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Types of Air Conditioners: How To Choose The Right One for You

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Is the idea of suffering through another unbearably hot summer enough to drive you crazy? If so, our easy guide can help you choose the right air conditioning system for your home.

Australia’s weather is getting hotter, and it’s not just summer days in Sydney that can be sweltering. With unpredictable weather, most people opt to be prepared for any scenario, given that it can be hot one minute and snowing the next.

Choosing the right climate control solution for your home may not be as simple as you think, especially if you are a novice. You need to ensure that your system properly cools or heats the area it needs to and is the right system for your space and environment.

Here at Alliance Climate Control, we know everything there is to know about conditioning. Do you need to cool down a couple of rooms? How about a climate control system for your entire home? Whether you’re looking to install new air conditioning or replace your air con unit, we’re here to help. No matter what you need, we guarantee we’ll make the process a breeze.

After reading our easy-to-understand guide, you’ll have the answers you need to make an informed decision about your next air conditioner. Read on to learn all about it! 


How to Choose the Right Air Conditioner for Your Needs

It can be challenging when you start to look for the right air conditioner because there are so many different brands, shapes and sizes available.

To make choosing an air conditioner for your home or office easier, we have put together this handy checklist to help you find the perfect unit:

  • Climate: Where do you live? Do you live in a tropical area where humidity is an issue and need an evaporative cooler? Or perhaps the heat where you reside is dry but very hot. You should first remember the local climate and find a unit appropriate for your environment. If you want to heat and cool, you’ll need reverse-cycle air conditioning
  • Area: What is the area that you need to cool? Is it one small room, several rooms or perhaps a large open area? Wall air con units are generally ideal for a small room, but if you need to cool many rooms or large areas, you need to consider multi-split systems.
  • Size: You need to measure the size of the room(s) that you want to cool to ensure that the system you purchase will cool the area properly. Air conditioner units will usually have an output in Watts to help you decide which one is suitable. Understanding how to choose the right size air conditioner ensures your AC will be efficient to run. 
  • Design: The shape and design of the property and even the amount of insulation and shade will affect the cooling capacity of any unit you install.
  • Energy consumption: One of the big obstacles to buying an air conditioner can be cost – not so much upfront cost but ongoing running costs. You can minimise how much your monthly bills will be affected. Check the energy efficiency ratings on all units you are considering to estimate how much energy they will use when running on full power – you can find this on the energy rating label.
  • Noise: Some air conditioners are noisy and can interfere with the quiet enjoyment of your home. You can look at the manufacturer’s specifications to understand a unit’s sound power rating (dBA). The rule of thumb is that evaporative coolers are generally noisier inside than refrigerated air conditioners, whilst single units are often noisier than split systems. You also need to consider how much noise external units will make and if they will disturb your neighbours.
  • Health: Some systems include features that will improve the air quality in your home or office. Systems with built-in ionisers, UV air filtration, antiviral and antioxidant filters, or that keep moisture in the air are worth considering before you buy.
  • Reliability: Buying an air conditioning unit is a considerable investment, so avoid buying a cheap air conditioner – it’s never worthwhile! Instead, look at well-established brands that offer lengthy warranties and excellent after-sales services, like Daikin, Fujitsu, Samsung, Mitsubishi, and Actron. 
  • Design: The last consideration is to think about how it will look once installed. Will it enhance the room where it will sit or be an eyesore that will be expensive to change?

Different Types of Air Conditioning Explained

One of the top things you need to know when choosing climate control systems is that there are four main types you can choose from. Let’s look at what each system is made up of and its benefits to you.

The four most common types of AC are:

  • Ducted air conditioning 
  • Split system air conditioning 
  • Multi split system air conditioning
  • Evaporative cooling

While not always included when talking about common air con types, evaporative coolers are becoming more popular for home use in Australia.

Learn more about the different types of air conditioning systems (with pictures) below. 

Ducted Air Conditioning

What is Ducted Air Conditioning?

