may have specific clearance recommendations, but they’ll generally recommend between 12 and 24 inches. However, as we mentioned earlier, you can get away with less clearance without increasing the chance that you’ll need an air conditioner repair in Chicago if the material you’re surrounding the unit with is porous, like a shrub.

That said, if you decide to have minimal clearance because you’re using a shrub to shield the unit, remember that shrubs grow and 12 inches of clearance may quickly turn into 6 inches or less.

Clearance on Top of Your AC Unit

In addition to proper clearance on each side, your air conditioner needs enough room to circulate air in and out. If you don’t give the unit at least 60 inches of vertical clearance, you run the risk of putting extra stress on it and increasing the chances that you’ll need air conditioner repair in Chicago.

Moreover, lack of clearance on top of the unit means that the air conditioner is pulling in warmer air which makes the machine operate less efficiently. This drives your monthly cooling bill up and it increases the wear and tear on your AC unit.

More than Just Air Flow

The last thing to remember is that clearance is not just about air flow. You’ll also want enough clearance to allow a service technician to have access to the unit itself. So if you’re planting shrubs or building a wall, leave at least one side with enough clearance for a grown person to access the critical components of the AC unit.