At AirAndWaterChoices SL we live and breath Air Conditioning every day and have thousands of delighted customers up and down the Costa Del Sol and Inland. So whether you just want to cool down or heat up a couple of rooms, or want the ultimate in climate control over your entire home, we make finding the perfect air-conditioner system a breeze. If you are new to Air Conditioning our handy guide to selecting what type of system is right for you should help.
What are the types of Air Conditioning systems to choose from?
Here are the three main types of Air Conditioning solutions you can choose from.
1. Split System Air Conditioning
Split Systems are ideal for:
- Heating and cooling individual rooms in your home
- Compact spaces
What’s a Split System? Quite simply, a Split System Air Conditioner is designed for individual areas in your home. For instance, you may only want to air condition a bedroom, or maybe the main living area where you do most of your entertaining. With a Split System, the compressor is installed outside your house and the unit that passes air into the house is either discreetly wall mounted or a compact floor-standing unit. The outside part (compressor) can be mounted on rubber feet on the floor or on L shaped brackets on the wall. The two systems are connected by two insulated copper tubes that pass gas in and out, electrical cable and drainage tubes. Drainage is necessary because when cooling the room moisture from the air is condensed and has to drain away. The opposite occurs when using the air-conditioning for heating whereby the condensing occurs outside in the compressor and water drains away from the compressor outside. It is usual during installation we send the drain from the indoor unit to the outdoor compressor and then connect that to a drain outlet, garden, plant pot or drain away to the floor where terraces usually have a water escape.
What are the advantages of a Split System?
There are two main benefits.
The first is that a Split System is more economical than other types of Air Conditioning systems, as you’re only buying and installing one unit at a time and using less energy than some other systems.
The second benefit of a Split System is that they allow you to only to cool/heat the rooms you only want to air condition.
1.1 Considerations when buying Split Air-conditioning
Power in Kw: There is a standard measurement of Air Conditioners that the majority of manufacturers adhere to. The power needed for cooling is measured in FRIG and the heating measured in CAL. To work out what is needed we need only the FRIG (cooling capacity) required. We achieve this by multiplying the sqm x 120w of power needed per sqm. If there is a lot of glass/sunlight and/or high ceilings we increase that factor to 125 or more. Let’s take an example of a standard Spanish bedroom at 16sqm (4m x 4m) with a standard window; 16 x 120 = 1.9kw needed. A 2.5kw split system produces approximately 2,150 FRIG and is therefore sufficient to cool and heat the space effectively without overworking itself. A rough rule of thumb below shows you what power is suitable for what MAX space of Sqm however, from experience, for good performance and lower electrical costs the numbers in brackets are our normal recommendation..
2.5kw – up to 20sqm (16sqm), approx 2,150 FRIG
3.5kw – up to 30sqm (25sqm), approx 3,010 FRIG
5kw – up to 50sqm (40sqm), approx 4,550 FRIG
7kw – up to 58sqm (50sqm), approx 6,000 FRIG
Energy rating: There are many systems available at different rates. We supply only A+ or above smart inverter systems that are very low in consumption and therefore cost to operate.
Additional features: Some split systems allow the connection of a Wifi module enabling you to control the Air-conditioning from a smartphone or tablet. This is great for those days you want to cool or heat the room before returning. Some also have LED displays on the front panel of the indoor unit which is handy to see what temp you have set without reaching out for the remote control.
Usually most systems not only provide heating and cooling but also have three other modes of operation:
Fan mode: this simply circulates the air as a ceiling fan would without changing its temperature.
Dry mode: this mode is useful for properties with damp issues. The system runs to take moisture out of the air but without effecting the temperature.
Auto: this mode is sensible to use. The remote control or the indoor unit detect the room temperature and depending what you asked it to increase or decrease to the system then decides to go in to heating or cooling mode. it also regulates the fan speed better to save too energy.
