Air conditioners, be it a window unit or centrally-installed unit, are subject to wear and tear when exposed to extreme weather conditions and temperatures. Window units are also prone to permit cold air to enter the house, leading to higher utility bills.
In winter, it is difficult to remove and store your window unit air conditioner in the attic. You might also worry about protecting your outdoor unit from the elements. To avoid such maintenance issues and ensure that your air conditioner stays intact for the summer, we have gathered information, reviews, pros and cons about using an air conditioner cover.
This article would be most useful to those who see value in using a cover for the air conditioner during times when it is not in use. Though your air conditioning unit is built to bear and deal with the winter conditions, we are attempting to share the most appropriate circumstances when you need to choose an air conditioning cover.
At a Glance: Our Top Picks for Air Conditioner Covers
- OUR TOP PICK: Sturdy Covers AC Defender
- RUNNER-UP: CoverMates
- BEST BUDGET OPTION: Classic Accessories Ravenna Square
Comparison of the Best Air Conditioner Covers – Outside Units
Our Top Pick
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Best Budget Option
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Features of a Good Air Conditioner Cover
If you’re new to shopping for an air conditioner cover, you may not know what features to look out for in the specifications. Retailers tend to throw so much information at you, it becomes a complex hunt for the most significant details. In this section, we’ll explain the most pertinent ones.
The cover’s material must be able to withstand all types of adverse weather. While many manufacturers advertise water-resistant or waterproof products, it doesn’t help if it tears during the first rain or snowstorm. There are also various ratings for specific fabric or deniers, while others have protective coatings.
Besides durability, the air conditioner cover needs to provide enough protection from every possible risk. We aren’t merely referring to the weather but also other harmful aspects, such as leaves, droppings, mildew, stones, and others. While defense against these hazards is essential, it also needs to be breathable.
Another element to investigate is whether you can rely on the air conditioner cover when you need it the most. Check to see if it includes locking mechanisms to keep it in place. You should also assess if it has any moving parts that could harm your cooling devices, such as cords or rings.
Appearance and Aesthetics
While this feature isn’t as vital as the others we’ve mentioned, it might be essential for you. Maybe you’ve spent a fortune upgrading your home with paint and accessories to make it look fantastic. The last thing you want is an eye-sore sticking out and ruining the effect.
You’ll want a tight fit on your air conditioner for several reasons. The cover will prevent mildew growth between the material and AC unit, while there won’t be room for contamination on any pipes. You’ll also help maintain the internal airflow of the device.
Easy to Install
Since you’ll spend a lot of time putting the cover on and taking it off, you don’t want one that’s challenging to install.
If it’s causing too much hassle, you may want to try something else. Some of them merely slip-on, while others have zips, straps, or clips.
Review of the Best Air Conditioner Covers
Checking around for the best AC covers is time-consuming and confusing. We made that job easy for you, by listing some of the most bought and appreciated covers in the market.
Sturdy Covers AC Defender
This product is made from strong PVC-coated material designed to keep moisture from getting into the important electrical bits in your AC. It protects against both snow and rain. The design incorporates a clever meshwork in the material that allows for some breathability. This keeps moisture from accumulating on the inside of the cover in the form of condensation, which could cause rust on the coils and encourage the growth of mold or mildew. You can use this cover all year round.
This also keeps out other debris that could harm your AC unit. This includes bugs, sticks, yard trimmings, grass clippings, leaves, and dirt. The design incorporates the use of four bungee hooks that fasten to the sides of the unit and hold it in place. These hooks are attached to the cover with a strong fastener cord, which can withstand all but the harshest of conditions. It comes in three sizes and is a universal fit, meaning it fits on to most standard air conditioners, up to 28 inches by 28 inches.
The Sturdy Covers AC Defender does all this while remaining lightweight, measuring in at only 1.19 pounds. The manufacturers are a family-owned business, willing to back their belief in the product with a three-year warranty.
This product is meant for outdoor AC units. There have been complaints that the attached cords are sometimes shorter than customers thought they would be, but they work perfectly all the same.
If you’re looking for an AC cover that works across all seasons, this is the one to get. The aspect of breathability – while still remaining repellent to moisture and debris – is a big talking point.
28 x 28 x 8"
4 bungee hooks
This cover is built to be both lightweight and strong. As such, the main material is commercial-grade, 12-gauge vinyl, with the second layer of protection of woven polyester.
