Which Aircon is right for you?
A Wall-Splits System Air Conditioner is a good option when:
- you only need to cool and/or hear 1 or 2 rooms, or
- your budget only stretches that far and can’t afford a ducted system, or
- when you have raked ceilings perhaps and no room for ducting, or
- when you need to cool a downstairs room where you can’t get any ducting to.
But when you need to air condition a few rooms, then a ducted system will most likely be cheaper. Blue Air & Electrical sells and services all brands of split system air conditioners, but specializes in Actron, Carrier, Daikin, Fujitsu, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Samsung & Toshiba.
Ducted Air Conditioning with NO ZONE CONTROL (Traditional ‘fixed speed’ air conditioner)
Looking at this picture you will see the whole house is cooled (or heated) at the same time. Your choice is either ON or OFF with no zone control. This is the most economical option to buy of all ducted air conditioning systems but you will need a bigger size system because it needs the capacity to cool the whole house all at the same time. Also, uses the most electricity of all the systems. Fine for a work office environment – all areas on or all off.
Ducted Air Conditioning – with ZONE CONTROL & a Constant Spill Zone
Here you have the same systems as the option above, but with a zone controller and zone motors fitted allowing you to open and close zones/rooms (switch zones on or off). However, the indoor fan and outdoor compressor don’t have the ability to slow right down when you only need to cool(or heat) just one or two rooms, so you need a ‘Spill Zone’ where excess air (warm or cold) is dumped. This wastes electricity because you cool or heat air which you don’t need or use. Also, although you can set the temperature – it will be same in all rooms. A common issue with this system is that when a western facing room heats up in the afternoon, it may not be cold enough. If you now set the system colder, any say east facing rooms may become too cold. As you can see, Zone Control gives you some control, but not absolute control. This is the most common type of system (zone control with a constant spill zone) installed over all brands except ACTRON which has a more advanced system. Because you never occupy all rooms in any house at the same time, having zone control allows you to install a system about half the size as a system with no zone control. For this reason, it uses slightly less electricity, but you still waste a lot. The Zone Controllers are often 3rd party zone controllers (like the popular MYAIR) and can often be controlled by a Smartphone App as well.
- All the same brands listed in the previous option but with zone control fitted extra. All of them requires a Spill zone – either constant or one that opens automatically and can be any chosen room.
Ducted Air Conditioning with ZONE CONTROL & NO SPILL ZONE
Here we start getting into some serious & unique technology. ACTRON ESP Plus & Platinum have the ability to slow down its outdoor compressor and indoor fan to a trickle when only one or two zones are on. This means you only cool the air you need in the rooms that are switched on and you don’t need a Spill Zone because you don’t need to dump excess air. Compared to fixed speed ducted systems this system uses 60% – 75% less electricity! You only pay for what you use and there is no waste of cold air. More expensive to install (zone motors, control panels, electronics) but well worth it! Unique on the market. One of a kind. The Platinums (in this option and the next) won the Coolword Award for the ‘Most Environmentally Friendly’ aircon with least impact on the environment. Only pay for what you use – in laboratory conditions the ESP Platinum proved to save as much as $900 a year in running cost using an average size 14 kW system compared to fixed speed air conditioners!* You have the option of one or two Master Wall Controllers and an optional Smartphone App to use on your Smart Device giving a lot more control.
- ACTRON ESP Plus – Uses 60% less electricity*
- ACTRON ESP Plus Platinum – Uses 75% less electricity* (Uses new TRU inverter technology giving it an extra 15% energy efficiency)
Ducted Air Conditioning with ZONE CONTROL & NO SPILL ZONE + CLIMATE CONTROL
When it comes to cutting edge technology, ACTRON outperforms all its rivals on this option and the option above. The compressor and fan also slows down as zones are switched off and you also save around 60% – 75% in running cost. But here is the difference: You have precise control over temperature (in ½°Celsius increments) in every zone allowing you to have a different temperature in each room. With the ESP + & ESP+ Platinums above, West facing room will get warmer in the afternoon. If you set the aircon colder – an east facing room may get too cold. Not with this option. Temperature sensors in each room ‘talks’ to the system which automatically adjusts the air flow to each room and keeps the temperature exact. And it allows you to have your room a bit warmer – or colder – than the rest of the family. (max. 4 degree difference between highest and lowest). Usually you have the option of one or two Master Wall Controllers and an optional Smartphone App to use on your Smart Device – and each room/zone is fitted with a small zone controller (On/OFF, temp. UP/DOWN) which also houses a thermometer to ensure your room is automatically adjusted to and kept at your favourite set temperature.
- ACTRON ESP Ultima – Uses 60% less electricity* Individual temperature in each room.
- ACTRON ESP Ultima Platinum – Uses 75% less electricity* Uses new TRU inverter for 15% more efficiency. Individual temp. in each room.
How does a Ducted Air Conditioning System work?
Below are some schematic of all the main component of a ducted air conditioner and below that, description of each with brief explanation of its function.
