If you’re interested in upgrading your current air conditioner or are considering installing one in your home but you’re still not too sure as to which one is the right for, well, we’re here to help.
This guide has been created to give you a firm understanding of air conditioners, the different types that exist and the many ways in which they help make your home as comfortable as possible.
In this guide you’ll read:
- How an air conditioner works
- What types of air conditioners are available
- Which features to look out for
How do air conditioners work?
Before we dive in, let’s go back to basics first and take a look at how air conditioners cool our homes and the environments we live in.
The basic function of an air conditioner system is to suck in the warm air from the room it is in, absorbing the heat and moisture from it, which it then expels outside so that the air being pumped back into the room is cooler and more comfortable.
To cool the air, the heat is transferred to the outside unit via a liquid called refrigerant which is contained inside coils. Like water evaporating in the sun, this refrigerant is able to transform from liquid to gas, absorbing the heat from your home and transporting it outside.
As the refrigerant transports the heat outside, the air conditioner blows the newly cooled air back into the room via a fan.
Once the hot refrigerant gas reaches the outside unit, the outside air removes its heat, and the compressor turns it back into a liquid state to repeat the process all over again.
What Types of Air Conditioner are Available?
Now that you have a better understanding of how an air conditioner works, it’s time to figure out which type to buy and what features you should look out for.
There are numerous types of air conditioners to consider; some options are more permanent than others (particularly ducted types which we’ll explore shortly). Remember, that no matter what type of air conditioner you select, all of them require a professional to install the indoor and outdoor units.
Here’s a rundown of the different types to help you out.
The single split-system refers to the fact it requires an indoor unit and an outdoor unit. It is perhaps the most popular solution when it comes to selecting air conditioning for the home thanks to its ease of installation (some pipework is required) and the fact that no ductwork is needed. The two units are connected via wiring and unobtrusive piping, with the outdoor unit, fixed to the exterior wall, ground-level or even roof, depending on the type of house and convenience for the owner.
The wall-mounted indoor unit is sleek and slim and is designed to provide climate control to one room within your house, great for those looking to provide extra comfort to the most used room. Inside, the filter helps keep the air conditioner’s interior and components healthy and, depending on which filter you have installed, can improve the quality of your indoor air. These types of air conditioners feature louvers (the streamlined components on the front of the unit that the air is blown through) that can be placed in a fixed position to deliver air to a specific area of the room or operated with the swing function to distribute the air evenly.
The split system is the best option for homeowners looking to condition one space that value the ease of installation, and want a unit that is easy to incorporate with the design and decoration of the room.
Also referred to as multi-zone air conditioning, a multi-split system is one in which an outdoor unit is connected to two or more indoor units. This type of air conditioning system is ideal for households that generally have more than one room occupied at any given time that require independent climate control. Imagine there is a group of people in the lounge and there is someone working in the home office, they are going to need different temperatures and airflow requirements.
By using a multi-split system, homes with little exterior space can install multiple units with just one outdoor unit. This type of air conditioning system is also the right choice for people that live in buildings where ducted systems are not suitable but multi-room cooling is wanted.
Like a single-split system, not only is there more flexibility in installation and ways to integrate the units into your interior spaces, but because it only needs one outdoor unit it makes it appropriate for both houses and apartments.
You’ll recognise these ceiling unit types from office buildings and retail stores but don’t let that mislead you. Cassette types are a great solution for residential environments that have larger spaces to cool; open-plan kitchens, games rooms and other spaces made for a high number of occupants. Instead of being mounted on the wall, like the split-system, cassette type air conditioners are placed in the ceiling, with just the vents visible. However, like the split-system, cassette air conditioners are connected to an outdoor unit via slim piping and don’t require ductwork.
The indoor unit features a powerful fan and up to four outlets so the air can be distributed as required for maximum comfort. Also, the central inlet is louvered to reduce visual impact. What’s more, is that thanks to the position of the cassette, cooling can be achieved more quickly than other types.
Of course, not all households will have the ceiling space necessary to install a cassette type system but those that do will benefit from a design that consumes little space, has little visual impact on its surroundings and distributes air more evenly.
Ducted Air Conditioning
Ducted air conditioning is ideal if your home already has ducts fitted, new builds or for homeowners that want to control the climate of the entire house and of large areas. However, because this type of air conditioning system requires ducts that run through the building’s interior ceiling and walls, it’s not an appropriate solution for all homes, like small apartments, registered buildings or for those with smaller budgets.
With ducted air conditioning, the outdoor unit is connected to an indoor unit that is located out of sight, unlike other types of air conditioning systems for which the indoor unit is visible. This is directly connected to the ducting and an internal fan blows air through the network of ducts into each room of your home.
One of the main benefits of having a ducted air conditioning is that it blends in perfectly with the interior design of the room it is installed in. Another benefit is that you can condition the whole home or select specific rooms, making it easier to customize your home’s comfort.
Floor Mounted Console
If your walls have limited space or they are not strong enough to support a standard air conditioning unit, then a floor-mounted console might be the answer. Connected to an outdoor unit, they are excellent for cooling and heating the air in a room, and, similar to wall-mounted units, consoles use adjustable louvers to direct the airflow around the room as required.
They have strong cooling power that is felt almost immediately and are packed with energy-saving technology to make sure your indoor climate is achieved efficiently. Most consoles can also be used to heat rooms when it is cooler outside, offering an alternative to traditional heating systems.
Consider this type of air conditioner if you have limited wall space or support and if you live in an area where the climate isn’t extreme.
What Air Conditioner Features to Look out for:
Putting type and size aside, air conditioners are packed with features and technology that boast benefits designed to improve comfort, experience and efficiency.
Modes - Make sure to see if the air conditioner you are thinking of purchasing has modes that benefit you most. For example, select between a cooling only type or a cooling and heating type. Or are you interested in dehumidification or those that offer fan mode for improved ventilation?
These are the type of things to consider when looking at which unit is right for you. Also, some have specific sleep modes, which slowly increases the temperature each hour to optimize the efficiency of nighttime use.
Remote Control - A simple luxury that allows you to operate your air conditioner from anywhere in the room, so you don’t have to move when you want to adjust the settings.
Internet of Things Compatibility - Turn your phone into a smart remote control and receive alerts and information about your air conditioner, including energy charts and programming options. Our airCloud Home application designed for Hitachi Cooling & Heating air conditioners gives users complete control over their climate, even when on the move.
Air Filters - Air conditioners that can help indoor air quality are growing in popularity, improving both comfort and health. So, look for models that are experts at catching dust and other potentially harmful pollutants or look at buying and using specialized filters that can be installed to increase effectiveness.
Energy Efficiency - Going beyond energy-efficient modes and functions, as technology advances so does climate control technology that keeps you cool without exaggerating costs. Keep your eyes out for a product’s EER (Energy Efficiency Rating), which reflect how energy efficient a model is. Simply put, the higher the EER rating the better for your wallet.
Ease of Maintenance - While some jobs are better left to the professionals, there are a couple of essential maintenance tasks that homeowners can perform to optimise their air conditioner’s performance. These include washing the filter, removing dust, and checking for mould and other build-ups, so look for models that make it easier to look after or units that have self-cleaning options. It is worth checking that the company you are buying from provide a friendly and effective maintenance service that will offer guidance and information when issues arise.
Now that you have a better idea of what you need to keep in mind when considering which air conditioner to buy, it’s time to investigate.
Head over to our your local pages and explore our range of residential air conditioners here, and discover more about our products and their benefits.
Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning