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Types of air-conditioners

All the air-conditioners can be divided (somewhat conventionally) into domestic and industrial ones. The difference between them is not in their design but in the application domain. Air-conditioners with the power of up to 7 kWt used for cooling of small premises of 15-80 square meters are referred to domestic ones. Industrial air-conditioners are used for cooling of big premises, for example, for the centralized cooling of the whole buildings. Also there is usually singled out a big class of air-conditioners standing between domestic and industrial systems - semiindustrial air-conditioners. Having power of 7-25 kWt, they can be used both in domestic conditions - cottages, multi-room apartments, - and in the office premises, stores, enterprises, etc. Leaving behind industrial systems, we will dwell on bawic types of domestic and semiindustrial air-conditioners.

According to their embodiment, all the air-conditioners can be divided into two big classes: monoblock - consisting of one block (window, portable, etc.) and split-systems - consisting of two and more blocks (wall, channel, cartridge, VRF-systems, etc.).

Monoblock air-conditioners

Window air-conditioners

Not long ago it was one of the most widespread type of air-conditioners (BK series). Now almost all the producers offer window models with the power of 1,5 - 6 кWt. The simplest of them can only chill the air, more expensive - have the heating mode and remote-control station. Main disadvantages of window air-conditioners are increased noise and necessity of mounting into the window opening. Advantages - reasonable price (280 - 300 USD) and simple mounting not requiring special tools. Thanks to reasonable prices window air-conditioners rank second in their popularity after split-systems of the wall type.

Window air-conditioner
The lowest price, simple mounting.
High level of noise, mounted in the window opening.

Portable air-conditioners

Monoblock portable air-conditioner looks like a small wheeled bedside-table. Such air-conditioners do not require special mounting, it is necessary only to lead out a flexible hose (air pipe) with the diameter of about 15 sm and 1-2 meters long outside through the air gate or opening in the wall. Through this hose hot air is withdrawn. Disadvantages of portable air-conditioners are high level of noise while operation (compressor is actually located inside the building) and high price compared to the cost of the split-system. One more, rare enough, variety of portable air-conditioners is portable split-system - in these air-conditioners interblock communications are connected to inner and outer blocks with the help of detachable joints (clicks).

Portable air-conditioner
Does not require mounting.
High level of noise, high price.

Air -conditioners of the split- and multisplit- systems type


Such air-conditioner consists of outer and inner blocks connected by the electric cable and copper pipes alond which freon is circulating. Thanks to such design, the noisiest and bulkiest part of the air-conditioner containing compressor, is withdrawn outside. Inner block can be placed almost in any part of the apartment or office.

All the modern split-systems are equipped with remote-control station with the crystalline liquid display. With its help one can adjust the temperature in a building with accuracy up to 1-2 degrees, set up timer for the automatic switch-on and switch-off in the preset time, regulate direction of air stream and many others. Inner blocks have fine filters and coarse filters for air filtration from dust, tobacco smoke, plant pollen, etc.

Low level of noise, possibility of selection of the installation place, wide range of inner blocks, remote-control station.
Requires highly-qualified mounting and maintenance.

Multisplit- system

It is a variety of split-systems. It's different because several inner blocks are connected to one outer block - usually 2-4 pieces. Inner blocks can be not only of different power (usually 2-5 kWt), but also of different types. Such design decision allows to save place on the outer wall of a building and not to spoil appearance of the building with outer blocks. At the same time, despite the widespread opinion, substitution of several split-systems for one multisplit-system does not lead to the price benefit because cost of the equipment is almost the same, and labor intensiveness is 1.5-2 times higher due to longer communications. Moreover, in case of breakdown of the outer block of multisplit-system all the inner blocks stop operating - with this regard reliability of several split-systems is higher. That's why, multisplit-systems are usually used only if it is impossible to place several outer blocks on the outer wall of a building.

One more advantage of split- and multisplit- systems is a wide range of different inner blocks. Among them there are singled out the following modifications: wall air-conditioner, channel air-conditioner, cartridge air-conditioner, under-ceiling air-conditioner and column air-conditioner.

Wall air-conditioner

The most wide-spread and reasonable at price (550 - 600 USD) - wall air-conditioner or split-m of the wall type. Sometimes it is also called domestic split-system, because they are mainly used in apartments. Wall air-conditioner can be installed in any small premises - office, apartment, shop. Their power (2-7 kWt) allows to chill 15-70 square meters. Inner block of wall air-conditioners is usually installed in the upper part of the wall, near the window, and the outer one - under the window. Such disposition allows to reduce the distance between blocks and the length of interblock communications which usually doesn't exceed 5-7 meters.

Wall air-conditioner
The lowest price among split-systems, wide range.
Limited power (up to 7 kWt). Restrictions as to the place of installation.

