What are the different types of air conditioners?

Fast read

Air cooling is essential in many parts of Australia, especially during the summer. Selecting the right air conditioner type for your home or business can be confusing, as there are many choices.

The most popular forms nowadays are smart ducted and reverse cycle units, but there are many more. Read on to give yourself an overview of all options and their advantages and disadvantages.

Whichever way you go, air-conditioning is a field for professionals and we do not recommend a DIY job.

So many different types of air conditioners which one should I get?

Air conditioning was a rare luxury for our grandparents, and nowadays is a necessity for many people, especially during the hot summer months. With various options available, choosing the type of air conditioner for your needs can be overwhelming. This FAQ will explore the different types of air conditioners, their unique features, and which type may be best suited for your home or business.

Portable air conditioners

Unlike traditional air conditioners, permanently installed in a window or through a wall. Portable air conditioners are self-contained units that can be easily moved from room to room. This makes them ideal for people who want to cool a specific area without investing in a whole-home air conditioning system. They have several advantages.

Versatility

One of the most significant advantages of portable air conditioners is their versatility. These units can be used in various settings, including apartments, offices, sheds, RVs, and boats. They are also an excellent choice for people who live in older homes that may not have central air conditioning.

Cost

Regarding cost, portable air conditioners are generally more affordable than traditional air conditioning systems. They also tend to be easier to install, as they simply need to be placed in the desired location and plugged into an outlet. Usually, they also have an exhaust hose to expel hot air, so they must sit close to a window or other form of outlet.

Disadvantages

These units can be noisy, so they may not be the best choice if you are sensitive to loud noises. Additionally, because they are self-contained units, they can produce excess moisture, which can be problematic in some settings. Finally, because they are usually cheaper units, they are not as efficient as more sophisticated wall-mounted or ducted units. So overall, their running cost can be higher.

shopping for air conditioners
With so many models on display, sometimes, when shopping for air conditioners, one can be bewildered

Split system AC

Split-system air conditioners are popular with many homeowners because of their efficiency and versatility. Unlike older style window box style air-conditioners, which are permanently installed in a window or through a wall, split system air conditioners consist of two separate units: an indoor unit, which is installed on a wall and an outdoor unit, which is installed outside. Usually not too far from the indoor unit.

Many options for air conditioning types can make shopping for the product confusing.

Advantages

One of the most significant advantages of split-system air conditioners is their energy efficiency. Because of modern technology, they will switch off silently when the required temperature is achieved or when the sensor detects that no one is in the room. Many have functions to turn on automatically, so one can pre-cool the house on a hot day when a solar system could generate “free electricity, “ which will show up in lower power bills.

The outdoor unit is separate from the indoor unit, and the system can cool the air very efficiently, resulting in lower energy bills.

Additionally, because the outdoor unit is located outside, it does not produce excess noise or moisture inside. This can be a problem with traditional wall-mounted all-in-one air conditioners.

Split system air conditioners are also highly customisable. The indoor unit can be installed in various locations, including a wall, ceiling, or floor, and is available in different sizes and styles to suit your needs.

This lets you choose your home’s best location and configuration, ensuring you get the most efficient and effective cooling possible.

Cost

In terms of cost, split-system air conditioners are generally more expensive than window or portable units. However, because they are more energy-efficient, they can save you money on your electricity bill in the long run. Because professionals install them, they are typically very reliable and durable.

reverse cycle air conditioner
Reverse-cycle air-conditioners offer an efficient way to heat and cool one’s home

Reverse cycle air conditioner – the “brother” of split-cycle

Reverse-cycle air conditioners, known as heat pumps, are popular with many homeowners because of their versatility and energy efficiency. Unlike traditional air conditioners, which only provide cooling, reverse-cycle air conditioners can heat and cool your home. This makes them an excellent choice for year-round comfort. After fully ducted systems, they are now the most typical choice for homeowners.

Advantages

One of the most significant advantages of reverse-cycle air conditioners is their energy efficiency. Because they use a heat pump to transfer heat from the outside air. They can heat your home at a much lower cost than other heating systems, such as furnaces, gas heaters or electric heaters.

Additionally, because the heat pump is reversible, the same system can provide cooling in the summer, making it an incredibly efficient all-in-one solution.

Another benefit of reverse-cycle air conditioners is their versatility. These systems can be installed in various settings, including homes, apartments, offices, and even RVs and boats. Again, they are available in various sizes and styles so that you can choose the best option for your specific area.

Because they do not require a separate heating and cooling system. They can save you space and money on installation costs.

One word of warning – do not undersize the unit, as this means the equipment will have to work harder, is less energy efficient and potentially wears out earlier.

Cost

Regarding cost, reverse-cycle air conditioners are generally more expensive than traditional ones. However, because they are more energy-efficient and provide both heating and cooling, they can save you money on your energy bills in the long run.

Control panel
Modern controllers allow you to make ducted air-conditioning very energy-efficient

Ducted air conditioner

Ducted air conditioners are popular for many homeowners because they provide efficient and consistent cooling throughout the house. Unlike traditional air conditioners installed in individual rooms or areas, ducted air conditioners use a network of air ducts, usually in the ceiling or under the floor, to distribute cool and warm air to every corner of the home.

Advantages

One of the most significant advantages of ducted air conditioners is their ability to provide uniform temperature control. Because the air is distributed through a series of ducts, every room in the house receives the same level of heating and cooling, ensuring that you stay comfortable no matter where you are.

The modern ducted system also allows you to set up zones. So you do not need to heat the whole house but can select the area you want to make comfortable.

Additionally, because the air is delivered through the ducts, you can control the temperature in each room individually, customising your home’s climate to suit your needs.