Timer: most remote controls offer a timer function to allow on/off at fixed time points but using WiFi and an app enables much more control for the user. Imagine cooling your room or home before you get back from a hot day at the beach!
Noise: All systems are measured in Decibels. There is not a lot of difference between systems but usually the more expensive brands are quieter by a few Db. The Db is measured and compared on all systems for both the indoor and outdoor systems. Usually the indoor will be around 22-26db and the outdoor 45-50db. Amongst the best in this category is Fujitsu.
Reliability: This subject is a little ambiguous. We know of many cheaper solutions that have worked fine for just as long as more expensive brands. Some customers tell us “we dont want some cheap rubbish from China” but in reality much of any system is made in China these days.
Installation: Since 2017 a Law to stop unknowledgeable and unqualified cowboys damaging the atmosphere with refrigerant Gas was introduced. Since then, only authorised Installers (after completing a training course in Spanish and a receiving the official stamp from the Junta de Andalucia) are allowed to handle, install, service and maintain Air Conditioning. Why does this matter? Well, Firstly you know your expensive purchase has been installed correctly but secondly, and most importantly, your warranty will be valid. Authorised Installers can sign off the installation and that paperwork is submitted to the manufacturer of the system. Without it many manufacturers are now INVALIDATING WARRANTIES ON SYSTEMS NOT INSTALLED BY AN AUTHORISED INSTALLER. This includes systems bought from domestic appliance shops such as Leroy Merlin, Bricomat etc. Link to the Royal Decree (law) is here. Look for this logo:
Warranty: This factor is as important for us as it is for you. Here in Spain there are some manufacturers that outsource their warranty work to small companies. In summer when we are all busy it can be hard to get hold of some of these because they earn more money from their own installation work than warranty repairs. Big brands like Fujitsu, Almison, Mitsubishi, LG outsource to larger companies with good service level agreements and it is therefore easier to get parts and a fix should anything go wrong during the warranty. The 2nd consideration is the length of warranty offered. Some manufacturers such as LG offer an amazing 10 year warranty on the compressor. This is the part only and does not include fitting but many suppliers fail to tell you that. That said, a new compressor can be €350 or more so this warranty does offer a good peace of mind.
2. Multi Split Air Conditioning Solutions
Multi Split Systems are ideal for:
- Heating and cooling up to 5 rooms from ONE compressor outside
- When you want to control room temperatures individually
What’s a Multi Split System? In every family or couple, there’s always someone who loves the room to be icy cold and there are those who want comfort without chill. A Multi Split Air Conditioner lets you run multiple indoor air conditioners with just one outside compressor, giving you independent temperature control over each room. You can choose which rooms and the type of indoor unit for each room. With a Multi Split System, the compressor is installed outside your house and the unit that passes air into the house is either discreetly wall mounted or a compact floor-standing unit. The outside part (compressor) can be mounted on rubber feet on the floor or on L shaped brackets on the wall. Just like. Split system EACH indoor unit is connected to the outdoor by two insulated copper tubes that pass gas in and out, electrical cable and drainage tubes. Consider then that if your outdoor unit is on a balcony for example, then Installers have to get pipes/tube and electrics back to the outdoor unit. Usually this means some white plastic trunking/canaleta running through the property on either indoor or outside walls which can be unsightly. When planning a Multi Split installation we do our utmost best to minimise this. Drainage is necessary because when cooling the room moisture from the air is condensed and has to drain away. The opposite occurs when using the air-conditioning for heating whereby the condensing occurs outside in the compressor and water drains away from the compressor outside. It is usual during installation we send the drain from the indoor unit to the outdoor compressor and then connect that to a drain outlet, garden, plant pot or drain away to the floor where terraces usually have a water escape.
What are the advantages of a Multi Split System?
There are three key benefits.
With just one outdoor unit, you can choose up to 5 different kinds of indoor units to suit each rooms décor. Choose from wall mounted, duct connected, floor standing ceiling suspended or a cassette type unit.
