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Know the Pros and Cons of Home Air Conditioning System

04 Mar 2024

If you are starting to design your house for heat regulation, domestic cooling system has become very popular. The addition of air conditioning unit into your home may be a smart move for keeping it cool from any heat waves. Air conditioning system may have greater efficiency ratings though they still depend on electricity. This means choosing the right home air conditioning system to meet your needs is necessary for keeping running costs low. Take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of choosing the best air conditioning system in the market.

Different kinds of home air conditioning

Air conditioning is not a one-size-fit-all solution. You will find several options, starting from portable units to completely integrated units for covering your entire house.

The simplest air conditioning unit is portable unit which is all-in-one unit typically of the same size like a large kitchen bin. The unit can be plugged into a wall socket and operate anywhere in the house.  You can shift it from one room to the other as per your need. There is the need for placing a duct out a window to expel warm air to the outside. You will also need a container for holding the condensation produced.

Fully installed house air conditioning units comprise of two parts and should be installed by a gas engineer. A fan unit in the outdoors and connected by means of electrical connections and copper pipework to the indoor unit will deliver cooling air. The indoor unit may be a simple bolt-on box that goes on the wall at a lower or higher level, a hidden unit present in the ceiling or boxed in above the door or wardrobe with air distributed through a grille. It may be a fan unit located in a plant room or loft space with cooling air distributed to the rooms through several ducts. These systems are called split air conditioning systems.

Portable Air Conditioning Unit

A mobile unit, such as evaporative cooler or portable air conditioner is an ideal choice for occasional cooling. They can be suited for single-room use stored easily throughout the year.

Evaporative coolers consume less energy when compared to refrigerant-based coolers. They work on blowing air through fine water curtain which evaporates for a cooling effect. They should have the supply of dry air and moist air to be exhausted at the room’s opposite end. This is a good choice for dry and hot climates but the humidity level can be high and cross ventilation too impractical for actual cooling. If you are looking for extremely cooling effect, search for refrigerant-based air conditioning units though they save more power.

Pros and cons of portable air conditioning unit

The advantage of a portable air conditioning unit is it can be shifted easily from one room to the other when and where necessary. It has less expense than installing an air con system. But portable air conditioning system seems to be noisier than the installed units. You will have to keep windows open for venting the resultant heat which may pose security risk, causing sleep disturbance due to possible noise. However, evaporating coolers might not be a suitable choice for the climate in UK.

Installed Air Conditioning System

Installed systems consist of an outdoor unit with fan in it. The fan will be connected to an indoor unit with two insulated pipes having a refrigerant. The pipes with an insulation layer are almost 28mm in diameter.

The indoor units can be found in different configurations:

  • The high wall unit is a bulk-head mounted on the wall. It is just the size of some shoe boxes
  • Low wall units are quite similar to standard radiators
  • Ceiling cassettes are mounted in the ceiling in a central part of the room
  • The slim-ducted units may be positioned in the ceiling or housed in grilled boxes near doors or above cupboards.

The ducted units might direct the air to more than one outlet with several ducts, having separate dampers in each duct for individual room. These ducts should be insulated in order to prevent condensation.

Domestic air conditioning in London is there for different levels of complexity:

  • Simple systems have been designed for a single room application that consist of one indoor unit and have one outdoor unit. These are what you call, single room air conditioners
  • Other options include a split air conditioner and a multi-split air conditioner.

Split System Air Conditioning Unit

These comprise of two parts which are connected together through copper pipes with a refrigerant in them and electrical connections. You will find two pipes, each of which are almost 28mm in diameter including the insulation.

There are different types of split systems available. Some of these are:

The simplest split systems consist of one indoor unit and one outdoor unit. This is called a single room split air conditioning system and will generally cost from almost £300 for the materials only to nearly £1200 for complete installation. These costs might differ slightly based on the brand and location.

The other type has more than one indoor unit which gets connected to a single outdoor fan unit. All the indoor units are either on or off and do not have individual control. These are a good choice for large room scenarios where you require more than one indoor unit for covering the area. But you do not have to keep them in control individually.

You will have to consider multi-split air conditioning units for more control. One outdoor unit will have almost 10 indoor units connected to it. Each indoor unit may be controlled individually so that they can either all be on or only some of them, as needed. This can be helpful in a house where you want cooling in the home office and a bedroom during the day but you need cooling in the lounge and different bedrooms later. These air con systems cannot heat some rooms and cool others at the same time. So, they should remain either in heating or cooling mode.

