Air Conditioners Buying Guide


Australia is a particularly warm country – and forecasters say it’s only going to get hotter in the future. There’s no need to suffer unnecessarily though, with air conditioners widely available to help combat the summer ‘stickiness’. They’re also a heating solution, making them an all-round fix for the more temperamental climates.

But it’s not as straightforward as buying a new air conditioner unit and screwing it to a wall. If you’re looking to turn your house into a climate controlled paradise, here’s some useful information before you decide what to buy.

Types of air conditioners: portable, wall or window mounted, split system and ducted

Depending on your situation, you could benefit from one of several types of air conditioners.

Portable air conditioners are ideal for localised cooling

If you only require cooling in one small room, then a portable air conditioner might be perfect for your situation. They can be moved relatively easily and are widely available. However, portable air conditioners have a limited range, and will prove ineffective in more open areas.

Difference between wall-mounted and split system air conditioners

To properly cool a medium to large room, a wall or window mounted air conditioner could be the best solution. The unit inside the house conditions the air in the room and pumps the hot air outside, through an outlet or hose – making it more powerful than a portable air conditioner. These models do have some downsides: (a) some run on outlet power, requiring cumbersome extension cords, (b) they can be expensive to run due to the amount of power they use, and (c) they’re quite large, and can be noisy.

A split system air conditioner unit works on similar principles to the wall mounted models, but has a standalone compressor unit installed outside to handle the ‘grunt work’ of the air conditioning. Lines are professionally installed to connect this unit to mounted air outlets inside, which release cool air into the room and suck the stale / hot air back out. They are quieter than wall mounted systems, since the compressor – which makes most of the noise – sits outside. It will not cool an entire house though, and draws comparable power to wall-mounted models.

High cost, high reward: Ducted air conditioning

Ducted air conditioning is arguably the most expensive to install – potentially costing thousands of dollars to install ducts to run through your roof or underneath your home. You’ll also need a compressor unit installed outside to pump cool air through your house.

The good news is that ducted air conditioning works more efficiently in cooling your home than any other system available. This is usually how hospitals, big offices and other large establishments air condition their buildings.

How to decide which air conditioner is right for you

Understanding your requirements is key to working out which air conditioner arrangement will work best for your situation:

  • Work out how powerful you need your air conditioner to be – Websites like Fairair have web tools devoted to determining how powerful an air conditioner you need based on where you live, and the size of the area to be cooled. .
  • Consider your budget – now and in the future. While upfront purchase costs can vary, it is worthwhile considering the ongoing running costs for the machine you choose. More energy efficient models can reduce the amount you will have to pay every time you receive an electricity bill. More energy efficient models are also better for the environment.
  • Determine your likely usage – Reverse cycle air conditioners models are well-suited for both heating and cooling homes and are especially useful in climates that fluctuate between the extremes. If you’re unlikely to use your air conditioner year round, this may be a feature you can live without.

A great place to get started with your search is to compare air conditioners brands with our customer satisfaction ratings.

Share this article