- Aspect. Where possible locate your unit away from the afternoon sun. This is because the efficiency of your air conditioner is effected by the air temperature at the outdoor unit. The installation pictured is located on the western wall which means it gets the full impact of afternoon summer sun and will result in a reduction in efficiency. This should be avoided wherever possible.
- Noise. Modern air conditioners are becoming increasingly quiet but still produce mechanical noises that are clearly audible if located poorly. For example in the picture, the occupants of the house on the left would hear almost no noise from their own air conditioner while their neighbours, just out of picture on the right, would hear a lot. A sure fire way to upset the neighbours for a long time to come.
- Accessibility. Many air conditioning installers will recommend the location that allows them to provide the cheapest quote. However, should you have a warranty claim against the manufacturer within what is normally the five year warranty period, they will demand easy access. While this is a fairly flexible term, if the manufacturer deems that your unit does not have easy access they will charge you for all costs incurred for access and in some cases refuse service altogether. It is a good idea to avoid placing units at heights on sloping ground to avoid this problem.
- Aesthetics. Air conditioning units last for a long time and so due consideration should be given to their placement. Many home owners go to great lengths to build decks, paint eaves and trim hedges...only to plonk an air conditioner in the most conspicuous place possible. Unfortunately that shiny new unit might not look so impressive in five or ten years time.
- Water/summer.This is the most neglected element of home air conditioning installations. An air conditioner of the size pictured can remove up to 3 litres of water per hour from your home. Great news for your home but where does this water go? In most cases this is fed through a pipe to spill out near your outdoor unit. That means that maybe thirty litres of water per day is dumped somewhere near your foundations or footings. It also provides a constant source of water for many pests including termites and wasps. There are not always simple solutions to this problem. In our example the water could easily have been directed into the storm-water down pipe. At the very least water should not be allowed to gather near your building. Why not direct it into a garden?
- Water/winter. In winter the outside unit condensates. While the amount is much less than the amount produced during summer it can never-the-less create some issues. If your outside unit is located on a bracket above public access it can cause slippery surfaces as well as dripping freezing water onto people. If your unit is located on a deck the water can rot the timber. For these reasons units come with the option of plumbing the outside unit in much the same way as the indoor unit. This way water can be directed to a more suitable location. The image on the right shows a Mitsubishi unit installed by us in a commercial area. Note the plumbing on the outside unit. Unfortunately none of the nearby units are afforded the same respect resulting in an often slippery surface through the winter months.
Placement of your air conditioner's outdoor unit is something to consider and discuss with your installation team. See what you are getting for your money. The cheapest quote may mean you are not getting the best option. Intelligent placement can make your unit run more efficiently, improve the look of your house and reduce the risk of repair bills. Moving your outdoor unit after your initial installation can be expensive so it makes sense to give some thought to placement beforehand.
By Neil Young