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What Are the Best Tips for Installing a DIY Air Conditioner?

By M. Kayo
Updated: May 17, 2024

There are some very specific skills and tools and necessary to design and install a do-it-yourself (DIY) air conditioner. The best tips for this project involve making a detailed plan, preparing for all eventualities, and using precise installation techniques. As with any home improvement or DIY project, set aside the necessary time to plan before initiating any work. Preparation is also a key tip in the success of this type of project, so make sure to have all the proper tools and enough materials on hand when starting installation. Any person who is fairly adept with tools should be able to complete this installation, however, some aspects of the installation do require professional assistance.

The best tip for installing a DIY air conditioner is to make a detailed plan before starting any work. This is not a job for the weekend handyman and requires a lot of work and some acquired skills working with copper pipes, plumbing, ductwork, and carpentry. Consider the total area to be cooled, the location of the air conditioning units, and what size unit will be necessary for cooling the space. Another good tip is to find an online air conditioner capacity calculator to help determine what is needed for a specific installation. Place the outside air conditioning unit away from the exterior wall so that vibration cannot be transmitted back into the house and to allow easy access for maintenance.

Acquiring the proper tools is another good tip when installing a DIY air conditioner. This type of installation requires some very specific tools, like a pipe cutter, a vacuum pump, and a refrigerant manifold gauge and hose set. A solid, stable pad is needed on which to position the outside unit. It can be made from weather-resistant wood, concrete, or other composite material suitable for long-term outdoor use. When all the tools have been gathered, it is time to go out and purchase the actual air conditioning units.

Select a central location for the indoor air conditioning unit. The best location will allow for air distribution throughout the house and provide easy access to an external wall for the copper pipes, drainage pipe, and electrical wiring that connect the outside unit. Pay special attention to the installation of the drainage pipe as it needs to be positioned to allow for easy drainage with no pooling. The initial plan for a DIY air conditioner should include a detailed piping diagram. This should be done before any pipe is cut or installed. A good tip is to practice bending and flaring the ends of the pipes on some smaller pieces before attempting final installation.

Remember that the warranties on the air conditioning equipment may not be valid if it is self-installed. When installing a furnace, it may be necessary to contact a licensed heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technician because of the danger of working with natural gas lines and connections. In most jurisdictions, only a licensed air conditioning professional is allowed to install refrigerant in a DIY air conditioner.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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