Different Types of Air Conditioners and Choosing the Best Type

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Operating air conditioning systems around the home can be blissful during the summer months as the home appliance replaces the hot air of summer days with cool air that instantly regulates the room temperature to a comfortable level.

While the majority of households in Singapore have their own home air conditioning system, the models, brands, and types of air conditioners differ from one air conditioning system to another. Home owners can choose from at least 9 different types of air conditioners to place in their home: from the typical window air conditioner, to a central air conditioning system!

Different Types of Aircon Units

Here, we provide a detailed breakdown and explanation of the various types of air conditioners below to help you choose the perfect type of air conditioners for your household. Confused about the right type of air conditioner for your home? Check out our complete buying guide for helpful tips on purchasing, installing, and maintaining your air conditioner.

Window Air Conditioners

Window aircons, or as they are commonly called window rattlers, used to be the most famous configuration of units in the market not too long ago. These are the standard aircons found in most houses, cabins, apartments, and offices. Advanced models may also include a remote control, Wi-Fi connection capabilities, and a heat pump.

Budget: $100 – $800

There are many advantages to picking up this window air conditioners as well. These are reasonably priced aircons that offer a great performance and are also easy to fit. A standard unit would cost $500 on average, and can cool down moderately-sized rooms adequately. Units with a more powerful cooling compressor may cost up to $800.

Space Requirements: Minimal

You will need to install this model into an opening in the window or a narrow wall. Window AC units were designed for horizontal sliding windows, which can limit their compatibility with many modern homes.

Although these units are often referred to as “through the wall aircons”, it actually isn’t possible to mount this model on a wall that’s thicker than nine inches because of the design of the side vents. Still, they use up very little space, and do not require a separate outdoor unit to operate.

Energy Consumption: ★★★★☆

Many modern window AC models are energy efficient, and make use of eco-friendly refrigerant in the unit. These models, particularly inverter aircons, minimize energy consumption without compromising cooling capacity.

Cooling Power: ★★★☆☆ 5,000 BTU to 24,000+ BTU

Window air conditioners have average cooling power depending on the British Thermal Units (BTU) of the air conditioner. Smaller units with a 5,000 BTU are sufficient for small spaces, such as studio apartments and single rooms, while larger units with more than 25,000 BTU can cool rooms up to 1,500 sq. ft.

Maintenance: ★★★★★

Window air conditioners are some of the most low maintenance units in the market, with cleaning done easily at home. A scheduled bi-annual cleaning and maintenance routine will keep the AC unit durable for decades.

Still, there are a number of issues that may arise in window AC units. Most people prefer to purchase window air conditioner units, run them for an extended period of time, then replace the unit as and when the maintenance costs become too expensive.

Ductless and Mini Split Air Conditioners

Split air conditioners, much like monoblock aircons, is a major category or type of air conditioner on its own. Under the split air variation, you will find two types of wall mounted aircons, floor mounted aircons, cassette aircons, duct mounted aircons, and portable aircons.

The split system refers to the use of two units: an indoor unit which is sleek and blends well with the interior design of the home, and an outdoor unit responsible for moving the warm air out of the room.

The indoor components of these units also feature a special coarse filter in order to protect the coils from various damaging particles. This includes fine dust, smoke, pollen, and all types of chemical pollutants.

Budget: $500 -$5000

Split systems have a wide range of units across different models and brands, and costs can range from $500 to $5000 or more per unit. These types of air conditioners are fairly popular, so you can find a suitable unit for your home in any price range.

Space Requirements: Moderate; Wall space and Outdoor space

These air conditioning system models typically feature the use of inner and outer elements that are connected with the help of two copper pipes and an electric cable. As such, these units typically take up minimal indoor space, and moderate outdoor space to house the indoor and outdoor units, respectively.

Energy Consumption: ★★★★☆

Split systems are modern appliances, and many models feature energy-saving capabilities. The energy consumption of inverter systems are even lower, and the majority of top aircon brands would have inverter units in their product lines.

