Air conditioner cover

Hide that ugly air conditioning outdoor unit, dampen the noise and increase the efficiency of your heat pump... How? With an air conditioning cover!

Ugly airco units Ugly airco units

Do you also have one of those ugly air conditioners or heat pumps installed?

Like many people, we installed an air conditioner this hot summer (2022). Done it ourselves, much cheaper!
And because of the sky-high energy price at the moment, we recently added a 2nd heat pump. Together, they now heat our offices and save a lot on our energy costs.

But. now we are stuck with 2 of those ugly units outside! (And visible piping, we had no other solution...)

What to do about that?

At Vinuovo, we have been selling a standard PLUS wooden air con cover for years. Easy to install, not expensive, but not all heat pumps fit in (neither does our big one, see photo).
So, we have 2 air conditioner units outdoor and we wanted one single air conditioning cover.... impossible to find!

Luckily we have our own workshop.
We have developed a larger model air conditioner unit cover made of wood, it dampens noise better and is available in many different sizes.

Something for you? Calculate the price for your size here:

What is the point of an air conditioning cover?

Many people like to buy a air conditioning cover to get rid of that ugly outdoor unit. Good idea of course, but an air con cover has even more advantages:

  • Sound-reduction: an air conditioning cover acn reduce noise, but it can also make noise! But more on that later...
  • An air conditioning cover helps to keep your air conditioning unit clean and dry, below we explain why.

Air conditioner cover to reduce noise

Personally, I find that our outdoor units don't make that much noise, but of course your air conditioner unit might, especially if it's an older model.
You will probably always hear wind noise, as an air conditioner has to suck in and blow out a lot of air. Pay special attention to this when making your own air conditioner cover.

Sound mainly travels in a straight line and can hardly go around corners. 
A sound barrier along the motorway bounces the sound in another direction and breaks the straight line between the motorway and yourself. 
And when you want to hear someone better you turn your head so that your ear has a straight line to that person, simply to hear him or her better!

When looking for a air conditioner cover to reduce noise, the following points are important:

  • The air conditioner cover should bounce the sound in the opposite direction.
  • The material of the air conditioner cover must be soundproof.

But be carefull! You cannot board up theair conditioner cover completely because the outdoor unit must be able to suck in and blow out a lot of air!

How do you make a noise reduction air conditioner cover bounce off sound?

The easiest thing to do is to board that thing up completely.... But as you have read above, that outdoor unit needs a lot of air, so that is not a solution.

The most important thing is to break the straight line between you and the heat pump. When you can see the heat pump, the sound also has a straight line to your ear. If you can't see it, you will hear it less.

The air conditioning cover on the picture on the right/below may look nice, nice design, modern, but it will definitely not dampen the sound! You can see the outdoor unit right through it, so the sound goes straight through, straight to your ear! (Also made of metal, but more on that below ;-))

OK, that's right, in our standard wooden air-conditioning cover, you can see the outdoor unit through the front as well. Slightly less, as the wooden louvres are at an angle.

And that's exactly the secret! The sound must be deflected to reduce noise without reducing the surface area of the air throughput! (Sorry, starting to sound like physics lessons here...)
This is why, in the Vinuovo air conditioning cover, we chose to place the louvres at an acute angle at the front. This angle deflects sound towards the ground and ensures that no straight line can form between your ear and the outdoor unit, unless you lie down in front of it.... that might be nice in summer because there will be a (warm) breeze blowing over you, but usually that won't be your favourite spot. (If you do, you get the noise!)

The sides of the air conditioning cover are almost completely closed. However, we cannot avoid leaving about 10 cm open on the wall side. After all, the airco must be able to suck in air. (Almost all outdoor air conditioning units suck in air at the back and blow it out at the front).

air con cover steel air con cover steel
This one won't reduce any noise

What material do you choose for your sound reducing air conditioning cover?

In 1 thing I can be brief, forget anything metal or aluminium!

If you want to dampen sound, metal really is the worst material. I like it myself, a metal airco housing looks modern and sleek, usually in a nice colour like anthracite, but it really won't muffle sound.
Metal just conducts sound well, simple (sorry, physics lesson again).
Almost all metal cased air conditioners are also made of very thin material to keep costs down. The wind blowing through it is likely to cause the metal to resonate (vibrate) and that actually makes noise!
There are now metal models of A/C conversions for sale where the fins are filled with foam to dampen the resonance, very nice by the way, but then you have to be prepared to pay top dollar.
(That this is precisely how people try to dampen the resonance of metal is proof enough for me that the material is simply not suitable for this).
Metal also has an extremely smooth surface that reflects sound and does not absorb it.

For me, there is only 1 material that naturally dampens sound and is therefore ideal for making an airco casing; that is simply wood!

An air-conditioning enclosure made of wood naturally dampens sound. Wood has a relatively coarse surface that reflects sound between the fibres and thus absorbs it.
Moreover, at Vinuovo we use boards 27mm thick, which really won't resonate with a little (much) wind from your outdoor unit.
The wood we use is impregnated wood class 4 (application class 2) and thus extremely suitable for outdoor use.
Don't like the colour of wood? Then just stain it, right? Vinuovo also sells a perfect outdoor stain specially designed for impregnated wood - yes, also available in grey/anthracite!

How to keep your air conditioning unit clean and dry?

True, in summer, it doesn't matter if your heat pump gets wet. It then blows out warm air so the moisture will not freeze. In fact, it would be extremely efficient if the condensor were suspended in cold water.
In winter, it is extremely important that no moisture gets onto the fine metal fins of the heat pump. The heat pump then tries to extract heat from the air. Moisture in the air will condense on the condensor and freeze. Ice insulates and the condensor cannot extract heat from the air. Your heat pump will then go into a special mode to defrost the ice, which costs a lot of energy. If rain or snow then gets on the evaporator fins, it will only create more ice. Your heat pump is then just defrosting and you lose all the efficiency.... So keep it dry and the best way to do that is with an air conditioning outdoor unit cover.

Keep it clean with an air conditioner unit cover.

But why? The fine fins of the condensor can get clogged by dust, pollen and especially.... falling leaves! 
When falling leaves are sucked in by the heat pump, the leaves stick to the condensor and immediately cover a large surface area. The air flow is blocked and you lose all your efficiency.
Of course, you could use nets or something like that as an airco cover, but that doesn't seem like a very nice and efficient solution. A nice air-conditioning cover is really a much better solution.

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