Ducted air is short for ducted reverse cycle air conditioning. These systems have a compressor that is installed outside and a second unit that will be installed within your roof cavity. 

The roof unit is then hooked up to the vents installed in your home by ductwork. Hot or cold air is transported throughout your home via a series of ducts.

What is Ducted Air Conditioning Best For? 

Ducted systems are an ideal solution for heating and cooling an entire home and when you want a discreet look for your air conditioning system. 

When you want to keep your entire home as hot or cool as you want, then a ducted air conditioning system is your best option. Given how ducted air conditioning works, using a single unit to cool the entire property, it’s a more cost-effective way to manage the climate of your entire home than installing individual split system units in each room. 

All it takes with a ducted air conditioner is a single, discreetly placed outdoor unit and a single indoor unit that you can conceal in your ceiling or under your floor. 

Types of Ducted Air Conditioning

There are three main types of ducted air conditioning:

  • Reverse cycle ducted air conditioning – Reverse cycle ducted air conditioning is a type of climate control system that can both heat and cool. The system consists of an outdoor unit, which contains the compressor and condenser, and a series of indoor units, which are located in different rooms of the home. The outdoor unit pumps refrigerant through a series of ducts to the indoor units, where it is used to either heat or cool the air, depending on the setting. Reverse-cycle ducted air conditioning systems are highly efficient and provide a comfortable environment for families all year round.
  • Bulkhead air conditioning – Bulkhead air conditioning is a cooling system commonly used in commercial and industrial settings, as well as large modern homes. The system consists of a series of pipes and vents that allow cold air to be distributed evenly throughout the space. Bulkhead air conditioning is a cost-effective way to cool large areas and can also be used to control humidity levels. The system is typically installed by a professional HVAC technician, requiring regular maintenance to function properly. 
  • Package air conditioning – Package air conditioning units are large systems typically used to cool commercial or industrial facilities. The unit is usually located on the roof of the building, consisting of several components, including an evaporator, compressor, and condenser. Package air conditioning units are powerful and efficient and often used in applications where a large amount of cooling is required.

Benefits of Ducted Air Conditioning

There are many benefits of installing ducted air conditioning:

  • It cools your entire home – This type of system makes it easy to control the climate in the whole house
  • Simple to use – Most are controlled with timers making it easy to just set and forget
  • Divided into zones – You can zone control your home to maximise the efficiency of the system. Just cool the areas that are being used or the whole house to minimise running costs. 
  • Discreet and aesthetically pleasing – You’ll hardly even notice that it’s there. Only the controller and grilles are visible inside your home, and all the technology that drives the system is hidden out of sight. 
  • Cool air is distributed evenly – No sweltering spots that the family all avoid. 
  • Tailored solutions – You can buy a system to suit your home regardless of how small or large. You can either install a ducted system when your home is built or have it installed after the fact.
  • Quiet operation – The operational noise is outside of your living areas, so it’s also the quietest type of air conditioning system.
  • Property value – Ducted air conditioners make your home a nicer place to live and increase its value.

Interested in installing ducted air conditioning? Read our guide to Australia’s best ducted air conditioner brands

Split System Air Conditioning

What is Split System Air Conditioning?

Split system air conditioning comprises two units: the compressor that is located outside and a wall-hung head unit that is located inside the room that you want to cool. Instead of ducts, the units are connected by copper pipes, making split system air conditioning less invasive and more straightforward to install. 

What is Split System Air Conditioning Best For?

In simplest terms, a split air conditioning system is an air conditioning system that is designed to work in individual spaces of your home instead of cooling your entire property.

It’s a very flexible air conditioning system that lets you cool or heats a single room as the need arises.

Need to keep your baby comfortable? Then heat or cool your nursery. Entertaining guests in your family room? Maybe you can’t sleep at night when it’s hot and humid? Not a problem, a split system air conditioner can keep your bedroom cool and comfortable.

With a split system air conditioner, the compressor is installed outside your home. The unit that passes air into your home is either wall-mounted or a compact floor unit.

When should you consider having a split system air conditioner installed?

