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Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical Blog

Why You Need Proper Clearance around Your Outdoor Condenser

In Southern California, heat pumps are a fantastic way to provide comfort during the mild winters. A heat pump is an excellent system for summer air conditioning, and when the mild cool arrive
during the witner, it switches into energy-efficient heating mode that won’t struggle to draw sufficient heat from the outdoors in order to warm the indoors.

However, a heat pump will start to struggle if it doesn’t have the proper clearance for its outdoor unit. Let’s take a look at what this entails and how you can see that your heat pump is working just as it should.

Condenser clearance

The outdoor unit of an air conditioner or heat pump is called the condenser unit (although in heating mode for a heat pump, it actually works as an evaporator). This outdoor unit needs to have sufficient space for air flow so it can properly draw the heated air into it and across the refrigerant coils. If the air flow is blocked, it can have the following consequences:

  • The heat pump will have shorter lifespan because it will run hotter.
  • It will cost more to run since it will work harder in order to draw out sufficient heat, and in the summer the hotter operating temperature will also cause a drop in its efficiency.
  • The chance of debris entering the cabinet and creating damage is much higher.

How much clearance does the outdoor unit need? There should be at least 24 inches between it and anything that might be an obstruction, such as the side of the house, a fence, or a shrub. Any of these items that come closer than the two-foot radius can decrease air flow by a third.

Unit placement is something for the installers to worry about (and another reason why you must only have professionals handle this job), but you can control the presence of bushes around it as well as other minor obstructions. Make sure that you have plants and shrubs properly trimmed to permit for the 24” clearance necessary, and keep it that way throughout the year, whether you’re heating or cooling your home.

Kilowatt Heating, Air Conditioning and Electrical offers heat pump installation, maintenance, and repair in Los Angeles, CA. We’ve served L.A. and the San Fernando Valley since 1990. 

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