Air Conditioner Cover: Does Your Outdoor Unit Need Extra Protection?
As the leaves begin to fall in autumn and temperature starts to drop, homeowners start thinking about winterizing their homes, which includes weatherproofing the house, sealing the cracks to maintain a cozy environment, and insulating the attic. Moreover, in summers, extreme heat can decrease the appliances’ efficiency, and many people think of ways to tackle this problem. As a homeowner, it is essential that you take all necessary steps to protect your home and the devices that keep your house comfortable.
But what about the air conditioning outer unit? Does it need extra protection during extreme weather? Should it be covered? Many homeowners may skip this step or become confused about whether or not to put on an air conditioner cover.
There is no straightforward answer. It would be best to weigh the benefits and risks of covering the outdoor unit.
This article will cover all you need to know about air conditioner covers and whether your AC needs an extra layer of protection or not:
- Why & when should you cover your AC’s outdoor unit
- Risks involved when choosing a cover
- How to cover the right way
- Things to consider when selecting the best outer unit cover
- 6 best AC covers in 2021
Should You Cover Your Air Conditioner’s Outdoor Unit?
Some say that there is no need for an AC cover. Outdoor units are built strong enough to withstand all conditions. However, extreme weather conditions and temperatures speed up the process of wear and tear of your air conditioner. This, in turn, stops your AC from working effectively and can also lead to higher electricity bills. Covering your outdoor AC unit can be very useful to prevent the effects of extreme temperature from harming your AC in various seasons. When your AC’s outer unit is not in use, you can protect it from dust and debris to keep it in good condition.
The falling of leaves and twigs signifies the fall season. The winds facilitate trees in the shedding process. This makes your AC’s outdoor unit vulnerable to leaves and debris getting stuck inside. These organic materials can create a place for moisture to collect in your unit and interfere with its functionality. They can also clog your drain system, which won’t flow properly when you use your AC unit in the following spring season.
The dirt settled on the outdoor unit will get sucked when you turn the unit on in the summers and clog your air filters. Dirty filters can have a profound effect on your indoor air quality and reduce the efficiency of your air conditioning unit. For this reason, maintenance of air filters is highly important. If you forget about cleaning your air filtering, you can invest in a smart AC controller that works with a mini-split air conditioner, window AC and portable heat pump. It automatically notifies you about your air filter status and when it needs to be cleaned.
Moreover, heavy rain in summers and winters can cause the water to enter your outdoor unit, which can cause oxidation. Oxidation is a process that speeds up rusting. The water can also get in the condenser coils, leading to corrosion in the long run.
If you live in an area that experiences high snowdrifts or blizzards, snow can pile up on your system. You would not want snow melting and causing moisture to build up in your unit. It can have severe consequences for the overall health of your air conditioner. Heavy storms can cause small objects like stones to strike your outdoor unit and cause severe damage. During a hailstorm, small gravels can enter your unit and obstruct the fan movement.
In summers, when you are on vacation, and your AC is turned off, its outdoor unit can become vulnerable if it is in an area that receives direct sunlight. The hot afternoon sun can have an impact on how your condenser coils dissipate heat and may hinder their performance.
To avoid such issues and ensure that your air conditioner stays in optimal condition, consider putting on an air conditioner cover. An AC cover may also help with energy consumption as it protects your unit from harsh weather. Air conditioners are durable; they can withstand the varying climate, but extreme conditions like high snowdrifts and hot afternoon sun can be destructive, and it is best to take the required measures.
If your unit serves both heating and cooling purposes and runs all year round, you would think there is no need for an air conditioner cover. You don’t necessarily have to cover the unit for its protection. You can choose to conceal the outdoor unit for aesthetic purposes. There are many ways you can protect or hide your AC unit outside.
Risks Involved When Choosing an Air Conditioner Cover
If you thought that covering your air conditioner can give it absolute protection, then you might be wrong. Covering an air conditioner comes with its own set of disadvantages that need to be considered.
Moisture can penetrate the unit even with a cover on and become trapped, leading to mold infestation and accelerated corrosion. The mildew growth can interfere with airflow and can hinder the functioning of the condenser. It can also impact your home’s air quality as molds and mildew can easily infiltrate your home. Your air conditioner is made to be open in the air; covering it will block the proper airflow and can also lead to mold growth.
Putting on a cover on your HVAC unit can also invite some unwelcome guests like pests and rodents. Mice are known for chewing the wires and making room for their nest inside the unit. This can lead to costly repairs. If you have a ductless mini-split, pests such as lizards can even make their way into your home through the hole connecting the inside unit to the outside unit.
If you do not want to deal with the pest and mold problem that comes with putting on a cover, there’s good news for you. New HVAC models employ technology that gives plenty of protection to your unit even without a cover. They are made with weather-resistant materials, such as stainless steel, aluminum, and copper, to endure harsh weather conditions. However, if you have an older unit, it may be beneficial to cover it during winters.
Modern and well-designed covers can also help prevent mold, pest, and corrosion problems. You can also open it from time to time to allow ventilation.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Cover
People seeking to protect their air conditioning units might put on a cover made of plastic or rubber, which can suffocate your unit and cause more harm than good. Air conditioner covers help in keeping your AC in its best condition for the next season. So, you would want to purchase the material that ensures durability and protection. A cover is only helpful if it is the right cover.
We have listed some factors that would help you in making the right choice:
Since moisture is the root cause of many issues, it is recommended to use a waterproof cover that does not allow water to seep in. It will ensure that moisture does not get trapped in and will prevent mold growth.