Secondly, separate controls let you tailor and control the climate in each room, so everyone’s happy.
Thirdly, these are a great answer to limited space for compressors.
2.1 Considerations when buying Multi-Split Air-conditioning
Resilience: Consider that if the compressor outside broke that al rooms will be without cooling and heating. This is a major consideration for rental accommodation.
They can only do one thing at a time: Because Multi splits rely on one outdoor compressor the system can only cool or heat at once. You cannot have one indoor unit on heating and one in cooling. Therefore all remote controls need to be set to either cooling or heating whether on or not. This is only an issue for a few days a year where someone may feel a chill and someone in another room needs cooling. If you can negotiate with other household members then Multi Splits are indeed a good solution.
Price: Multi splits are usually more expensive than the equivalent number of single splits and although installation can be a little cheaper the overall cost is usually more than single splits as the cost to us from Manufacturers is also high.
Power: The minimum Kw of Multi split is 4kw and that would be sufficient to connect 2 x 2.5kw indoor units to despite the fact 2 x 2.5kw = 5kw. Sometimes a more powerful Kw compressor can be used but this may have more connections than you need. For instance, you could purchase a 7kw 3-1 Multi split and only connect 2 x 3.5kw to it. This leaves you one free connection to the compressor should you ever need it but performance would be lower when three are connected as you are using the full 7kw when 2 x 3.5kw are connected.
Another important power consideration when receiving quotes from companies is this; A typical 2 bed Apartment would need a 3-1 multi (2 x 2.5kw indoor units for the bedrooms and 1 x 3.5kw indoor unit for the lounge). Therefore potentially if all 3 indoor units were on simultaneously and working to their full potential the outdoor unit would need to have an output capacity of 8.5kw (2.5+2.5+3.5).
Some companies sell 5kw outdoor units fore these apartments which, whilst cheap, just would not be able to deliver in the scenario all 3 indoor units are on and to try and perform it would be running flat out consuming its maximum electrical input. Overtime it is expensive, ineffective and increases the wear and tear thus reducing the life span of the outdoor unit. As a minimum a 7kw 3-1 Multi is required.
Installation: Since 2017 a Law to stop unknowledgeable and unqualified cowboys damaging the atmosphere with refrigerant Gas was introduced. Since then, only authorised Installers (after completing a training course in Spanish and a receiving the official stamp from the Junta de Andalucia) are allowed to handle, install, service and maintain Air Conditioning. Why does this matter? Well, Firstly you know your expensive purchase has been installed correctly but secondly, and most importantly, your warranty will be valid. Authorised Installers can sign off the installation and that paperwork is submitted to the manufacturer of the system. Without it many manufacturers are now INVALIDATING WARRANTIES ON SYSTEMS NOT INSTALLED BY AN AUTHORISED INSTALLER. This includes systems bought from domestic appliance shops such as Leroy Merlin, Bricomat etc. Link to the Royal Decree (law) is here.
Energy Rating / Noise level / additional features and Warranty as above are also applicable to Multi Splits.
3. Ducted Air Conditioning Solutions
Ducted Systems are ideal for:
- Heating and cooling your entire home through tunnels (ductwork) hidden in the false ceilings
- When you want a discreet look along with ultimate comfort
- New build houses and/or reform houses where some ceiling height can be lost.
- Commercial establishments.
What’s a Ducted System?
When you want your whole home to be a comfort zone, Ducted Air Conditioning systems are your all-in-one climate control solution. All it takes is a discreetly positioned outdoor unit and an indoor unit concealed normally in a false ceiling in a bathroom or under your floor, with flexible ducting distributing conditioned air through a branched tunnel and to vents throughout your home found high up on the walls.
