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Do Air Conditioners Work Better in the Shade?

If you are looking at how to boost your air conditioning unit’s efficiency, one suggestion is to provide shades around the outside unit. However, does your air conditioner work better in the shade? If so, how does shading help an air conditioner to become efficient? 

Experts believe shading the outdoor unit with a structure increases the air conditioner efficiency by reducing direct solar gain from insolation. The shade keeps the air around the conditioner cooler by preventing sunlight from heating the ground. Shading also blocks direct sunlight from hitting the ground and raising the air temperature.

However, there are still misconceptions regarding the validity of shades in making air conditioners work better. The questions remain how shading the air conditioner cools the air surrounding it, and the best way to implement the shading. We answer whether shading your air conditioner is worth it and how it can help the system.

Does an Air Conditioner Work Better in the Shade?

Shading an air conditioner helps it to work efficiently. The shading means the condensing unit doesn’t have to work too hard to cool the air before blowing into the house. It ensures the air conditioner unit doesn’t use much energy to cool the surrounding air. Typically, the exterior condenser unit of an air conditioner pulls in large amounts of air to cool before it sends into the ducts of your air conditioning system. 

An air conditioner will use much energy to cool hot air due to the heat from direct sunlight. Therefore, shading your air conditioner’s outdoor unit cools down the air around it. The benefits of shading include increasing air conditioner efficiency, lowering cooling costs, and lengthening the air conditioner’s life.  

How Shading Works

Shading helps to cool large amounts of surrounding air by reducing the extent of direct sunlight. The shades can come from natural sources such as trees and shrubs or artificial structures such as awnings. You can create a large shaded area by an awning or plant more trees around your home to achieve this. The bushes and shrubs can naturally cool the air around your air conditioner by blocking direct sunlight from hitting the ground.

The efficiency of air conditioners comes when they operate in a colder environment. This is because the air conditioners will not work too hard or use extra energy to cool air. As a result, you can reduce energy costs. The shades can help cool the air around the conditioner by reducing its effect on the ground. 

Can Shading Benefit Your Air Conditioner?

Shading can prevent the sun’s heat from hitting the ground. Pavements usually absorb heat from the soil that causes the air above it to be warmer. When the air conditioner sucks this air, it will have to work harder in cooling it for a nice breeze. Hence, these shades ensure no heat gets to the pavement to increase the time.

When you install an awning shade above an air conditioner, you can help keep the air around it cooler. Mostly, the brick walls of your home can absorb heat waves into the house and make the air hot. The hot air means the air conditioner has to work extra hard to cool it. Shades can help keep the air around a hair conditioner cool.

The more shade you install around your home and conditioning unit, the cooler air you will get that is best for your air conditioner. It can help reduce your air conditioning bill by ensuring the air conditioners work more efficiently.

How to Shade an Air Conditioning Unit?

The metal noisemaker at the back of your home is responsible for the cool air inside your house. The unit works by pulling in a large amount of atmospheric air and cooling it for your house. If you plan to install a shade, ensure it is installed correctly for efficiency while keeping in mind the sun’s direction.

Experts recommend installing the air conditioning unit on the north side direction of the house. This is because the side stays the coolest throughout the day due to receiving the least direct sunlight. However, you can still install the shade if the conditioner is on the other side. 

When installing the shade, you need to do more than just building a small awning over the air conditioning unit. The long-term plan should involve planting trees around the house because they ensure the surrounding area is cool for the air conditioner’s effective functioning. 

Tall trees with expansive crows and plenty of foliage are particularly crucial in creating a calm air conditioner environment. Ensure you place the shade not further than 20 feet away if you are using natural trees. Once you have planted trees, it will take you up to 12 months before you can start getting shades. 

At the same time, you should plant trees on each side of your perimeter to maximize your air conditioner’s efficiency. However, don’t plant the trees too close to the conditioner unit as they can hamper airflow. These trees should grow above 20 feet taller than the windows for maximum efficiency.

Today, there are energy-efficient air conditioning units that use up to 50 percent less energy to produce enough cooling. Hence, upgrade your air conditioner and replace your old unit with a new model. The most efficient conditioning units function better in cooling the air around a home.

How Much You Can Save From Shading an Air Conditioner?

Shading an air conditioner can increase its efficiency while lowering the cooling cots. According to the US Department of Energy, you can save up to 10 percent on energy efficiency when you shade your air conditioner with trees. Simultaneously, shading your home with trees can reduce the cooling costs for up to $250 a year. 

However, these gains vary depending on the type of air conditioning unit, the type of shading, and your location. Therefore, the benefits of shading your air conditioner go beyond improving its energy efficiency. The potential gains in increased efficiency include the efficient functioning of the unit for a longer lifespan.

Dos and Don’ts When Shading an Air Conditioner

There are several requirements when adding shade to your air conditioner for maximum effectiveness:

  • Do not restrict airflow around the condenser unit when adding shade. Ensure there is plenty of clearance around and above the unit to allow adequate airflow. When there are more trees, shrubs, and other vegetation around the condensing unit, they reduce the benefits of shading on the air conditioner.
  • Place the new condensing unit of an air conditioner towards the north of your house. The idea is to reduce the amount of direct sunlight getting to the unit. The north side of your home receives the least amount of direct sunlight, allowing the conditioning unit to function well.
  • Do not install your shade close to the air conditioner to prevent leaves from entering and clogging the unit. There should be enough distance between the trees and the unit for efficient functioning.

Concluding Remarks

Providing shade to the eternal air conditioner unit can boost the efficiency of its cooling system. When there is shade, your air conditioner will not work too hard to cool your home. Therefore, instead of leaving the air conditioner to keep you cool, you can take crucial steps to help with its mechanical cooling system. 

A house surrounded by mature trees offers better shading for energy efficiency. However, you can also install an awning block to block the sun’s rays and benefit an air conditioner. The important thing is to provide shading around the whole house to provide cool air.


  • Vincent Steele

    Vincent is a freelance writer based in Santa Ana, California. When he isn't writing articles for Temperature Master, he can be found biking or hanging out with his cat, Shelly.

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