If you are looking for a new air conditioner or “AC” (also known as an air-to-air heat pump in more technical circles) either for the first time, as an upgrade or if you are looking to add an extra unit to your home, thorough research is key to making the best and most informed choice for your home and family. This could be the differentiator between a smooth purchase and installation process or an overall hassle.
Many manufacturers generally provide you with very detailed information and specifications as well as use case reviews to help you understand the technical capabilities of the unit you are interested in. However, this information is not always easy to understand and you can often spend lots of additional time or additional money simply trying to unravel yourself from the technical complexities of purchasing an AC. Below we have outlined some of the most important fundamental technical elements you should consider before choosing an air conditioner.
1. Indoor and Outdoor units
An air conditioner is typically composed of two units: The indoor and outdoor unit. These are usually called ‘split’ air conditioners. The indoor unit is what you will typically find mounted on a wall, while the outdoor unit is mounted either on an exterior wall or placed at ground level. The outdoor unit is responsible for extracting or emitting heat from or into the ambient air, while the indoor unit then transfers the heat or cold into the room, depending on your setting.
Variants, where one indoor unit houses all the components are also available on the market – so called ‘portable air conditioners’, but these are usually less efficient, bulkier and noisier than split air conditioners and require an air outlet directed to the outside, which in most cases defeats the portability aspect.
2. Types of indoor units (aka "Splits")
The type of air conditioner you need comes down to the space that you are installing the unit into and any existing equipment already in place:
- Wall mounted: Fixed high up to a wall and designed for a single room or single space use.
- Floor mounted: Fixed to a wall but lower to the floor. Designed for a single room or single space use.
- Duct/Concealed: Also known as centralised air conditioners, can cool an entire house at once, if integrated into the ventilation system. Air runs through ducts that are behind walls and ceilings.
3. Single split or Multi split
In industry terms, your home’s air conditioning “setup” (known as air conditioning system) can be divided into two categories: single split or multi-split. Which category your requirements fall into primarily depends on your short and long term needs and your home’s layout.
Single split system
In essence, a single split system is when you have one outdoor unit connected to one indoor unit. These two are connected by an electric cable and two copper pipes along which the refrigerant flows between the units. Having a single split system is typically used if you have abundant outdoor space or are not planning on having more than 1-2 air conditioners in your home.
- Connects one indoor unit to one outdoor unit
- Heats or cools one room
- Easy installation
Multi split system
A multi-split system is when instead of one indoor unit connected to one outdoor unit, you can have several indoor units connected to just one outdoor unit and each of the indoor units can work independently from each other, as long as all of them are either cooling or heating at the same time. Having a multi-split system provides a lot of flexibility, especially in smaller homes or apartments where outdoor space is limited. However, the decision to go with a multi-split system is best to be made at the beginning, due to its more complex installation so this is where having long-term plans for your home’s air conditioning needs plays a big role.
- Connects up to five indoor units to one outdoor unit
- Heats or cools up to 5 different rooms
- Individual temperature settings for each room
4. Air conditioner capacities
When manufacturers or installers talk about an air conditioner’s size, they usually don’t mean its physical size (although this can also be a factor when selecting an AC) they usually mean its capacity - as in how much can the indoor unit cool/heat based on the room's size.
The capacity of the air conditioner you need will depend on a variety of factors such as: where you live, room size, orientation, number of windows/doors in the room or whether the unit is primarily for heating or cooling. Therefore, it’s always best that you consult directly with the manufacturer or installer you are opting for in order to ensure that you choose the right sized air conditioner. As a very top-level guideline for south-facing rooms between 15m2 and 40m2 in size will require a unit with the following capacities:
< 15m2 = 15
< 25m2 = 20
< 30m2 = 25
< 40m2 = 35
As energy prices are not getting any cheaper, it is essential to select a suitable unit capacity. Units with a higher capacity will heat or cool a larger space quicker than a unit with a lower capacity, but they will use more energy in during normal operation, since they are improperly sized. Equally, if the air conditioner capacity is too small, your room won’t be heated or cooled correctly, and the comfort issues that guided you towards an AC purchase will remain unaddressed.
5. Features and functions
What might surprise you is that not all air conditioners can do the same things. While there are some functionalities ie. heating and cooling, that are commonplace across different units and brands, air conditioners can widely differ in their features or functions and choosing the right air conditioner will eventually come down to finding the one that provides you with the functions that fit your requirements.
For example: If advanced heating capabilities are more important to you then something like Daikin’s Perfera Floor standing unit would be a suitable option, whereas, if maintaining good indoor air quality is crucial then units such as the Stylish and Ururu Sarara that feature high-quality or even self-cleaning air filters and air purifying functions are the ones for you. You can orientate yourself more on air conditioner features and functions by checking out our guide to common features and functions here.
6. Environmental impact
There is no escaping that some air conditioners can consume large amounts of electricity and that the fluorocarbons they use as refrigerants, when disposed of incorrectly, can damage the ozone layer and contribute to global warming. Without refrigerant, however, there would be no air conditioning, refrigeration or freezing technology. Hence, it is a much-needed component of our modern way of life, but with comfort comes great responsibility.
As a result, manufacturers like Daikin take a proactive approach to their product’s environmental impact through the development and utilisation of refrigerants with low global warming impacts such as R-32 and more energy-efficient technologies. R-32 is a next-generation single component refrigerant that efficiently carries heat, has a lower environmental impact and can reduce electricity consumption by up to 10% and environmental impact by 75%, when compared to units which use R410A.
7. Personal style
The days where air conditioners were just white boxes on the wall are long gone. Now you can find air conditioners in a variety of designs and colours, with some options to even customise units to the colour or pattern of your choice. Like many other manufacturers, Daikin has embraced the potential for air conditioners to be more than just another utility appliance in your home but an extension to your own lifestyle and personal style.
Therefore, when choosing the right option, it’s good to bear in mind that there will always be an option that not only reflects your requirements in terms of functionality but also in looks.
As an air conditioning manufacturer, we are proud of the vast array of styles and types of AC units we have available. So, now that you know what to look out for, you can start your journey to find the air conditioner that is right for you by browsing through our range: https://www.daikin-ce.com/en_us/product-group/air-to-air-heat-pumps.html
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