Why Are Air Conditioners So Heavy?

It’s the copper.

By Maura Kelly

Air conditioner unit in window.Why are air conditioners so heavy?

With temperatures rising, Americans have begun the annual summer tradition of installing cumbersome removable air conditioners. It’s tough to find a window unit that’s lighter than 46 pounds—and a machine like that would be able to cool only a fairly small room (150 square feet or less). What makes them so heavy?

Copper, mostly. Air-conditioning systems—both centralized ones and window units—have three important components: an evaporator, a condenser, and a compressor. The evaporator helps cool the air, the condenser helps ready the system’s refrigerant for the cooling process, and the compressor helps move refrigerant back and forth between them. The evaporator and the condenser are both copper coils, and there is some copper in the compressor, too. Copper is pretty heavy, weighing some 558 pounds per cubic foot, and the copper components account for as much as 60 percent of the weight in smaller units—though the percentage declines as they get heavier. (Units can be as massive as 213 pounds, the weight of the heaviest window unit sold by the Friedrich Air Conditioning Co.) Steel, which provides structural support and houses or covers the compressor, accounts for the rest of the weight.

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