Staying cool with the right air conditioning solution for your home
Whether we really need air conditioning here in the UK is a somewhat heated debate in many offices and family homes. If one thing’s for certain though, Summers in the UK do seem to be getting hotter, with July 2022 seeing record temperatures in and around London.
The good news is that air conditioning units are no longer only for fancy hotels or holiday destinations! New technology is helping to make air con more accessible for anyone to have in their home. Air conditioning units are still relatively new to the UK though, especially in residential properties. So, to help you understand bit more about finding the right air conditioning solution for your home, we are going to go through some of the most common questions our AC engineers get asked.
What are the 3 types of air conditioning systems?
There are many different makes and models of air con units that you can choose from. While each model will have its own range of benefits and drawbacks, all of them will fit into one of three main air conditioning system types. Choosing which type of system you want really is the most important factor in finding your perfect air conditioning solution, so we’re going to run through each of them.
Without getting too technical, all air conditioning units have two types of coils. Simply put, one coil collects hot air to turn it into cold air, while the other coil disperses hot air away from the room you are trying to cool down. In Monoblock air con systems, both of these coils are in the same unit. Usually, a pipe will go from the back of a Monoblock air con unit, and through either a wall or a window, to carry the condensed hot air from the dispersal coil to outside.
The advantage of Monoblock units is that they can be portable and require minimal external work in their installation. Monoblock air conditioning units can be floor mounted, wall mounted, entirely portable, or come in the form of window air conditioners.
A drawback of them, though, is that they must always be positioned in a place that can easily link the attached pipe to the outside. This means that, even with a portable model, you are usually more limited in where you can position or fix the air con unit. Another draw back of Monoblock systems is that they can be noisy, as the compressor is located inside the unit rather than in a separate external unit.
Split Air Con
Another very common type of air conditioning system is Split air con. Split systems differ from Monoblock by having two separate units, one internal and one external. The internal unit sits inside the property and contains the evaporator coil, which is what produces the cold air. The external unit sits outside the property, and contains both the condenser coil and the compressor.
One advantage of Split air con units is that all the noisy, bulky elements, such as the compressor, sit outside your property. This means the internal unit is much quieter and more lightweight compared to Monoblock systems. In Split systems, there is also more flexibility in where the internal unit can be located. Many Split air con units have a heating function as well as cooling, so they can also be used in the winter. They usually have a built-in filter which means they double-up as an air purifier as well.
The main drawback of Split air con is that they require a more extensive installation process, with both internal and external units to fit. This can result in higher installation costs as well as potential considerations into restrictions around your property’s planning permission or layout.
The final type of air conditioning system is Multi-Split. As the name suggests, Multi-Split air con units are essentially the same as Split systems, but with one key difference. Multi-Split systems can link multiple internal air con units to the same external unit.
This allows you to have various different air con units inside your property, but all running from the same condenser. This gives you the freedom to, for example, have a ceiling-mounted cartridge air con unit in one room, and a wall-mounted air con unit in another.
Multi-Split systems can be one of the most cost-effective air conditioning solutions available, which is why you often find them in hotels or large offices. The downside of them, though, is that you are reliant on the one outside unit working at all times.
Is air conditioning expensive to run?
We mentioned that some air conditioning systems can be more cost-effective than others, but is air conditioning expensive to run in your home?
We like to think of air con in the same way as central heating. Yes, running air con will add to your monthly bills, just like when you run your central heating during the winter, but there are ways to make your air conditioning more efficient.
Non-portable units, while more costly to install, are considerably cheaper to run than Monoblock systems. This can make them an excellent option if you’re dreaming of having air conditioning in your home, but have nightmares about rising energy bills.
You can also look into getting an air-source heat pump in your home, which can improve the sustainability and efficiency of both your central heating and your air conditioning.
There are a few ways to help cut the running costs of your air con units, but the best thing you can do is use your air con only when you really need it. Many of us only turn our heating on at home between the months of October and April, so you can adopt a similar process for your air conditioning by only turning it on during the hot summer months. By never having your heating and air con running in the same months of the year, you should be able to keep the cost of your monthly bills about the same all-year round.
So which air conditioning system is best for your home?
With all the different types of air conditioning systems available, we know it can feel like a minefield when considering which one to choose for your home. To make this decision easier, here are 5 key factors that you should consider:
Does your home have planning restrictions preventing you from adding an external air con unit? If so, then a Monoblock unit may be your only option.
You’ll also need to consider any internal restrictions, such as beams or slanted ceilings, which could prevent you from getting a wall-mounted or ceiling-mounted air con unit.
As we’ve already spoken about, some air conditioning units are more efficient to run than others. If cutting back on running costs is important to you, then efficiency should be a key factor that you consider when looking into which air con unit to get.
When it really comes down to it, the whole point of air conditioning is to cool your home. That’s why deciding what cooling capacity you want from your air con unit should be one of the first things you do.
The cooling capacity you need will depend on the size of the room you’ll be putting the air con system in, as well as other factors like the age of the property. For example, modern homes are typically better insulated, so you may need more cooling capacity to battle hot weather compared to if you have an older home. Likewise, you will need an air con unit with a higher cooling capacity if you are putting it in an open-plan living space, compared to if you’re putting it in a bedroom.
For some of us, the initial installation costs can be enough to put us off air conditioning altogether. If the installation cost is a concern for you, then you should reach out to a specialist AC company to get estimates on the installation for different air con systems.
AC companies like Pimlico will be able to advise you on which air conditioning unit is the best option for your installation budget.
Finally, you’ll want to consider aesthetic factors such as the size of the unit that you want, the appearance, and the level of noise you’re happy to live with. All of these will play a big role in whether you’re happy with your final air conditioning system.
If you’re looking to get air conditioning in your home, then our recommendation is to speak with an accredited AC company and arrange for a professional engineer to come to your property. During a property visit, the engineer will assess what the right air con unit is for your home, and will provide you with an estimate of costs.