How to Cover Air Conditioner Pipes?


Air conditioner pipes often run on the house exterior wall. But, many people find it ugly and they want to cover it up nicely. So, how do you cover air conditioner pipes properly?

To cover air conditioner pipes, use a line set cover kit. PVC line set cover kits are cheaper but turn yellowish after a while. Metal line set cover kits are more expensive but much more durable than PVC line set cover kits.

Line set cover kits are great to cover up air conditioner pipes. However, there are a few important things to know about air conditioner pipes and line set cover kits.

Should Air Conditioner Pipes Be Covered?

Many air conditioners are installed by professionals. Only a handful of air conditioners are done by homeowners themselves or non-professionals.

Even when done by professionals, some air conditioners don't have their refrigerant pipes covered. Many times, they are exposed outside at the condensing unit.

Exposed Air Conditioner Pipes

So, should air conditioner pipes like the one shown in the above photo be covered?

Actually, there are two things to be discussed regarding air conditioner pipe cover; a) protection and b) aesthetics.

Cover Air Conditioner Pipes for Protection

Needless to say, putting a cover for air conditioner pipes, especially those that are running outside the house helps to protect them from getting damaged.

Air conditioner pipes are mostly thermally insulated by either closed-cell insulations or foam insulations. Regardless, these insulations are weak against sunlight. So, if air conditioner pipes are constantly exposed to sunlight, their insulations will start to crack and even fall off after some time.

Cracked Air Conditioner Pipe Insulation

Therefore, covering up air conditioner pipes can prevent them from getting damaged by sunlight (UV radiation) and thus, retain the performance of the air conditioner.

However, air conditioner pipes can be protected against sunlight even without a cover.

PVC tapes (UV tapes) are great against UV radiation. Hence, many uncovered air conditioner pipes that are wrapped with PVC tapes last a very time.

Air Conditioner Pipes Wrapped with PVC Tapes

Nevertheless, air conditioner pipes wrapped with PVC tapes are not protected against physical damage. The pipes of air conditioners installed on the ground are more prone to accidental damage which can lead to a refrigerant leak that is both costly to repair and harmful to the environment.

So, covering up air conditioner pipes not only prolongs the lifespan of the air conditioner but also guards them against physical damage.

Cover Air Conditioner Pipes for Aesthetics

Apart from shielding against UV radiation and physical damage, covering up air conditioner pipes make the house exterior look better.

Most people want to cover their air conditioner pipes for aesthetic reasons.

Often, air conditioner pipes look ugly because they are wriggly and it is very difficult to make them “stand straight”. Hence, a cover is necessary to conceal them.

However, some people don't realize their air conditioner pipes are ugly until they finished the installation.

Many line set cover kits are meant to be installed before the air conditioner pipes. So, what do you do if you're already installed the air conditioner?

How to Cover Air Conditioner Pipes?

There are many line set cover kits sold on the market for people who want to cover up their air conditioner pipes. So, let's take a closer look at them.

PVC Line Set Cover Kit

Most line set cover kits are made of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) which is good against UV radiation. So, they are widely used to cover up air conditioner pipes at outside the house.

Product in the above photos: Hide-A-Line 7.5 Ft. 3″ Line Set Cover Kit from Amazon.

The good thing about PVC line set cover kits is they are cheap and easy to install. However, as mentioned earlier, you need to install them first before the air conditioner pipes.

Another downside of PVC line set cover kits is that the plastic turns yellowish after some time depending on the quality. So, it may not look as good as before.

Metal Line Set Cover Kit

As the name suggests, metal line set cover kits are made of metal. They are good against rust because they are often coated with zinc. Technically, they are known as galvanized steel.

Product in the above photos: Eagle 4×4 Metal Line Set Cover Kit from Amazon.

Metal line set cover kits are generally more expensive than PVC line set cover kits. However, they are stronger and last longer.

I find metal line set cover kits look better than PVC ones given that they don't have any dent. Some of them even look invisible with certain color matches and camera angles.

For extra durability, you may opt for a stainless steel line set cover kit but the price will be much higher.

The best thing about metal line set cover kits is you don't have to install them before the air conditioner pipes. So, if you currently have existing air conditioner pipes that you wish to cover, you can just screw on a metal line set cover kit.

Line Set Cover Kit Sizing Chart

PVC line set cover kits are typically available in 3 sizes; 3″, 4″ or 5″ in width. Below is a line set cover kit sizing chart based on different air conditioner capacities:

Air Conditioner
Capacity
Refrigerant Pipe Size
(Liquid & Gas)
Cover Kit Size
(WxH)
9,000 BTU
(0.75 Ton)
1/4″ & 3/8″
(6.35mm & 9.52mm)
3″ x 2-1/2″
(76mm x 64mm)
12,000 BTU
(1 Ton)
1/4″ & 3/8″
(6.35mm & 9.52mm)
3″ x 2-1/2″
(76mm x 64mm)
18,000 BTU
(1.5 Tons)
1/4″ & 1/2″
(6.35mm & 12.7mm)
3″ x 2-1/2″
(76mm x 64mm)
24,000 BTU
(2 Tons)
3/8″ & 5/8″
(9.52mm & 15.9mm)
4″ x 2-1/2″
(76mm x 64mm)

Generally, an air conditioner with a capacity from 9000 BTU to 18000 BTU can use a 3″ wide line cover kit. For a 24000 BTU air conditioner, a 4″ wide line cover kit is needed. However, the line cover kit size shall be based on the refrigerant pipe size, not on the air conditioner capacity alone.

Sometimes, 18000 BTU air conditioners may use the 3/8″ & 5/8″ (9.52mm & 15.9mm) refrigerant pipes. So, make sure you check the pipe size before buying the line set cover kit.

If you're running two 9000 BTU air conditioners, a 5″ wide line set cover kit can fit two sets of refrigerant pipes.

Below are diagrams for the line set cover kit sizing:

3″ Wide for 9k/12k BTU
3″ Wide for 18k BTU
4″ Wide for 18k/24k BTU
5″ Wide for Two Sets

In short, 4″ wide PVC line set cover kits are safe for most people. For metal line set cover kits, the 4×4″ size is the equivalent.

Even with a line set cover kit, the final connection at the condensing unit is usually not covered. Hence, remember to wrap it with PVC tapes to shield it against sunlight.

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Yu Chang Zhen

I enjoy working on air conditioners and ventilation fans because Malaysia is a very hot country.

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