Cooling Power: ★★★★★ 12,000 BTU to 60,000 BTU

Split systems are known for their cooling capacity, which is above the capacity of window air conditioning units. Mini split systems are capable of cooling multiple rooms in a small space, while ductless units are just as effective in cooling moderately-sized areas.

Maintenance: ★★★★☆

Maintenance for split systems is relatively low, as almost all aircon servicing companies would be well-versed in handling split systems. Like window units, split systems would typically show error codes as well, which aids in troubleshooting. They are easy to keep clean, and can last for decades when properly cared for.

Portable or Mobile Air Conditioners

Budget: $200 – $800

Portable air conditioners tend to be fairly inexpensive compared to other types of air conditioners. They do not require any installation, and are generally plug-and-play units that can efficiently provide cool air to small rooms. Budget-sized units can go as low as $200, while larger units may cost up to $800.

Space Requirements: Minimal

Portable air conditioner units are among the most common types of air conditioner units in the market. You do not need to mount portable air conditioners, and these units take up very little space in the home which contributes to their popularity. 

Instead of the special mounting, it includes the use of a flexible air pipe that’s directed to a nearby window or any opening in the wall. These pipes generally have a diameter of five inches and tend to be two to three meters long. All the hot air is directed through this pipe and out the opening when the air conditioner is in full flow. 

Energy Consumption: ★★★☆☆

A portable air conditioner uses minimal energy due to its small size, and energy efficient units may cut down on energy consumption. The plug-and-play features of the portable air conditioner removes the need for electrical wiring, which cuts the costs of installation and extensive energy consumption.

Cooling Power: ★★☆☆☆ 5,000 BTU to 14,000 BTU

Because portable air conditioners are small in size, most units have a relatively lower cooling capacity compared to other types of air conditioners. Portable air conditioning systems may range from a 5,000 BTU, which can efficiently cool small rooms, to 14,000 BTU, which can cool a moderately-sized space.

Maintenance: ★★★★☆

Portable air conditioners rarely require professional cleaning and maintenance, and are fairly low maintenance units as cleaning can be done at home by washing the filter, the drain pan, and the condenser hose. As long as the unit is properly maintained, the portable air conditioning system is considered durable.

Floor-Mounted Air Conditioners

Budget: $200 – $800

Floor-mounted systems are budget and space friendly, taking up little space with an affordable price tag. Most units come with both cooling and heating capabilities, which is perfect to control the temperature in small spaces without having to shell out a considerable budget.

Space Requirements: Minimal; Floor space

Floor-mounted air conditioner units are quite similar to storage heater units. Much like the latter, the former is also installed against the wall and they tend to have similar size and dimensions as well. However, floor-mounted air conditioners will take up floor space.

Floor-mounted air conditioner units often have two air pipes that are directed from the rear of the unit to the outside of your home. The tail ends of the pipes are often capped with louvres as well for safety reasons.

Energy Consumption: ★★★☆☆

Floor-mounted air conditioners, much like portable air conditioners, vary in energy efficiency ratio depending on the model and functions of the unit. Floor-mounted AC units tend to have a heat pump function as well, and they can be powerful heaters as well as coolers based on your requirements. As such, they are cost-effective options when compared to storage heaters.

Cooling Power: ★★★☆☆ 5,000 BTU to 14,000 BTU

The cooling output of floor-mounted types of air conditioners are similar to portable air conditioners, but come with an added heating feature to act as space heaters during cold winter months. The cooling capacity of floor-mounted units may be relatively lower compared to window-types of air conditioners or split systems.

Maintenance: ★★★★☆

Like a portable unit, floor-mounted units are relatively low maintenance, but finding an air conditioner cleaning and repair company may be difficult as this type of AC unit is less popular than other types. You may have difficulties finding an aircon service company that handles floor-mounted units in your local area.

Wall-Mounted Air Conditioners

Budget: $300 – $1000

Space Requirements: Minimal; Wall space

Energy Consumption: ★★★★☆

Cooling Power: ★★★★☆ 7,500 BTU to 24,000 BTU

Maintenance: ★★★★☆

1. Monoblock Wall-Mounted Air Conditioners

Monoblock wall-mounted aircons are called high wall air conditioners. These are the ideal option for older buildings that do not have the option of installing an external condenser unit. These ACs are fixed at a high point on the wall of the home, and have two air pipes running from the back of the aircon to a point outside your home via a window or hole.

