Is it okay to run an air conditioner in winter?

It is okay to run your air conditioner in the winter for heating purposes as well as temporary system testing to prepare for summer, but use with caution.

When you think of air conditioners, you typically think of a cooling system that is operated in the summer seasons. This is what air conditioners are used for, to cool the air in an indoor environment when it is humid.

When the winter season starts approaching, most people start considering either packing away their units and pulling out their space heaters, or cutting down their cooling slowly or completely, but is it possible for an air conditioner to be used in the winter season?

Using an air conditioner in winter

Generally an air conditioner works optimally during hotter, more humid summer months in households that have one. People put their air conditioners to good use when they need to cool their spaces to better cope with the heat and humidity of summer.

But when winter approaches, few people use their air conditioners for cooling purposes. So, would it be possible to use an air conditioner during the winter?

Is it okay to run an air conditioner in winter?

Contrary to what some people might think, air conditioners can also be used in the winter for various reasons. One reason would be to produce warm air since some modern units now come with built-in heating capabilities.

Different types of units come with heating capabilities, which means these units can run throughout the year for both cooling and heating.

Sometimes, even in the cold, the indoors can be stuffy and humid and this is another reason why an air conditioner can be used in the winter. The unit can be used to maintain the humidity levels in the air of your home.

Having a unit with heating capabilities means you can save some floor space in your home, because you will not need to purchase a heating appliance. Some air conditioner owners may run their units to test if they are working efficiently.

This often happens when people have bought air conditioners in winter and are testing them for any possible faults before the summer arrives.

ACs with heating capability Description Amazon price
Commercial Cool mini-split AC
Buy it
  • 18 000 BTU for cooling and 19 000 BTU for heating
  • Noise levels of 45/52.6 decibels
  • Dehumidifier can extract up to 76 pints of water in 24 hours
$2 125.50
Black+Decker portable AC
Buy it
  • Portable AC and heater combo
  • Heats and cools rooms that are up to 350 square feet at 14 000 BTUs
  • 4-in-1 functions cool, heat, fan, and dehumidify
Friedrich window/wall AC
Buy it
  • Window or wall-mounted unit
  • Powerful heating and cooling
  • Clean air and sustainable design with washable filters and R-410a refrigerant
$1 200.00

Do lower temperatures affect an air conditioner?

Some people might be wondering whether the cold temperatures outside can affect their air conditioners and the answer is yes, to an extent. Your air conditioner could be affected when you use it in winter as it is not entirely safe to do so.

This is because the outside condensing units work on heavy-grade oils that keep the compressor well-lubricated in normal higher summer temperatures, however, when the temperatures decline, the oils get thicker because of the process of solidification, which may result in the unit failing to work correctly.

What is the lowest temperature a unit can function in?

Cold temperatures can be just as extreme as hot temperatures. This begs the question, how low is too low for an air conditioner to be operating?

Just like humans can only endure a certain level of hot or cold temperatures, air conditioners also have a minimum temperature threshold.

The limit for air conditioners is usually anywhere below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point you should not attempt to switch on an air conditioner as this can lead to faults in the unit.

How the unit can get damaged from running in colder temperatures

Attempting to run your unit at temperatures below the 60-degree mark may lead to system failures. The lubricating compressor oil thickens and will not work. T

he inner coils in the unit may eventually freeze in which case the unit will malfunction. Your air conditioner could have a low ambient sensor that prevents the unit from switching on in the winter.

If you ignore this and turn on the unit despite the sensor, your air conditioner will likely become inefficient and incompetent.

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