How to secure a window with an air conditioner installed

Man installing air conditioning unit in a window“Man installing an air conditioning unit in a window” by yourbestdigs is licensed under CC BY 2.0

After reading this guide you will be aware of a variety of options for adding security to a window with an air conditioner in it, and able to choose the best options for your specific needs.

With summer arriving, you’re probably gearing up for the hot weather, and this means installing your window A/C units. While these things are great for keeping you physically comfortable, we know they can sometimes leave you feeling emotionally uncomfortable.

Why?

Because according to Safe At Last, burglars commonly choose houses with window air conditioning units.

Window air conditioning units provide one of the easiest entry points to a home

With that air conditioner sticking out of your window, there’s nothing keeping the window locked! Not a big deal on the third floor of an apartment building, but what about those of us who live on the ground floor? Or even on the second floor with an easily accessible balcony? Suddenly the built-in locks on our windows are useless, and anybody walking by can just slide them open and walk right in.

The good news is you don’t have to compromise safety for comfort. There are some great options for adding extra security to a window with an air conditioner in it.

When doing market research for our new window security bars, we developed a lot knowledge about the best ways to secure a window with an air conditioner installed. If you’re struggling with the same questions, we’ve got some answers for you below.

Note: Yes, we make a window security bar. And yes, we think it’s the best option on this list. But we try to offer impartial advice. None of these are affiliate links, and we don’t make any money from this content.

Quick run-down of the options

Tried and true: Any ol’ piece of wood

Hockey stick used as security bar in window with air conditioner

We’ve all seen it, and that’s because it works. Just grab an old hockey stick, broken broom, or whatever else you’ve got lying around. Cut it down to fit your window and lay it in the track if your window slides horizontally or jam it into place in a vertical hung window. Remember, if you’re measuring for a vertical window, you’re going to want a nice tight fit to keep it from falling over.

Just watch out. If you get the measurements wrong and it’s too short, it may not be secure at all. Remember, measure twice, cut once.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Nothing to buy (if you already have materials and equipment lying around)

Cons

  • Ugly
  • Requires tools and comfort using them
  • Time and energy
  • Room for error

Sliding window locks

These things are pretty cool. They’re little locks that you fix onto the sliding track of the window to block it from opening.

Different styles of sliding window locks

They’re super easy to install, usually don’t require any tools, and are pretty affordable. There are also so many different styles, designs, and vendors, which could make it difficult to identify one that will work on your window or find reliable quality. They work by holding onto the track with pressure, so quality here is going to be super important. We didn’t test any, and have no idea how we’d choose.

Also – and this is a big problem for anyone worried about safety – they’re basically impossible to remove in an emergency. There are egress regulations about this sort of thing, and it was a huge consideration for us when we were designing our own security bars. If you’ve got kids or a disabled family member, or you’re just thinking ahead to a situation where you might need to quickly get out of your house, these locks may be problematic.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Effective (depending on quality)
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Difficult to remove in an emergency
  • Too many potential vendors and styles

Wedge locks for sliding windows

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These function similarly to the sliding window locks we discussed above, but with some notable differences. Instead of being screwed onto the track, you just jamb these into place against the profile (easier to understand from the picture than to explain).

That makes them easy to remove for emergency exit, but sacrifices both security and convenience. All a potential burglar has to do is jiggle the window enough to reduce the pressure, and the top-heavy wedge might fall out of place. And every time you adjust the window, you need to reseat the wedge to ensure it’s still solidly in place.

Pros

  • No installation necessary
  • Removable for emergency exit

Cons

  • Rely on pressure for security
  • Could fall out of place
  • Don’t remain in position when the window is adjusted

This security bar designed specifically for A/C units

91ovy9mkwil._sl1500_Despite tons of product research, we hadn’t seen the EZ-AC Air Conditioner Security Window Lock Wedge (that’s a mouthful) bar until we started writing this article, months after beginning development on our 111 and 112 window bars. That’s because when we did our initial research, we were looking into broader window security, not thinking exclusively of the air conditioner use case. These guys really nailed a niche.

Obviously, we like the concept of this bar, because it’s sort of like ours: Take the old wood stick idea, build it out of aluminum, and make it adjustable. Great!

That said, there are a few things we think could be improved on this bar.