Wall-mounted air conditioning units also have a powerful heat pump to warm the space during the winter months. However, these units tend to be noticeably larger in depth when placed against a modern split aircon. Other than the size of the product, however, there are no other major points of concern with this type.

2. Split Air Wall Mounted Air Conditioner (Engineer Fitted)

Engineer-fitted wall mounted aircons are the ones that do not have an interconnecting pipe offered with the air conditioner. Installing this aircon and its external condenser will have to be done specifically based on the building.

This method of installation is known to be quite pricey, but the major benefit is that the installation looks extremely neat and precise. Thanks to this, the resale value of the building is appreciated substantially as well.

In comparison to the easy fit version of split air wall mounted aircons, the engineer fit models are available in greater variants and capacities. This model is usually mounted at a level that’s above the head height of the occupants.

3. Split Air Wall Mounted Air Conditioner (Easy Fit)

The final variant of split system air wall mounted aircons are known as easy fit models. These units include the pipework and cables along with a quick connect fitting that makes installation easier to accomplish.

The pipes of easy fit models are pre-charged with refrigerants, and the design of this model is such that any competent DIY-enthusiast will be able to install the unit without any problems.

However, new regulations require easy fit units to be installed by a refrigeration specialist. Engineers may charge more for installation of easy fit models than engineer-fit models, and this has negatively affected the pricing of these units. Due to these changes, it is likely that the easy fit models will be eliminated from the market in the coming years.

Ceiling Cassette Air Conditioners

Budget: $1000 – $10000

Cassette air conditioners are meant to provide cool air to large spaces without being a hindrance to day to day operations. These often come in multiple, interconnected units similar to a central air conditioning system, which brings the price up to $10,000 to meet the requirements of large spaces.

Space Requirements: Extensive; Requires ceiling space

Ceiling cassette aircons are the most common types found in office spaces. These are often fitted within a space of just one or two ceiling tiles. Most of the body of this model remains unseen as it’s placed above the ceiling line, making only the inlet grille visible to the users. While the visible unit uses minimal space, the entire system requires extensive installation.

Energy Consumption: ★★★☆☆

Energy-saving units are available on the market, which may cost more than conventional units. Ceiling cassette air conditioners require vast amounts of energy to operate, but are most cost-effective than using multiple window air conditioner units or split systems to cool multiple rooms at once.

Cooling Power: ★★★★★ 12,000 BTU to 60,000 BTU

Apart from improving the aesthetics of a space, this model can also be centrally fitted to offer even cooling to large spaces. Ceiling types of air conditioners are discreet, but powerful air conditioning systems that are perfect for large, commercial areas.

Maintenance: ★★★☆☆

Because ceiling cassette types are out of the way, they are low maintenance, and do not experience many common aircon problems. Offices also tend to have an aircon service on hand for any issues with their ceiling cassette units, and various aircon service companies handle ceiling cassette types for commercial spaces.

Duct-Mounted Air Conditioners or Central Air Conditioner

Budget: $4000-$8000

Central air conditioning units are among the most expensive types of air conditioners in the market, but continue to be popular choices for both residential and commercial spaces. The initial costs of $4,000 to $8,000 does not include installation costs of each air conditioning unit, which may drive the price up higher.

Space Requirements: Extensive; Requires ductwork

Duct-mounted aircons are the ideal choice for buildings that utilize a ducted air system. These types of air conditioners require existing ductwork to operate, and the majority of the unit is hidden within the walls of the home. These units are sometimes also referred to as central or channel aircons.

Energy Consumption: ★★★★☆

Central air conditioners are considered cost-effective in cooling large spaces as it requires less energy consumption to cool down multiple rooms than other types of air conditioners. There are also modern, eco-friendly, and energy efficient units that make use of alternative energy to cut down the costs of operating the unit.

