By Julie Curnow

What is Refrigerated Air Conditioning?

The term refrigerated air conditioning comes from the fact that such air conditioners use refrigerant to chill the air much the same way as refrigerators chill your food.

Refrigerated air conditioners can treat a room (wall, cassette or floor splits), a series of rooms (ducted or multi-head) or be used for larger commercial projects (VRF and package units).

If the flow of refrigerant in the air conditioner can be reversed then the unit is capable of heating as well as cooling. This type of aircon is known as reverse cycle air conditioning. Reverse cycle air conditioners are very efficient at both heating and cooling with over three times the heating or cooling effect produced for every Unit* of electricity consumed. This compares to an electric heater where one unit of heating is produced for every unit of electricity consumed.

Commonly, room only (wall and cassette) split systems aren’t identified whether they are reverse cycle or not – however any brochure will state whether a unit is cooling only or also provides heating. In tropical northern Australia air conditioners which provide just cooling are most popular as heating is not required and reverse cycle is slightly more expensive than cooling only units. Temperate or cool climates favour reverse cycle systems. In Perth nearly all air conditioners sold are reverse cycle and so ducted systems are more commonly referred to as ducted reverse cycle (as we do across our website) rather than ducted refrigerated.

Evaporative air conditioning does not use refrigerant and should strictly be referred to as an evaporative cooler (as they do in America).

*Unit is the measure used in your electricity bill. The basic unit of electricity is the Kilowatt hour (kWh). In simple terms, 1 kWh is the amount of energy used by a 1kW (1000 watt) electric heater for 1 hour. Another example of 1kWh is ten 100-watt light bulbs used for 1 hour.

This article was written by Julie Curnow, co-owner of Air and Water Residential in Perth Western Australia.


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