A split system air conditioner is a refrigerative air conditioner that splits its components into two parts: an indoor unit, which contains the evaporator component, and an outdoor unit which houses the compressor and condenser components. With a reverse cycle air conditioner, the condenser (which is responsible for expelling unwanted heat) is also located in the inside unit. The two units are connected by insulated tubes, which are typically piped through a small hole in the wall.
Split system air conditioners are fairly quiet and can be easily installed (by a qualified installer), which helps account for their popularity in Australia. They are also convenient to operate, usually via an infra-red remote control.
Where to install split system air conditioners
It’s hard define a ‘best’ location in a house to install these systems. The range of sizes and capacities available means there is usually a model that is suitable for your needs. That being said, there are a few basic commonsense guidelines about where to install air conditioner components.
Positioning the indoor unit
Indoor units should be installed in a central location within the room you want to cool in order to allow for clear, balanced air flow throughout the space. Have a think about how the room’s going to look once the unit is installed. If the air conditioner's being installed in a bedroom, you should install it above the bed.
Indoor units should also be installed high up on the wall to ensure that cool air is blown out throughout the room. Where possible, you should ensure that you have easy access to the unit for cleaning, though.
Another important consideration is to ensure that the indoor unit of your air conditioner is not installed directly above electrical fittings – if the unit ever ends up leaking, this could create a nasty hazard.
Be mindful of installing an indoor unit too close to a source of dust or airborne particles (including large vents) – doing so will mean that you will probably have to clean the filter more often to keep it operating properly.
Positioning the compressor or outdoor unit
The outdoor units of split system air conditioners are generally installed against the outside wall of the room being air conditioned, but a suitably qualified and licensed installer will be able to point out the best location for each situation.
You might also want to consider whether or not the noise from your air conditioner is likely to break your local noise pollution laws. This is fairly unlikely unless the unit is quite close to the neighbours’ doors or windows. Check with your local council to find out what the regulations are.
Outdoor units should be mounted in stable places where they won’t vibrate, where they have plenty of free space on either side to allow airflow, where they’re easily accessible for maintenance, and where they aren’t likely to be exposed to corrosive substances.
Can a single outdoor unit or compressor feed multiple outlets?
If you have a larger property that needs multiple air conditioners, you don’t need to worry about having a large bank of outdoor units making an ugly mess of the side of your home. Instead, you should look for two- or four-head multi systems that allow you to connect several indoor units to just one outdoor unit.
Portable split system air conditioners
You could also opt for a portable split system air conditioner. These systems are usually only a sensible option if no other choice is available and air conditioning is an absolute must. Compared to other cooling options, they rank very poorly in terms of output and efficiency.