  • When you want to heat or cool individual rooms in your home.
  • When you have compact spaces to deal with.

Types of Split System Air Conditioning

  • Split wall air conditioning – This is the most common type of air conditioner, consisting of an indoor wall-mounted unit and an outdoor unit that has a condenser coil. Split system wall units consume less energy without requiring much maintenance.
  • Suspended ceiling-mounted air conditioning – This type of air conditioner utilises a very powerful external compressor run by a DC motor while staying quiet and keeping energy efficient. The indoor unit is installed on the underside of the ceiling within a self-contained cabinet, generally packed with the latest air cooling technology.
  • Floor standing air conditioningFloor standing air conditioners are low profile, placed near the floor, and can sometimes be recessed into walls to take up much less space. They are equipped with inverter compressors that perform similar to full-sized air conditioning units.
  • Ceiling-mounted cassette air conditioning – This type of air conditioner is like a split type system that combines a streamlined design with powerful cooling capability.  It is meant for premises without a ducted system and is not actually mounted on the ceiling but rather recessed into it.
  • Window wall air conditioning – Common in smaller properties or units, window air conditioning consists of one unit which is mounted into spaces or openings. Capable of providing both cooled or heated air, the condenser is placed at the exterior to cycle out air.


Benefits of Split System Air Conditioning

There are many advantages to split system air conditioning:

  • Easily installed – With no ductwork required, installation is much simpler.
  • Lower upfront cost  – It saves you money since you’ll only install one unit at a time.
  • Easy to maintain – Most have washable filters and only need cleaning occasionally.
  • Quiet – They are very quiet to use.
  • Economical – More economical to run than other types of air conditioners. They are not expensive to run with small fan motors and timed usage, and it saves you money because it only cools or heats the parts of your home you need it to.
  • Easy to use – Split system air con units generally have a remote control and thermostat making controlling the indoor temperature straightforward.
  • Custom solutions – Allows you to pick and choose what rooms in your house you need air conditioning in.

Interested in installing split system air conditioning? Read our guide to Australia’s best split system air conditioner brands

Multi Split System Air Conditioning 

What is Multi Split System Air Conditioning?

Multi-split system air conditioning has the capacity to have up to eight wall-mounted, floor-mounted or ducted units of varying capacities attached to one outdoor unit. These systems are ideal for multiple indoor locations that need to be separately controlled.

What is Multi Split System Air Conditioning Best For? 

A multi-split system gives you the ability to individually change the temperature of each room in a home, helping you to keep everyone happy. It’s pretty rare that you’ll find any two people that will agree on the ideal temperature in a room. 

A multi-split system can actually run multiple air conditioners while still only needing a single outdoor compressor. You can choose what type of indoor unit you want for each room, giving you the ultimate freedom when planning out your home’s air conditioning system.

Multi Split Air Conditioning systems are ideal for:

  • Cooling and heating up to 5 rooms in your home
  • Homes that have limited space for ductwork
  • Controlling the temperature of each room in your home individually

Types of Multi Split System Air Conditioning

There are two main types of multi-split air con:

  • Multi-split air conditioning – This type of air conditioner features a single outdoor compressor from which multiple indoor units connect into, removing the need for a ducted system. As many as five indoor units may be connected to a single outdoor unit, allowing for different types of air conditioners to be mounted for each room (e.g. ceiling cassette air con for one and a wall-mounted unit for another).
  • VRV air conditioning  – VRV in this type of air conditioner stands for Variable Refrigerant Volume, wherein only the minimum amount of refrigerant needed at any given time is circulated within the system. It is good for practically any scenario (residential, commercial, multi-storey buildings, etc.) and offers the ability to cool rooms at different temperatures independently.