Many apartments in Spain have these vents visible in the walls (usually two in each room). The indoor unit when working creates a suction at the back of the machine which, through the void in the ceiling space through the property, sucks air through the “return vent” in the room. The air then passes over the fancoil (an item similar to a car radiator which can be either hot or cold depending on what you selected on the remote control). The air passes through the fancoil and is heated or cooled and blown out via a series of tunnels that were pre-built in to the apartment and out to the exit/salida vents in each room thus heating or cooling the space.
The indoor unit is usually hidden in the false ceiling of a bathroom or utility room. Sometimes the ceiling has been plastered or sometimes you can see a small service hatch.
What are the advantages of a Ducted System?
There are three main advantages.
First, you have the choice to install a Ducted System into a new home at the time of design or it can be tailored to suit your existing one.
Secondly, you’ll hardly know it’s there – only the wall mounted controller and vents are visible inside your home and with all its technology hidden away.
Thirdly, it’s the quietest of all air conditioning solutions.
Forth, ducted air conditioning will not only enhance your lifestyle, it will significantly add to the value of your home.
3.1 Considerations when buying Ducted Air-conditioning
Waste of air: Ducted systems release air in to every room at the same time even if you do not require air in that room. The temperature is therefore not personalised for a particular room/space like a split system would be. There are replacement vents available that allow you to pull a lever to shut off a vent, for example when the room is not used for long periods of time, but you will usually need a small step ladder to open/close it. A more elegant solution Airandwaterchoices.com sell is a system called Airzone that does offer personalised air per room by adding a thermostat to each room along with motorised vents. Quite simply when the room reaches the desired temeprature the thermostat sends a signal to the control module to close that particular vent. When the temperature drops it re-opens to maintain the desired temperature. Naturally this does add cost to the installation however Airzone can dramatically reduce your energy consumption due to the fact that only the room you want to cool/heat is being cooled/heated thus the system does not have to work so hard or for so long and this can prolong the life span of your system.
Resilience: Consider that if the compressor outside OR the indoor unit broke that all rooms will be without cooling and heating. This is a major consideration for rental accommodation.
Control: usually the system is controlled by one wall mounted control panel. If in the middle of the night you are too hot you need to get out of bed and change the setting. There are some solutions to overcome this problem but they add cost.
Is it the right solution for you?: If you have a ducted system that is broken and needs replacing there is a choice to make between replacing it with another ducted system (with or without an Airzone system) or installing split systems instead to give you individual control of temperatures in each room.
If you are building a new home then ducted systems make sense however we also sell larger heatpumps that can handle underfloor heating and ducted Air Conditioning so talk to us about our Total Home Solutions.
Energy Rating / Noise level / Installation / additional features / sizing and Warranty as above are also applicable to Ducted systems. Most manufacturers ducted systems start at 5kw.
4. Whats the difference between Manufacturers and Brands ?
Consider that, just like cars and domestic products like TVs, many brands use components from large factories who provide many different brands with the same component. This component could be as simple as a small part of a circuit board or a compressor. Many of these factories are based in China but also European countries too such as Spain, Italy and Latvia. So how do you measure quality and price for Air Conditioning? Well, many components are built to higher standards than others and thats the reason a Skoda is cheaper than an Audi even though they are owned by the Same VW Audi Group. The same is said for Air Conditioning. Some systems have a quieter outside unit, some plastic in the indoor units is thinner than others, some are more energy efficient than others. Below we have tried to categorise these for you in terms of quality of build and price (nit listed all available brands). Please remember though that all of these brands work fine and economically and will give you many years of heating and cooling. Also, it it worthy to note that many mid and economy ranges offer better warranties than the top ones.
Top end range: Mitsubishi, Daikin and Fujitsu
Mid Range: LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Toshiba
Economy Range: Almison, Ekokai, HTW, Hisense.
We hope this guide has given you a brief insight to what you may need. We are only a phone call or email away and we provide free no obligation surveys so do not hesitate to get in touch if you need to know more or would like a quotation. We always offer the best choices hence the name!
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