For commercial buildings and larger properties, select Variable Refrigerant Flow systems which have more than 10 indoor units connected to them. There is the option to include a hydrobox on many of them so that the system may operate in the form of air-to-water heat pump. Then it can heat hot water for showers and washing as well as central heating through convection radiators or under floor heating. Some brands have introduced heat recovery system to the VRF unit so that you can cool the room and heat water with the resultant heat.

Pros and cons of split air conditioning system

These air conditioning systems cost more for installation when compared to portable units and cannot be moved around. But there are more powerful, do not require the window to be open with big duct through them. This may usually do heating and cooling in a concurrent way.

Air-to-Air System

This type of air con system may be used for heating and have the option to reverse refrigeration cycle when cooling is needed. The vapour compression cycle provides more than 300% efficiency and it is more efficient form of heating than direct electric. It is less troublesome to install on a retrofit basis.

Air-to-air system is installed in the form of secondary heating system. Air consists of specific heat capacity of one while the dense products have specific heat capacity and store almost four times more heat. Air may heat up and cool down quicker with the same amount of energy transfer and heating system targeting the air will have quick reaction time.

The primary heating system may be connected to the under floor heating which reacts slowly. An air-to-air system can enhance air temperature by a few degrees on demand. Due to this, it may be a valuable feature in the houses where there is a home office or certain rooms are used occasionally.

Pros of air-to-air system

Air to air systems provides efficient form of heating and cooling than direct electric. These are less disruptive to install on retrofit and very useful for houses where rooms can be used occasionally.

Can Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery ensure cooling effect?

MVHR systems are not air conditioning units, rather they have been designed to be ventilation systems. Some MVHR units consist of a reversible heat pump and a micro compressor to add heating or cooling for the incoming air. These units operate at nearly half an air change every hour with fresh air providing soothing outdoor temperature.

This means the heating or cooling is enough for setting the ideal temperature of your house than creating change in temperature or acting as primary heating or cooling system. On the other hand, proper air conditioning recirculates internal air at a faster rate for facilitating temperature change.

Time needed for the installation of an air conditioning unit

It is possible to install a domestic split air conditioner within a day. This will depend on the route of pipe and complexity of your property.

Where to position outdoor units

The outdoor unit of air conditioning system will have noise and discharge lots of heat. You can position near a window or anywhere where it does not affect the comfort of surrounding people. Make sure the air conditioning unit work efficiently without any noise.

Air conditioning system consists of maximum pipe length to use between the indoor and the outdoor unit. If you are having more than one indoor unit, you will have two critical lengths. There is a maximum length between any indoor and outdoor unit with maximum overall length of pipe.

For example, you may need a multi-split air conditioning unit with 5 indoor units. Each individual pipe may extend by almost 25 metres and the total combined length of all pipes in the system should not exceed 75 metres. If 4 indoor units require 20 metres of pipe each, this product may not be a suitable choice for your needs.

How much maintenance will air conditioning systems require?

Air conditioning systems usually need yearly servicing in order to check for refrigerant levels, filters and ensure there aren’t any leaks. Filters should be cleaned and heat exchangers as well as air paths need to be kept clean. A visual inspection of pipework, insulation, structural integrity of physical unit and electrical connection, is indeed a good idea.

Small portable systems do not require servicing than checking the filters and condensate drains for the blockages. Conducting a visual check of the air conditioning unit ensures is no structural damage or electrical fault. Follow the tips on air conditioning maintenance provided by the professional.

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Things to consider in an air conditioning system

The two things which are important for choosing an air conditioning system are experience of installer and brand quality. It is a fact that you get what you pay for and you really want to invest in a good product and an installer who is familiar with the product.

Speak with installers in your area and check installer lists of reputed brands. Try to seek references who have already installed products similar to the ones you want.

Other features to look for in an air conditioning unit

  • Heating

You can use most split type air conditioning units in the form of a heater. These are referred to as air-to-air heat pumps. The portable units cannot be used to heat as cool air cannot be ducted out.

  • Dehumidifier

Air conditioning units act like several kinds of dehumidifiers. When air gets cooled, the water vapour in the air condenses and does not remain in the air for lessening the humidity.

  • Wifi / smart control

Air conditioning system with connectivity to other system can be of great help. You do not need an air conditioning system for cooling the room only to turn on heating system heat it back up again. It may be worthy enough to control the ventilation system so that there is no conflict with summer bypass modes.

Thus, you need to get in touch with the installers who can help in choosing the right place to install air conditioner in your home.