What Outside Temperature Is Too Cold for Air Conditioner?


Almost every home nowadays has an air conditioning unit for cooling.

But how cold is it too cold for even the most robust air conditioners?

What outside temperature is too cold for an air conditioner to work? In order for an air conditioner to turn on, the temperature outside has to be above the set temperature on the thermostat. Most air conditioners allow you to set a temperature at 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If the temperature outside is below that, it isn’t advisable to turn the air conditioner on as its coils may freeze and it may become damaged over time.

The majority of us believe that an air conditioner’s sole purpose is to cool a space; however, this is not the case. Regardless of the weather outside, an air conditioner adjusts and keeps the inside temperature at the specified level. Humans are only capable of withstanding a certain amount of cold or hot climates.

Air conditioners have minimal temperature limits below which a person will begin to feel uneasy. Each air conditioner, regardless of model or brand, has the lowest temperature limit. The temperature must be below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 

If the outside temperature is below this limit, you should not switch on your air conditioner. If you do, you may experience the following consequences.

  • The unit’s inner coils will freeze.
  • The lubricating fluid will thicken, and the unit will not function properly and may ultimately damage the air conditioner.

To reduce the temperature of a room, air conditioners use a cycle that involves changing a refrigerant between a liquid and a gas. Because it is outside most people’s comfort zone, practically all air conditioning systems are designed to ensure that the system will not run when the outside temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In most cases, running an air conditioner below this temperature is not safe.

HVAC manufacturers typically advise users not to run their units for extended periods if the temperature is below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If you need to test your unit, you should do so after the weather has been risen to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for at least three days. This allows the oil to warm up and prevent ice from forming on the condenser.

If you are facing any trouble with your air conditioner, it is a good idea to consult with HVAC service and repair professionals. In cold weather, do not attempt to run an air conditioning unit. As a precaution, most modern home units have sensors that prevent the system from running the unconscious. Older companies that lack specific sensors may attempt to run but fail to do so correctly or suffer damage as a result.


Is it Possible to Run Your Air Conditioner During the Winter?

Yes, you may use your air conditioner in the winter, but is it worth it? If your home becomes stuffy during the winter, open a window or two to bring the temperature back to normal. During chilly weather, air conditioners can also be used to raise the temperature.

Some units have a built-in heating system, making them more convenient and completely safe to operate in wintertime.

Aside from that, if you’re not sure how the cold weather will affect your air conditioner’s efficiency, there are a few things to think about.

Low ambient sensors are found in many units. Because the sensors keep the refrigerants going, the components can’t be used properly in cold temperatures. To address this issue, you can manually slow down the condenser fan when using it in the winter.

And while many units have an auto-defrost feature to help thaw the unit if it gets too cold, you don’t want to use this as an excuse to run the unit either as this will damage it over time, not to mention defeat the purpose of having a cool room.


Will running the air conditioner in cold weather harm it?

Yes, running your air conditioner during cold weather can cause some damage to it if kept on constantly. Most air conditioners’ outdoor units work best in the summer. Here are some of the points mentioned that running your air conditioner in cold weather can harm it.

First, compressors use a higher grade of lubricant. It keeps the unit running smoothly during the summer when the air conditioner is most needed, but it thickens quickly in cold weather.

Second, your air conditioner might have a low-temperature sensor. To avoid damage, this sensor will prevent the unit from turning on in cold weather. So you may not be able to use your air conditioner when it’s cold outside even if you’d like to.

Third, your compressor may heat up excessively from overuse. It’s simple, the lower the temperature; the more complex the compressor has to work. If you use the air conditioner outside of the lowest temperature limit specified, the damage may be irreversible.

You can always get an HVAC warranty for your unit to help you save money if it breaks down.

And always keep it clean!



To summarize, using an air conditioner in the winter is the sensible choice with modern air conditioners, but only when done properly.

For example, it’s wise to use a unit with a reversible heat pump so that you can reverse the direction of the air and get hot air into the room. Even a non-reversible air conditioner can provide a breath of fresh air in a stuffy or hot room, but should only be used sparingly in the winter.

However, use caution when running the air conditioner in extremely cold weather.

Wrapping it all up, running the air conditioner offers benefits and drawbacks when it’s cool outdoors. Some can be used as a heater, for example, but if not appropriately used during the winter, it can cause damage to the unit.


Related Questions

Is it Possible to Run My Air Conditioner in the Winter?

The answer is a most definitive yes. It makes sense to use a reversible air conditioner or ductless heat pump all year long and enjoy the heating function. Ductless heating systems have numerous advantages.

Even if your air conditioner is not reversible, you may find it useful during the Winter. If your room is becoming too stuffy and suffocating due to the heating, you can switch on your air conditioner in fan mode and make the space more comfortable to be in.

 Even if you may use your air conditioner during winters, the air conditioner’s efficiency will be different from summertime. Although an air conditioner can be used in the Winter, it is intended to be used when the outside temperature will be higher than the indoor temperature.


When does an Air Conditioner Stop Working?

For an air conditioner to work, the outside temperature must be around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The refrigerant begins to behave differently below this temperature, and the air conditioner stops working correctly. Running the air conditioner below this temperature may cause the unit to break down.


Will it be harmed if I run the air conditioner in the Winter?

The answer is not as straightforward as yes or no. There are numerous factors at work, and running AC in the Winter is fraught with danger. With moderately cold temperatures, any mode of an air conditioner is perfectly acceptable. However, there is a risk in using the air conditioner when the weather is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.