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Which Works Better As An AC Pad: Concrete Or Plastic?

Which Works Better As An AC Pad: Concrete Or Plastic?

The exterior unit of an air conditioner or heat pump disperses the heat from your home and room outside. These outdoor units must be installed on an AC pad for effective operation, which is often made of plastic or concrete. However, how can you tell which is the most effective?

The size of your outside unit will determine which AC pad is appropriate for you. If your outside unit is huge, concrete might be the best option. You may opt for a plastic AC pad if the outdoor unit is merely small or medium in size.

Long-term maintenance of your outdoor unit can be aided by knowing what type of AC pad to purchase. We discuss the many types of AC pads available and more in this guide to assist you in making a choice.

The Best AC Pad To Choose

The outdoor device must be mounted on a flat surface that can withstand vibrations by using the AC pad. Without an AC pad, the outdoor unit can tilt and burrow itself into the ground as a result of operational vibrations, which could also cause internal component damage. In addition, the height can prevent any immediate dirt or insects from getting onto the outdoor unit and into your air conditioner.

You’ll need to put up your outside unit first because it will be perched on top of the AC pad. Depending on the size of your outdoor unit, the two most popular varieties are concrete and plastic.


Which Works Better As An AC Pad: Concrete Or Plastic?

Due to their longevity, concrete AC pads have been in use for the longest. They are a natural choice for larger air conditioners because they can withstand the weight of a large outside unit as well. Although they aren’t as visually appealing, their functionality more than makes up for it.

Although they are sturdy, concrete AC pads have a tendency to sink to the ground with time. For this reason, some people add gravel on the pad to support it as it bears the weight of the outside unit. Rainwater may cause cracks to develop over time.


Which Works Better As An AC Pad: Concrete Or Plastic?

The best AC pads for small or medium-sized units are made of plastic or rubber. Some are manufactured from recyclable materials, however depending on the manufacturer, rubber or plastic AC pads are very durable. They may be UV and water resistant, making them resilient to various environmental factors and less prone to cracking. They can also be environmentally beneficial, which is another reason why homeowners are increasingly choosing this alternative.

Installing An AC Pad

Which Works Better As An AC Pad: Concrete Or Plastic?

You’ll want to learn how to install an AC pad properly now that you are aware of the different types of AC pads available on the market and which ones perform best in certain circumstances. To prevent your outdoor unit from tilting, you’ll need to do more than simply place the AC on the designated location.

Choosing Whether To Use An AC Pad

An AC pad was recommended as being crucial to preventing long-term harm to your outdoor unit. However, the reason this is the first step is to check to see if you already have an air conditioner or heat pump installed. If so, take its age and health into account.

You might want to wait things out rather than getting a new AC pad for a unit that is almost finished. This takes into account the possibility that the size of your replacement AC will be different from your old unit. You should get an AC cushion for your AC if it is still brand new.

Getting The AC Pad

When choosing an AC pad, it’s crucial to consider the size of your outside unit. In addition, you must ensure that the AC pad will maintain a 1-foot gap between the unit’s support feet and the perimeter. Most hardware stores carry AC pads, which can run you about $100.

Getting The Ground Ready

Leveling the ground is necessary before installing your AC pad. If you don’t level the outdoor unit correctly, it will tilt. As a result, over time, your outside unit may sustain damage, shortening its lifespan and increasing your bills.

You must first choose the location for your outdoor unit before you can proceed. To level the earth, compact the ground and cover it with sand. Before continuing to the following step, use a leveling tool to make sure the ground is level.

Addition Of Base

Some folks just lay their AC pad on top of the smoothed sand without necessary completing the next step. Instead of repeatedly needing to dig under the AC pad to put more sand underneath as it dips, it is advised to install a sturdy base to make it more long-lasting.

As a firm foundation for this, you can add a layer of gravel on top of the sand. Concrete can also be poured on top of the sand as a solution. Even if this can be a more long-lasting option, you might need to hire a professional to do it for you. When performing this step, keep in mind to always check to see if your ground is level.

Setting Up The AC Unit And Pad

Simply mount the AC pad on top of your base once you’re finished using it. Before setting your outside unit on top of your AC pad, you can use the level to make sure it is stable. It won’t harm to use the leveling tool to check the outside unit’s level a second time.

If the outdoor unit is not level, leveling pads can be installed underneath the unit. Once it is suitably leveled, lift the device and slide the pads under its feet.

What Takes Place If The Unit Isn’t Leveled?

The outside unit must be leveled in order for it to continue operating as intended for a longer period of time. However, in order to appreciate its significance, you must be aware of the potential issues that could arise from improper unit leveling.

Internal Damage

As previously noted, if your item is tilted over an extended period of time, the interior components may be harmed. The component that is most impacted by this would be the compressor, which converts the unit’s liquid refrigerant to gas while absorbing heat from the surrounding space.

The oil from the unit that drives the compressor will be distributed unevenly if the unit is left inclined. The compressor could become damaged and overheat as a result of this. The appliance might work harder and consume more electricity as a result, raising the cost of the monthly electric bill.

Accumulation Of Water

When you turn on your air conditioner, it draws moisture out of the air, which eventually escapes. It’s possible for the water to stay inside the outside unit if it’s slanted. Rust can develop and mold can gather.

Your unit’s coils may be harmed, which will make it more difficult for it to remove heat from the space as usual. If this occurs, your air conditioner will work harder to keep your room cool and your electric bill will increase unnecessarily.

A Lot Of Vibrations

Noise isn’t the only issue with vibrations coming from your outside unit. Your outdoor unit’s internal components may be stressed by excessive vibrations caused by tilting the device. Additionally, the unit could droop due to the vibrations. The vibrations that shake its lines loose can potentially result in a refrigerant leak.


The best AC pad for your outside unit will depend on the size of your unit, but both concrete and plastic AC pads are viable options. Use a concrete AC pad if your outdoor unit is a sizable one. A plastic AC pad is an alternative if your unit is small or medium in size.

Which Works Better As An AC Pad: Concrete Or Plastic?

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Written by HVAC Contributor

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