With climate change high on the agenda, the air conditioning industry faced a challenge. The systems came under criticism for the high amounts of electricity they used and the refrigerants that were linked to ozone depletion. Another bugbear with consumers (and their neighbors) was the noise the outside generator units created.
Things have radically transformed in air conditioning technology since to solve these problems. Contemporary units have moved to improved fan-blade shape and compressor technology, which has dropped noise levels by over 90 percent. The environmentally concerning refrigerants have been replaced with a new chlorine-free form (referred to R410A).
Electricity usage has also been addressed, and the power needed to run an air conditioning system is declining. In the year 2000 you could expect your air conditioning unit to use 6,000 watts of electricity per hour to cool a standard-size house. This has dropped to below 2,000 watts per home with much improved operating efficiency.
Rod from Penair – Northern Beaches Air Conditioning shares with us some of the factors you need to look for if you want to purchase an efficient and quiet air conditioning system.
Firstly, a split system air conditioner is one of the most energy-efficient options. It works by circulating refrigerant in a closed loop between an outdoor condenser and an inside evaporator. The heat captured internally is carried outside and blown away by a fan.
When you’re looking at the energy rating of a unit, look for the SEER (seasonal energy-efficiency ratio) number. You want it to SEER 13 or higher. In terms of decibel ratings, quiet condensers have ratings that fall at about 68.
Invest in the right size
You can tick all the right boxes on the features list, but if you don’t install an air conditioning unit that is the correct size for the house or room, you’ll find it won’t work as efficiently. It will also use too much energy. An air conditioning installer will need to ensure there is balance in the systmen between the condenser and the evaporator. They will also factor in the layout of the house, air leakage, and sun exposure and insulation levels when calculating the size you need.
If the system is undersized, the condenser may overwork leading it to clog with frost. This can temporarily shut down the unit. Another problem that homeowners can encounter is a system that has been adjusted to overcome this issue by an installer. What happens is the house cools too rapidly, and the air handler doesn’t have the opportunity to circulate and dehumidify the internal air. The house can become clammy and too cold. Ensure your contractor does the following when they install your unit.
- Install the correct amount of gas (not more than is needed), or the system won’t cool properly.
- Limit refrigerant lines to 50 feet. If they are too long, the refrigerant won’t be able to complete a cycle, and the condenser will keep running.
- Ensure the condenser has about two feet clearance around it in every direction so that enough air can circulate.
Double up the compressor
Another consideration is to look at a system that has a two-stage compressor. These units only work on full power when days are scorching. On most days they don’t compress the refrigerant as much. This means the air handler operates longer, so it extracts more humidity out of the air inside your home. It uses less power and keeps humidity levels consistently low.
Enter ‘scroll technology’
Scroll technology works with what is referred to as scroll compressors. They run quieter and use less power than traditional piston-driven compressors. They work like this.
- One spiral-shaped scroll is fixed. The other is attached to an electric motor.
- The eccentric motion of the motor keeps the scrolls in contact with each other at specific points.
- Refrigerant gas is trapped in the gaps between the points, and is then pushed from the outside of the spiral into the centre.
- The gas is compressed so it can be cooled more easily.
Make maintenance a priority
To keep your system working efficiently, you should service the two parts of your central air-conditioning system, the condenser, and the evaporator, annually. This is best done by a qualified air conditioner technician. However, there is some basic maintenance you can perform.
- Pop open the side covers of the condenser and brush dirt off the cooling fins of the condenser with a soft-bristled paintbrush or spray it off gently with a hose.
- Check fins are not crushed or bent.
- Remove loose leaves or debris from fins.
- Cut back vegetation within 2 feet of the condenser.
- Shut the power of the evaporator off. Then clean the evaporator pan with soap, hot water, a little bleach, and a sponge.
- Pour bleach through the pan’s condensate tube (kill mould and algae).
- Wipe down the coils.
- Vacuum dust off the blower fins.
- Change the air handler’s filter.