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How Do You Install An Air Conditioner Compressor?

Learn how to install and maintain this vital air conditioning unit

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Photography: Michael Angelo Chua (Main Photo)

You've seen it before—a boxlike apparatus outside a home or a building where an air conditioning unit is installed. Some refer to the AC compressor as the heart of the cooling cycle. It's safe to say that it plays a big role so you can enjoy the cool air, especially during hot and humid days. Its function starts by drawing in cool, low-pressure refrigerant gas from the indoors, then raising its temperature and pressure so that it will exit as a hot, high-pressure gas. You can click here to learn more about the elaborate and interesting process.

As much as the indoor split-type units have placement and location requirements to make use of its full capacity, so do the compressor units installed outside the home. You may want to think twice about wanting to conceal this eyesore. Since the compressor does most of the work when cooling the home, you need to make sure that it's installed properly so you can achieve optimum performance and avoid operational drawbacks. Take note of these five must-dos:

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1. Place the compressor in open spaces.

Compressor units should be installed in an open space where air can flow freely over the outdoor unit. It is commonly placed in the terrace or on an awning of the exterior wall of the house. These units work by exchanging heat with the surroundings and constantly need a supply of fresh air to utilize for cooling.

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2. Make sure it's accessible for regular maintenance.

Some outdoor units are installed on a ledge or on a metal frame—especially in multiple storey homes. Just make sure the ledge has enough room for someone to move around or can be accessed by service ladders for maintenance. Also have the units checked once a year together with the indoor unit depending on the accumulation of dust in your area.


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3. Consider installing it on the north of the wall.

While compressor units need open spaces, they also need protection from the sun. The best location to install the unit is the north exterior wall. You may also consider the east exterior wall—though it faces the morning sun, it is less harsh than the afternoon sun.


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4. Avoid growing plants near the outdoor unit.

While some try to hide the units from plain sight by growing plants near them, it is best not to obstruct air flow. This can also prevent small objects or even insects from getting inside the machine. If you have two or more compressor units that need to be installed, make sure you don't place these side by side as air circulation can be affected.


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5. It pays to know your clearances.

Observe clearances when installing outdoor units. You can use the diagram above as guide. Take note that the minimum clearance of the compressor from the wall is 600mm in front, 300mm on the sides and back. Seek professional help when moving outdoor units to avoid problems and a damaged unit.

RL Tip: It is best to consult with a technician about the proper installation of compressor units. If you're buying from an appliance store, inquire about after-sales service and if they can help install your unit.

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