Air Conditioning

How Much Clearance Must Be Left Around Outdoor Unit?

How Much Clearance Must Be Left Around Outdoor Unit

In most cases, you will not consider replacing your air conditioner until it stops working. The amount of space on the sides and top of the outdoor air conditioner can significantly impact its ability to cool the house effectively. As a result, your device’s life may reduce. It is critical to leave enough space on all sides of the outdoor unit. Here’s what you need to know:

Optimal Outdoor Air Conditioner Clearance

Adequate clearances on the top and sides of the outdoor air conditioner are required to avoid future air conditioner repairs. However, you can determine the required distance considering the environment.

Less clearance is required if the device is surrounded by a more porous material, such as bushes that allow easy air passage. If a solid wall surrounds the unit, you will need more space around the outdoor air conditioner.

Each air conditioner model has a maximum and minimum obstacle distance for installation. In addition, many manufacturers link these clearances to the owner’s manual.

Pre-Inspection of the Site

An HVAC specialist should inspect the area where you intend to install the outside unit. It assists them in understanding the environment and the conditions necessary to obtain proper clearance.

It also enables them to identify any flaws or potential problems that may obstruct the installation of the outside unit. It allows them to create a better work plan ahead of time and avoid mistakes in your outdoor air conditioning equipment’s design, installation, and positioning.

Common Obstacles

When determining the appropriate safety distance, you must consider some factors. Also, HVAC specialists should be aware of three basic types of obstacles:

Obstructions in the Structure

Structural obstacles include stalls, kennels, walls, large pipelines, landscaping, and other structures near construction sites.

When installing the air conditioner near the outdoor unit and any structure, leave at least 60 cm between the outdoor unit and the system’s obstacle. It is okay if the outdoor unit is close to a window or entrance and the exhaust does not enter the apartment.                                                                                                                                                 

Mechanical Obstacles

Mechanical obstructions include kitchen exhaust vents, vents for heating appliances, washing machines, generator exhaust, and other mechanical impediments. These are duct-based systems that can generate exhaust and limit the capacity of your air-conditioning unit to function correctly.

When those vents are placed too close to an air conditioner, they can restrict airflow and cause issues. Furthermore, mechanical structures such as fuel line vents and oil tank fill valves can cause a fire if they are too close to an outdoor AC unit.

Between a door unit and such a mechanical obstruction, a minimum of four to eight feet is required. It is still best to keep the system and the mechanical obstruction separate.

Landscaping Obstructions

Sometimes you purposefully place the outdoor devices near landscaping obstacles such as shrubs, long blade grass, and potted plants to maintain a pleasing outdoor appearance. It should be avoided because obstructing landscaping can reduce airflow through an air conditioner’s outdoor unit. A minimum clearance distance must be maintained between the outdoor team and the landscaping obstruction. Furthermore, any outgrowths must be trimmed regularly to maintain minimum clearance. Care should be taken to ensure that landscaping is positioned so that any cut grass blades, leaves, or debris aren’t sucked into the condenser unit. These obstructions can choke the condenser unit and affect performance or even create significant maintenance issues and malfunction.

Air Conditioner Space Requirements

So, how much space does your air conditioner need?

Here’s what we recommend:

  • A minimum of one foot on all sides, including the back.
  • A minimum of 1.5 feet for perimeters, corners, and adjoining walls.
  • 2 ft between the unit’s frame and dense shrubs or stable fences.
  • 6 inches between the perimeters and the leafy plants, plus a few inches for growth
  • A deck or roof overhang of eight feet between the pinnacle and the interference

Why is it essential to maintain the proper air conditioner clearance when installing your outdoor air conditioner?

Maximum air conditioner performance requires unrestricted airflow through the outdoor unit’s condenser and compressor. If the system is too close to an object, it will restrict the airflow and may worsen while raining and eventually damage the air conditioner. As a result, your air conditioner’s performance may degrade sooner than expected. You may also experience the following drawbacks:

  • The cooling system in your home may feel insufficient.
  • Your air conditioner may require additional electricity to provide the necessary cooling inside your home, resulting in increased electric bills.


Sometimes a manufacturer’s guide does not include any clearance guidelines. Or it says nothing about the obstacles in front of the outdoor air conditioner unit. You must also give your HVAC a proper storage area to keep it working properly. As a result, a K2 Heating and Cooling expert technician can assist in providing a quality solution for installing a door AC unit. Our expert technicians can advise you on the best location for air conditioner unit installation.

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