Science Blog Post:

Don't Put an Air Conditioner On Its Side, Back, or Upside-Down

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6/14/2017 - Don't Put an Air Conditioner On Its Side, Back, or Upside-Down (Science)


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Don't Put an Air Conditioner On Its Side, Back, or Upside-Down
Wednesday, June 14th, 2017
04:34:25 GMT


I had to get a new air conditioner recently. Unfortunately, I and others didn't notice that the new one's box said to "ALWAYS KEEP THIS SIDE UP" (the top side). So, it ended up resting on its side overnight.

I finally noticed that in the morning. I put it upright, and, since I naively assumed it having been on its side overnight probably wasn't that big a deal, we installed it some hours later.

It seems to cool my room well enough, but, I don't know yet how to judge if it's working as well as an 8,000 BTU air conditioner should in a room of whatever size my room is. And even though it didn't make any bad-sounding noises when I first started it (nor anytime after that), I started to wonder if maybe it ought to be working even better.

So, I searched the web, and was dismayed to find that putting air conditioners or refrigerators on their side, back, or upside down is generally considered a bad idea.

I'm not at all clear on what the actual scientific facts here are, like how long an air conditioner actually needs to be left upright before running it, to fix whatever goes awry from it being positioned wrong. This air conditioner's manual says nothing on the subject (unless I missed something).

However, I see now that the box says "DO NOT PLACE UNIT ON ITS SIDE. IF UNIT IS ON ITS SIDE, PLACE UPRIGHT AND WAIT 2 HOURS BEFORE STARTING." I'm relieved to know that at least I accidentally followed the latter instructions.

Anyway, just thought I'd point out my naive mistake of leaving my new air conditioner on its side, in case pointing this out might possibly rescue others from making the same mistake.

Sometimes it amazes me how much stuff there is in the world that I don't (or didn't) know the least bit about, like how air conditioners even work at all. Even though air conditioners are such a brilliant invention and definitely one of my many favorite things about our modern era.

I tried to read this very technical page for clues on how long it might take the oil in my air conditioner to settle back into its proper place after putting my air conditioner upright. And also this other nifty page, and various others.

But, I'm definitely not as scientifically literate as I'd like to be, so, the main thing those pages did for me was remind me of how much more there is for me to learn. Which is both humbling, but also rather exciting. There are probably tons of fascinating things in the universe that remain to be discovered, and it's well worth remembering that we all still don't know everything yet.

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