When you live in a country with our weather extremes, installing an air conditioner in your home makes perfect sense. From systems that combat heat and humidity to those that ensure sub-zero winters are effortlessly tolerated, the range out there in the market is wide and varied.
However, the task of choosing an air conditioner is not often as simple as buying a basic model that just heats or cools (or both), particularly because it’s not a low-cost investment! Here are some things you need to consider before buying an air conditioner.
What Types Of Air Conditioners Are Available?
When buying an air conditioner, it’s pretty obvious that there are a variety of air conditioners on the market, each catering to different needs, budgets and space requirements. However, the most common one’s available fall into four basic types.
Wall or window air conditioners work by cooling the air inside and pumping the hot air outside through an outlet. Although they are less common these days, they can still be relied upon to cool medium to large rooms, however, they do have some downsides, including being noisy and expensive to run.
Split-systems cool the air in a single room by blowing in cold air and sucking out heat. They usually consist of an indoor wall-mounted unit and an outdoor compressor, and although they’re generally quieter than other systems, they can be costly to install.
Multi-split systems will allow you to have up to five or more individual indoor units for different rooms in your home, with an outdoor compressor similar to a split-system. A combination of energy saving settings and their ability to heat or cool individual rooms means they can also be very energy efficient.
Ducted systems consist of an outside compressor unit and an interior central unit that’s connected to air outlets running through or underneath a house. Although the most expensive to install, ducted air conditioners are probably the most cost-effective in terms of long-term energy savings.
Another thing to consider is whether you’d prefer an inverter or a non-inverter system. Non-inverter air conditioners have a compressor in the outdoor unit that switches on and off as needed, however, these systems use more power to start up each time so can be inefficient.
Inverter air conditioners can vary the compressor speed meaning the outdoor unit doesn’t have to keep switching on and off, so it just speeds up or down as it’s needed. These are generally cheaper to run, as they can maintain a set temperature within a relatively narrow range.
What Types Of Air Conditioners Heat And Cool?
Another one of the tips for buying an air conditioner is whether you want your system to both heat and cool or only cool. Reverse-cycle systems offer both heating and cooling options, and while they can be expensive to install, even if you only need heating for a few weeks each winter, they are the most effective for both heating and cooling over the longer term.
Cooling-only air conditioners are ideal if you already have another heating system in place or live in a location that experiences hot summers and mild winters. They have many of the same features as reverse-cycle systems but are generally cheaper to buy.
What Are The Mounting Options?
Air conditioners are usually mounted in one of three ways. Floor-mounted systems are mounted on a wall but at floor level so it suits some room configurations better. This is a good option if you just need your unit for heating as hot air will be expelled at a lower level and then rise to the ceiling.
The most common form of split-system is the wall-mounted air conditioner, and these allow cool air to sink down while hot air is pushed up and away.
The third option when choosing an air conditioner and its placement is to have your air conditioning unit cassette- mounted. Often more powerful than wall-mounted systems, they are often used where other mounting systems aren’t suitable.
How Do I Determine What Capacity I Need?
Different air conditioners have different capacities and what works best for you basically depends on the size of the area you want to heat or cool (or both). If your air conditioner is over-powered it will result in the room getting too hot or too cold and increase your running costs, and if under-powered it will work too hard trying to maintain temperatures and suffer excessive wear.
A general rule when deciding on the best air conditioner is to aim for around 125 watts of power for every square metre you’re looking to heat or cool.
What About Efficiency And Running Costs?
Heating and cooling appliances account for around 40% of the average Australian home’s energy usage, so when buying an air conditioner it’s worth following a few simple tips in order to save money where you can.
The government’s star rating label system decides how energy efficient different appliances are and should be used as a guide before you actually purchase your new air conditioning system. The more stars an air conditioning unit has, the more energy efficient is, and reverse-cycle systems will normally display two stars – red for heating and blue for cooling.
Once your unit is installed, you should also have it serviced regularly, take advantage of features like timers and energy-saving modes, and close all your windows and doors when running your air conditioner.
What Sort Of Features And Functions Should I Consider?
There are a huge number of features available on modern air conditioning systems, however, given the statistics above, probably those best ones worth mentioning are those that assist with energy efficiency.
Temperature settings (or thermostats) work to control and deliver your system’s targeted temperature – you simply set the desired temperature, the thermostat measures the indoor temperature and then adjusts the output of the system accordingly. According to experts, to obtain maximum energy efficiency from your unit in moderate Australian conditions you should set your unit to 25 to 27 degrees in summer and around 18 to 20 degrees in winter.
Using the Economy (or ‘Eco’ mode) can also help reduce power consumption by either automatically reducing the cooling or heating output by a degree or two, or by using sensors to detect if people are in the room and then reducing the output accordingly.
When buying an air conditioner in a humid climate, look for one that includes a dehumidifier or ‘dry’ option, as it will offer an efficient way to reduce humidity that will make the air around you feel cooler and more comfortable.
Having installed thousands of air conditioning units across Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast over the last few years, Crown Power’s design expertise will ensure that you get the most in energy efficiency and comfort levels from your air conditioning system. Don’t wait until summer hits!
Still unsure what type of air conditioner will suit your needs? Contact Crown Power today on 0427 175 654 (Brisbane & Sunshine Coast) or on 0409 678 803 (Gold Coast).