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Disguise your AC with a DIY Louvered Screen

Disguise your AC with a DIY Louvered Screen.. hides your air conditioner and doesn't impede air flow via www.TheKimSixFix.com

Back in 2012 I shared my experience
replacing a post on our pergola that had suffered termite damage.  It was pretty bad (I’m glad ithat sucker hadn’t tipped over!)
Damaged pergola post
At that time I also removed a rotten trellis that surrounded the nearby A/C unit (of course I didn’t take a photo of it at the time, so here is my ever so fancy artist’s rendering:)
Disquising Air conditioner
When I tore it down back in 2012, I was left with a spiffy new pergola post and a whole lot of ugly air conditioner (which I am always paranoid about since I worry the kids will throw something inside of the fan or even stick their fingers in!):
Air conditoner before
Back in that original post I had an inspiration photo for what I wanted to build “some day”:

 Well.. believe it or not.. SOMEDAY HAS COME!!!  Check out my version:
How to disquise an Air conditionerYou can see my toddler likes it!

The beauty of this design is that it meets the manufacturer’s requirements for clearance and doesn't impede air flow to the unit.

What am I talking about?  Because the purpose of the A/C condenser is to suck in air and run it over the cooling coils (as fast as possible), if you put anything around the outside (or over the top of) your A/C you force it to work extra hard and greatly lower its efficiency.  You should never put bushes, a plant trellis, fence or anything solid around your A/C for just that reason.  That is also why you frequency see lattice around them.. since it allows for a decent amount of airflow and offers a little disguise.
image source
Because air is sucked in from the bottom of the unit and blows out via the large fan at the top, that is also why this louver design works so well.  Since the louvers are spaced far apart and are angled upward (the direction of the air flow) the air flow resistance is minimal.  I also made sure to install my panels 12 inches away from the actual air conditioner, which is the minimum clearance suggested by the manufacturer.  Each A/C unit has it's own clearance requirement, so make sure you check before installing ANYTHING nearby. 

Okay.. enough talk about A/C efficiency! I am sure you want to know how I built it.

It is actually really straight forward.

First I measured how tall I wanted the screen to be and cut (4) 1x3s to form the vertical supports for the louvers.  (Mine panels are 36 inches tall).  Next I calculated how far apart I wanted my louvers to be and what angle I wanted them to be. I settled on 45 degrees since that allowed me to obscure the view of the a/c best with the least disruption of air flow (plus the math was easiest!)

In my case, it turned out that I needed 11 louvers, spaced 3 1/8 inches apart to fill the 36 inch span:
Calculating angle of louver screen

Next I measured how wide I needed the screen to be and cut (11) 1x3s which would become the louvers.  (My screen needed to 39 inches wide on one side and 37 on the other.. so I cut eleven 1x3s  at 39 inches long and eleven at 37 inches long.)

The kids helped me prime and paint them before assembly.  I knew it would be a pain to paint louvers once they were assembled:Painting boardsTo make assembly easy, I cut a couple of 1x3s in 45 degree triangles and used them as a ‘jig’ to support the louvers.
Setting up wood blocks for louvers
I marked off every 3-1/8 inches and lined up the triangle blocks on each mark. This allowed me to maintain the spacing and angles without any complicated math. How to space out louvers
I used clamps to hold the support blocks in place and then predrilled through the board and into the end of the louver.  I secured each louver in place with two 2-inch deck screws on each end.Jig for building louversThen I just repeated the process.. over and over and over.   It wasn’t difficult since I only had to line up and clamp the little triangles and then drill, but it still took a while to assemble all 22 slats.  (That is 88 holes and 88 screws!) Assembling louvered sceenHere are the finished products set out near the A/C.
Assembling louvered screen
I needed a corner support post, so I installed a pressure treated 2x2 and attached the screens with 2-inch deck screws (I also attached the other ends to the pergola post and the fence):
Instaling ac screenTo secure the post to the concrete patio, I used a Strong Tie E-Z Base, which was super easy to use (I will eventually paint it white so it doesn’t stand out)  Just like the other pergola post I installed, I used wedge anchors to attach the footer to the concrete. How to secure posts to concrete
Finally, for a finished look, I added a 1x3 (yes, the top is wider than the louvers) which I mitered at the corner. Mitering top of screen
I can’t believe how much I love it.  And a side effect I didn’t realize I'd get is that is actually has cut down on the noise from the A/C fan as well.  Air conditoner screen

So if you are sick of looking at your A/C and want a pretty simple project with straight forward cuts and no pocket holes, this is a great project to try!

Hide your Air conditioner with a DIY screen

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