Running Air Conditioner When It’s Cold Outside

These days, almost every home has an air conditioning unit. While most of us believe that an air conditioner only works to cool the room down, that’s not the case. An air conditioner regulates and maintains the temperature inside according to your desired level, regardless of the temperature outside.

frozen air conditioner

However, there are many anomalies to running air conditioners when it’s cold outside. If you’re planning to do the same, you’re in luck. Here, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding this query to help you out.

Can You Run Your Air Conditioner in the Winter?

Yes, you can definitely run your air conditioner in winter, but is it worth it? If your home is getting stuffy in the winter, it’s better to open a window or two and bring the temperature to normal.

However, if you want to put your air conditioner to optimum use all year round, that’s possible too. Air conditioners can also be used to hike the temperature up during cold weather. Some units come with an integrated heating system, which makes it completely safe to operate in wintertime.


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Besides that, if you’re not sure whether the cold weather will affect your air conditioner efficiency, there are some aspects you should check out beforehand. Many units have low ambient sensors. These sensors keep the refrigerants running, which means the units can’t be safely used in low temperatures. To solve this problem, you can manually slow down the condenser fan to use it in wintertime.

What Temp is Too Cold for Air Conditioner?

Human beings can only endure a certain level of cold or hot temperatures. Air conditioners have minimum temperature thresholds, after which a person will start feeling uncomfortable. Regardless of the model or brand, each air conditioner has the lowest temperature limit.

The limit is usually anywhere below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You shouldn’t turn your air conditioner on if the minimum outside temperature is below that. If you do, the following can happen.

  • The inner coils in the unit will freeze
  • The lubricating oil will thicken and not assist the unit

This may ultimately damage the air conditioner.

Will Running AC in Cold Weather Damage It?

Yes, running your air conditioning system during cold weather will damage it to some extent. The outdoor unit of most air conditioners works best during summertime. Here are some ways in which running your AC in cold weather can damage it.

  • First, compressors have a lubrication oil of heavier grade. This heavy-grade oil helps the unit run flawlessly during summertime when the air conditioner is needed the most, but it tends to thicken very quickly in cold weather.
  • Second, your air conditioner may have a low ambient sensor. This sensor will keep the unit from turning on in cold weather to avoid any damage. If you try to turn it on despite that, your unit can become incompetent.
  • Third, your compressor may heat up excessively. It’s simple, the lower the temperature, the harder the compressor has to work. If you use the AC outside the lowest temperature limit mentioned, the damage can be irreversible.

Using Your Air Conditioner as a Heater

In areas where the cold days are equal to the hot ones every year, using an air conditioner as a heater is like a dream come true. Instead of purchasing two units for cooling and heating in your house, it’s surely lighter on your purse to have a single unit that doubles up as both. But how is that possible?


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You see, cooling appliances use the heat pumping system to transfer heat from an area of higher to lower concentration. Meaning, if a device is intended to move heat out of a room, it can potentially work oppositely as well.

To get your air conditioner to work both ways, you can add a reversing valve. Consequently, the coolants will work in reverse order so that the cool air will be thrown outside while the hot air will be pushed in.

Final Words

Wrapping it all up, running air conditioner when it’s cool outside has its pros and cons.

It can be used as a heater but it is damaging to the unit if not operated correctly during winters. Make sure you have all the information before you turn your AC on when it’s cold, or you might end up burning a large hole in your pocket.