What Air Conditioner Should I Buy? Our Expert Guide

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What Air Conditioner Should I Buy? Our Expert Guide

No matter whether it’s your first time buying an air conditioner, or you’re looking to upgrade your old one, it can be tricky to know where to start. Should I buy a ducted system, or stick with a split system air conditioner? What size air conditioner should I buy? These are just a few of the questions we’re often asked by customers wanting to know which air conditioner to buy.

In this expert guide we cover everything you need to know to answer the tricky question: what air conditioner should I buy?

Main types of air conditioners

First things first: there are two main kinds of air conditioners. They are:

  1. Split-system air conditioners
  2. Ducted air conditioners

Split-system air conditioners are wall-mounted air conditioners that cool or heat a single room. The inner unit is connected to a compressor installed outside. In some cases, you can have multiple wall-mounted units connected to a single compressor. This is known as a multi-head split system.

Ducted air conditioners on the other hand use ducts and vents to transport cool or warm air throughout the house. They have an evaporator inside, which is installed either in the ceiling or in the flooring, and a compressor outside. They’re designed for cooling multiple rooms.

What air conditioner should I buy?

There are a range of factors to consider when answering the question, ‘what air conditioner should I buy?’

You should start by asking yourself a series of questions, including:

  • How much will I use the air conditioner? Do you plan on using the air conditioner most days, or do you just need a system that can keep you cool on the occasional Brisbane summer scorcher?
  • How many rooms do I want to cool? Do you want to be able to cool the entire house, or do you just want to cool your main living room and master bedroom? This is an important question to ask as it will determine whether it makes sense to install a split system air conditioner or a ducted system.
  • Do I want the air conditioner to double as a heater? Do you live somewhere cold enough in winter that you need heating? If so, it can be a good idea to consider installing a reverse cycle unit (either ducted or split system) to kill two birds with one stone.

What to look for when buying an air conditioner

Once you have a good idea of how you plan on using the air conditioner, it’s time to consider the features of different air conditioners. Here’s what to look for when buying an air conditioner:

Ducted vs. split system

We touched on it above, but it’s generally the first thing to consider when deciding how to buy an air conditioner. Generally speaking, if you only want to cool one or two rooms, your best bet is to go with a split system air conditioner. Installation is quick, and they’re efficient units. However, if you’d prefer to be able to cool (or heat) the entire house, a ducted system is the way to go. Just because you buy a ducted system however doesn’t mean you always have to cool the entire house. Most modern ducted systems give you the option to program ‘zones’ into your unit, which gives you the option of only cooling certain rooms.

Aesthetics are also an important consideration for many homeowners, with some people disliking the look of a wall mounted split system. Indeed, the discreet, low profile look of ducted air conditioning is one of the many benefits of ducted air conditioning.

Energy efficiency rating

With the cost of living continuing to rise, energy efficiency is an important factor to consider. Put simply, the more energy efficient an air conditioner is, the less power it requires to reach the same temperature. Thanks to modern technological advancements, air conditioners are now more energy efficient than ever before, which makes them cheaper to run than their older counterparts.

By law, all manufacturers must provide information about an air conditioner’s energy efficiency rating. You’ve probably seen the energy star rating labels on appliances. The more stars, the more energy efficient the appliance will be.

However, many people are unaware that the energy efficiency of air conditioners is influenced by the climate in which it is operating. As a result, air conditioners registered since 1 April 2020 will have a special Zoned Energy Rating Label that highlights the difference in performance across Australia’s main climate zones. With Brisbane classified as a ‘Hot’ zone, you should make sure to look for the corresponding energy star rating.

Reverse cycle vs. cooling only

With more people moving away from gas and wood fired heating, reverse cycle air conditioners are growing in popularity. They’re efficient, easy to use, and help to keep installation costs low because they don’t require a separate system. Whether to install a reverse cycle or cooling-only air conditioner really depends on your local climate and how much you feel the cold. If you live somewhere that has a fairly mild winter it might not be worth the extra cost to install a reverse cycle unit. On the other hand, keeping the option available could be a good idea if you plan to rent the house out or resell it.

Air conditioner size

We often get asked ‘What size air conditioner should I buy?’. Well, the answer depends. To ensure optimal performance, always install an air conditioner that is the right size for the space you plan on cooling. If you choose an air conditioner that’s too small it won’t do a good job of cooling the room, and will have to work much harder than an air conditioner with the correct capacity.

Like other electrical appliances, air conditioner size is measured in kilowatts (kW). This refers to the amount of energy the air conditioner uses. The higher the number, the greater the energy consumption and the greater the cooling capacity. The table below provides a rough guide to help you select an air conditioner with the right capacity in kilowatts (kW) for various room sizes.

  • Room Size: Up to 20 square metres
    Capacity: 2–2.5kW
  • Room Size: 20–40 square metres
    Capacity: 2.5–5kW
  • Room Size: 40–60 square metres
    Capacity: 4–6kW
  • Room Size: 60–80 square metres
    Capacity: 5–7kW
  • Room Size: 80+ square metres
    Capacity: 6–9kW

Digital features

A final key consideration for many homeowners looking to buy an air conditioner is the unit’s compatibility with their smart home, and the ability to control the unit from their phone. Many ducted air conditioning systems now come with in-built smart features and control systems that are wifi-enabled. These systems give you much greater control over the air conditioner settings and allow you to turn the unit on remotely. This is great for people who forget to turn the air con off, or who want to make sure the house is cool before they get home! Many new split system units also come with wifi controllers in addition to the traditional remote.

Still not sure which air conditioner is right for you? Get in touch with one of our friendly air conditioner experts today.