Benefits of Multi-Split System Air Conditioning 

There are plenty of benefits to installing multi-split system air conditioning:

  • State-of-the-art technology – Energy efficient whether running one or multiple units
  • Scalability – Suitable for any size structure with the ability to customise your system
  • Economical use of space – With one external unit running multiple indoor units, less space is required for installation
  • Independent management – Every unit can be controlled using its own individual remote.  It gives you maximum comfort and allows you to set the temperature in each room according to the occupant’s preference.
  • Cost-effective –You can choose from up to 5 different indoor units and still only need a single outdoor air compressor.
  • Versatile – Options you can choose include wall-mounted units, duct-connected, floor-standing or ceiling-suspended units.

Evaporative Coolers

What is an Evaporative Cooler? 

An evaporative cooler works differently from a refrigerant air conditioner. Evaporative cooling works by evaporating hot dry air from the environment and delivering it to the interior of the home as cool air. 

This type of cooling reduces the chances of irritation or instances of asthma and allergic reactions due to the fact that fresh air is continually being introduced to the interior and cycled out.

What is an Evaporative Cooler Best For? 

Evaporative coolers are best for people who are keen on reducing their energy consumption and want to use a more natural cooling method by avoiding using chemicals such as refrigerants. 

They are also very effective in climates with very low humidity but not so much in areas with very high humidity. Evaporative cooling devices add moisture content into the interior, which is advantageous for very dry climates.

Benefits of Evaporative Coolers  

Evaporative air conditioning offers a range of advantages:

  • Energy efficiency – Energy efficient whether running one or multiple units
  • Environmentally friendlySince they cool air naturally without chemicals, they do not harm the environment with emissions.  
  • Good indoor air quality –Prevent indoor air pollution due to the effective filters that are usually equipped with the cooler.
  • Easy to install – Installation is also cheap and fast, which makes it cost-effective and practical.

What is the Most Energy Efficient Type of Air Conditioning?

Getting the most energy-efficient AC will depend on your property, usage habits, and climate. 

Here are our tips to choose the most energy-efficient air conditioning unit:

  • Check how much energy it utilizes – Compares the cooling/heating information and yield control utilization of various models, estimated in kilowatts (kW). Additionally, think about the span of your room, house or construction and if there are some other inside heating sources.
  • Choose an inverter to demonstrate with a variable-speed drive (VSD) – An inverter aeration and cooling system (e.g., split frameworks) have a VSD introduced on the fan engine that consequently changes the blower’s speed. So, it keeps running at full speed when you have to cool the place quickly, and it keeps running at a slower rate when cooling isn’t earnest.
  • Compare energy rating labels – Air conditioners have an energy star rating from 1-6 stars for cooling and warming performance. The more stars a system has, the more energy efficient it is and the less expensive it’ll be to run as well.
  • Pick the correct size – If it’s too big for your home, your AC unit will have frequent cooling or warming cycles where it’ll turn on and off, which uses up excess energy. If too small, it’ll need to work harder to cool or warm up the space. Have an expert do a full heat load calculation in your home or business to decide what system is the correct size before you purchase it.

Need Help Choosing The Right Air Conditioner?

We hope our guide can help you understand the main differences between those popular air conditioners. For more information about which air conditioning system is best for your home, please contact Alliance Climate Control or call us on 02 8061 5023 today.

Related Questions

What is the Most Common Type of Air Conditioning?

Wall-mounted split system air conditioners are the most popular type of air conditioning in Australia. However, ducted air conditioning is growing in popularity. 

What is Ductless Air Conditioning?

Ductless air conditioning systems do not use ductwork and are connected via refrigerant tubing and electrical wiring. These are usually similar to multi-split systems since they consist of only one outdoor unit that connects to multiple indoor units. 

What is Inverter Air Conditioning?

Inverter air conditioning systems adjust the temperature through changes in the motor speed, removing the need to turn the motor on and  off. Their speed and throughput adjust accordingly depending on the interior’s heat load. As such, these systems are much more energy efficient and consume less electricity.

Which is Better: Ductless or Central Air Conditioning?

Ductless and central air conditioning both have unique pros and cons. Ductless air conditioners are more energy-efficient and flexible but have higher upfront costs. Central air conditioning systems are better equipped to cool large spaces. Both allow for temperature zoning capabilities.