Does Outside Temperature Affect Air Conditioner?


Regardless of cold or warm seasons, it’s essential to maintain a comfortable level of air indoors.

Especially when temperatures become too high outside, your air conditioner can become overworked and damaged.

But, how does the temperature affect your air conditioner? Most ACs start struggling when outdoor temperatures exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit because most are capable of cooling a home only up to 30 degrees below the outside temperature. While the AC unit can get overheated and overworked during the summer, it can stop working and the coils inside the AC can freeze during the winter. And since thermostats typically can’t be set lower than 60 degrees in most AC units and their coild can freeze, most people don’t use their ACs in the winter.

Besides, what most homeowners do not understand is that the outside temperature does affect the life and functionality of your air conditioning.


How does air conditioning work?

We cannot discuss the effect of outside temperature without understanding how heating, ventilation, and air conditioning unit works.


Components of an air conditioning unit

Any air conditioning unit has four essential components:

  •       A compressor
  •       A condenser coil
  •       An evaporator coil
  •       A fan

All these components work together to repeatedly turn a specialized chemical called a refrigerant from gas to liquid.


  • Compressor

According to gas laws, an increase in pressure at constant under constant volume increases the temperature. The compressor works by raising the pressure of the refrigerant gas, thus increasing its temperature.

It then sends this gas to the condenser coil.


  • Condenser coil

Heat transfer happens when a body of a higher temperature emits or a colder body absorbs heat from the surrounding.

The hot refrigerant gas comes into contact with metal pipes in contact with the significant air outside at the condenser coil. The heat loss results in the gas turning back to liquid form.

Did you know your condenser has a filter that protects the unit:


  • The evaporator coil

The same concept of heat transfer applies to the evaporator coil. Only this time, the gas is losing gaining heat to become gaseous again. The heat from the air transfers to the evaporator coil, heats the liquid refrigerant and turns it into gas. By absorbing heat from the surrounding, it cools down the air around it. And since cold air is heavier, it drops your level, while hot air at the bottom rises to the top.


  • The fan

The fan at the opening of the AC unit blows air across the evaporator so that heat flows into the house. It then helps to circulate the cold air across the house. Together with the special refrigerant, these four components work together in repetitive cycles until your indoor space is at your desired temperature.

Also, air filters trap any dust particles and debris in the air blown into or out of your indoor space.


During the hot weather:

So, when the outside temperatures go beyond 95 degrees, your AC units go into overdrive, trying to maintain the temperature in your rooms at the set level.

These smelting high temperatures have adverse effects on your HVAC units. Some of the challenges include:

  • Your HVAC system ages faster, which then leads to constant breakdowns
  • Temperature and humidity variation in different rooms is too much stress for your AC to keep up with
  • You notice that you have to leave your AC on for longer hours to achieve the same temperature levels as before
  • Also, the machine’s constant running results in high friction levels, which adds to the machine’s strain. Consequently, the lifespan of your air conditioner reduces drastically.

Other problems you can notice from the soaring temperatures on your AC include:

  • Your filters clog faster than normal
  • The exterior fans creaking
  • Increased utility bills
  • Development of mold due to humid and warm conditions.


During the cold weather:

Are you wondering how the cold outside temperature affects your AC unit?

If you are using an outdoor unit, running your system in the cold weather damages it on some level. For instance, the high-grade lubrication applied to the compressor tends to thicken during the cold weather; hence the unit slows down or stops altogether.

Also, since most units have low-ambient temperature sensors, your AC fails to work when the temperatures outside are so low that the sensors cannot detect. Also, coils like the evaporator coil meant to turn the liquid refrigerant into gas might freeze up, causing ultimate damage to the AC unit.

Finally, due to the constant operation of the unit to raise indoor temperatures, the heat from friction could damage the part, which is also expensive to replace.


What can you do for your AC?

Although an AC unit is a superior machine in ventilation, you might need to lend a hand to tackle the problems associated with outside temperatures and their effects on your heating and ventilation units.


To keep the cold or heat out.

Windows are the most significant culprit when it comes to heat loss and gains. So, if you want to keep some of that heat outside in the summer, consider installing shade screens and using black-out curtains or blinds. You can also plant trees to offer shade for you in the future.


Eliminate leaks

Whenever cold air from the AC leaks from your home, that is money down the drain. So, before you start operating your system 24/7, make sure that you seal your air ducts to eliminate any leaks.


Add insulation

Whenever you heat or cool your home but have poor insulation, you will be spending more on utility bills than on rent. To mitigate this, find a professional to add a layer of insulation in your home’s arctic walls and crawlspaces.

Other tips that are useful in increasing the lifespan of your AC unit include:

  • Changing the filters once the limitation is near or exceeded.
  • Clean the AC coils using a professional
  • Choose a moderate temperature so that your AC has time to adapt.


In short –

Keep your air conditioner working within its ideal temperature range or risk reducing its lifespan when it’s too hot or cold outside.