There are some questions to ask before selecting an air conditioner to ensure that you have the right system for you and your needs. Consider where the system will be placed, and what exactly you want the system for. Do you have the correct wiring for the system and do you need to make any changes to your home to accommodate the system? If you think that changes may have to be made, speak to an electrician. They will be able to assess your current wiring system and advise you on what changes are required, if any. There are also costs to think about such as the cost of the air conditioner itself, the cost of installation, and the cost of maintenance.
Ask friends and family for their recommendations as to what they find to be a good brand of air conditioner as you want something that is reliable, especially during those hot summer months (or cold winter months!).
There are three common types of air conditioning systems – split systems, fixed units and ducted air conditioning systems.
Split System Air Conditioners
A split system air conditioner consists of two sections, one inside the home and one out, with the sections being connected by refrigerant piping. Split system air conditioners are available as reverse cycle or cooling only and range in power from 2 kW to 8 kW. Generally, 2kW to 5kW air conditioners are suitable for small to medium sized areas, while 5kW to 8kW air conditioners are suitable for larger areas. Split systems can be wall or floor mounted, depending on the space where they are being installed. Floor mounted systems are usually only used when the wall hung system is not feasible.
Portable split systems are also available and these are usually smaller units that have the indoor and outdoor sections connected by a hose through an open window. The advantage of this is that the unit can be moved from room to room as required.
Multi split systems can air condition multiple rooms (up to seven) using only the one outdoor unit. These systems are best used when there is limited outdoor space or where there is not enough ceiling space to install ducted air conditioning. Using a multi split system means that you have control over the air conditioning in each room, saving you money in running costs and minimizing wastage.
Fixed Air Conditioning Units
A fixed air conditioning unit is a small box unit that is traditionally mounted within external windows or walls. These are generally only good for single rooms so multiple units may be needed if you need to air condition more than one area of your home. Smaller units can be plugged into a standard power point but larger units may need to be wired into the electrical system.
Ducted Air Conditioning Systems
Ducted air conditioning can be installed in virtually any home, existing or new, provided that there is sufficient ceiling space. There are two components to the ducted system, with the compressor unit located outside the house and the indoor unit located within the ceiling space. The cooled or heated air is distributed through vents located throughout the house.
To improve efficiency, ducted systems can be zoned so that different areas of the house are heated or cooled at different times. For example, the house can be divided into a day zone (living areas) and a night zone (bedrooms). On average, ducted systems cost anywhere from $6,000 to $12,000 fully installed. You will need the services of a professional refrigeration mechanic and electrician to ensure that you have the right system for your needs, so that it is as comfortable, economical and efficient as possible.
Repairs and Maintenance
While professionals are able to repair your air conditioning system in the event that it breaks down, it is better to have a maintenance system in place. Professionals are happy to provide maintenance services. Such services include:
checking how well the unit is operating
checking refrigerant levels and gas pressure
cleaning coils and burners
checking for and repairing any leaks in piping or insulation
replacing air filters
resetting the thermostat and ensuring that it is correctly calibrated
ensuring that fans are operating correctly
ensuring that the unit does not rattle, vibrate or make excessive noise
The filter in the air conditioner needs to be cleaned regularly and this is easily done by removing the screen and running a vacuum cleaner over it every two weeks or so.
You will need a licensed contractor to install and service your new system. They have the relevant training and are licensed to handle refrigerants - documentation that is issued by the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC).
This is especially true when it comes to split and ducted systems. When the air conditioning system is being installed, the refrigeration lines need to be completely free of any moisture, so that erosion does not occur within the compressor. Erosion can be harmful to the air conditioner’s performance.
Professionals can also help you design the right system for your needs, and can advise you on which system is best for you. Air conditioners come with manufacturer’s warranties, so in order to ensure that there are no warranty problems, professional installation is a must.
You can find out more about licensing requirements for air conditioning specialists at Licensedtrades.com.au.
How Much Does Air Conditioning Cost?
Air con units can cost anywhere from less than a thousand dollars and escalate upwards. The capacity of the unit - typically expressed in kilowatts (kW) - is a guide to how much cooling (or heating) it is capable of. Units with higher energy output will generally cost more. Small portable style air conditioning units will consequently be more affordable than a large integrated ducted or split system. Don't forget to factor in the cost of labour for an installation, which will likely also involve a call out fee.
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