The size of the cover should match the size of your outdoor unit. Measure the dimensions of your air conditioner before purchasing the cover. If your measurements are not listed, choose the cover with the closest dimensions. Also, choose a cover that is slightly shorter in height than your AC. A cover that touches the ground can provide a place for rodents to hide.
Don’t put plastic covers on your air conditioner. You’ll suffocate your air conditioner. Instead, use covers made from breathable and porous fabric that allows air circulation, such as mesh.
When selecting a cover, go for a sturdy material such as PVC or woven polyester. These types of materials are highly durable and can withstand extreme conditions.
Easy to Install
Look for covers that are easy to put on and remain firmly attached to the AC. Padded handles make it easy to put on and take off when not in use. Further, look for plastic hems that will hold the cover in its place, so it does not get blown away by heavy winds.
An AC should have a warranty that you can ensure that it will last a few seasons. Look for manufacturers that give at least a 2-year warranty.
An air conditioner cover that protects against harsh ultraviolet rays will inhibit fading and prevent it from becoming brittle over time.
How to Cover Your Air Conditioner the Right Way?
Here are some ways on how to cover an air conditioner that gives it the maximum protection it needs to survive in a harsh climate:
- Use a breathable fabric to maximize the airflow and avoid moisture creeping in.
- If you want to shield your air conditioner from snow falling directly, put a plywood cover on top of it.
- Install a shelter attached to your home building that covers most of your unit. In this way, you can get away with not putting on a cover. But remember, you still need to protect your air conditioner and prepare it for the winter.
6 Best Central AC Covers For 2021
If you decide that you absolutely need a cover for your air conditioner during fall and winter, we have a list of best covers that you can purchase from Amazon. They have most of the features that will ensure your AC’s durability. You can check these out and see which one best suits your requirements:
1. Covermates Air Conditioner Cover
This is one of the highest-rated air conditioner covers available on Amazon. 85% of people have given it a 5-star rating that signifies its popularity among the homeowners.
It has 14 different sizes to ensure that maximum units are catered. Made up of thick 12-gauge vinyl material, it offers water and dirt resistance. It has buckle straps to secure it on your outdoor unit firmly, so you don’t have to worry about strong wind taking it off.
2. Cosfly Air Conditioner Cover
Cosfly’s central air conditioner cover is made up of high-quality 600D polyester material, which provides extra insulation and protects against moisture, snow, hailstorm, and debris. It also has strong drawstrings that securely cover your AC. Cosfly claims that the cover will protect the outdoor unit from rusting and can help extend your unit’s life by 20 percent. Like other covers on the list, this has air vents that help with ventilation, thus preventing moisture buildup in your HVAC unit.
3. Duck Air Conditioner Cover
This air conditioner cover can cater to most square-shaped outdoor units. The fabric is designed to be breathable & water-resistant and can easily keep molds at bay. Moreover, the cover is UV treated, which means you don’t have to worry about its color fading and material becoming brittle due to direct sunlight falling on top of the cover.
4. Kylinlucky Air Conditioner Cover
Kylinlucky’s central air conditioner cover is created using 600D polyester, waterproof material to prevent rust that comes with excessive moisture. It comes with padded handles for easy fitting. Moreover, it claims to protect your AC from rain, sun damage, snow, debris buildup, and leaves.
5. Mesh Air Conditioner Cover
AC mesh cover by Sturdy Covers only stays on the top part of your outdoor unit. Moreover, it is designed to repel moisture and prevents condensation. The mesh material has the added advantage of not providing a cozy environment that attracts rodents and pests.
The mesh design also ensures ample airflow to create a dry environment for electrical components in your unit. Installation involves four bungee hooks to fasten to each side of your AC unit, which keeps it secure in its place throughout the season.
6. Ravenna Air Conditioner Cover
This central air conditioner cover is created using Gardella woven polyester fabric with UV and water protection. Furthermore, it comes with a 2-year warranty so you can rest assured that it will last quite a while. Fully equipped with mesh air vents, it helps to minimize condensation and increase airflow. It is rated relatively high for sturdiness so if it is something that you are looking for, consider going for this one.
|Covermates Air Conditioner Cover||Water-resistant materialOffers dirt, water, and UV protection2-year warranty||$44.99||4.8|
|Cosfly Air Conditioner Cover||Air vents to prevent moisture buildupProtection from rain, snow, dirt, sun damage, debris, and hail stormsAnti-wind design – drawstring hems allow protection against winds||$29.99||4.75|
|Duck Air Conditioner Cover||Water-proof, breathable fabricOffers protection against UV rays2-year warranty||$22||4.7|
|Kylinlucky Air Conditioner Cover||Water-resistant fabricProtection from rain, sun damage, snow, debris buildup, and leaves||$26.99||4.7|
|Mesh Air Conditioner Cover||The PVC-coated mesh material provides airflowProtects against dirt and moistureLight-weight material||$29.99||4.7|
|Classic Ravenna Water-Resistant Air Conditioner||Water-resistant and UV stabilized outer coatingAir vents for ventilation||$38||4.7|
Choosing whether to cover or not highly depends on where you live. If you live in a climate where the temperature falls below freezing points, it is best to opt for an AC cover to provide your AC’s outer unit with shelter from extreme conditions. If you live in an area where air conditioning is required for most of the year, there is really no need for an air conditioner cover except if you find the outdoor unit unsightly. Furthermore, it also depends on your model. The quality of the materials used in newer models makes it unnecessary to put on an air conditioner cover in the off-season. Moreover, keep in mind that excessive snow and moisture buildup can be damaging to the coils over time, no matter how durable your unit is.