Ducted, split-system, multi-split, inverter, reverse cycle … there are a dizzying array of options out there when it comes to air conditioners. So choosing one can be really confusing! However, each of them have their own benefits and downfalls, particularly when it comes to efficiency and saving money on your power bills.
Split system air conditioners are one of the most popular units available, but what makes them a good choice for heating and/or cooling your home? Here is a guide on what to consider before buying a split system air conditioner.
How do I decide which type of air conditioner is right for me?
In order to work out what type of air conditioning system is right for you, you need to understand your exact requirements.
Next, you should try and determine your likely usage. Reverse cycle air conditioners are ideal if you are looking to both cool and heat your home, particularly if you live in an area with fluctuating temperatures. However, if you’re unlikely to use air conditioning year-round, buying a cool only air conditioner can also be a good choice.
Lastly, you need to work out your budget – both now and in the future. All systems require professional installation, so the costs you pay can vary depending on the unit you choose. But there are also the ongoing running costs to consider, and more energy efficient units can help reduce your power bills and save you money in the long run.
What is a split-system air conditioner?
Split systems, also known as non-ducted air conditioners, generally have two parts – an indoor wall-mounted unit that has an evaporator and an outdoor stand-alone compressor/condenser unit. Basically, the indoor unit helps blow cool air inside and the outdoor unit dissipates hot air from the outside.
Split system AC’s tend to be extremely efficient and are usually used to cool an open-plan area or one or more rooms. They’re also generally quieter than Old Box Types of air conditioners because the compressor (the noisy bit!) sits outside. An added bonus is that many of them nowadays also include additional features like motion sensors to increase efficiency and air ionisers to assist with air quality.
Multi-split systems are also an option to consider. These have an outdoor unit that’s connected to two or more indoor units, and they are an ideal way to heat or cool two or three rooms that are reasonably close together.
What do I need to consider if I’m considering buying one?
Split systems are one of the more popular types of air conditioners, however, they aren’t necessarily right for everyone. There is a range of factors that need to be considered, particularly because they need to be professionally installed. However, they are an option definitely worth considering if:
- You’re looking to cool at least one medium or large sized room (portable conditioners may struggle in this instance)
- You can afford to pay for both the upfront cost of purchase and the installation costs
- You need to cool multiple rooms, but not necessarily the whole house (in which case a ducted system is probably a better option)
- You live in a home that can accommodate such a system
What sized split system do I need?
One of the advantages of split system air conditioning is flexibility, however, the downside is that your power bills will become more expensive with every additional room you want to heat/or cool. That’s why it’s important to determine which rooms you really need to target – bedrooms and large shared spaces are often the ones prioritised.
Split systems allow you to use different units for different rooms. For example, a low capacity unit would do fine in a small bedroom, whereas a larger shared space like a living room will need a more powerful (and costly) unit to service the room properly.
It’s worth noting that if you choose an air conditioner that’s over-powered, it will use more power than is necessary and cost more to run. A system that’s under powered on the other hand can quickly burn out.
Other tools like the Federal Government’s energy star rating system can help you determine tool the efficiency of various air conditioners as well. In terms of buying a split system air conditioner, the more (blue) stars the unit has, the more energy efficient it is in terms of cooling. With reverse cycle units, you should also look for red stars, which determine its heating efficiency.
What kinds of split systems are available?
When buying a split system air conditioner, you also need to think about the type of system you need in terms of an inverter model and/or a reverse cycle unit.
Inverter air conditioners vary the compressor speed, which means that the outdoor unit doesn’t switch on and off continuously. They basically speed up or down as need demands and can set the temperature within a relatively narrow range. This means less stress on the compressor and less electricity is used. Inverter AC’s are therefore more efficient than non-inverter models that either only run at full power or are switched off.
Reverse cycle air conditioners both heat in winter and cool in summer, and while purchasing and installation costs can be high, they’re among the cheapest and most effective forms of heating or cooling large spaces over the long term.
Many split systems these days also include a range of features that can increase efficiency and these include a sleep mode, a dehumidifier mode that can help to reduce humidity levels, and built-in sensors to determine when there are people in the room. The unit will then switch off if the room is empty. Don’t you love modern technology!
Considering Purchasing to a split system air conditioner? Get in touch with H&H Air Conditioning today on (07) 3276 1800 (Brisbane) or (07) 5477 1777 (Sunshine Coast).