Help me rig my air conditioner
June 29, 2013 11:00 AM   Subscribe

My apartment has a heater/air conditioner combo-unit that looks like this. It outputs cold air via the vents along the top. PROBLEM: There's no way to direct the air flow. This means it's pointed at my desk (BrrrRRRrr!!!) but it's not sending cool air to the rest of the room (HOT!). Can you think of anything clever I can clip to the front vents to redirect at least some of that air?!

If it helps: each of the output vent slots is just over 9/16ths of an inch wide and 4 & a half inches long. I'm really desperate for a way to redirect the air a little to the left instead of straight out.
posted by 2oh1 to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
Vertically stick a couple of vent deflectors to the front of it.
posted by paulg at 11:11 AM on June 29, 2013

Google AC vent deflectors.

I'm wondering if you directed the air flow toward the ceiling it wouldn't get the air to circulate more and cool the room better?

Any heating/cooling technicians or physicists in the house?
posted by BlueHorse at 11:19 AM on June 29, 2013

Pointing it at the ceiling makes a huge difference. I had this exact problem and built a big "duct" out of packing tape and cardboard that slowly beveled in maybe 4-5 small steps towards the ceiling at about a 75 degree angle. It went from just icing down my computer and me at my desk, to cooling the whole place rather well by swirling the air around.

Getting a small fan and aiming it upwards as much as it could and just leaving it on low all the time helped exponentially too. But the biggest difference came from my cardboard duct.

I would never pay for some commercial deflector. Cardboard worked perfectly for at least six months.

It also made a major difference in how much the AC had to run since it was exchanging air through the room so much more efficiently, and also kept it running when it needed to be since it wasn't just looping cold air around in front of itself.
posted by emptythought at 1:19 PM on June 29, 2013

Response by poster: HHhmhmmmmm... I haven't found any vent deflectors that look like they'd fit my AC unit, so I think what I may need is a sheet of firm clear plastic and a few clips to hold it up to deflect the flow. I say clear because I don't want this to look trashy. It's my home, after all.

I can't believe Amana designs these units without a simple pivot like what the AC vents in cars have. Sheesh.
posted by 2oh1 at 1:45 PM on June 29, 2013

I have a small mini-turbine fan by Honeywell. It's super quiet, moves a lot of air.

Aim it in the path of the cold air coming out of the AC unit to disperse the oh so pleasantly blessedly cool air around the room.
posted by porpoise at 2:37 PM on June 29, 2013

Cardboard will work but you can buy tin ducting and jury rig something that redirects the airflow. As for how to connect it . . . you don't. Visit your local thrift store/consignment shop or go here and pick up a simple high chair.
Use the chair to hold your duct to the unit when needed, store it away when you don't. Less chance of damaging the unit if your ducting isn't attached too.
posted by jaimystery at 2:48 PM on June 29, 2013

Response by poster: Ooh. The fan might be a good idea too.
posted by 2oh1 at 2:58 PM on June 29, 2013

I have a wall mounted AC unit in my living room that is up in a corner. Not exactly optimum. I would get a cloud of freezing air in the corner of the room, and awfulness everywhere else.

I have experimented with all kinds of deflecting options, and the best I've come up with is a pedestal fan extended almost to the ceiling and sort of "sucking" the cold air out of the AC and distributing it around the room. Some days, oscillate works better, and some days picking a single direction works better. I guess it develops a bit of a circulating flow.

So yeah, I'd start with a fan and have it blow across the output of the AC unit to mix the air and shoot it in the direction you want.

What I can't do is get the cooling to move to different rooms. So if anyone knows how to do that, I'd love to hear it.
posted by gjc at 3:00 PM on June 29, 2013

Response by poster: I just need to pivot the air a little to the left. Oh, please, I freeze while the rest of the room roasts... I just need it a little to the left. My apartment is large (585 square feet) but it's all one room (except for the bathroom of course). I just want to send the air more into the heart of the room rather than along the far wall.
posted by 2oh1 at 3:04 PM on June 29, 2013

Buy a cheap curved plastic heating duct deflector (pick one the right size, I only linked to that as an example of what I mean). Carefully drill two or three small holes along one of the long edges. Loop a piece of fishing line through the top slat of the AC's vent, and through the hole on the deflector, and tie it off. Repeat for the other hole (or two). Let the other long edge just rest on the "shelf" formed by the base of the AC vent (you may need to make a small notch in the deflector if the vent has a perfectly smooth profile at the bottom).

I have this exact set-up on a similar AC sitting five feet from my head as I write this (and don't much care for an "AC headache" from having 40F air blown on my head with the rest of the room around 80F). Works like a charm.
posted by pla at 4:50 PM on June 29, 2013

Vent deflectors depend on the hot air return being far away. In a self contained unit like that, you aren't going to get much traction from a deflector like that. But it's worth trying for $6.
posted by gjc at 4:57 PM on June 29, 2013

Response by poster: I saw a duct deflector yesterday when I went to the hardware store. Those were designed for traditional window unit style air conditioners. My AC unit is considerably wider than that, and as you can see in the pic I linked to, the vents are at an angle, not vertical, even though they throw air mostly straight out. I'm roughly feet away from the AC unit which sits on the floor (I should have mentioned that in my question. It's installed in the wall a few inches off the floor). I just want to redirect the air a little bit up or a little to the left so that it isn't directly blowing on my desk.
posted by 2oh1 at 9:37 AM on June 30, 2013

Response by poster: That should read "roughly 8 feet away"
posted by 2oh1 at 4:46 PM on June 30, 2013

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