As air conditioning units can cause a tremendous raucous when operating, so sound blankets are a great way to curb that noise. An AC compressor sound blanket is exactly what it sounds like: a specialized blanket made to go over the compressor. The worry, however, is that wrapping a blanket around the compressor will cause it to overheat.
Sound blankets do not raise the temperature of the compressor, so overheating isn’t a problem. AC compressors are cooled from within, not from the surrounding air. If there is any concern about overheating, removing the sound blanket temporarily or running the AC less often are viable options.
The compressor is an extremely important part of an air conditioner, therefore ensuring it is functioning properly is an important concern to have.
How a Compressor Works
A compressor is one of the three main components inside an air conditioning unit. The two others are the condenser coil and evaporation coil. All three of these work together in order to provide cool air.
Air conditioners remove hot air from inside the home and replace it with cold air. This goes against the nature of heat (this is all called thermodynamics) since heat always goes from hotter places to colder places. Therefore, the hot air outside wants to come into your cold house.
In order to generate this cold air that is unnatural according to physics, energy needs to be put in (in the form of electricity) through the three components of compressor, condenser, and evaporator.
A chemical called refrigerant is the key to making this whole process work. It flows through all three components and is the medium used to transfer heat from inside to outside. The evaporator picks up the heat from inside and the condenser dumps the heat outside.
The compressor moves the refrigerant from the evaporator to condenser. This is done by increasing the pressure of the refrigerant which makes it even hotter than it is. This will force the refrigerant to be hotter than the air outside, and thus the heat from the hot refrigerant will transfer to the air outside.
For a complete explanation of how an air conditioner works, check out the video below.
What a Sound Blanket Does
The compressor is typically located on the outside part of the air conditioner and, along with the fan, can cause quite a bit of noise. A sound blanket simply goes around the compressor to try to minimize the amount of noise that gets into the surrounding environment.
A sound blanket is typically made of fiberglass wrapped in plastic or fabric. Sound waves do not move through materials like that well because of their lack of rigidity. Most soundproofing techniques deal with using fabrics to dampen sound waves.
Sound blankets are placed directly on the compressor and reduce the noise by a few decibels. Other components of an air conditioning unit can cause noise, like the fan, but the compressor is the only part that can be reasonably soundproofed.
Why a Compressor Doesn’t Overheat?
All of that explanation is to set up the answer that makes the initial question obsolete.
A compressor can become warm from functioning, just as every other electrical device does. Whether it’s a laptop, game system, or flashlight, everything heats up as it’s being used. So, wrapping a blanket around a compressor seems like a bad idea.
An electrical device that heats up past a certain point can begin to negatively affect both the performance and integrity of the device. In this case, a compressor getting too warm would affect how well it can pressurize the refrigerant.
But the key to all of this is the function of the compressor. The compressor’s job is to help transfer heat and the medium for its refrigerant, not air. When a laptop heats up, heat is carried away from it by blowing air on it with a fan.
The device heats up the air, blows the hot air away, and then makes room for more air. However, in AC units, the compressor can be cooled by using the refrigerant.
Any extra heat a compressor picks up is transferred into the refrigerant instead of the air. The refrigerant is literally used to cool the compressor in addition to your home. The heated refrigerant just continues on in its normal process towards the condenser to move the heat outside.
With the air not being used as the primary thermal medium, adding a blanket around it will hardly change the performance at all.
Brinmar is a company that makes air conditioners and related products and found that adding a sound blanket increases the temperature of the compressor by only a negligible 2%.
Problems with Reducing Noise
The problem with making an air conditioner quieter is that pretty much any solution to the noise problem will affect the performance of the air conditioner.
If you are just installing an air conditioner, one solution is to have it installed further away from the house, which will at least help it not be so noisy while you’re inside.
The problem with that, however, is that most people don’t enjoy having a large air conditioner unit in the middle of their yard. . .There’s a reason they are almost universally pushed up against the side of a building. It just looks better.
Other options aren’t very practical either. In order for an air conditioner to function properly, it needs to dissipate and absorb heat as fast as possible, whether that is on the inside or outside of the building. Increasing surface area is key to this, which is why air conditioners have so many winding coils and fins.
Air conditioners also contain a fan on the outside portion in order to blow air past the condenser to help dissipate heat even faster. And this is where the problem is born with reducing noise.
Any attempt to cover any part of the air conditioner will drastically impact the performance. Covering the whole unit will ensure a quick breakdown of effectiveness.
This is also why cleaning the outside of an AC unit is so important because grass, leaves, and other small substances will prevent heat from dissipating correctly.
In the end, the compressor is one of the only components that can be covered without affecting performance. Unfortunately, noise is going to be a part of the sweet cold air of AC.
If you’re looking to get a sound blanket, check out these great options from Amazon: