Air Conditioning: A Complete Buying Guide

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Are you looking into buying an air conditioning unit? Then we’ve put together a buying guide for you to help you understand which unit is best for you & make a completely informed decision, use the navigation below to find out more.

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What you need to consider

When looking at purchasing an air conditioning unit there are a few things that you need to think about or consider.

How big is the room
Air conditioners are not all built equally, the size and power of the air conditioner that you require will primarily be defined by the size of the room that you want to cool, obviously the larger the room the more powerful the air conditioning unit needs to be. Other factors may also have an effect such as if you have a lot of appliances that admit heat, such as several computers, which will again require you to get a more powerful air con unit.

Vent access
Do you have an area that you can put the vent? All air con units require ventilation which is ideally to be put out of a window, however you can put the venting hose into another room, but its something you need to consider before getting a new air con unit.

Air conditioner efficiency
Air conditioning units can be extremely efficient, if you buy the right one. When looking to purchase a unit make sure you are aware of the efficiency rating, you realistically want to go for A at the least. Keeping the unit at a consistent temperature is the most efficient way to run it.

Noise levels
Often forgotten, air conditioning units can be loud. If you are conscious of the noise then avoid a portable option as they tend to be louder than wall split or ceiling models, you can also get models that have modes to slow down the fans and make them quieter, so if you want more control over the noise then you will need to look for one with extra features.

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Types of air conditioning units

There are 6 different types of air conditioners that you have to choose from. Here is a breakdown of each:

  1. Central
  2. This type of air conditioner is mostly preferred by large homeowners due to it’s ability to efficiently cool. These units carry cool air throughout the home by using ducts which are installed in your walls or floors, once the air that is being circulated throughout the house becomes warm it then goes back through the air conditioning unit again to be recirculated.

    If you choose to go for this type of air conditioner you should get it installed by a professional, it’s quite a complex process & takes a lot of planning, so you need to ensure that its all done correctly.

  3. Geothermal
  4. A long lifespan, efficient & sustainable. The way this unit works is by feeding the cold air under ground from an external unit. Although the outside air changes with the seasons, the ground temperature tends to stay fairly stagnant, if you dig down just 4 feet the temperature will remain at a fairly consistent 8-11 degree Celsius meaning that the fan that pushes the air in will be naturally cooled by the ground itself saving you a lot in the long run, although the downside of this unit is it can often be expensive to buy & install.

  5. Hybrid
  6. These units alternate between running electrically and burning fossil fuels to pull hot air from your home & vent it outside. This system is intelligent and decides which fuel it can run more efficiently at that period of time, meaning it runs affordably. It can also be used in the opposite way to warm your home by doing reverse in the winter & taking any warm air from outside and circulating it within your home.

  7. Portable
  8. The next generation of window units, this unit quite simply takes air from the room it is in, cools it & sends it back out. The external hose then vents out any warm air, so you need to point the external hose either outside or to a room that you aren’t using. Portable units are easy to install, tend to be one of the cheaper units and can provide a good solution as of course it’s portable.

  9. Window
  10. Window units are pretty self descriptive, they sit in a window of a particular room and cool it by emitting warm air out the back & blowing cool air into the room, it’s the ideal option for those who live in small spaces such as flats.

  11. Ductless / Mini-split
  12. This system is used to cool an individual room and are common as retro-fit solutions. These units have an outdoor compressor unit and an indoor handling unit, you can have several indoor units that connect to the same outdoor unit.

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The power of the air conditioning unit

The power of an air con unit is defined by a BTU or British Thermal Unit. What’s a BTU? It’s the measurement given to the amount of energy that it takes to heat a pound of water by a single degree Fahrenheit.

It’s critical to get a unit that is the right BTU for the situation required. If it’s too low it will struggle to cool the room, too high and it will end up costing you more in energy bills. Calculating the required BTU can be tricky, but there are a ton of calculators online that you can use to get a good idea.

Features to consider

When looking to purchase an air conditioning unit there are a few extra features that you may want to consider looking for, here are a few to keep an eye out for:

  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Some air conditioning units don’t come with adjustable thermostats so you may want this features as everyone has a different ideal temperature. This allows you to get the room & keep it to the exact temperature that you set.

  • Timer
  • Dependent upon the type of unit you get and the frequency in which you require it, then you may want to get one that has a timer feature. This allows you to turn the unit on and off as you require throughout a given day.

  • Sleep
  • This means that when in this mode your air conditioning unit fan will move slower therefore creating less noise. This is particularly important if you are planning on sleeping in a room with an air con unit, as they can be particularly loud at times.

  • Flexible Settings
  • There are several different modes that air conditioners can run in, from dehumidifier to heat. If you choose one with multiple different settings you may be able to use it more frequently & get your moneys worth!

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Air conditioning unit cost

As mentioned previously there are several different air conditioning units that you can choose from, all have a different range of prices, but here’s a bit of a price example to provide you a rough guide:

  • Portable Unit – £120+
  • Window Unit – £500+
  • Central Unit – £2,000+

Get a quote on air conditioning installation

Found out everything you need to know about air conditioning units? If it’s too much trouble to do yourself, we can put you in touch with several tradesmen and companies who will be willing to provide you with quotes for the installation of your air conditioning unit. Simply fill in the form below to get started:


Mat

A complete novice trying to navigate in the world of DIY. I bought my first home about 2 years ago & ever since I've been trying to research & learn how best to tackle common household problems.

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