In very simple terms, this is how it all works:
- The Outdoor Unit. It houses the compressor, evaporative coils/heat exchanger, and electronic boards or ‘brains’ of the system. Unlike most other systems, it has vertical air discharge which keeps surrounding air temperature around the unit to a minimum ensuring maximum efficiency. Ideal for installations close to boundary fences. Hot Gas (which is hot because it has drawn the heat from the indoor air) is pumped from the indoor unit to this outdoor unit where cooler ambient air is blown over the fan coil fins which cools the gas down. The compressor now recompresses the gas, and pumps it back indoors.
- Indoor Fan Unit. Compressed gas evaporates in the tubing of the indoor fan coil. Evaporation is a cooling process which cools the fins down. Warm indoor air (recirculated back from the rooms) is blown over the fins which cools the air down – then is blown to each room through the insulated ducting. Note the drip tray at the bottom of the unit which catches condensate accumulating on the cold metal parts which then drains to the outside.
- Plenum. A metal component fitted to the fan unit with a number of attachments for ducting to be connected. This ducting is usually a string which branches off to different rooms/zones and different ceiling outlets/diffusers.
- Purtech Return Air Grille & Filter. Once air is blown into a zone/room, it needs to recirculate back to the indoor unit in the ceiling to be cooled down again and it does this through this return air grille – being filtered at the same time. The 3-layer filter also has electrostatic properties to remove ultra fine particles.
- Drip Tray(with old style drain) which channels condensate to the outside. The new style S-drain is a great improvement on ensuring the drain stays open, and is properly cleaned during servicing and lasts.
- Branch Takeoff. An insulated branch-off section which splits the main duct into 2 or 3 smaller ducts going to each room/outlet.
- Zone Motor / Damper. This controls the volume of air going down that duct, which in turn controls the temperature of that room. More cold air into a room means it will eventually get colder.
- Flexible Duct. This duct has an R1 thermal rating with a smooth inner surface to minimize noise and maximize air flow. The inner core has an encased spring steel coil which prevents it from collapsing or getting squashed. The polyester insulation layer will not support bacterial or fungal growth and does not contain harmful glass fibers.
- Stylish Round Ceiling Diffuser. Diffusers to choose from are Elegant Round, Square Multidirectional, square Silhouette, Circular Heritage, Round Jet & Bar Grille.
- Master Wall Controller. Switches zones on/off, fan speed low to high, temperature up/down.
- Mobile App – ActronConnect. (Optional Extra Controller). Will control most new Actron systems from anywhere in the world. (On/Off, fan speed, room temperatures.)
- Individual Zone/room controller (For ACTRON ESP Ultima & ESP Platinum Ultima – on/off & temp. up/down). Has a temperature sensor which gives feed-back to the system to increase or decrease airflow automatically to ensure the temperature is maintained exactly.
Aircon Handy Hints
Energy Saving & Air Conditioner Efficiency Advice – Tips to ensure you get the maximum benefit from your air conditioner.
- Shut windows and external doors when operating your air conditioner. Close curtains on hot summer days and cold winter nights.
- Minimize the area being cooled or heated by shutting doors to unused rooms – and shut off zones not in use
- Clean filters regularly for unobstructed air flow following the manufacturer’s suggested cleaning cycle
- Position the air conditioner outdoor unit in a shady spot – or create shade for it.
- Ensure good air flow around the outdoor unit
- Set the thermostat of a heated room in winter should be between 18-21°C while the temperature of a cooled room in summer should be about 23-26°C (remember the humidity indoors will be low, so it will feel cooler). The temperature should be checked after the air conditioner has been operating for 30 minutes.
- When a hot day is expected, turn on the air conditioner early rather than wait till the building becomes hot (it operates more efficiently when the outside air temperature is cooler).
- If the machine has adjustable louvers, adjust them towards the ceiling when cooling, and towards the floor when heating (as cool air falls, hot air rises).
- Reduce the amount of heat entering the building by shading windows and walls, insulating ceilings and walls and sealing any draughts
- Open up windows and external doors if the outside temperature is lower than the inside temperature, instead of using the air conditioner.
When selecting an air conditioner, look for:
- Programmable timer and thermostat controls. Set your air conditioner at the highest temperature setting at which you still feel cool enough, 25ºC is usually adequate. Each 1°C increase of the thermostat setting will save about 10% on your energy usage
- Movement sensors (‘Intelligent Eye’), which reduce power and energy usage when the room is unoccupied – an option on some split systems
- ‘Sleep’/quiet’ mode & ‘Turbo’ mode that automatically adjust thermostat settings and fan speed (and associated noise levels)
- The EER (Energy Efficiency Rating) or star rating compares different units operating at 100% capacity
- Economy settings
- Multi-speed fans (Actron Ducted). Most only have a Slow (about 75% of max), Medium and High setting.
