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May 28, 2024

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    As a homeowner, I know just how unsightly an exposed air conditioner unit can be — it can detract from your home’s curb appeal and disrupt your outdoor space. Thankfully, there are plenty of DIY methods you can use to hide your outdoor AC unit. The best methods to hide it include building a shed, installing raised garden beds, using large planters, creating a picket fence, making an AC screen, and planting greenery.

    You also need to take into account safety considerations and my tips on choosing the right materials for your project. I promise you will have all the inspiration you need to camouflage the eyesore in your outdoor space in a safe and appealing way by the time you finish reading this article. But if you feel like it may be time for a new AC system, fill out the form below to speak with a professional:

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    Then connect with local experts to get the help you need.

    Are Air Conditioner Covers Safe? 

    The most important thing to consider is safety. Before you purchase a cover or make one, you need to know that it is not going to damage your HVAC system. 

    Do Not Drape Anything Over Your AC

    Putting a piece of cloth or other materials on top of your outdoor air conditioner is very dangerous. Not to mention, if anything gets caught in the condenser unit, it could cause catastrophic damage to your HVAC system. 

    Maintain Adequate Airflow

    Proper airflow is also necessary to keep your system running well. As a rule of thumb, you should use a cover with plenty of ventilation and there should be a gap of 3 to 6 inches on all sides of the air conditioning unit.  

    Do Not Trap Heat Or Moisture

    Do not use a cover that traps heat or moisture. That is a breeding ground for mold and a prime location for rodents looking for shelter during the winter. 

    What Are The Best DIY Ideas For Covering Your AC?

    Do you love doing things yourself? If so, you will enjoy making an attractive cover for your air conditioner. You can find all of the supplies you need on Amazon or at your local Home Depot. 

    Depending on what you already have laying around your home that you can use, you should be able to put together a great AC cover for under $250. If you are thrifty and do not mind looking for free materials, you might be able to do it for much less. 

    Plant Greenery

    Planting greenery is an excellent way to stop people from staring at your air conditioner as they pass your house. The only problem is that you will have to be diligent about keeping the leaves away from the outside unit. 

    Otherwise, the leaves can quickly collect in the condenser, which could damage your outdoor unit. That is why it is best to use a trellis or private screen to cover the unit and then, cover that with a climbing plant. 

    You can even use different plants to create the screen if you want to make it more vibrant and lively. 

    Install Raised Garden Beds

    Installing raised garden beds around your AC unit is another way to disguise it while adding a beautiful and functional feature to your outdoor space. Choose materials that complement your home’s style, such as wood or stone, and fill the beds with vibrant plants and flowers.

    Be sure to leave enough room between the beds and the unit for proper ventilation.

    Get Large Planters

    If raised garden beds aren’t your style, large planters filled with tall, leafy plants can effectively hide your AC unit as well. They also add a touch of natural beauty to your yard. Opt for lightweight, durable planter boxes or pots that you can easily move for AC maintenance.

    Choose plants that thrive in your climate and require minimal maintenance for a low-effort, high-impact solution.

    Build A Picket Fence

    Everyone wants a white picket fence, right? So, why not build one around your air conditioner unit outside? It is a cute way to hide an AC unit on the side of the house. 

    Plus, it is a fairly inexpensive method. If a white picket fence is not your cup of tea, you can paint it another color or use slats instead of pickets. 

    If you want more information on creating a fence around your AC, check out this video:

    Make An Air Conditioner Screen 

    You can hide your outdoor unit behind an air conditioner screen just like you can hide behind a privacy screen. Screens are also a suitable option because they are typically easier to install and move. 

    Just do not forget to bring your screen indoors if there is a bad storm or the winds are strong because, unlike a more substantial cover, strong winds can pick up an air conditioner screen and send it crashing into your house. 

    Build a Shed

    Building a shed in front of your AC unit is an excellent way to conceal it while providing additional storage space for your outdoor tools and equipment.

    When you build your shed, I recommend keeping at least three feet of distance from your outdoor unit to maintain proper airflow and maintenance access. Consider customizing your shed’s design to match your home’s exterior to make things more cohesive.

    Hide Air Conditioner Units With A Garden

    A vertical garden is an excellent way to hide air conditioners. You can easily make one using pallets which you can often find free on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. 

    How Can You Conceal Your AC If You Do Not Want To DIY? 

    DIY projects are not for everyone. But, do not worry. There are plenty of concealment options that involve very little to no DIY.  

