Many of today’s homeowners prefer open concept designs for their homes, with living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens part of the same interconnected living space. Others are considering home renovations after years of COVID lockdowns and restrictions. The boom in remodeling has led to creative solutions that make the most out of a home’s living space.
If you’re considering changing up your AC system, you might be wondering, “Can AC be used in the kitchen?” Air conditioning in the kitchen certainly makes eating and cooking more comfortable, but are there risks?
Fortunately, the Kansas City AC tune-up technicians at Air Unlimited Heating and Cooling would like to share these tips and considerations for anyone planning to put an AC unit in the kitchen.
Types of AC Units
Before we can say conclusively whether AC can be used in the kitchen, it’s important to consider the different types of AC units. Different AC units cool your home in different ways. They have different components and might present different installation, maintenance, and safety challenges.
For example, window-mounted units contain the compressor, blower, and filters in one location. Central air and HVAC systems move the compressor to another location, usually outside the home, and deliver climate-controlled air to your home through a series of ducts. Lastly, mini-split air conditioners rely on one compressor but deliver air through individual wall-mounted units for each room.
How AC Keeps Rooms Cool
An air conditioner must do two jobs effectively. It needs to keep the air cooler than the prevailing air temperature, and it needs to move that air to the rooms of your home.
Typical air conditioners will use a compressor to increase the temperature of a refrigerant. The compressor radiates that heat outside your home, which cools down the refrigerant. The cool refrigerant goes to the evaporator coils, where it cools the air in your home. The cycle of heating and cooling repeats, heating the air outside your home and cooling the air inside.
With a window unit, the compressor radiates heat into the environment outside the window. If a stove or other appliance is venting heat outside at the same time, they could interfere with each other. With a central air or HVAC system, the compressor isn’t necessarily in the same part of the house as the kitchen, so it should not be an issue.
The second component moves the air around your home. In a window-mounted AC unit, it pushes cool air in through the window. In other more complex systems, a blower motor sends air through ducts or tubes.
Why It’s OK to Put Your AC In the Kitchen
Can AC be used in kitchen settings? Despite the concerns about smells and heat distribution, it is generally fine to put air conditioning in your kitchen. The air conditioning unit can withstand changes in heat and humidity that occur in a typical kitchen during cooking.
However, you should take care to position the air conditioning properly relative to other kitchen appliances, particularly the stove.
Problems to Avoid When Putting AC in the Kitchen
When installing or modifying your AC, consider how to create a sensible and practical arrangement that allows all the appliances to perform optimally. It is much easier to fix problems in the planning phase than to correct them after you finish your kitchen remodel.
Don’t Put the Air Conditioning Unit Right Next to the Stove
Your air conditioner cools and circulates air, not steam or smoke. If the air coming through the AC system is full of smoke or humidity, it forces the motor to work harder and can damage the filters. Microwaves, pressure cookers, and rice cookers produce steam, and gas stoves produce fumes from combustion, so it’s best to install a window or mini-split AC as far away as possible from these appliances.
Another issue is that heat and smoke can cause damage or discoloration to the exterior of the AC unit. If you have ever placed an appliance too close to your kitchen stove, you know that over time the heat can warp, scorch, or even melt the plastic exterior.
Heat damage to the exterior of the AC unit does not usually affect how well the unit works. However, consider what might happen if something on one of the stove burners catches fire. Flames can reach a considerable height, which might be enough to cause the AC exterior itself to catch fire. In general, avoid putting any kitchen appliance too close to the stove burners or another heat source.
Another more insidious reason to avoid putting your air conditioner near a stove, grill, or other cooking surface is that cooking can produce carbon monoxide and other poisonous gasses. Ordinarily, these gasses should be able to leave the house through the home’s ventilation system. If the air conditioning disrupts airflow in the kitchen, it could allow harmful gasses and fumes to build up in your kitchen.
Don’t Use an HVAC System or Central Air in the Kitchen
The movement of air through the house through vents and ducts could also pose a problem if you install a central air return vent in the kitchen.
Many people enjoy the smell of home-cooked meals or freshly baked bread wafting from the kitchen. However, you might not necessarily want all the smoke and odors from the kitchen to travel through the ductwork to every room in your house. As an aside, this is an even more compelling reason never to hook your bathroom up to central air conditioning.
Is Refrigerant Dangerous in a Kitchen?
According to experts, the refrigerants used in home air conditioning are not flammable and should not cause a fire hazard in the kitchen.
Choose an Air Conditioner that Suits Your Home
If you put an air conditioner in the kitchen, it will face different stresses and sources of wear and tear than in other rooms. Mini-splits and individual wall-mounted units have an advantage over central air because they can compensate by working harder without affecting the AC in the rest of the house.
Firstly, the kitchen will often be hotter than the rest of the house when you are cooking, so the AC should be capable of handling the extra workload.
Secondly, the air conditioner filters will have to deal with smoke, cooking oil, grease, and steam. Check with an expert to make sure that the filters and ductwork that you use for your system are appropriate. Otherwise, you might have to replace your filters and your blower motor more quickly than you expected.
Professional Installation with Air Unlimited Heating and Cooling
Before you put an AC unit in your kitchen, be sure that your HVAC or air conditioning company understands the added complexity of installing AC in a kitchen. A one-size-fits-all approach that treats the kitchen like any other room in the house can cause higher energy bills, ineffective cooling, and decreased home comfort.
If you are remodeling your home in the Kansas City area, try Air Unlimited Heating and Cooling, experts in heating, cooling, and other consumer electronics. They know how to install and maintain air conditioning so that it will keep your family cool for years or decades. They can also help you choose the best type of AC for your kitchen.