We are feeling the effects of climate change more and more often. In addition to storms, heat waves are especially noticeable in the summer months. Good thing there is air conditioning. They have long been standard in cars and department stores, but private households are also increasingly benefiting from these compact coolers. An air conditioner can be integrated into any household, but there are different models on the market, some of which differ significantly in terms of energy efficiency and installation type.
The air conditioning provides a pleasant room climate and can thus significantly improve the well-being as well as the working atmosphere. At the same time, the air humidity is reduced due to the lower temperature, so that the air feels less muggy and oppressive. It is ideal to ventilate the flat evenly with cool air, because a harsh alternation between cold and heat is unhealthy for the circulation and the organism in general.
The mode of operation of an air conditioner is similar to that of a refrigerator: a gaseous refrigerant is sucked in and strongly compressed by a compressor. This heats up the gas, and the pressure also increases noticeably. Via a pressure line, the hot steam is led to a condenser, which in turn is cooled by a fan. The steam is liquefied again and reaches the so-called throttle valve. When flow passes through this narrow opening, the liquid is suddenly cooled down considerably.
Finally, the liquid enters the evaporator, where it extracts heat from the room air. The agent evaporates due to the heat that arises and is fed back into the circuit. The dissipated heat is pumped out of the room via an exhaust pipe so that the temperature in the room continuously drops to the desired level. The air conditioner therefore does not work by supplying cold, but by extracting heat.
Anyone who wants to buy an air conditioner should take a close look at the energy efficiency of the unit. While heating up a room is relatively easy, extracting heat is technically much more demanding because the room is at a higher energy level. As a result, air conditioners have gained a reputation for consuming a lot of electricity.
However, the continuous development of individual air-conditioning components has improved their effectiveness. It makes sense to buy an air conditioner if new equipment is used. There are a total of seven energy efficiency classes for air conditioners, ranging from A+++ (very good energy balance) to D (poor energy balance).
According to applicable laws, newly produced appliances, whether split air conditioners or mobile air conditioners, must have at least efficiency class B. The class results from the ratio between power consumption and cooling capacity. Overall, air conditioners in classes A+, A++ and A+++ are to be regarded as ecologically and economically sensible, while lower classes should be assessed critically.
The different designations for the air conditioner cause confusion. Air coolers that work with exchangeable ice cubes or cooling packs are also mistakenly called air conditioners. However, air conditioners in the true sense of the word are meant here, i.e. devices with their own cooling circuit and coolant.
The mobile air conditioner or portable air conditioner with an exhaust air hose is used very often and has the great advantage that it can be operated in any room. This makes this portable air conditioner particularly flexible to use and versatile. The only prerequisite, however, is the ability to dissipate waste heat. A portable air conditioner produces a large amount of heat during operation, which must be dissipated. Otherwise, the cooling effect of the unit would be completely cancelled out.
In contrast to a split air conditioner, the mobile air conditioner consists of only one part including the exhaust hose. It is relatively compact and works quietly. The exhaust hose must be hung out of the window or mounted there. It is also possible to install this type of air conditioner by breaking through the wall, but then it loses its mobile characteristic.
Unfortunately, when the window is tilted, there is a constant draught, which again transfers slightly warmer air from outside into the flat. This effect can be counteracted by the aforementioned wall break-through, and there is also the possibility of closing the tilted window with the help of a so-called window seal at little additional cost.
Two-part air conditioners are particularly popular in new buildings. This split air conditioner works even more quietly than its mobile competitor because the compressor is located on the outside of the wall and not in the room. Two-piece units are extremely effective and are worthwhile if installed early.
However, retrofitting them presents some difficulties, especially if it is a multi-person property. On the one hand, the noise on the outside can cause trouble with the neighbours, and on the other hand, installation by a specialist company has been mandatory since 2008, which leads to additional costs. All in all, split units are a good choice if, for example, it is a new build or an independent property. Mobile air conditioners are more suitable for rented properties and for taking full advantage of flexibility, especially since they can be easily stowed away in the cellar in winter.
For more tips on how to choose the right cooling device have a look at our Air Conditioner Buying Guide.