If you’re like most homeowners, then you probably only think about your home’s air conditioning unit at the beginning and end of the warm season.
That’s only natural, given that the appliance is a workhorse that keeps your home livable during the spring and summer. Many homeowners are surprised to learn that their air conditioner may be sinking into the ground due to a single oversight in its installation.
Homeowners often fail to place an air conditioner condenser pad beneath their home’s air conditioning unit.
This oversight can become costly over time, so you should strongly consider checking out this guide to learn what these specialized pads are all about. This guide will also provide 6 reviews of top-tier options so that you don’t have to wait another minute to get your air conditioning unit back on solid ground.
Reasons for Using AC Condenser Pads
There are a couple of primary reasons for utilizing an AC condenser pad when installing or replacing your home’s AC unit. First and foremost, AC units are known to sink into the ground over time.
This is caused by their rapid vibrating motion over many hours of utilization. An AC condenser pad can prevent this from happening by providing an unmovable footing for the entire unit at once.
Along the same lines, an AC condenser pad can actually save you money in the long run. That’s because that undesirable AC sinking action can cause the pipes and wires beneath your unit to become damaged or even severed.
An AC condenser pad protects these vital pieces of hardware from harm by preventing the unit’s pressure from ever pressing downward.
Concrete vs. Pre-Fab Condenser Pads
At first, you might be wondering why a homeowner wouldn’t just pour a concrete pad to support their AC unit? Well, that method may look like it is working at first.
But in time, the weight of those concrete pads can exacerbate the AC unit into a sinking motion. Also, concrete is prone to chipping and cracking over long-term outdoor exposure, so it isn’t always the most durable option, either.
AC Condenser Pads Compared
What to Look for When Buying AC Condenser Pads
City Zoning Codes & Rules/Regulations
Before grabbing the first AC pad you see, be sure to check into your local zoning laws. These regulations may include guidance on the size and type of pad you are allowed to use based upon the part of town you live in.
If you are unable to find these regulations easily, contact your local zoning board for more information.
Type of Condenser Unit
You’ll find that AC condenser pads are often categorized based upon the type of condenser they are designed to support. As such, you should first determine if your unit uses an air-cooled, water-cooled, or evaporative condenser internally.
That way, you can efficiently narrow your list of potential pads based upon this need for proper compatibility.
Size & Shape
AC condenser pads also come in various shapes and sizes that match a variety of AC condenser unit shapes and sizes. In most cases, getting a pad that is slightly larger than your actual unit is worthwhile. This will provide better support and stability over that unit’s service life.
AC condenser pads today are made from several different materials, the first of which is recycled plastic. This is clearly an environmentally-friendly choice that also tends to be fairly affordable.
These pads provide comparable benefits as standard rubber pads. Rubber pads, for that matter, tend to be the most resilient and waterproof. However, rubber pads do not handle UV light well.
A composite material AC pad can be a good middle-ground option for resilience and durability. These are made from an assortment of materials that can resist both water and UV light efficiently.
As noted above, durability is key when investing in an AC pad. In particular, you should choose a model made from a material that is entirely UV resistant.
This is because the pad itself will likely be exposed to sunlight throughout the warm season, making it likely to crack or degrade if it is not properly resistant.
Meanwhile, proper weatherproofing can also be vital in ensuring your new AC pad does not fall apart when bad weather rolls into town.
Chiefly, your AC pad must be waterproofed. Otherwise, it may become waterlogged over time and break down, causing the same undesirable sinking as is seen with pad-less AC units.
6 Best Condenser Pads Reviewed
1. DiversiTech EL2424-3 E Lite Pad
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||24”x 24” x 3”|
|Other Sizes Available||2” height|
|Material||E-Lite polyurethane plastic|
|Max Allowable Load||840 lbs|
First up, the DiversiTech EL2424-3 is one of the most popular AC pad options on the market today. That’s likely because its dimensions and weight capacity are ample enough to fit and hold most residential AC units. It also comes in multiple width sizes, allowing it to be easily and legally installed in jurisdictions that require 3” AC pads.
Speaking of easy installation, DIYers will really like this pad’s drillable surface. It makes it easy to secure this pad using just a regular arsenal of power tools. At the same time, though, this pad features a unique ribbing structure that places added support around the mounting points. This ensures that weight is more efficiently distributed around those points without causing cracks.
