Let’s face it, we rely on our HVAC systems, but the outdoor unit is a very attractive aspect of your home. If you spend a lot of time in your yard entertaining, hanging out, or cooking on a barbecue, you may find the outdoor unit an ugly distraction. The HVAC unit is designed with function over form, and as such, it doesn’t add much to the aesthetic appeal of your home, but it’s essential, and you can’t get rid of it. For this reason, many people are interested in ways to hide the outdoor unit. This is a good idea, but you need to take care because you could damage the unit or lower the efficiency. In this article, we will look at two things that you need to consider when you’re concealing an outdoor HVAC unit.
- The Air Flow Must be Maintained
Every HVAC system relies on a steady supply of fresh air to work efficiently. Contrary to what most people think, an air conditioner doesn’t cool a space; it removes the heat. This may seem like a trivial distinction, but it’s important because the heated air is drawn out of the home. This is why there are vents to allow this air to dissipate, and there must be sufficient space for the new air to be drawn into the system. When an HVAC system cannot get sufficient air, it will attempt to compensate by working harder. Overworked equipment is more likely to overheat and fail, leading to an expensive repair bill. Another problem is that cooling and heating equipment will consume more energy when it works hard, which leads to a higher utility bill. When you’re considering a way to obscure your HVAC system, pay close attention to the airflow needs of the outdoor unit.
- Ensure Easy Access
Because an HVAC system is complex, it’s advisable to only allow professionals to work on your heating and cooling equipment. Even if you have good DIY skills, it’s easy to make a mistake if you’re not absolutely sure about working on your HVAC system. It’s also a great idea to schedule regular maintenance to keep your system working efficiently and find and fix small issues before they become more serious. But, you can only adopt a proactive approach to care for your HVAC system if easy access is possible. If you cover or conceal your outdoor unit in such a way that a technician cannot access it for maintenance or repair, it can be a serious problem. This is especially true in an emergency during severe weather when you need to limit the downtime. Always leave a clear path to the outdoor unit or install a covering that is easy to remove or move quickly as needed.
How to Cover Your Outdoor HVAC Unit
Now that we understand the two key factors that will keep the HVAC system running smoothly, let’s take at some ideas to conceal the unit safely:
An Outdoor Privacy Screen
This is probably the most expensive option that we will discuss in this article. An outdoor privacy screen is waterproof, and this means that you can leave it up throughout the year. These types of screens are readily available, and you can find them in most home stores. One of the best things about this type of cover is that they are available in a wide variety of styles and colors. So, if you have a specific design idea for your yard, you’re sure to find something that meshes with your vision. Choosing an outdoor privacy screen may be a costly solution, but they are reliable, easy to move, and if you invest in a good one, they will be a lasting and durable solution.
Installing a lattice fence to hide your outdoor HVAC unit is a fantastic option if you want something more permanent. This type of fencing has an open slat configuration that will provide effective concealment, and yet the air can flow through the gaps. Most home stores have lattice fencing in various designs and colors, or you can paint one to your own specifications. As a permanent option, you need to have a path to walk around the fence, or if you have kids or pets, you may want to install a gate.
If you have the time and DIY skills, you can save some money by creating your own fencing with used pallets. If you’re taking pallets, always ask first, and if you have some lying around, you can recycle them into an attractive fence. It will be necessary to take the pallets apart carefully, which can be time consuming, and there are a lot of nails to remove. But, you can create your own design and even paint the fence to match your existing color scheme.
You could use plants to create a barrier to shield the outdoor HVAC unit from view. This would be a kind of natural fence that doesn’t offer much security from kids or pets, but it will offer fantastic concealment. As you can imagine, there are many different types of plants that you could plant, and some of our favorites include Thuja, Boxwood, and Evergreen Trees and Shrubs. There are two main problems with this approach, you need to ensure access and seasonal trimming will be required. Unlike the options shown above, plants can grow quickly, and they have their own needs. When you plan the positions of your plants, do your research to make sure they will thrive before you start planting.
Covering the HVAC Unit
The outdoor HVAC unit is designed to withstand most weather conditions, but some people cover the unit with a vinyl or cloth fabric. This is a bad idea because it will make the unit an attractive option for critters that want to create a nest there. It’s only necessary to cover the unit during extreme weather conditions to protect the internal components. You can do this easily; simply place a section of plywood on top of the outdoor unit and then weigh it down with a few bricks.
If you want to schedule some maintenance for your HVAC system, contact your local certified specialist for expert help and advice.