06.Air conditioner types
- Some portable models are little more than personal coolers. Others can cool a small room (up to about 20 square metres). Portable units can be plugged into a normal power point. Expect to pay around $500 to $2000.
- A wall/window model is usually installed in a window or external wall, and can cool rooms and open-plan areas of up to 50 square metres. While smaller units can be plugged into a normal power point, larger ones may require additional wiring. Prices range from about $500 to $3500.
- A split-system air conditioner consists of a compressor unit that's installed outside, and one or more indoor air outlets. They're usually used to cool one or more rooms, or an open-plan area, of up to 60 square metres. They cost around $1000 to $5000.
- A ducted system is usually installed in the roof or outside on the ground, and ducted to air outlets throughout the house. Costs start from $5000.
Inverter technology: With conventional air conditioners, the compressor is either on (working to 100% capacity) or off. Inverters can vary the compressor speed and maintain the set temperature within a narrow range. Manufacturers claim inverter models are more efficient and reduce running costs.
Cooling-only or reverse cycle: Reverse-cycle models only cost a bit more than cooling-only models, but you can also use them for heating in winter. While the purchase and installation costs can be high, reverse-cycle air conditioners are among the cheapest forms of heating to run. They cause less carbon dioxide to be produced in power plants burning fossil fuel than other kinds of electric heater.
If you live in a hot and dry climate, an evaporative cooler can be a cheaper alternative to an air conditioner. Evaporative air coolers draw the hot air over a water reservoir. The water evaporates, absorbing heat from the air. The cooler, moist air is then blown into the room. Evaporative coolers are generally more suitable for areas with low humidity. The more humid the outside air, the lower the cooling effect you can expect .