Here in New Braunfels, our residents are more than a little familiar with their air conditioners. Given that these machines throughout the year, many homeowners are intimately aware of the sounds their ACs make when they’re running, and can pick up on even the slightest change in the tone of its hum. They know that to keep themselves cool all year long, they need to have their AC maintained on a regular basis.

But what they might not know is if they should keep their AC shaded.

This question has plagued many residents in New Braunfels for probably as long as it took them to finish reading the title of this blog. But for those who are perhaps more invested in optimizing the performance of their AC, this question may just keep them up at night. Join Legacy Air Conditioning and Heating Services as we take off our ball caps and put on our sleuthing caps to solve this vexing HVAC mystery.

The Mystery

We’re no strangers to the heat here in New Braunfels, but that doesn’t mean we have to suffer through it. We all know that staying under a large shade tree or umbrella can dramatically lower the temperature around us. So it stands to reason then that our air conditioning units would probably like a little shade too.

As such, there are homes in the area that have planted shade trees next to their AC units, or even built small structures around them to keep the sun off of them. But is this actually having an effect on the performance of their air conditioners?

The Facts

Long story short, no.

But there’s more to it than a one-word answer, so if you’ve got the time or inclination, check out why.

There’s actually a pretty large body of research surrounding this idea. In 1992, a study from the EPA found that shading your AC can reduce energy costs associated with running your HVAC system. But just a few years later in 1996, a followup study found that the actual benefits of shading your AC are nearly negligible. Here’s why.

When you think about your AC sitting in the sun, you might be inclined to assume that the whole thing is heating up, slowly cooking the parts inside. The outside of the unit is made of metal and that gets hot pretty quickly after all. But your first idea of shading the AC is actually already happening. The housing may be getting hot, but it’s doing its job of keeping the important components inside shaded from the sun. In fact, the metal casing really doesn’t conduct much heat to the internal fins and tubing of the AC at all.

Ultimately, it’s the temperature of the air around the AC that makes a difference, not the temperature of the unit itself. That’s because an air conditioner works by moving ambient air through the cooling coils and fans. If the air around the AC is already cool, the AC won’t have to work as hard to cool it any further. Realistically, putting a shade over your AC isn’t cooling enough the ambient air around the unit to make a real difference.

A Warning

In fact, putting a shade near your AC may actually hurt the performance of your AC. For instance, if you plant a shade tree near it, come fall, leaves, twigs, and other debris could fall into the AC, leading to issues. Building a structure around your AC can actually restrict the amount of air that is allowed to enter the unit, meaning it has to work harder to keep your home cool. This means that the unit will wear out faster and will need more repairs more frequently.

So what should you do? Well, don’t call us and insist we move your AC to the sunniest part of your home. Instead, see if your AC can be positioned on the north side of your home, as it receives the least amount of sunlight each day.

The other thing you can do to keep your AC running at peak performance is to schedule regular air conditioning repairs with Legacy Services in New Braunfels!