The right unit for you
There are many choices available when it comes to choosing the right air conditioning system and the right system for you is dependant on many factors. It not as simple as saying that “system A” is the best on the market and that is the best you can get, because it doesn't work that way. The best system for you is the system that meets your requirements best. The important things to consider when choosing a system are, capacity, reliability, parts availability, efficiency/running costs.
A common misconception that bigger is better, a more powerful system will cool or heat the room quicker. This is not the case. A system needs to be sized correctly to provide the right amount of cooling or heating for the room it is installed in. If the system is too small, then the temperature will not be controlled correctly and the system will work much harder to reach the desired temperature, causing much higher wear on components and eventually failure of the system. A system that is too large is worse than a system that is undersized. If the system has too much capacity, then you get massive temperature swings in the room as the unit switches on, cools the air (not the room) to the desired temperature and then switches off. When the system switches off, the air immediately warms up again as the walls, floor, ceiling, furniture, etc is still warm, so the air conditioning starts up again and you get a cycle of on/offs, which is not only uncomfortable but also causes excessive wear on the compressor, eventually resulting in failure. An oversized system will also excessively dry the air, which can cause health problems such as dry skin and eyes. A correctly sized system will dry the air to comfortable levels and you should not have any negative health effects, in fact you should feel healthier.
Reliability is often overlooked as not important as the cheap systems can just be replaced when they fail and it still works out cheaper than a higher range system. With air conditioning, this is not really the case, as the systems are installed which means replacing them requires the old system to be removed and the new system to be installed. New pipework and cables may required as well, which adds further cost. Quickly the cheap system has become a lot more expensive than a reputable system. The main reason most systems fail in Lanzarote is due to the harsh climate, the case degrades quicker than normal, so poorly constructed system rust or corrode quite quickly, even if they are not being used. Plastic casing are better, but they still go brittle and break and they still have metal heat exchanges (normally aluminium) which also degrades quickly if not treated. Most of the cheaper systems do not have treated heat exchangers and so fail quite quickly, normally in less than 5 years.
Many of the lower range systems do not have spare parts readily available, even some of the higher brands are difficult to come by. This may be an expensive problem if a failure occurs with the system. If it is not possible to acquire the part required, then the whole system must be replaced, plus the cost for re-installation, it quickly adds up to more than a higher range system would have cost. If a failure occurs and parts are available then it is almost always cheaper to replace the part rather than the full system.
Until 2013, manufacturers used a nominal value to measure their product’s efficiency (EER and COP) this wasn’t an accurate representation and a large percentage of the systems on the market were “A rated”. A more accurate method, the ‘seasonal efficiency’ ratio (SEER), has been developed, which gives a better measure of the real-life energy efficiency of systems. Seasonal efficiency gives an indication of how efficient an air conditioner is when operating over an entire cooling or heating season (giving a more realistic efficiency measure). You can read more about this in our SEER article. The difference between an “A” rated and “A+” rated could be make a substantial difference to running costs on a system that gets a lot of use. I recommend you get the highest rating possible and along with reliability make this a priority.
This difficult to answer but in my experience over the years, I would only recommend Daikin, Hitachi, Panasonic and Mitsubishi electric. I have found all of those to be good solid and reliable systems. Mitsubishi Electric, Hitachi and Daikin are more or less equal, Daikin win it for me by having distributors within the Canary Islands and in Spain, so parts are easier to get, as well as the systems themselves.
The correct system depends on your requirements. If you want to install a system or systems in a holiday villa, then it is worth spending the extra on a system which is reliable. A cheap system will be more likely to breakdown and if there are guests there they will not be happy having no air conditioning if they have paid for it, especially in the summer months. It is also important that the correct size is fitted, this will depend on heat sources in the room (windows, heat generating appliances, etc) as well as the actual room size. Efficiency should also be a concern. In rental properties, it is not as important if coin meters are fitted, but if you have many other appliances or a pool heater, then it may be if you are close to your power limit.
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