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Securing outside A/C unit


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#1 mdonovan

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 04:11 PM

A while ago my house was broken in to. Yesterday I was walking around the property and I noticed that my A/C compressor is gone. Upon closer inspection it looks like they had bolt cutters to cut the electric and copper tube. I didn't notice it before because it's tucked under a porch, and there was a couple feet of snow.

So now, after I replace it, how can I protect the new unit? A camera and a motion detector are what I thought of first, but I am also interested in securing the unit to its concrete pad. Anyone have any ideas? How do I defend against bolt cutters?

I thought there was a thread about this before, but I can't seem to find it.

Matt

Edited by mdonovan, 03 April 2010 - 04:11 PM.


#2 DavidL

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Posted 03 April 2010 - 04:53 PM

A while ago my house was broken in to. Yesterday I was walking around the property and I noticed that my A/C compressor is gone. Upon closer inspection it looks like they had bolt cutters to cut the electric and copper tube. I didn't notice it before because it's tucked under a porch, and there was a couple feet of snow.

So now, after I replace it, how can I protect the new unit? A camera and a motion detector are what I thought of first, but I am also interested in securing the unit to its concrete pad. Anyone have any ideas? How do I defend against bolt cutters?

I thought there was a thread about this before, but I can't seem to find it.

Matt



Put an additional wire to the unit and run that to your security system. When it gets cut, the alarm goes off.
You could also put a motion detector or light beam that goes off (with a siren) before they get to the unit dependent on the situation re: false alarms.

#3 jrfuda

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 10:07 AM

So now, after I replace it, how can I protect the new unit? A camera and a motion detector are what I thought of first, but I am also interested in securing the unit to its concrete pad. Anyone have any ideas? How do I defend against bolt cutters?...


The guts of the HVAC were stolen from the house I'm buying as well (Dad and Uncle currently own it). My Uncle, after replacing the unit, had a cage fabricated that's a little bit larger than the unit, and still allows air flow. It's bolted to the pad the unit rests on.

It's technically not 100% secure, but it will take would-be robbers about 10x as long to get into it as before. I imagine you could do something similar with a chain link fence and locked gate, or something more decrotive (depending on how visible it is). Basically, make it so that the only way you could get "in" to it to service it or gut it would be to first open the gate(s) and/or remove a cage.

I had considered putting a decorative lattice work fence/gate system around the 2 outside units at my current home, just to hide their ugliness, but also to create a little shade (hot Texas Sun, heard you could boost effciency a tiny bit shading systems in the sun, and mine's positioned on the South side of the house) and provide a bit of security as well, but never got around to it. I think as long as you do it the right way you will not create any hinderance to air flow and still be able to access it for service.

Another alternative is to use a geothermal system, which will have everthing burried and out of sight (and I think efficiency get boosted BIG TIME, virtually free passive AC!!). DavidL, don't you have experience with these? They cost more to install, but have long-term savings. I'm considering using it when I get to the HVAC and water heating portion of my big project.

#4 signal15

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 01:17 PM

My neighbor has geothermal. $69k investment. Ouch.

But his heating and cooling bills total $650 for the year. That's not bad.

#5 jrfuda

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 01:24 PM

My neighbor has geothermal. $69k investment. Ouch.

But his heating and cooling bills total $650 for the year. That's not bad.

Yikes! The info I was reading had the typical install in the $10-$15k range, thought it also said "can go as high as $30k in California (what's the deal with California??? at least I won't be there) before tax credits." I think it gets more expensive as the amount of space you have decreases (which requires a vertical "small, deep hole" versus a horizontal "big shallow hole"). Anyway, I don't want to hijak the thread away from securing the equipment anymore than I already have, but I do find it to be an intriguing approach to heating/cooling...

#6 beelzerob

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 03:00 PM

I do find it to be an intriguing approach to heating/cooling...


Indeed it is.

People stealing outdoor HVAC units? We moved out of AZ before that happened, fortunately, but it was probably just a matter of time.

#7 mdonovan

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 03:22 PM

I've been thinking about chain link or some type of covering. The unit is completely out of sight, so looks are not the top priority. I've also been toying with the idea of a slot cut in the bottom of the unit, and some kind of T shaped bolt drilled into the concrete. I would turn the T bolt perpendicular to the slot to lock it down.