They incorporated a mesh in the design, to allow for better air flow through the unit once the cover is in place. Flowing air prevents the growth of mold and mildew inside your unit. The mesh is covered throughout by polyester and is too fine to let in bugs and small rodents.
The vinyl is resistant to both water and puncturing, something that could happen when putting it on or taking it off. It’s also resistant to animal scratches, which are bound to happen with outdoor covers. Curious birds, lizards, and small mammals such as raccoons are especially prone to “visit”. The cover is resistant to the effects of sunlight, including fading and brittleness after continued use.
This cover is easy to use; you simply tug it over the unit like you’re putting on a sweater. The elastic hem will hold it in place. There are straps to help with the fitting, by adjusting the cover to sit snugly on the unit. It has double-stitched seams to prevent dust and dirt from clinging which also makes it a breeze to clean.
The cover comes in different sizes, in case you have a smaller or larger air conditioner. And although this product is designed to be an AC cover, some people use it to cover boxes, toolkits, and grills of a certain size.
The combination of breathability and proven resistance is a great selling point for this product. There have been complaints that the cover is a bit too light for places with harsh winters, but it’s otherwise a great AC shielding option.
22.83 x 18.11 x 10.24"
12-gauge commercial vinyl, polyester lining
Elite Khaki Polyester, Charcoal
Elastic hem, buckle strap
Best for the Money:
Classic Accessories Ravenna Square
Measuring 2.7 pounds, this is a lightweight cover that can be used on both furniture and air conditioners. It comes in two shapes for this purpose, with a round 34’’ diameter by 30’’ high cover for furniture, and a square 34"x34"x30" cover for AC units. It’s made from a patented polyester weave called Gardelle One, which has been treated with a coating to give it UV resistance and also has a water-resistant laminated backing.
It’s easy to use with reinforced padded handles. The handles make it easier to remove the cover when not in use. The double-stitched seams offer additional support and give it a certain stylish look. It comes with structured mesh vents, designed to stay open and reduce the chances of wind lifting it off. They also prevent the growth of either mold or mildew. The mesh vents are gusseted and self-supporting for this purpose.
There are adjustable webbing belts that give the product a certain tailored look. A patented attachment system with an adjustable belted hem keeps the product secure against heavy wind. This attachment system comes with a custom color buckle as well. The product is secured at the bottom of the unit by an advanced hem cord elastic which is designed to stay on even in heavy wind.
It comes in understated colors such as espresso, mushroom, and dark taupe. These are easy to maintain, as dirt is not prominently visible on them. There have been complaints that the product isn’t ideal for harsh winters. The weight of the snow and extreme wind are likely to cause a tear in the cover’s fabric.
This is an AC cover with so many great features it’s tough to pick just one. The functionality alone is stellar. From the patented polyester weave to the handles, they’ve thought of everything. There’s a concern about its stability in harsh winter, so people living in places like Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis might want to be attentive.
34 x 34 x 30"
4. AmazonBasics Square
Part of the Amazon home staple, this is designed to fit a wide range of outdoor items, including air conditioners. Although this is targeted at patio furniture, the dimensions may also align with your AC unit. It’s made from 100% polyester, which protects from dirt and dilutes the effects of the sun as well. It’s waterproof to keep out rainwater and snow, is built with durability in mind, and comes with interlocking seams that are harder to weaken and rip over time.
It’s easy to use and slips on the AC unit easily. There are loop handles to help in the removal, and in making any adjustments to the fit as well. It has click-close straps that fit securely around the unit and make it harder for strong winds to rip it off. It’s easy to clean, requiring a simple wipe down with a damp cloth to take care of most of the dirt.
There have been two main complaints about the product, however, with some customers claiming it doesn’t fit smaller air conditioners as well as it should. It’s also been known to pool rainwater at the center of the cover, meaning you have put something underneath to encourage runoff. A soccer ball works just fine. Place the ball on top of the air conditioning unit, but under the cover for best results. The white color has also been termed garish by some people.
Being part of Amazon’s in-house product line, there’s a certain quality guarantee. The straps work great for some time, but the plastic heads get weaker and break over time. Since these are meant for furniture, be sure to verify your AC's dimensions to be sure you get the right product to fit yours.
