What Air Conditioner Should I Buy?


1. Split-system

A split system is the most common type of air conditioning. You are looking at this type of AC if you have ever seen a unit connected to a wall.


A split system air conditioner, as the name implies, has two units that have been divided. The fan coil in the indoor unit is in charge of blowing cool air into the room. The other unit is the condenser, which is usually visible outside the house. They are suitable for a room or open plan area of up to 60m2.


Pros:

  • Affordable

  • Non-invasive – it will not interfere with your home's structural elements.

  • Quick Installation – it is easy to install and can be done within a few hours.

  • Flexible – it can be installed anywhere in the house; no large space is required; simply an empty wall will suffice.

Cons:

  • Air Flow – it pushes air out from the front of the unit and are intended to cool the room in which they are installed, not an adjacent room through a doorway.

  • Aesthetically Unappealing - the unit hangs on the wall, which can interfere with the room's design.

  • Noise – the compressor can produce a significant amount of noise; that is why you should strategically place it outside so you can sleep well at night.


Price range: $600 – $5500


2. Window-mounted

A single box unit installed through a window. Ideal for up to 50m2 rooms and open-plan areas. Smaller units can be plugged into a standard power outlet, while larger ones may require additional wiring. Not as efficient or effective as split-systems, but a good budget option if a split-system isn't an option (for example, if you're renting).


A unit that cools a 10m2 room costs less than $250, while a unit that cools a 20 to 45m2 room costs $550. You can get a unit that cools a 65 to 85m2 room for $1100.


3. Wall-mounted

These air conditioners are permanently installed by inserting a metal sleeve through the wall and sliding the AC chassis in from the inside.


Pros:

  • Aesthetically pleasing

  • Fits more securely than window units

  • Doesn't obstruct sunlight

Cons:

  • Installation is costly because you must cut an opening through an outside wall, and larger units may necessitate the installation of a dedicated 220-volt line.

  • Many models do not include the exterior metal sleeve, so you'll have to buy it separately (which can cost $50 to $100).


A unit that will cool a 35 to 65m2 room will cost around $550, while a unit that will cool a 90m2 room will cost around $950.


4. Multi-split

It is based on the split system, but with one outdoor unit connected to two or more indoor units. It's ideal for two or three rooms that are relatively close together, especially when separate split-systems or a ducted system aren't an option. Priced in the same ballpark as the equivalent separate split-systems.


Pros:

  • Energy Efficient - only one external compressor is used to operate multiple air conditioners indoors.

  • Flexibility – more indoor units can be added later as long as this was considered prior to installation.

  • Placement - the outdoor unit can be placed up to 15 meters away without affecting capacity.

  • Affordability – it is less expensive than purchasing multiple single split systems; it is also inexpensive in terms of installation, repairs, maintenance, and replacement.

Cons:

  • Compressor - if there is a problem with the outdoor unit, all of the indoor units will stop working.


Price range: $5000+ (can easily be $10,000 or more)


5. Ducted

These have a discrete central unit that is usually hidden in your roof and is connected by air ducts to air outlets and sensors in each room. It's ideal for cooling the entire house.


Some systems even allow you to set different temperatures for individual rooms at the same time, a feature known as temperature-controlled zones. The zone controller makes it simple to change the settings, including the temperature.


Pros:

  • Aesthetically Appealing – the units are hidden in the ceiling, the outlets are also nearly invisible, hence it does not interfere with the room’s design.

  • Zoning – you have the ability to control the temperature in every room of the house. If some rooms are empty, you can turn off these zones to save energy.

  • Efficiency – there is no need to install more cooling systems to cool each room. It reduces redundancy while keeping your home comfortable. You can turn off the zones for rooms that do not require cooling, lowering your electric bill.

  • Virtually Noiseless – if you've ever had a window or wall-mounted aircon, you'll understand the annoyance that comes with the constant drone of the compressor. A ducted system does not have this problem because the ducts run through the roof cavity of the home.

Cons:

  • Expensive - The initial cost can be expensive, especially for those on a tight budget. There are also less expensive units available.

  • Space Requirement – some homes are not able to accommodate this type of aircon due to limited space.


Price range: $5000+ (can easily be $10,000 or more)


6. Portable

A single unit that can be moved from room to room as needed (but generally not easily). To vent the heat outside, most have a flexible duct that must be attached to a window. Good for rooms in homes where a built-in option isn't possible (for example, if you're renting). Split-systems are more efficient.


Pros:

  • Affordability – this is the smallest aircon, hence the cheapest option.

  • Easy Installation – no professional installation process is needed. The unit only need to be located near an electrical outlet and a window for the exhaust hose

  • Flexibility – you have the freedom to roll the unit around wherever you need it.

Cons:

  • Expensive – it is more expensive than window-mounted aircons.

  • Placement – it will take up a small area of floor space.

  • Less Efficient – it uses more power than other types of aircons.

  • Noise – the whole unit will be indoors, hence the noise that comes with it.


A unit that cools a 15 to 30 m2 room will cost around $950, while a unit that cools a 45m2 room will cost $1,300 or more.


References:

  1. Barnes, C. (2021, May 19). How to buy the best air conditioner. CHOICE. https://www.choice.com.au/home-and-living/cooling/air-conditioners/buying-guides/air-conditioners.

  2. Rothman, R. (2020, June 15). Everything You Need to Know Before You Buy a New Air Conditioner. Good Housekeeping. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/appliances/a16757/air-conditioner-faq-1001/.

  3. Grossmith, A. (2021, June 8). Common Types Of Air Conditioning Units & Systems: Which Is Best For You? ACSIS Airconditioning Warehouse. https://www.acsisair.com.au/best-types-air-conditioning-units/.

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