Is it OK to Set Plants On My AC?

Published on: July 14, 2014
Potted plants and flowers | AC Southeast®

Well, the short answer is “no.” For the long answer, read on.

Air conditioners, as you might expect, depend on good airflow to run efficiently. When the air conditioner can easily bring in air from inside your home and blow hot air out of the home, it will operate smoothly. The result is good, efficient cooling that’s easy on your budget.

About Obstructions

Obstructions wreak havoc on your system by forcing it to work harder to blow through airflow restrictions. There are all sorts of ways for your air conditioner to become blocked, ranging from a dirty filter to clogged ducts, but one of the most common causes is vegetation on, around or near the air conditioner.

Most homeowners know that letting a plant grow right in front of your condenser unit is a bad idea, but few realize that having plants a foot or two away is still a problem. When your air conditioner releases hot air outside your house, the air expands, and it needs a fair amount of space to do so. Moreover, shrubs and vegetation might shed twigs and leaves that could blow into the condenser. Keep anything that grows taller than 6 inches a good 3 feet away from the outdoor unit.

About Those Plants

Setting a plant on top of your air conditioner is just as problematic as letting plants grow outside, albeit for slightly different reasons. During operation, your unit will vibrate, and that vibration can send potted plants crashing to the ground or, worse, into the air conditioner itself.

While it’s important to maintain unrestricted airflow, bear in mind that it’s also in your interest to have the outdoor unit in a shady place. Shade cools down the air around the unit and lets heat dissipate more quickly, leading to improved efficiency and energy savings. The trick is to provide that shade without blocking the unit itself.

Keeping the space around your unit clear is an important and often overlooked part of routine air conditioner maintenance. We’ll be happy to help you find an HVAC expert in your area who can recommend maintenance steps to keep your unit running at peak efficiency.