    Use An Expandable Privacy Fence

    One of the easiest, most affordable, and safest ways to conceal your AC unit quickly is to purchase an expandable privacy fence. 

    These fences come with a variety of artificial flowers, too. So, you can decorate your space with your favorite climbing plants. 

    The fences with fake foliage also do a better job of disguising your AC unit. If you want to completely cover your AC, while still maintaining plenty of room for airflow to your condenser, these expandable fences are perfect. 

    Just buy four of the fence segments if you want to cover your unit on all sides. Creating a box out of the pieces is very easy. 

    All you have to do is zip-tie them together on the ends to form a square. After they are connected, you should still be able to shape them to create a square around the unit. 

    Buy A Ready Made Cover

    Is putting up an expandable fence still too much work for you? If so, you should know, you do not have to be crafty to disguise your AC. 

    All you have to do is conduct a search for AC covers on your favorite shopping site. There are great covers available at stores like Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and on online retail sites like Amazon and eBay. 

    Before you purchase anything, make sure to take measurements. You need to be sure that anything you buy has plenty of room for your air conditioner.

    Hire A Handyman or Carpenter

    If you do not want to mess with your air conditioner, the easiest way to conceal it is to call a handyman or carpenter. These professionals can give you ideas for different ways that you can conceal your air conditioner. 

    By working with a carpenter, you can create a truly one-of-a-kind cover that practically turns your AC eyesore into a decorative piece that adds to your outdoor living space.  

    How to Hide a Window AC Unit

    While window AC units are a great way to cool rooms in your home, they can be an eyesore on the outside of your house. If you’re like me, you’ll likely want to hide it. One option is to install a decorative cover or screen that fits over the unit, such as a custom-made wooden frame with latticework or a sleek metal cover. Make sure you don’t cover the exhaust vents.

    Alternatively, you can choose to plant tall shrubs or trees in front of the window to block the view from the outside. Consider plants like burning bushes from first-floor windows. For second-story window AC units, you’ll need to plant trees that will grow to that height — consider maples, pine, and evergreens. However, these trees will take years to grow.

    To hide indoors, you can hang curtains or blinds that can be easily drawn to hide the unit when not in use. If you’re handy with DIY projects, you can also build a recessed cabinet around the unit, which can be painted to match your home’s interior and fitted with decorative grilles or screens.

    Final Thoughts On Concealing Your Air Conditioner

    Trash cans, weeds, uncut grass, and a clunky air conditioner can make you feel like you live in an ugly duckling house. You do not have to worry, though; covering your air conditioner is a simple home improvement job that improves your home’s aesthetic. 

    You can use plants, install landscaping, build a fence, install a shed, and other DIY methods to hide your air conditioner from view. It’s important for your space, indoors and outdoors, to be comfortable and inviting for your friends and family. Nothing takes away from an outdoor space quite like a central air unit. 

    So, turn your ugly duckling into a swan by making a vertical garden or an adorable miniature fence to conceal it. If you have any questions about your DIY or store-bought cover, call an HVAC maintenance company. You can even fill out the quick form below to get the ball rolling:

    Get HVAC Estimates In Just 30 Seconds
    Then connect with local experts to get the help you need.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I build a fence around my AC unit?

    Yes, you can build a fence around your outdoor AC unit. However, plan to keep it at least three feet away from the unit on all sides to allow for proper venting and access for repairs.


    Can I cover my AC unit with a tarp during the winter?

    I don’t recommend covering your outdoor unit with a tarp – instead use a specially designed air conditioner cover.


    How much clearance should I leave around my AC unit when concealing it?

    As a general rule, leave at least 3–6 feet of clearance on all sides of your AC unit to ensure proper airflow and prevent overheating.


    Article Update Log
    5/28/2024
    Reviewed for accuracy, cost data, industry best practices, and expert advice by Jonathon Jachura.
    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Jonathon Jachura

    Jonathon Jachura

    Contributor

    Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

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    Roxanne Downer

    Editor

    Roxanne Downer is a commerce editor at Today’s Homeowner, where she tackles everything from foundation repair to solar panel installation. She brings more than 15 years of writing and editing experience to bear in her meticulous approach to ensuring accurate, up-to-date, and engaging content. She’s previously edited for outlets including MSN, Architectural Digest, and Better Homes & Gardens. An alumna of the University of Pennsylvania, Roxanne is now an Oklahoma homeowner, DIY enthusiast, and the proud parent of a playful pug.

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