DIY A/C Unit Cage – Part 3


Finally, part 3 where we create the anchoring system, paint the cage (again…) and get this project installed.

I really racked my brain on this one as to how I could create an anchoring system that was secure yet adjustable and easy to install. Not wanting to go to the store, I rummaged around in my parts bins until I found something that would work. I ended up welding a steel cable with a loop onto the bottom of the cage that can be padlocked to an anchor. Mine is actually a retired/junk piece of lifting rigging, but any steel cable lock with loops would work just fine.

The steel cable I used was ~3ft long, so I cut it in half in the middle creating two 1.5 foot pieces. Next I clamped them to the bottom of the cage using vice grip clamps and welded them on in multiple spots. These clamps are a MUST HAVE in any metal shop.

DIY A/C Unit Cage

Once tacked on, I played with it for a little while deciding to leave ~6-8 inches unwelded. The purpose for this is so I can bend the loop down to attach to the anchor. The loop shouldn’t have to extend beyond the bottom of the cage legs because they will be at or below ground level.

DIY A/C Unit Cage

DIY A/C Unit Cage

I found these anchors online the other day and decided they would work perfect. They come in multiple lengths from 8″ to 16″ and are pretty reasonably priced too.

I used this mounting system so I didn’t have to do a bunch of pre-planning on where exactly to put the anchor. This would work great in many situations for example, if I made a rigid anchoring system then there ended up being a rock right where I had to put the anchor. It would be a lot of work to chip up the rock or take the cage back to the shop to move the anchoring point (rework/customization = extra cost $$$) That wouldn’t work for me.

With my system, I just need to put the anchor roughly in the middle on either side of the a/c unit (you could do all 4 sides if you wanted to). With the cable lock, the height is also adjustable like the pictures below:

DIY A/C Unit Cage

Lowest position

DIY A/C Unit Cage

Highest position

 

I am going to start this next part off by saying, I don’t think I will EVER spray paint expanded steel again.

I figured out that for the cost of 2 spray paint cans, I can buy a whole quart of Rustoleum black paint and apply it with a roller. I have no idea why I never tried this before and I feel like an idiot. This is very easy to do and turned out great with way less mess.

Step one, pour some into a paint pan

DIY A/C Unit Cage

DIY A/C Unit Cage

 

Step two, use a roller and slather it on to your project

DIY A/C Unit Cage

It really is that easy. Hardly any mess, dries fast, and makes a nice thick coat that I was unable to attain using spray paint.

 

Finally, I get to install the cage!

Drive over to the house with some help because this thing is kinda heavy fully assembled.

DIY A/C Unit Cage

Throw the cage up over the unit.

DIY A/C Unit Cage

After moving some of the paving stones, I got enough room to spin in the anchors.

DIY A/C Unit Cage

Installing anchors

Liberty, the company that makes the orange anchors also makes an installation tool to help spinning them into the ground. Since I was only installing two into relatively soft ground I didn’t need the tool, but if you were to be doing this often, the installation tool would be pretty handy.

DIY A/C Unit Cage

Close up of how I installed mine with an adjustable wrench.

DIY A/C Unit Cage

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DIY A/C Unit Cage

Thanks for the help Gertrude 🙂

DIY A/C Unit Cage

That’s it! It literally only took ~10 minutes to install the cage.

You can poke all kinds of holes in my installation method, but I have multiple justifications for it:

  1. It is better than not having any protection
  2. It is super easy to install (making the cage ‘universal’ for different situations as long as it fits over the unit)
  3. We aren’t going for bulletproof, we just want them to hit the other house/business on the block instead of ours
  4. If they show up with large bolt cutters and enough time to jack around with removing a cage, they are going to take the unit anyways.

There you have it, another way to make an A/C protective cage. The total cost of materials on this project was less than $100 including the anchors. There are a hundred different ways to do it, pick an example of one you like and JUST MAKE IT. Something is better than nothing, don’t over-analyze it.