All things considered, the E-Lite plastic used to construct the DiversiTech EL2424-3 is also very resistant to the kinds of wear condenser pads often face out in the field. To that end, this particular pad has been made to resist saltwater, compressor oil, refrigerant, and even dog urine. With regards to temperature, it can also take the heat – up to 180 degrees of heat, in fact.
2. DiversiTech EL1838-3
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||18”x 38”x 3”|
|Other Sizes Available||2”|
|Material||E-Lite polypropylene plastic|
|Max Allowable Load||1,000 lbs|
The DiversiTech EL1838-3 takes many of the best qualities of this brand’s core AC pad products and repackages them into a size suitable for uniquely-sized AC units. Specifically, this unit comes in two primary sizes of 18”x 38”x 3” and 18”x 38”x 2”. Both sizes can be comfortably placed on a variety of surfaces, including soil and gravel, thanks to its rugged design.
This unit’s durable construction from E-Lite polypropylene plastic also helps it hold up to years of vibrations and pressure. To that end, this pad is fully able to hold up to 1,000 lbs. of weight without ever exceeding its intended capacity. This enhanced weight capacity is also made possible by this pad’s internal rib structure, which adds more support at known high-pressure points.
You’ll also be able to place the DiversiTech EL1838-3 pad near common walkways with confidence. That’s because its textured surface can help prevent individuals from stepping on it and slipping on accident. This model’s concrete grey color can also help it blend into most environments well, including those with multiple existing concrete pads.
3. DiversiTech Ecopad Mini Split
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||18”x 38”x 2”|
|Other Sizes Available||3”|
|Material||Recycled polyurethane plastic|
|Max Allowable Load||1,080 lbs|
The DiversiTech Ecopad line of products has also seen an uptick in popularity lately, especially among those looking for an affordable, yet eco-friendly, option when it comes to supporting their new AC unit. These models provide both of those factors, starting with its construction from 98% recycled polyurethane plastic. This construction makes each pad relatively lightweight and also keeps them affordable at around $40 a pop.
Back in the day, recycled plastic AC pads suffered from some degree of instability and lower durability. But the DiversiTech Ecopad demonstrates that those old preconceptions are truly outdated.
That’s because these pads are extra resistant to UV light, which is the single greatest enemy of even the best AC pads. These pads have also passed muster in lab testing, wherein they’ve been shown to be resistant to refrigerants, compressor oil, salt solutions, and more.
Also, these AC pads have been approved for other types of ground leveling projects. In those implementations, these pads maintain the same level of overall weight-bearing capacity at 1,080 lbs. They can also withstand up to 180 degrees of direct heat, regardless of how they are utilized.
4. Diversitech EL3232-2
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||32”x 32”x 2”|
|Other Sizes Available||3”|
|Max Allowable Load||1,160 lbs|
The Diversitech EL3232-2 is another option you should strongly consider if you are willing to invest in your AC pad. That’s because each of these pads costs a bit over $100, almost twice as much as an average AC pad. But for that price, you get a lot of quality and durability. To that end, you receive an AC pad that can hold a whopping 1,160 lbs. of weight. That much support is critical, especially if you have an extra-large AC unit connected to your home.
At its core, the Diversitech EL3232-2 is still built from the same reliable E-Lite polyurethane plastic that has made this brand famous. However, some improvements have been made to these pads to make them even sturdier. This includes a restructured underside that prevents the whole pad from bowing at the edges. These added ribs all work in tandem, too, so pressure points are not likely to appear across this pad’s underside.
The Diversitech EL3232-2 has also been designed with installation flexibility in mind. Like most other AC pads, this model can be comfortably placed on a gravel or soil surface. However, this model’s added thermal resilience allows it to also hold its own when installed on a concrete surface that radiates out a lot of heat.
5. DiversiTech UC3636-3 Ultralite Concrete Equipment Pad
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||36”x 36”x 3”|
|Other Sizes Available||2”|
|Material||Concrete, EPS foam|
|Max Allowable Load||528 lbs|
The DiversiTech UC3636-3 is a truly unique option within this trusted brand’s catalog. Its construction has been designed to resist an exceptional volume of vibration without cracking or bending. This is a result of its internal and external structure, which are made out of EPS foam and a concrete shell, respectively. This structure allows these pads to resist only around 528 lbs., though.
As it turns out, DiversiTech designed the UC3636-3 with a particular group of homeowners in mind. Specifically, the DiversiTech UC3636-3 is tailor-made for folks living in the so-called “earthquake country” in and around Southern California.
