It’s a question that has plagued gardeners for years – is it better to water plants with cold tap water, or water them with air conditioning (AC) water? There are pros and cons to both, and the answer ultimately depends on the plant itself and the environment in which it is being grown. On the surface, it seems like a good way to conserve the water you would otherwise waste. But is there any risk to your plants?
In this blog, we’ll discuss AC water condensation and the effects of using it for your plants so let’s dive in!
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What is Air Conditioner Water?
AC water is the condensation water that is produced by air conditioners. When an air conditioning unit in your home cools warm air, it creates condensation which is directed away from the unit and can be directed safely to your plants. Irrigating with air conditioner water may be used to water a few pots or an entire bed, depending on the quantity of your equipment’s usage and the temperatures.
Some home gardeners believe that air conditioner water works better for plants that tap water because it lacks the chlorine added to municipal water supplies. However, it’s not as simple as it may seem as there are pros and cons in using condensate water, which will be discussed in detail below.
But first a quick note on safety. While it is true that this water is distilled, it is absolutely NOT SAFE for humans or animals to drink. We verified this info with Michael Whitley of All American HVAC Services to get an expert opinion. According to Mike: ‘The surface of your air conditioner coils may be covered in bacteria that’s harmless to plants, yet potentially fatal if ingested. Be sure to only use it for the irrigation of ornamental plants and never for drinking.’
The Pros of using AC Water on Plants
There are several reasons why using AC water to water plants may be beneficial.
- Air conditioner water is usually cooler than tap water in your home, and many gardeners believe that using cooler water to water plants helps to keep them healthy.
- Water from air conditioners is often more oxygenated than cold tap water, which can be helpful for indoor or outdoor plants that need lots of oxygen.
- Water from the AC unit in your home can be helpful for plants that are sensitive to temperature changes.
- Using condensate from your cooling system to water your plants is a great way to use the byproduct of your portable air conditioner – one of the best ways to conserve water which is a precious resource.
- AC water is pulled by your HVAC system from the air. Therefore it is pure, free from chlorine and other chemicals that are present in municipal or tap water.
The Cons of using AC Water on Plants
Watering your plants with water from your air conditioner seems to be a great idea. And although it is, there are a few considerations that you need to keep in mind.
- Water from air conditioners are essentially distilled which means it lacks minerals that can help plants to thrive and grow healthier.
- Additionally, since AC water is devoid of minerals, it can deplete the quality of the soil, especially in small containers. This is easy to prevent though by mixing AC water with rainwater, which should balance the minerals and keep your plants healthy.
- AC water is also considered corrosive although it only affects metal and not organic material like plants and soil organisms.
- Air conditioning water that came straight out of the tubing or pipe can be extremely cold, which can shock the plant and damage its roots. You can avoid this, however, by aiming the irrigation to the soil and not directly onto the plants leaves or too close to the roots.
AC Water From Your HVAC System vs. Tap Water
The most notable difference between tap water and water from an air conditioner is the temperature. AC water is typically cooler than tap water, and this can be beneficial for plants in hot weather.
The cooler water can help to lower the temperature of the plant leaves, which can protect them from heat stress. It can also help to cool the roots of the plant, which can be beneficial in hot weather.
How Can You Tell if Air Conditioning Unit Water is Right for Your Plants?
Well, it depends on the plant. Some plants thrive when watered with air conditioner water, while others may wither and die. The best way to determine if condensate is right for your plants is to test it out.
Try watering a few plants with AC water and see how they respond. If they seem to be doing well, then AC water is probably a good choice for them. If they start to wither and die, then you may want to try another method of watering.
What kind of plants do well when watered with AC Condensate water?
There are a few plants that do particularly well when watered with AC water. These plants include:
- African Violets
Cacti and succulents are two types of plants that thrive in hot weather. They love the sun and don’t mind the heat. Being desert plants, they’re also accustomed to drastic temperature shifts between day and night.
Watering them with AC water can help to keep them cool and prevent them from wilting in the heat of the day.
Bromeliads are a type of plant that is native to tropical regions. They love humid climates and thrive in hot weather. Watering them with AC water can help to create a humid environment for them and prevent them from drying out.
African violets are a type of plant that is native to Africa. They prefer warm climates and do well in hot weather. Watering them with AC water can help to regulate temperatures and the slightly acidic pH of the water may be beneficial for them.
Related Post: Changing Soil pH
Tips on Using AC Water for Your Plants
Now that you know a little bit more about condensate water and how it can be beneficial for your plants, here are a few tips on using it:
- Try to use water that is as clean as possible. If your air conditioner has a condenser coil that’s outdoors, clean it regularly. This will also help you save money on your power bill!
- If possible, water your plants in the morning. This will give them a chance to absorb the water before the heat of the day sets in.
- Be sure to test the water temperature before you water your garden plants. You don’t want to shock them with water that is too cold or too hot.
Should you use AC water for your plants?
It depends on the plant and the climate. If you live in a hot climate, then watering your plants with water from your air conditioner can help to keep them cool and prevent them from wilting in the heat.
If you live in a tropical climate, then watering your plants with AC water can help to create a humid environment for them and prevent them from drying out.
Ultimately, it is up to the gardener to decide if AC water is right for their plants.