Channel air-conditioner

Channel or central air-conditioner is installed behind suspended or boarding ceiling which completely hides the inner block. Distribution of the cooled air is made through the system of heat-insulated air pipes which are also placed in the between-ceiling space. Due to such design, channel air-conditioner can cool simultaneously several premises. Typical power of these air-conditioners is 12 - 25 kWt, which is enough for cooling of a small office or 4-5 room apartment. Distinctive feature of the channel air-conditioner compared to other split-systems is that it is possible to deliver fresh air in the volumes necessary for thorough ventilation of conditioned premises. Thus, using of one channel air-conditioner allows to solve the tasks of both ventilation and air-conditioning of the whole office, apartment and cottage. The only thing is that it is necessary to care for correct calculation of air exchange, selection of the air-conditioner according to the cooling power and static pressure, to provide for installation of electric and water calorifer to heat outer air during winter-time.

Channel air-conditioner
Hidden installation, possibility of fresh air flow. Can serve several premises.
Required suspended ceiling and the system of air pipes.

Cartridge air-conditioner

In order to install cartridge air-conditioner, like channel one, suspended ceiling is required. However, compared to the channel air-conditioner, cartridge air-conditioner distributes the cooled air through the bottom part of the block. Correspondingly, the bottom part of such air-conditioner has the size of standard ceiling panel - 600 х 600 mm, and in case of higher power twice as much - 1200 х 600 mm and it is closed with a decorative grate with distributive shutters. Main advantage of the cartridge air-conditioner is its invisibility because only decorative grate can be seen. One more advantage is even distribution of the air flow in four directions which allows to use only one cartridge air-conditioner for cooling of big premises (when using wall split-systems in order to achieve the same effect it would be necessary to use 2-3 air-conditioners with lower power).

Cartridge air-conditioner
Hidden installation, possibility of fresh air flow.
Required suspended ceiling.

Floor - underceiling air-conditioner

If there is no suspended ceiling in the premises, then the alternative to cartridge air-conditioners can become floor-underceiling (or simply ceiling) air-conditioners. These air-conditioners are peculiar for comparatively small depth - 18-25 sm. They are installed, as a rule, either at the bottom of the wall, or on the ceiling. Air flow in the first case is directed upwards, in the second case - along the ceiling. Such design allows to distribute the cooled air evenly all through the premises and to avoid direct flow on people. There exist models of ceiling air-conditioners distributing the cooled air on four directions at the same time, and the flow power is regulated separately on each of directions. Such air-conditioner can be successfully used for cooling of premises of complicated form not having suspended ceiling.

Floor - underceiling air-conditioner
Possible installation both on the ceiling and at the bottom of the wall. Suspended ceiling is not required.
Not designed for hidden installation.

Column (floor) air-conditioner

Column (floor or wardrobe) air-conditioner is used where high cold-productivity is required and there are no strict requirements to the premises design. These air-conditioners according to their dimensions look like refrigerators, have big weight and are installed on the floor. Column air-conditioners require comparatively large area for their placement because they produce strong flow of the cooled air and do not allow to be in close proximity to the air-conditioner.

Column (floor) air-conditioner
High power. Suspended ceiling is not required.
Requires large area for placement, interferes in the general design.

Precision air-conditioner

Precision air-conditioners are a variety of column (wardrobe) air-conditioners and have rather narrow application domain - computer halls, telephone stations, stations of cellular communication systems, precise production. Having very good reliability, these air-conditioners can keep with high accuracy not only preset temperature (± 1 °C), but also air humidity (± 2%). Another distinctive feature of precision air-conditioners is the possibility of operation in a wide temperature range of outside air (bottom line - up to minus 35 °C).

Precision air-conditioner
High accuracy of keeping temperature and humidity. Wide temperature range.
Designed for industrial use.

Multizone systems of air-conditioning (VRF and VRV systems)

This class of air-conditioners appeared comparatively not long ago - the first VRV system was introduced in 1982. Actually, this multisplit-system has completely new possibilities - up to 30 inner blocks for one outer one, centralized control with the help of personal computer, the distance between the outer and inner blocks can reach 100 meters, and elevation range - 50 meters. Using of VRV and VRF systems allowed to solve the problem of disposition of outer blocks- now they can be placed in any convenient place (on the roof, in the basement, outside the building) not to interfere in the appearance of the building.

Multizone systems of air-conditioning (VRF and VRV systems)
Unique characteristics of the length of the lane, quantity of inner blocks and control system.
High cost.

Which type of air-conditioners to choose?

In practice, in 90% of cases, it's enough for you to choose between the window monoblock and the wall split-system. All the other types of air-conditioners are used only in case window and wall air-conditioners do not allow to solve the preset task. And it is quite rarely in domestic conditions.

In their class these air-conditioners are the most reasonable at price. Window air-conditioners have the absolute cost minimum; that's why, with the limited financial possibilities there is no other choice. Split-systems are more expensive than window air-conditioners but they have a number of advantages: they are completed with multi-functional remote-control station, allow to choose the place of installation of the inner block, have low level of noise, easily correspond with the interior. Therefore, if you have enough money, it is better to choose the split-system of the wall type. The choice of split-systems with other types of inner blocks can be required only if it is necessary to air-condition big areas - sales halls, cottages, elite apartments, complexes of office premises, and in this case it is better to apply to specialists.