48 x 28 x 13"
Click-close straps, Cord Lock
5. Hybrid Covers
Made from commercial grade 400D woven polyester, this is a heavy AC cover built to take a beating from the elements. The material is resistant to tearing and to the deteriorative properties of UV light. It won’t fade or become brittle with continued use. It’s also resistant to water and keeps the important coils in your AC unit from both freezing and rust. It works on all standard AC units up to including 34” long x 34” wide x 30” high including, Frigidaire, Lennox, Trane, Bryant, Coleman, Carrier, and American Standard, among others
It weighs four pounds, which is significantly more than most of the options in the market. The army green color makes it harder for dirt to be seen from afar, which is a desirable quality in an outdoor product, especially since it’s unlikely to be washed more than once a season. The cleaning process is also easy, requiring a quick hose down with soap.
This product is designed to be adjustable, with Velcro sides that open. The styling accommodates air conditioners that have pipes or hoses coming out from the top or bottom. Using it is as easy as putting it on the air conditioning unit and tightening the drawstring cord. The cord pulls any excess material and snugly secures the cover, shielding your AC through heavy storms. It has a cord lock to keep it in place.
This is one of the few products customers have attested works even in heavy winter. This is mainly thanks to the heavy-duty material, the build quality, and the long-lasting double stitching.
34 x 34 x 30"
400D Oxford Polyester
When Should You Use an Air Conditioner Cover For Your Outdoor Unit?
As we mentioned earlier, your outdoor air conditioner unit is already designed to withstand the extreme conditions of winter, but you may want to consider using a cover during the maintenance season. This saves your air conditioner from extreme weather.
When we say extreme weather, we are not just talking about snowy winters, but something more. If you are residing in those cold northern states of the US or Canada, then you may consider using a cover. If your region is prone to hail storm, blizzards, or any other unpredictable winter calamity, then you would prefer using an air conditioner cover.
But there’s also risks when you choose to cover your outdoor unit:
- Rodent and pest infestation
- Growth of Mold and Mildew
- Seepage of moisture causing the air conditioner to rust
- Dirt settled over time could be sucked in while in use.
We don’t recommend using a cover all winter long - that brings risk, and your unit doesn’t need the protection. Save it and install it when those rough patches are coming.
What Size of AC Cover Do I Need?
Before you pick a cover for your air conditioner, you really need to look at the size of your unit. The size of the cover, very obviously, depends upon the size of the air conditioner. It is better to measure the dimensions of your air conditioner yourself, rather than to rely on the mentioned dimensions since they aren’t always the most accurate.
Another thing that you need to keep in mind is that you should always pick a cover that is the right size for the dimensions of your AC. If there is none that corresponds with the given dimensions, choose a bigger unit that’s closest to the size of your AC.
Types of Air Conditioner Covers
There isn’t one solution to covering your outside air conditioner. You’ll need to determine which one you need based on the circumstances. There are a few examples of what you might find available to protect your device.
Summer Mesh Covers
These air conditioner covers provide great protection against adverse weather, debris, and leaves, having the added benefit of letting your device breathe. You’ll find a full one that covers the entire unit or clips on the sides to defend the upper section only. The material is usually coated with PVC and is moisture-resistant.
Classic Full-Fabric Covers
The classic full-fabric covers have strong seems that hold the material in place, preserving your air conditioner from rain, snow, and wild animals. You’ll find flaps that act as air vents when the unit is running at optimal performance. It also helps to reduce condensation, and there’s a hem cord to ensure that the fabric remains snug against the AC’s casing.
Window Air Conditioner Covers
When you install a window air conditioner, the back part is exposed to the exterior. You find specific covers for these to ensure that the weather doesn’t harm the components in any way. There are also dust covers for the inside to protect it while it’s not running.
Woven Polyester Covers
These covers are ideal in winter and a welcome alternative to the classic full-fabric versions. In most cases, you’ll probably need to remove these when the air conditioner is running, but some of them have slits you can open for ventilation.
If you’re struggling to find AC covers to suit your needs, you can have one custom-made. Many manufacturers will have the specifications for your specific air conditioner. You can also call a professional over to take some measurements and make some suggestions.
What Does an AC Cover Protect Against?
You might be looking for an AC cover for a specific purpose, but did you know that there are several functions it performs? Sure, each one is different and you’ll have to find the right type. However, it doesn’t only protect against strong winds.
Rain and Snow
Some of the most dangerous elements against your air conditioner are snow and rain. Water and electricity don’t go well together, so you’ll want to protect it against these as much as possible. When the snow melts on top of your device, you’re looking at corrosion, rust, and complete failure.
