How to choose an A/C condenser cover

How to choose an A/C condenser cover



A working air-conditioning system is important for keeping your home comfortable. What’s more, the HVAC system is likely one of the most expensive systems in your home. Protecting your HVAC system and outdoor A/C is a top priority. But does that mean you should consider covering your outdoor unit during winter? Should you invest in a durable A/C condenser cover?

Whether or not you should use an A/C condenser cover and which covers you should choose depend on a number of factors. Essentially, the answer boils down to whether or not covering the A/C condenser will extend or shorten the life of your A/C unit. Here is information about when and why you should cover your A/C condenser, as well as how to choose the air-conditioner cover that is right for your home.


Should you cover your A/C condenser unit?

Will covering your air-conditioning unit extend or shorten the life of your A/C unit? Generally, it is not required to cover an A/C condenser unit. Built to withstand the elements, you can expose these units to the outdoors year-round. There are also reasons to avoid covering the A/C condenser that could severely impact your unit’s performance.

Covering an A/C condenser can lead to excessive moisture buildup inside the unit. This moisture can cause rust and corrosion, or freeze condenser coils or other important components. Restricting airflow will allow dust to gather inside the unit. Dust and moisture grow mold, reducing efficiency and indoor air quality.

Covers also make great homes for critters. By trying to protect your A/C condenser unit, you can inadvertently create a place for animals to escape the elements. These critters, such as mice and birds, can build nests on the A/C unit underneath the cover. From there, they can chew on wires, break important components, or even die inside, causing damage to the A/C unit when it turns on.

However, there are always exceptions to the rules. Read on to learn when using an A/C condenser unit cover is appropriate.


When to cover your A/C condenser unit

While A/C condenser units can withstand the elements, there are a few scenarios where you should consider covering your A/C condenser. These usually occur when severe weather is on the way that could cause damage to the unit. Here are a few times when covering your unit is a good idea.

Windstorms, when a lot of debris can fall on the unit

When a bad storm heads your way, consider covering your A/C condenser if it is not in use. During heavy rain or powerful windstorms, debris can fall on and into the unit, damaging parts. A central air-conditioner cover will help keep it free of debris. In addition, if there is a chance of high winds, consider tying down your A/C condenser unit. This will keep it from prying up. If you have a window A/C unit, consider hurricane straps. These secure the window air conditioner to the building in high winds.

If storm debris is concerning, but you don’t want to worry about an A/C cover, there is another option. Consider placing a piece of plywood over the top of the A/C condenser unit. Weigh it down with heavy stones or bricks. This will keep debris out of the unit, but will not create airflow issues or allow critters to hide. Just make sure to remove the plywood before turning the unit back on. 

Heavy snowfall and blizzards

Between freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall, a blizzard can cause damage to your A/C condenser unit. Heavy snowfall can cause ice buildup on the coils, and the weight could strain interior components. This is especially true if other debris from the fall and winter months are inside. An A/C unit cover will help keep out snow, debris, and excess moisture from melted ice. 

Hail storms

Hail can pose two different problems when it comes to an A/C condenser unit. The first is damage to the exterior of the unit. The ice easily causes dents and dings. The other is damage to the interior of the unit. If the hail is small enough or breaks apart during impact, pieces of ice can fall inside, causing damage to outdoor unit components. 

A tarplike or flimsy A/C cover will help keep the interior of the unit safe from falling ice, but the exterior can still suffer damage. You can also invest in a hail guard to protect your unit. Made from heavy-duty fiber, a hail guard protects against dings.


How to choose an A/C condenser cover

When choosing to cover your A/C condenser unit, it’s important to get the right cover for your unit and your needs. Here are things to consider when selecting an A/C condenser unit cover.

  • Material. A/C condenser covers come in vinyl, fabric or plastic. More expensive brands are usually treated fabric or vinyl. While plastic will help keep water and debris off the unit, it isn’t a breathable material. Fabric, especially a mesh air-conditioner cover, will allow for some airflow, which is important to keep moisture at bay.
  • Durability. If the A/C cover can’t stand up to the elements, how can it protect your unit? Make sure that the cover’s materials and classic accessories will stand up to the wind, rain and snow. Check that any tie-downs will hold the cover in place, even in strong winds. Also note if the material is flimsy enough to rip easily.
  • Water resistance and UV protection. Moisture is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to covering an A/C unit. To avoid trapping excess moisture, make sure to get a waterproof cover. Similarly, you want to make sure the cover has UV protection to keep it from fading over time. Sun exposure can also cause the material to become brittle and break.
  • Size. Measure the dimensions of your A/C condenser unit before purchasing an A/C cover. When choosing a cover, make sure the bottom is at least 6 inches shorter than your unit. You do not want the cover to touch the ground. A shorter cover will prevent rodents from nesting and allow better air circulation through the unit.
  • Installation. Protecting your A/C condenser from incoming weather means you might have to cover the unit in a hurry. This means you will want it to be as easy to install as possible while also being secure. Look for handles, plastic hems and quick-secure cords.
  • Warranty. If possible, get an A/C condenser cover with a warranty. This means your cover will last you a few seasons. Many manufacturers offer at least a two-year warranty, such as Ravenna air-conditioner covers.

If a temporary cover seems like too much of a hassle, there is a more permanent solution for protecting your air-conditioning unit. Building a protective overhang above the air-conditioner unit will keep snow off, debris from falling in, and hail from breaking any interior parts. By keeping the unit uncovered and unwrapped, air flows easily through the unit, keeping moisture away and avoiding mold growth. A protective overhang will also keep critters from nesting nearby because there is no cover to protect them from the weather.


Protect your A/C unit from costly repairs with Cinch

If your A/C unit or HVAC system does break down, a Cinch Home Services protection plan can have you covered. The Cinch Built-in Systems plan covers HVAC units and other major home appliances. What’s more, it comes with a $25 air-conditioner filter credit and a 180-day workmanship guarantee on covered repairs. Cinch proudly serves nearly 1 million homeowners.

Get a quote today and see which of Cinch’s home warranty plans is right for your home.


While outdoor A/C units are made to withstand the elements, there are times when covering the A/C unit can protect it from weather-related damage.

Your home protection is ready and waiting!