Geothermal?... maybe when I win the lottery

Matt

#8 Waynedb

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 03:26 PM

The guts of the HVAC were stolen from the house I'm buying as well (Dad and Uncle currently own it). My Uncle, after replacing the unit, had a cage fabricated that's a little bit larger than the unit, and still allows air flow. It's bolted to the pad the unit rests on.

It's technically not 100% secure, but it will take would-be robbers about 10x as long to get into it as before. I imagine you could do something similar with a chain link fence and locked gate,


The problem with a chainlink fence is most people don't realize that a big chain and a lock doesn't stop anyone if you have exposed bolts on the gate that can be unbolted in less than a minute.

#9 sic0048

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 03:39 PM

The problem with a chainlink fence is most people don't realize that a big chain and a lock doesn't stop anyone if you have exposed bolts on the gate that can be unbolted in less than a minute.


Yeah, similar to the fact that my in-laws always lock their screen doors at their beach house (screened areas under the house). I mean really, the only people that it keeps out is family. Anyone else simply sticks their hand through the screen to unlock the door. Actually I've been tempted to do it myself many times when I walk up to the door and find it locked - but I've always refrained because I didn't want to replace the screens.

#10 Edge540

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 03:57 PM

One could replace exposed bolts with security bolts such as these or similar.

http://www.mcmaster....y-bolts/=6j6ewp

i thought about installing steel rod in the center of each side, 3ea (not the back against the house) and across the top. These would be powdercoated and anchored to the concrete pad with tamper resistant anchors. It would take a while to hack saw or sawzall your way through 1 or 1 1/4" steel rod. If the unit died, it could all be unbolted using the proper tools. The chances of theives having the tools to unbolt, i would think, are slim.

still just thinking about it...

Edited by Edge540, 05 April 2010 - 04:06 PM.


#11 jrfuda

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 03:58 PM

A little deterrence goes a long way, though. Sure, the bad guys can defeat a lot of these measures in a minute or so, or in the case of your screen door example, a second, however, it will probably prevent the less die-hard guy from wasting his time, he'll just move on to the next house. Like it's been said over and again - If they absolutely want to get in, they will. Even if you have a security system, they can still do a smash and grab and get out with something, but most guys won’t waste their time once they see that security placard in the yard or sticker on the window.

You can use some special-headed bolts, like the torx bolts with the raised center, that will stop a crook without special tools from getting them loose. You can use large rivets in place of bolts, and you can use alternatives to a chain and padlock to secure the gate.

#12 jrfuda

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 03:59 PM

One could replace exposed bolts with security bolts such as these or similar.
http://www.mcmaster....y-bolts/=6j6ewp

simu-post... Good link. McMaster has all sorts of great hardware!

#13 Edge540

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 04:07 PM

yep, i type too slowly...ha

#14 Lou Apo

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 05:22 PM

My neighbor has geothermal. $69k investment. Ouch.

But his heating and cooling bills total $650 for the year. That's not bad.

Yikes! The info I was reading had the typical install in the $10-$15k range, thought it also said "can go as high as $30k in California (what's the deal with California??? at least I won't be there) before tax credits." I think it gets more expensive as the amount of space you have decreases (which requires a vertical "small, deep hole" versus a horizontal "big shallow hole"). Anyway, I don't want to hijak the thread away from securing the equipment anymore than I already have, but I do find it to be an intriguing approach to heating/cooling...


I had my 6000 sf house in Texas quoted at 80k for a geothermal unit (new consturction). I didn't do it. Unless you live somehwere where you have a lake or a very shallow water table it is expensive becuase they have to drill something like two 250 holes per ton of AC. Or if you have nice deep dirt with a lot of land they can just trench it horizontally.

As far as securing it. Put a decorative little gate around it, no lock, just alarm the gate door. A crook will open the gate first thing and set off the alarm and hopefully take off without stealing or even damaging anything.

Edited by Lou Apo, 05 April 2010 - 05:31 PM.


#15 DavidL

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 11:19 PM

"DavidL, don't you have experience with these? They cost more to install, but have long-term savings. I'm considering using it when I get to the HVAC and water heating portion of my big project."

Y, designed and installed a few. Payback for my install was about 7 years or so. Recently took out my propane secondary stage heat and replaced it with a two stage toaster oven (electric). Propane has gotten so expensive...Just use Propane for power off emergency heat.




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