Leaves, Dirt, and Other Debris
Due to an air conditioner’s design for optimal airflow, leaves and debris easily fall in the casing’s gaps. While it may appear harmless in small amounts, it forms folic acid when it decays. The refrigerant can release harmful gases or chemicals, and it may lead to rust or mechanical failure.
Icicles and Hail
Since hail and icicles fall at a rapid speed in a solid state, it can damage your air conditioner’s casing to such an extent that it disrupts airflow.
If they enter the interior, you’re looking at a potential risk against the fans, condensers, thermostat, coils, wiring, and so much more.
Animals and Droppings
Small animals find the smallest holes and cracks to hide from the winter storms and make nests. They can chew through tubing and material for this purpose, which can cause your air conditioner to malfunction. Droppings from birds and rodents can also be harmful to your AC’s inner workings.
Price Points of Air Conditioner Covers
If you’ve done enough shopping online for air conditioner covers, you’ll realize that there are so many price variances. It can be hard to compare, as the ranges differ based on the material and brand. However, this is what you can expect:
Up to $20
These air conditioner covers have the most affordable material and the least options. In most cases, you’ll be able to merely slip it on and off without any extra gadgets. The design simply serves the primary purpose of protection.
$20 - $50
In this price range, you can expect greater durability and more options. There should be some vent flaps and locks to keep it secure. You might even find some flexibility in its use, such as covering external pipes.
Here you’ll find the strongest material for specific purposes. For instance, there are custom-designed PVC tubing covers for mini split air conditioners that you’ll place over several components.
Pros and Cons of Getting an AC Cover
Every product in the market comes with a set of pros and cons, and so do AC covers. Whether the pros of the item make it worth buying regardless of the cons is a decision that you make for yourself. In order to help you decide, here are some pros and cons of investing in an AC cover:
Let’s first take a look at the pros:
Over time, a great amount of dust can find a place in your air conditioner. This gathered dust proves to be damaging for your unit. With a cover for your air conditioner, you will ensure that your unit is protected from all such particles that may impair the functionality of your air conditioner.
Better Energy Consumption
As mentioned above, without any cover, a lot of dust may layer up in your air conditioner. This dust can prevent your air conditioner from performing the best. It requires a lot more energy to provide the same functionality, which may add to your electricity bill. So an AC cover may also contribute to better energy consumption.
On the other hand, there are some limitations to deal with, which include:
Air conditioners themselves are expensive products. Getting a cover for them is an extra expense. While some users may find the unit worth the expense, others feel that the quality of build of air conditioners don’t really require the extra expense of an AC cover.
The needs for external air conditioning units vary. Also, only use covers for external units when necessary.
Be sure to invest in a cover that serves a purpose beyond looking good, too. Covers can help prolong the life of your unit and keep your utility bills down when used appropriately.
People Also Ask
There are chances that you still have some questions in your mind about these units. Before you invest in one of them, it is important that all these questions be answered. To help you out, here are some of the most frequently asked questions by other users.
What Happens if You Run Your AC With the Cover On?
An air conditioner’s condenser consists of copper coils that absorb the heat from inside your home. Leaving the cover over the device means that it cannot cool properly, and the warm air returns into your home. Your unit will run for longer to perform effectively, and it may end up with severe damage.
Can You Cover an Outside AC Unit?
Most outdoor air conditioners are designed to withstand the elements. However, they aren’t flawless, and there will be wear and tear over time. If you want to prolong its lifespan, getting an AC cover can be a good idea.
What Type of Air Conditioner Cover Do You Need For Winter?
The ideal air conditioner cover has a durable fabric that lets the device breathe for better ventilation and airflow. You also found special designs for window units, while you can buy a dust cover for the inside. For outside devices, you can aim for a full-fabric type.
How Do I Cover My Air Conditioner For the Winter?
Winters are the harshest of the seasons. Everything needs protection from the cold and the snow. And your AC is not different. If you are wondering about how to cover your AC, you simply need to invest in an AC cover. There are a great number of them out there, just make sure you choose one that is breathable for your unit.
Should My AC Unit Be In the Shade?
There are certain things that need to be taken care of while placing your air conditioner. One of the important factors is sunlight. Keeping the air conditioning unit in the shade is important, but it must be kept in mind that too much shade isn’t too good either. It could restrict airflow and cause the unit to heat up and damage.
Should I Cover My AC Unit In the Summer?
During the summer season, there isn’t snow and water that the unit needs to be protected from, but there are other factors that could damage the AC. These include dust, pollen, and other smaller particles. Even excessive sunlight could prove to be harmful to your unit.