Cooling Power: ★★★★★ 20,000 BTU to 50,000 BTU

Thanks to the design of central air conditioning units, they are capable of cooling multiple rooms via the air duct of a building. These units are used in hotels, offices, and even residential buildings to either offer cooling fresh air, or you can also offer a blend of recirculated air and fresh air to the occupants.

Maintenance: ★★☆☆☆

Maintaining central air conditioners, however, is tricky as any issues that arise from your central air conditioning systems must be dealt with by a licensed HVAC technician. Unlike a window air conditioner, central air conditioners cannot be easily cleaned at home, and will require frequent cleaning and maintenance services from time to time.

Geothermal Heating and Cooling Air Conditioners

The geothermal heating and cooling air conditioning unit is a unique piping system referred to as the earth loop that is used in this model to circulate water between the earth, a heat pump, and your home. 

Budget: $18,000 to $30,000

This new air conditioning system is expensive, as both the unit itself and installation costs are much higher than other types of air conditioners. The most affordable model is already priced at $18,000 while more powerful units can go as high as $30,000 excluding installation costs.

Space Requirements: Extensive; Requires professional work around the property.

Geothermal units work by circulating water around the general vicinity of the home, which requires massive construction and installation around the property. This type of AC will run through the home and extend underground to function.

During the winter season, the water that runs through the pipes manages to absorb the heat from the ground. This heat is then compressed by the aircon, allowing it to raise the temperatures, after which it is directed to your home. During the summer season, this process is reversed to provide a cooling effect.

Energy Consumption: ★★★★★

This is a new type of cooling system that makes full use of the geothermal power of our planet. These units make full use of the ground temperatures of a region to heat and cool your home as per requirement, which significantly cuts down on electrical consumption.

Cooling Power: ★★★★★ - Includes heating systems; 24000 BTU to 120,000 BTU

Geothermal units are energy efficient, modern, and effective in cooling large spaces. With a 24,000 BTU to 120,000 BTU average, these units feature some of the most cooling-efficient models in the market.

Maintenance: ★☆☆☆☆

When installed properly, these units are durable and can last for generations. However, any issues will require the services of a specialty aircon service company as not all air conditioner service companies can handle geothermal units.

Spot Coolers

Budget: $1000 – $4000

Spot coolers are used specifically in ships, boats, aircrafts, and other specialty uses. These air conditioners boast a hefty price tag between $1,000 to $4,000 for just one unit. However, these types of air conditioners are often purchased for specific uses - rarely for household use.

Space Requirements: Moderate; Specialty use

Spot coolers are a type of monoblock air conditioner unit. Monoblock models are one in which the two sets of coils within the unit are combined into a single shell. These models are installed inside the premises of the household and are linked to the outside by an air pipe in order to release heated air.

These aircons are also utilized for various industrial processes as well. They have a large number of ducts in order to pump cool air into areas that desire it the most. They utilize snout pipes at the front of the unit in order to direct the flow of cool air into specific spots. These pipes are rigid but they can also be adjusted based on requirements.

Energy Consumption: ★★☆☆☆

Spot coolers will need to quickly cool down moderately-sized spaces, and they require a substantial amount of energy. While energy efficient units exist, the majority of brands and models are known to consume high voltage. However, they are considered more energy saving than central or ceiling types of air conditioners.

Cooling Power: ★★★★☆ 30,000+ BTU

Despite their size, spot air conditioners can easily surpass portable and window-types of air conditioners. Spot units are known as industrial mobiles, and are extremely powerful in their cooling abilities. They are often used in aircrafts and ships in order to offer cooling in the internal circulation of these locations.

Maintenance: ★☆☆☆☆

Due to their specialty use in aircrafts and chips, spot air conditioners require high maintenance, and few air conditioner service companies would have experience handling this type of air conditioner.

Keep Cool and Carry On: Choosing the Best Types of Air Conditioners

Now that you have a better idea of the different types of air conditioner units available in the market, we hope that you can now make an informed decision of what air conditioning system to get for your living space.

For more information about aircons, make sure to visit our blog! 

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