Nowadays almost every home has an air conditioning unit for cooling the home during the warm months. But what about when the temperature starts to drop? How cold is it too cold for even the most robust air conditioners? What outside temperature is too cold for an air conditioner to work?

In order for an air conditioner to turn on, the temperature outside has to be above the set temperature on the thermostat. Most air conditioners allow you to set a temperature at 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If the temperature outside is below that, it isn’t advisable to turn the air conditioner on as its coils may freeze and it may become damaged over time.

The majority of us believe that an air conditioner’s sole purpose is to cool a space, but this is not necessarily the case. Regardless of the weather outside, an air conditioner adjusts and keeps the inside temperature at the specified level. Humans are only capable of withstanding a certain amount of cold or hot climates.

Air conditioners have minimal temperature limits below which a person will begin to feel uneasy. Each air conditioner, regardless of model or brand, has the lowest temperature limit. The temperature must be below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the outside temperature is below this limit, you should not switch on your air conditioner. If you do, you may experience some consequences like-

  • The unit’s inner coils will freeze.
  • The lubricating fluid will thicken, and the unit will not function properly and may ultimately damage the air conditioner.

To reduce the temperature of a room, air conditioners use a cycle that involves changing a refrigerant between a liquid and a gas. Because it is outside most people’s comfort zone, practically all air conditioning systems are designed to ensure that the system will not run when the outside temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In most cases, running an air conditioner below this temperature is not safe.

HVAC manufacturers typically advise users not to run their units for extended periods if the temperature is below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If you need to test your unit, you should do so after the weather has been risen to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for at least three days. This allows the oil to warm up and prevent ice from forming on the condenser.

If you are facing any trouble with your air conditioner, it is a good idea to consult with HVAC service and repair professionals. In cold weather, do not attempt to run an air conditioning unit. As a precaution, most modern home units have sensors that prevent the system from running the unconscious. Older companies that lack specific sensors may attempt to run but fail to do so correctly or suffer damage as a result.

Will running the air conditioner in cold weather harm it?

Yes, running your air conditioner during cold weather can cause some damage to it if kept on constantly. Most air conditioners’ outdoor units work best in the summer. Here are some of the points mentioned that running your air conditioner in cold weather can harm it.

First, compressors use a higher grade of lubricant. It keeps the unit running smoothly during the summer when the air conditioner is most needed, but it thickens quickly in cold weather.

Second, your air conditioner might have a low-temperature sensor. To avoid damage, this sensor will prevent the unit from turning on in cold weather. So you may not be able to use your air conditioner when it’s cold outside even if you’d like to.

Third, your compressor may heat up excessively from overuse. It’s simple, the lower the temperature; the more complex the compressor has to work. If you use the air conditioner outside of the lowest temperature limit specified, the damage may be irreversible.

The team at TNC Mechanical Cooling & Heating, Inc. in Monson, MA., is ready to assist. Serving clients throughout Western MA, the family-owned company offers a wide range of HVAC services. Visit us online for more information or call (888) 284-3892 to schedule an appointment.