Re: A/C compressor
My local codes require that there be a disconnect at the unit itself. Heck, our AC is right next to the main panel and there is STILL a disconnect on the wall behind the AC unit. Odds are your local code requires the same disconnect be within 3' or 4' of the unit.
As for having to run through sub-panels, how you power up the unit from your main is up to you. All the installations I've ever seen have been fed directly from the main panel. If you've got sub-panels, it's possible that your main is not rated for the load OR it was an afterthought and added later with other electrical needs.
I know you like to do stuff yourself, but if it were me, I'd consult with a local electrician. At the very least, check with your building department to see what is required in your area.
BTW, good to see you again Walt. We miss not having you around.
I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!