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15 Creative Ways to Hide Your Outside Air Conditioner

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Preserve your brownstone’s curb appeal

If you’re lucky enough to have usable outdoor space around your NYC residence, you’ll certainly want to make the most of its curb appeal. Whether you’re dining alfresco, playing outside with the kids, or hosting an outdoor cocktail party, who wants to be staring at an ugly outside air conditioner?

While that outside air conditioner is essential to your indoor comfort, air conditioner manufacturers have yet to come out with a unit that’s particularly attractive looking. So that leaves it up to you to come up with a way to camouflage it in your outdoor space.

Luckily, lots of creative people out there have dreamed up some ingenious ways to hide an outside air conditioner. Here are some of our favorites.

15 ways to hide your outside air conditioner and enjoy your outdoor space

1. Lattice surround

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Using lattice to create a screen around your outside air conditioner works well, since the holes prevent the hot air blowing out of the unit from becoming trapped. When air flow to the unit is impeded, your outside air conditioner can overheat. Dress it up with some fancy post caps and greenery.

 

 

2. Tall greenery

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Beautiful pottery with tall grasses, flowers or other greens are a lovely way to hide that outside air conditioner. Be sure to choose hardy plants that won’t be wilted by the hot air blowing from the unit. And keep them far enough away so there’s enough room to service the equipment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. DIY pallet fence

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Why not paint an old shipping pallet to match your color scheme, and dress it up with some solar lights and hanging plants?

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Outdoor privacy screen

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If you’re not really a DIYer, you can purchase a privacy screen made out outdoor-friendly resin. They are available in different colors to match your patio decor.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Mosaic screen

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This lovely shabby-chic mosaic screen is made from bits of broken plates, mirror and stained glass, framed by fence posts.

Since this will be exposed to the outdoor elements, make sure the grout is sealed. Also, make sure it’s moveable so your HVAC technician can get at your outside air conditioner when it’s time for service.

 

 

 

 

6. Two-by-four fence

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This one reminds us of a stack of blocks like Jenga or Lincoln logs! You can stain it to match your outdoor furniture. Again, the holes are a great idea since they allow heat to escape.

 

 

 

 

 

7. Iron trellis

Iron trellis.pngHow about an iron trellis surrounded by flowering trees or vines? This look works well if your brownstone has a brick exterior. If you like to spend time outdoors in the morning, we recommend planting morning glories in shades of heavenly blue, purple or white.

 

 

 

8. Chic shutters

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Here’s another shabby chic idea: paint a set of old shutters to match your flowers or outdoor fabrics. (Also serves as a perfect cat perch.)

 

 9. Vertical garden

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These are two examples of different ways to create a vertical garden to hide that outside air conditioner. Remember, make sure it’s far enough away from the unit to allow for service.

Related article: Air Conditioning Maintenance Doesn’t Cost, It Pays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Obelisk tool caddy

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This idea kills two birds with one stone (not literally!). You can store small garden tools and hide your outside air conditioner with this quaint garden structure. Just make sure it’s designed to allow enough air flow to your unit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Bamboo

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If you love Asian decor, try this simple bamboo screen. You could even try growing your own bamboo plants, but that takes a bit more time.

 

 

 

12. Laser cut wood panels

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These laser cut wood veneer panels from Lightwave Laser come in a wide variety of patterns to match any decor. Make sure you have them sealed for outdoor use.

 

 

 

13. Contemporary sculpture

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If you love modern art, this is the idea for you. Sculpted metal panels conceal the outside air conditioner while serving as a piece of art for you and your visitors to enjoy.

 

 

 

 

14. Birdhouse picket fence

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We’ll refrain from using the “killing two birds” metaphor here for obvious reasons, but you can use this idea to conceal your outdoor air conditioner and attract some lovely aviary creatures to your outdoor space. (Just don’t pick this one if you have cats.)

15. Ornamental windmill

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Combine the tall grasses idea with an ornamental windmill to create a conversation piece for your outdoor space. Nobody will ever suspect that you did it to hide your outside air conditioner!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two rules for hiding your outdoor air conditioner

RULE #1. Don’t block the air flow.

If your outside air conditioner doesn’t have access to enough air, it can overheat and break down.

RULE #2. Make sure the equipment is accessible for service

Leave enough space around the outside air conditioner, and/or make your screen easily moveable. If you’re putting plants in the ground, you don’t want them stepped on!

And you don’t want to neglect servicing your outside air conditioner; it’s not worth the risk.

Related article: Top 6 Air Conditioner Improvements NYC Homeowners Want.


If that outside air conditioner is not as effective as it used to be, it may be time to think about a new one. And if you do need a new one, replace it first before designing a way to conceal it, since your new unit may not be the same size.

Maybe you’ve been putting off shopping for a new air conditioner because it’s just too overwhelming to pour over all the options and make a decision. Well, now you’re in luck, because we’ve put together a handy guide to help you understand the air conditioning options for New York City residential spaces, and how to choose to right one for you. Grab a copy: The Ultimate Guide to Air Conditioning for NYC Luxury Residential Spaces.

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