Summer Sound Series: Loud A/C Units

The Situation

My neighbor’s A/C unit is situated close to our house, and the noise is starting to drive me crazy. I know that I can’t ask him to move it, but is there anything that I can do to keep some of the sound out or at least make it quieter?

The Solution

While it’s difficult to reduce the vibration energy that is being transmitted into the house from the air conditioning unit, there are a few things that we can do to attempt to reduce the airborne sounds. The “right” product depends on a few things – namely the type of structure and the exposure to U.V. (sunlight).

Recommended Products

Sound Silencer

Sound Silencer acoustical panelsFirst, our Sound Silencer panels can be installed onto some kind of structure or enclosure around the noisy equipment. The walls should be far enough away from the machine that they do not inhibit its performance and airflow requirement. The height of the machine should eliminate the line-of-sight from a listener’s location to the machine to achieve results. A rule of thumb is that the height of the wall should be one-and-a-half the height of the noise source.

The Sound Silencer panels will both block and absorb some sound, but should only be used in areas that are not exposed to prolonged hours of U.V. exposure as the polypropylene will start to break down over time. The panels are typically installed with construction adhesive and/or mechanical fasteners. These panels are usually installed onto a wooden fence rather than onto chain link.

Exterior Grade Quilted Curtain

Exterior Outdoor Quilted CurtainSecond, our exterior grade quilted curtains are going to offer a greater reduction of both blocking and absorbing sound. They are also custom made based on the measurements of the enclosure and because they are made with parts that are all U.V. stable, they are going to far outlast the Sound Silencer panels. These are made with grommets to be used as points of attachment to the structure and the vertical edges of each panel has a 2″ wide strip of Velcro attached so one panel can be attached to the one next to it.

Exterior Grade Quilted Fiberglass Absorber

Exterior Quilted Fiberglass AbsorbersThird, we have our exterior grade quilted fiberglass absorbers, which are used to absorb the reflections from a concrete enclosure or from off of a building. By adding an absorptive surface to the wall behind the enclosure, the amount of sound hitting the building and then being reflected toward a potential listener is greatly reduced. These panels are not used to block sound, they are only used to reduce reflections.

Echo Barrier Panels

Installing Temporary Echo Barrier PanelsFourth, our Echo Barrier panels are available for rent or for purchase. They are similar to the exterior grade sound blanket in that they are reinforced in their performance – they will both block and absorb sound. If you are unsure as to how you are going to proceed, the rental option would allow you to test the performance of the panels yet allow you to return the panels if the situation is not reduced to your expectation

Climate Seal Acoustic Window Insert

Climate Seal Acoustic Window InsertFinally, if the unit is mounted outside of a window and the sound is coming in to the window, it is common to purchase one or multiple Climate Seal acoustic inserts to snap into place over the existing window. This will reduce sound while not reducing your view.

A Few Final Thoughts

I strongly suggest contacting a local HVAC company before putting an enclosure around your compressor. They will be able to direct you as to the distance that is required from the machine to the walls of your fence.

Feel free to send us digital pictures of your situation as well as the address of the potential installation. The digital pictures give us a more complete view of the situation and the address allows us to find a bird’s eye (or street’s eye) view of the building.


  1. Tony

    I like some info on how to stop the bass of the radios from outside the house? I have neighbors I can hear them from a block away. It is the bass from the radios and TV systems.

    • Ted W

      Without significant modifications to the structure, there isn’t a cheap, easy way to block the sound — especially that of a low-frequency.


  2. jason


    I need help. I have a master on the second floor and my neighbor’s a/c units are just right outside. Houses are built almost next to each other. There are probably about 10 feet between houses. I can see two units from my window in the room. Both units are quite old and noisy. I have a very hard time to sleep and my neighbor does not care.

    I am thinking of replacing my fence to create a block between my window and the units and thinking of adding window insert inside of windows. Will that help? I looked at the material like sound silencer and I guess I can hang them over the fence between my window and the units. I am not sure if that will help anyhow.

    Please let me know what you think

    • Ted W

      Because the mental image that I’ve put together may not be at all like the actual space, if you send a photo or two of the area it would help me understand the situation a bit more holistically.

      Replacing your fence will help as long as it inhibits the line-of-sight that you and the window have with the A/C units. Depending on the type of fence you build, you may want to also take a look at the Exterior Sound Blankets Reinforced which would potentially block and absorb more sound than the Sound Silencer panels mentioned. It’s always best to start as close as you can to the source, then take a step back and listen to assess the situation. The addition of a Climate Seal Window Insert would very likely offer some additional reduction as well. Do you use any white noise or background noise in your bedroom while you sleep? That can also be a very cost-effective way to get some relief.

      Thank you and I hope this helps,

  3. Marge L

    Great information. Any chance there’s an exterior fabric that would block noise (mostly a neighbor’s HVAC) that I could roll down as a curtain? It’s mostly under a permanent awning, so it wouldn’t necessarily get wet. Thank you!

    • Ted W

      Unfortunately there is not a fabric that has enough density to block sound. We do have some products that use a 1lb per square foot vinyl (kind of like a sheet of lead) as the means to block sound transmissions, but the product is too heavy and dense to roll up like a curtain or blind.

      You may want to check out the Climate Seal Window Inserts. These are interior “storm windows” that can be left in place all of the time, but easily removed when you want to get some fresh air.


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