First of all, the adjustment on the bar is painfully “functional.” It’s basically just a bolt threaded through a couple of nuts. Sure, it works, but… So did that sawed-off hockey stick.

Second, it’s only adjustable from 7-1/2″ to 14″! That’s super short. Reading through the reviews on the Amazon listing, you can see other people who thought so as well.

Finally, it’s not really all that secure. Because there’s nothing holding it in place, if there’s even a little wiggle room in the fit a burglar could jiggle the window up and out until the wedge falls out of place.

Pros

  • Simple
  • Small (this is a pro if it fits your window, but a con if it doesn’t)

Cons

  • Not adjustable enough
  • Not secure enough
  • Feels like it was designed by engineers, for engineers

Ideal Security’s Adjustable Window Security Bars

We’ve made our 110 Security Bar for Sliding Patio Doors for years, and it’s one of our best-selling products. People love that it’s easy to adjust so you can size it for your door with no cutting and it lets you lock your door in an open position to let air in but keep intruders out. They also love the pivoting bracket to lift it out of the way when you want to open your door completely.

Last year, Diane (one of our team members who handles customer support in addition to her roles as ERP Champion and Product Coordinator) noticed a new trend: Customers had started asking about shorter bars to accommodate windows and pet door inserts.

Well, we listen to our customers, especially when they’re telling us what they need. A few years ago we added a unique child- and burglar-proof Anti-Lift Lock to our 110 bar, which was a big success.

So after a ton of market research and some design tweaks from our engineer Dex, we introduced the 111 and 112 bars. These are shorter versions of the 110, designed specifically for sliding windows and narrower sliding doors.

BK111 & BK112 Window security bars - with air conditioner

Features from the 110 bar

  • They adjust super easily by just pressing on the release button, letting you open and close a window at will.
  • They auto-lock when you let go of the button, letting you lock a window in any position – closed, slightly open for ventilation, or with an air conditioner installed!
  • They include the anti-lift lock.

Differences – Features designed specifically for windows and narrower doors

We changed two things about the 110 bar:

  1. Instead of the the pivot bracket, they have saddle brackets at both ends. Why? This makes them compliant with egress regulations. The bar can be removed quickly and easily in an emergency, allowing the window to open to its full size.
  2. Includes super-strong adhesive tape in addition to screws for installation. Why? This makes them compatible with a wider range of tracks and profiles (see below). They’re also even easier for you to install, and you can remove them without leaving holes behind.

One thing to note, though: Due to the many different styles of window tracks and profiles out there, there are some that aren’t compatible with our saddle brackets. Most notably aluminum windows with multi-grooved tracks. We’ve created a handy guide that shows the different style of tracks and indicates whether our security bars will work with your window.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Adjustable to fit any size window
  • Easy to remove in an emergency (complies with egress regulations)
  • Useful even when the air conditioner is gone

Cons

  • May not work on all windows. Depends on profile and track type. Check this guide.
  • Doesn’t feature the same pivot hinge as the bigger security bar for sliding doors

Window alarms

Even a locked window can be broken… After all, it’s just a glass pane. And once broken, any bars or locks you have in place can be unlocked, giving a potential burglar free access.

Locks and security bars work because most burglars commit crimes of convenience. They find an open window (or a window that can be opened easily), climb in quietly, take what they can quickly, and get out.

An easy and cost-effective way to level up your family’s safety is to add an inexpensive window alarm. Here’s a few stats for you:

  • About 60% of convicted burglars said that a security system influenced their decision to target another home (source).
  • A whopping 74% of all unsuccessful burglary attempts failed because of an alarm that emits a loud sound (source).

You can easily add a basic, no-frills alarm to any window or door. For example our SK604 and SK605 contact sensors are great, low-cost units that are super easy to install and emit a loud alarm if your window is opened unexpectedly.

Pros

  • 74% of all unsuccessful burglary attempts failed because of an alarm
  • Easy to install
  • Adds a second layer of security

Cons

  • Doesn’t prevent intrusions, but will scare off a burglar

Conclusion

Just because you’re installing an air conditioner for the summer doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your home security or your family’s safety. Be a hero! Use one or more of these add-on security products, and sleep comfortably in a cool and secure home.


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