- Fans that can ramp down to as low as 17% (Actron only) when only 1 zone is on. Actron Ducted has 12 different speeds ranging from 17% to 100%.
- Compressors which can ramp down to only 10% of capacity when only 1 zone is on (Actron ducted only)
- Adjustable and rotating louvers (Split systems as well as ducted air diffusers installed in the ceiling)
- Remote thermostats and controls – or Wi-Fi enabled & control
- Individual room temperature control (Actron ESP Ultima & ESP Ultima Platinum) with no Spill Zone required
- Individual room temperature control (Using the MYAIR 3) with a Spill Zone required
- Inverter technology and the new more energy efficient TRU inverter technology (Actron Platinum range)
By selecting the right ducted air conditioner it is possible to save as much as 75% of your air conditioner electricity bill ! This is based on real energy modelling done comparing traditional fixed speed air conditioners to the Actron ESP Ultima air conditioner that is totally unique.
How Noisy are Air Conditioners? Which Air Conditioning Brands are the quietest?
The following two graphs compare the noise levels of most brands, models & sizes of ducted air conditioner outdoor compressors current available on the market (April 2014). All manufacturers must display their indoor and outdoor units’ noise levels on their technical specification sheets. Our data was obtained from posted online specification sheets from different Air Conditioning Companies.
All we have done is made a side-by-side comparison to enable you to see how noisy or quiet a specific brand and size (kW Cooling) is.
Looking at the graph and table below, please note the following:
- Compares 7 major brands of ducted air conditioning (10 different ranges)
- They are all Single phase units
- They are all Outdoor units*
- They are all Ducted Air Conditioning systems (not cassette, wall splits, etc.)
*We have not compared the noise levels of indoor units. Indoor noise can be a combination of the fan and air movement through the ducts and ceiling air diffusers. It is further dependent on a lot of factors like roof insulation, position of indoor fan, length of duct used, is duct is fully extended or squashed, type of ceiling outlet/diffuser used, etc. and it becomes a futile exercise to compare them side-by-side.
**A-weighted decibels, abbreviated dBA, or dBa, or dB(a), are an expression of the relative loudness of sounds in air as perceived by the human ear. In the A-weighted system, the decibel values of sounds at low frequencies are reduced, compared with unweighted decibels, in which no correction is made for audio frequency. This correction is made because the human ear is less sensitive at low audio frequencies, especially below 1000 Hz, than at high audio frequencies.Noise levels are in dBa** during cooling cycle operating at 100% capacity.
With the following graph & table please note the following:
- Compares 4 major brands (6 different ranges). (Brands omitted compared to brands in the first chart don’t have 3-phase ducted units.)
- They are all 3-phase units
- They are all Outdoor units
- They are all Ducted Air Conditioning systems (not cassette, wall splits, etc.)
- Noise levels are in dBa*
Data was gathered from online technical specifications as posted by different air conditioning manufacturers and was current April 2014.
Blue Air & Electrical will not be held responsible for any errors or omissions.
Which Ducted Air Conditioning Brands or Models are most Energy Efficient?
Air conditioner energy shown on the label of an air conditioner is kWh/hour or kW (continuous) at rated output.
The key parameters used in looking at the energy efficiency of a product is the Coefficient Of Performance (COP) for heating and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) for cooling. Essentially, EER looks at how much power you need to put in for the cooling you get out – so how efficiently it works. The more efficient it is, the less electricity it will use and the lower your power bill.
The EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) is the same as the Star Rating and the following table shows their relation:
The following graphs and tables were compiled using the online specification sheets of various brands and list the E.E.R (Energy Efficiency Ratio) of the different sizes of models of ducted air conditioners. The first graph showing Single Phase Units and the second one showing Three Phase Units.
Note: The higher the rating – the more efficient it is!
Note that these EER’s are when the units operate at 100% capacity. The ACTRON ESP Platinum & Platinum Ultima range uses as much as 75 less electricity to run than a classic fixed speed air conditioner when their power saving technology kicks in as unused zones are switched off.
Because the new ACTRON TRU inverter/compressor can slow right down to a 20% of capacity, and the EC Indoor Fan can also slow down to 20% when unused zones are switched off, it saves electricity – and lots of it. You don’t need a ‘constant zone’ or ‘spill zone’/’dump zone’ where unused cool air is dumped like most other systems. That is why the ACTRON ESP Platinum Series has won the COOLWORLD AWARD for its low impact on the environment and saves as much as 75% of electricity compared to traditional fixed speed air conditioners.
The ESP Plus and Ultima (Not Platinum) also has the ability to slow down its indoor fan and outdoor compressor as zones are switched off and saves as much as 60% of electricity compared to traditional fixed speed air conditioners.
The following graph & table looks at available 3-phase units from 3 major brands. Brands that are omitted from the list above is because they do not have any 3-phase models in the ducted range.
The information contained in this document was obtained from online specification sheets by the different manufacturers as current on 23 April 2014. Blue Air & Electrical will not be held responsible for any errors or omissions.