Does Putting An Umbrella Over Your A/C Make It Run Better in Minnesota?
There's a hack going around that says putting an umbrella or tent over your air conditioner will make it run better. But does it actually work?
With temperatures in the upper 90s and super-high humidity the past few days, air conditioners across the Land of 10,000 Lakes have been working hard to keep our houses and offices cool. So does a hack making the rounds about covering your a/c unit with an umbrella or tent make it more efficient?
This story from Piggie Harris at Kiss 103.1 in Killeen, Texas-- where they've been dealing with this kind of heat and humidity for most of the summer already-- says that 'tenting' or putting an umbrella over your air conditioner is a hack that has 'many proven benefits.'
Harris notes that 'once you cover your air conditioner, it gives the air conditioner shade, which allows it to cool off and prevent anything happening to your air conditioner pipes like freezing.'
However, I'm guessing not too many a/c units in Minnesota (or Texas, for that matter) are freezing up right now because they're not properly shaded. Air conditioners DO freeze up, of course, but as this story notes, freeze-ups are usually caused by clogged filters or trying to operate the a/c when it's too cool outside.
And, in fact, THIS story from WBRC-TV 6 in Birmingham, Alabama (where they're also used to some punishing heat and humidity) says that tenting or covering your a/c with an umbrella can actually make things WORSE.
That's because air conditioning units are usually designed to draw air from the sides, cool indoor spaces, and then expel hot air from the top. But if you have an umbrella or tent that's placed too low over the top of your a/c unit, it can actually cause it to work much harder, seeing as 'all of the hot air it’s discharging out the top gets looped right back down to the unit and it can’t dissipate that heat,' WBRC says.
The story did say that an a/c unit operating in the shade-- like from an awning on the house or pergola that's placed well above the fan-- can sometimes operate around 3% more efficiently. So perhaps THAT'S where the hack originated. But overall, it's best to NOT put an umbrella over your a/c!
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