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How Close Can an Aircon be to a Property Line?


Installing an air conditioner requires careful planning because the convenience of having refreshing air inside the house depends on where you place it. While it’s customary to check the specifications of the AC unit, it’s also required to learn the different laws that oversee its proper installation process.

As such, every business establishment or urban house has a property line that represents how much area the owners can occupy. This restriction also applies to the area where the aircon is installed. But how do I know what’s the standard property line for my air conditioner? And how close can an aircon be to a property line?

What is a Property Line?

As the name suggests, a property line, or a setback line, is defined by the points where a property or ownership begins and ends. This is an important demarcation among properties because it corresponds to the rights and privileges of the owner. While highly urbanized areas have physical markers, some don’t. People rely heavily on the terms and conditions of their land title to determine the extent of their property.

A property line is important because it gives the owners the idea of how much home or building improvement they can do. However different countries have varying regulations when it comes to property lines. Hence, learning about the laws that govern and protect land property is of paramount importance.

How Important is a Property Line in Installing Aircons?

Air conditioners can be quite noisy, especially if it’s left without proper maintenance for too long. Some ACs are also bulky, especially for split-types that have outdoor units. Large business establishments, factories, and industrial facilities rely on quality air conditioning units, hence the owners invest in big aircon such as ceiling-types.

Knowing how much property the area is permitted to occupy is a great advantage to plan the proper placement of the aircon. Of course, this will also depend on the noise setback requirement that a city, country, or state allows the owners to abide by. This constitutes how much noise, in decibels (dB), a city permits a house or establishment can produce per appliance or per machinery they own.

This works together with the property line because it determines how close an aircon can be installed to the demarcated area. In addition, big malls and hospitals need to know how much area AC units can occupy because it might be a nuisance to their customers and patients respectively. Moreover, the setback distance is measured inward and perpendicularly to the property line.

General Noise Setback Requirements

property line

The noise setback requirement differs in every country, but its purpose is still the same. Whether it’s a community regulation, an ordinance, or a law, it’s very important to follow this provision because it determines how close an aircon should be to a property line.

Since the humming that comes from the aircon is a sound, it’s measured in decibels (dB). This measurement can be quite tricky to understand because its linearity might confuse the readers. For instance, 10 dB means the sound is 10 times louder than 0 dB, however, a sound that’s 100 times louder than 0 dB is not 100 dB but 20 dB. The sound level is measured by a factor of 10, hence as the noise increases, it becomes 10 times louder on the decibel scale.

However, it’s much easier to understand with real-life examples. For instance, a noise with a 40 dB is comparable to the chirping sounds of birds in the morning. On the other hand, a 20 dB noise level can be attributed to whispers or rustling leaves.

Generally, the permitted noise level for residential areas is not more than 70 dB. This constitutes the sound of cars at 65mpH and is traveling 25 ft away from the residential sites. For big cities, a noise level of 80 dB is normal but it might cause gradual hearing damage due to long exposure. Aircons only fall around 60 dB, which is fairly quiet.

It should be placed not more than 100 ft away from the property line to ensure it won’t be of nuisance, should it start to make a noise. But this distance can change depending on the noise setback requirements set by a city or a country.

How Should I Know the Noise Setback Requirements in My City?

Determining the noise setback requirements in a city is a good start in planning to install an aircon. While some places are not too keen on how the aircon is installed, most countries, especially residential areas, are strict with its placement.

One way to know it is to check the regulation, ordinance, or law itself online. Most countries have their website where all the provisions are posted for convenience. If there is none, try calling the city hall’s office or the house and establishment planning office for references and added information. As a kickstart, here a some of the general noise setback requirements for the installation of air conditioners.

The U.S.A.

In America, the noise setback ordinance depends on every state. However, most cities follow the general rule that the sound of AC systems will not exceed 70-75 dB. Its distance to the property line increases as the noise it produces also increases.

For instance, in the city of Los Altos, California the minimum distance of the AC unit, producing at least 64 dB, to the property line is five feet. In other cities, like Seattle and Oroville, the distance is five feet and three feet respectively. Below is a table that shows the required noise level and its corresponding distance to the property line in the city of Altos.

Sound Rating (dB)Distance to the property line (ft)

For business establishments, medical facilities, and large companies situated in commercial areas, the standard noise level should not exceed 80 dB. It’s best to consult an architect for the proper installation of the ventilation system, to prevent miscalculation and unwanted expenses.

Asian Countries

Most Asian countries nowadays rely heavily on air conditioning units. Both commercial and residential areas are packed with these coolers due to the unpredictable climate. While some countries have no definite rules in the placement of ACs, many are strict with their installation to prevent inconvenience.

For instance, Singapore is a busy place filled with both tourists and locals alike. Its city’s engineers and architects devised a provision to present the accepted boundary noise limit of a ventilation system. It should not exceed 60 dB for places such as healthcare facilities, libraries, and other recreational establishments. On the other hand, AC systems for both commercial and residential areas should not exceed 65 dB.

In countries like the Philippines, there is no exact provision for noise pollution. People who experience too much noise from their neighbors, or a commercial building, may report it as a nuisance. But there is no exact noise level setback for the aircon. However, the installation of ACs falls under R.A. 386 wherein a 2.0 m – 4.0 m easement is necessary from the property line.

Final Thoughts

property line

Owning an air conditioner is one of the best spoils you can give to yourself. The privileges it has to offer are astronomical, in terms of improved air quality and comfort. As such, it is also your responsibility to ensure that entitlement is not causing any potential harm to other people.

In this regard, installing an AC unit needs to be systematic to prevent unwanted inconvenience. Determining how close it should be to a property line is a good start to knowing which aircon to buy and how you can install it.

JP Reyes

JP has been in the aircon industry for almost as long as he has been alive. As a child JP would help his tatay fix aircon units at their junk shop in Cavite. After graduating UP in the early 2000's, JP then started his own Aircon servicing business and within 5 years had 10 shops in 8 different cities. Fast forward to today and JP brings all his experience and expertise online to give readers trustworthy advice and reviews about Air-conditioning buying, servicing, cleaning and repair in the Philippines.

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