Another benefit of ducted air conditioners is their energy efficiency. Because the system uses a single, central air handler to distribute the air, it can more effectively heat/cool the air, resulting in lower energy bills.

Cost

Ducted air conditioners are generally more expensive than several individual reverse cycle units. However, because they are more energy-efficient and provide consistent cooling throughout the home. They can keep a lid on energy bills. As long as you run them smartly, meaning not heating the whole house when the TV/lounge room would have done.

Modern controllers allow you to make ducted air conditioning very energy-efficient

Window air conditioner

A window air conditioner is a type of air conditioner unit designed to be installed in a window or in a wall. These units are popular for cooling small to medium-sized rooms, offering a cost-effective and energy-efficient way to beat the heat. As long as they are used with a timer only for peak periods.

They started in the 1950s and were the most popular choice of air conditioning till the 1980s. Nowadays, they have not been used so much anymore but are still found on demountable building site sheds or remain in place in older homes, where they have operated for 20 years.

Regarding installation, window air conditioners are relatively straightforward. This means professional labour and material costs should be low.

Advantages

One of the key benefits of a window air conditioner is its compact size. Because it is designed to fit into a window or opening, it takes up minimal space in the room. This makes it an ideal solution for rooms with limited floor or ceiling space, such as in a studio apartment or a small home.

Disadvantages

One of the main drawbacks of a window air conditioner is that it can be a bit noisy, and they are known as window rattlers. This means they need to be correctly installed to avoid unnecessary noise.

Because the unit is installed in a window, the compressor and other mechanical parts are located literally inside the room, which can also create some noise. However, newer models are designed to be quieter than older models, so this is less of a concern than it used to be. Regarding energy efficiency, they are now superseded by split-system air conditioners.
Ceiling mounted type of air conditioner

Floor and ceiling-mounted 

A floor or ceiling-mounted air conditioner is an air conditioning unit installed on the floor rather than a wall or window. These units are a popular choice for heating  & cooling larger rooms or open floor plans, offering several advantages over other types of air conditioners.

Advantages

One of the key benefits of a floor/ceiling-mounted air conditioner is its size. Because it is installed in a void, these units are typically more extensive and powerful than other air conditioning systems. This makes them ideal for heating and cooling larger rooms or open floor plans. Where a traditional window air conditioner may not be sufficient.

Another advantage of a floor/ceiling-mounted air conditioner is its versatility. These units can be installed in rooms with unavailable walls due to other features and uses.

Installation

In terms of installation, floor/ceiling-mounted air conditioners can be a little more complex than other air conditioning systems. Because of their size and weight, these units require professional installation and must be adequately anchored to the floor or ceiling to ensure safety and stability.

Disadvantages

One of the main drawbacks of a floor/ceiling-mounted air conditioner is the cost. These units are typically more expensive than other air conditioning systems, such as reverse cycle units. The cost of installation can also be higher. However, the added cooling capacity and installation versatility can make them a worthwhile investment for larger homes or open floor plans. Where they can be added unobtrusively.

Smart air conditioner

A smart air conditioner is a type of air conditioner that can be controlled and monitored using a smartphone or other device. These units are part of the growing trend of connected devices known as the Internet of Things (IoT), and they offer a number of benefits over traditional air conditioning systems. Smarts are now embedded in most modern units from many manufacturers, so the benefits are available widely.

Advantages

One of the key benefits of a smart air conditioner is its convenience. With a smart air conditioner, you can control your air conditioner’s temperature and other settings from anywhere using your smartphone app or another device. This means you can adjust the temperature before you come home or turn the air conditioner off if you forget before leaving the house.

Another advantage of a smart air conditioner is its energy efficiency. Many smart air conditioners have advanced features that can help you save energy. Such as automatic scheduling, energy-saving modes, and real-time energy usage monitoring. This can help you save money on your energy bills and be more environmentally friendly.

Installation

In terms of installation, smart air conditioners are very similar to traditional air conditioning systems. Because these units require a connection to the internet and some training on how to use them, we always recommend a professional to be involved in the installation.

Disadvantages

The only drawback of a smart air conditioner is its cost. These units are a little more expensive than traditional air conditioning systems, as now the smarts have been added, and the cost of installation and connectivity can also add a little. Nevertheless, simple models without smarts are disappearing fast, so soon, you will not have a choice.

However, the added convenience and energy savings can make a smart air conditioner a worthwhile investment for many homeowners.

Evaporative cooling air conditioners

Evaporative air conditioners were more popular in the past and are becoming less frequent. They use water to cool the air, rather than a refrigerant. This means they often use much less energy than a typical air-conditioner. They draw hot air from outside, passing it via a wet filter and blowing out the cooler, moist air.

Evaporative air conditioners are efficient and cost-effective and can cool larger spaces. Nevertheless, they cannot make the rooms as icy cool as an air-conditioner would and will not remove humidity as effectively and therefore have limitations.  They also require scheduled maintenance to ensure the filter is not clogged with mould and bacteria.

Summary

Air conditioners are essential appliances for keeping homes and businesses comfortable during the hot summer months.

Several different types of air conditioners are available, each with unique features and benefits. Window air conditioners are popular for small to medium-sized rooms. While floor-mounted air conditioners are better suited for larger rooms or open floor plans. Reverse cycle and ducted units are the most popular.

Smart air conditioners offer energy efficiency and easy operations. Regardless of the type of air conditioner you choose, it is important to choose a reputable brand and have the unit properly installed by a professional team.

Nowadays we strongly recommend choosing an air conditioner that is energy-efficient and has all the smarts.

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