To that end, this pad model has been designed to meet or exceed most zoning codes in that region. Even folks living in Oregon and Washington will be able to purchase and use this pad while remaining entirely within the law.
This model’s utilization of a concrete outer skin also provides it with a few extra protections not seen in a typical AC pad. For example, the DiversiTech UC3636-3 is not susceptible to degradation from soil, fungus, bacteria, or UV light. Despite this resistance, a DIY is still fully able to drill into and install this pad without needing to call in a professional.
6. DiversiTech ACP36363
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||36”x 36”x 3”|
|Other Sizes Available||2”|
|Material||Recycled polyurethane plastic|
|Max Allowable Load||924 lbs|
Finally, I want to round out this collection with an AC pad known informally as the “Black Pad.” Technically, this model is better known as the DiversiTech ACP3636-3, though its all-black exterior certainly makes it striking. This color is a result of this unit’s use of nearly 100% recycled polyurethane plastics in its construction. That’s a major milestone when it comes to eco-friendliness that should excite green homeowners.
This AC pad is about more than just looks, though. It is also impressively sturdy when put to the test of holding up a bulky AC unit. To that end, this model can hold 924 lbs, without exceeding its tested limitations. Many homeowners have found alternative uses for this AC pad, too. In fact, it is not uncommon to see this pad beneath pool-side pumps, filters, and heaters.
If you are planning on using the DiversiTech ACP3636-3 to support one or more of your pool’s essential appliances, you’ll be pleased to know that this model has gone through rigorous pool-side testing. Specifically, this model has been certified under the Standard Swimming Pool Code for sections 305.2 and 405.
How to Set Up AC Condenser Pads
In most cases, you’ll want to seek out professional assistance to install an AC condenser pad. However, if you want to try it as a DIY project, you can start by measuring out a space beside your home that is large enough for the pad.
From there, you’ll want to remove some dirt from that sight such that it becomes level. From there, you’ll want to follow this video guide to continue the setup process.
Tips on Keeping Condenser Units Dry & Level
Keeping your condenser unit dry can help its AC pad perform better over its entire service life. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that there is adequate drainage around the area where your AC unit sits.
Also, ensure that runoff from your home (including your gutters) is not flowing directly into or around your AC unit.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
How do I fix a sinking AC condenser pad?
If your AC pad has begun to sink, then you need to act fast before the pad itself begins to pinch the wires and piping buried beneath your AC unit. To do this, you’ll need to re-level your unit’s pad. That can be done by following this guide.
Is it hard to replace a sinking pad with a new one?
There are some challenges associated with a full pad replacement process. It can be costly, for instance, and will likely take your AC out of commission for a bit of time.
However, proactively replacing a sinking pad may prevent you from paying the cost of an emergency hardware replacement down the line. Consider speaking with an AC installation specialist if you are considering this kind of replacement.
How do I determine the size of AC condenser pad to buy?
To start, measure out the full footprint dimensions of your chosen AC unit. If those dimensions come out to a round number, add another inch onto each. Otherwise, round up your unit’s measurements to the next whole number.
These lengths can then be used to determine your condenser pad’s size.
When is concrete a good option?
A concrete AC pad might be a worthwhile option if you are trying to save money upfront. But be warned – concrete AC pads are known to sink over time, even when they are built on relatively stable ground.
As such, choosing a concrete AC pad may end up being more expensive in the long-run.
What are some common problems that may arise with these pre-fabricated AC condenser pads?
The single biggest problem faced by AC condenser pads is their tendency to tilt out of an even orientation. This can require repairs in order to return the unit to a proper level state.
Some AC pad types can also degrade in sunlight over time, causing them to lose their structural integrity prematurely.
How long can I expect a pre-fab AC condenser pad to last?
Theoretically, your new AC pad should be able to last as long as your home’s AC, which is to say, at least a couple of decades.
However, depending on their stability and durability, your pre-fab pad may need to be replaced at around the 10-year mark. Either way, you should have a trained AC maintenance team inspect your unit’s pad at least once every 5 years to check for signs of wear or sinking.
These support pads can make the difference over the life of your AC unit. Be sure to choose one of the excellent models reviewed above and rest assured that your AC will remain functional and safe for many years to come.
Before I wrap up, though, I want to emphasize my preference for the DiversiTech EL2424-3 E. This is one of the most popular AC pads on the market today, not least because of its uniform ribbing structure that spreads out an attached load evenly.
These pads are easy to install for a DIYer, too, thanks to their drillable surface and overall lightweight.