How does reverse cycle heating compare to other methods?

There are many myths and falsehoods regarding reverse cycle heating.

The main misconception is that, being electrically operated, reverse cycle heating is very expensive. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

So here are the facts.

A well designed reverse cycle heating system is:

  • By far the most cost effective and energy efficient method of heating;
  • The cleanest form of heating. It actually filters the air before expelling it into the room;
  • Safer. No combustion is required to operate. There are no risks of gas leaks or explosions.
  • Immediate. The unit delivers immediate heating from the moment you turn it on. It does not require a furnace to get to operating temperature before turning the fan on.
  • Simpler and cheaper to install. It only requires one form of power generation. For example, gas furnaces require both gas lines and electricity to operate.
  • More reliable. There are no pilot lights to keep lit. Reverse cycle heaters operate in even the most violent of winds.

Is buying an air conditioner like buying a microwave oven?

Unlike fridges, microwave ovens and washing machines that are designed to function effectively in a wide range of environments, the effectiveness of air conditioners / reverse cycle heaters are heavily influenced by a range of environmental and other external factors.

Not investigating these factors and subsequently taken them into account when your system is being designed will seriously jeopardise the successful operation of the system.

These factors can include:

  • The volume of air to be cooled or warmed
  • Location of doors and windows
  • Orientation of the room (west facing windows for example)
  • Structure of the home: solid brick; brick veneer; weatherboard; tile roof; iron roof; flat roof etc
  • The availability of power;
  • Aesthetic of outside (where a unit can be effectively placed)

Why should I insist on a site visit?

The only way to accurately assess all the factors involved for your system is with a trained professional personally visiting your site. That might seem obvious, but it is remarkable how many suppliers do not visit an installation site before recommending a particular unit.

It’s the only way your system designer can take all relevant matters into account.

Why should I see the unit actually working in a showroom?

You would never buy a car without test driving it. So why would you buy an air conditioner or reverse cycle heater without feeling its effect or hearing it operate.

Some units are quieter than others – both inside the house and the outside unit. It’s important that you understand the relative impact your new system will have in the area it’s installed.

Why should my system supplier have hands-on experience in installing and servicing?

Designing an effective system requires a high level of both technical expertise as well as hands-on installation experience.

Suppliers that have experience in designing, installing, servicing and repairing air conditioning and reverse cycle heating systems in all kinds of residential and commercial applications are in the best position to ensure you get the right equipment for your specific application.

Why choose a specialist air conditioning and heating company?

There are many ways to purchase an air conditioning and reverse cycle heating system. Appliance outlets, bulk importers, internet, even “off the back of a truck”! In these cases, the supplier is not the installer. The installer is not the servicer. And when something goes wrong, everyone ducks for cover.

When you invest in an air conditioning and reverse cycle heating system you should be buying an integrated package including design, supply, installation and servicing.

Whilst there are plenty of vendors happy to sell you a unit, few will take full responsibility for proper design, installation and ongoing servicing.

Specialist air conditioning and reverse cycle heating businesses provide complete packages. They provide all services under the one roof. They design, supply, install and service every system they sell.

And because the designer also installs the systems, you know the installation will be exactly how the designer intended.

What’s more, because the supplier also services the unit, they want to be certain they get the job right the first time.

For you, that means one company, one phone call, one relationship.

Why buy a recognised brand . . . do you really get what you pay for?

From time to time new brands of air conditioners and heaters enter the market looking to capture market share. These brands would be well known by their heavy advertising and aggressive discounting.

Like cars and other mechanical products, air conditioning and reverse cycle heating system have moving, operating parts. Just like cars, these mechanical components can vary in quality, engineering excellence and performance. And they also malfunction from time to time.

Even the most expensive cars break down . . . albeit, less frequently.

But what happens when your car breaks down? You want to get it fixed . . . fast!

That means having quick access to qualified service people and an abundant supply of readily available spare parts.

The same is true with air conditioning and reverse cycle heating systems. The quality of critical mechanical parts varies enormously. So does their operating effectiveness and energy efficiency.

Just like with cars, leading manufacturers also invest heavily in the development of new technology.

By investing in a leading brand you will always get the latest and most efficient product available.

Does the installer have a Plumbing Industry Commission License?

Air conditioning and reverse cycle heating system installers must hold a Plumbing Industry Commission license.

This ensures that your air conditioner is installed correctly.

Incorrect installation could actually void the warranty of the unit. You’ll have to pay for all repairs resulting from the faulty installation.

Ask to inspect their Plumbing Industry Commission license. If your installer does not hold a license, run the other way!!

Should I insist on a Plumbing Industry Commission Compliance Certificate?

It is vital to obtain a compliance certificate.

This confirms that the installer is licensed and the job is installed to appropriate standards and current regulations.

A Compliance Certificate is also like an insurance policy. Without it, manufacturers will disallow warranty claims – even completely voiding warranty. It also jeopardises any insurance claims you may have in the future.

What is the ARC tick?

For the climate’s sake, ensure your installer is ARC tick approved to handle refrigeration gas.

In this era of climate change, poor handling of ozone depleting refrigerant gases can add to the greenhouse effect.

The ARC tick can only be used by Australian Refrigeration Council approved installers. In fact, it is illegal to handle refrigerant gas without a license.

So for the planet’s sake, insist on an ARC tick approved installer.

Do I need to insist on an Electrical Compliance Certificate?

An Office of Electrical Safety Certificate must be supplied when work is carried out by a qualified electrician.

Like the Plumbing Compliance Certificate, this is your electrical insurance policy.

Some less professional installers may be tempted to undertake small electrical jobs themselves. Not only is this dangerous, it puts you and your family as significant risk.

The short answer . . . insist that your electrical work is completed by a qualified electrical contractor.

What styles and types of systems are available?

It’s hard not to get caught in the hype of price wars between bulk retailers.

When looking for an air conditioning or reverse cycle heating system, you want a system that is designed to work for you.

However, the reality is that most bulk retailers only offer a very limited range of split systems, which have equally limited applications.

There is a broad range of air conditioning and heating units available in the market today . . . high wall, floor consoles, ceiling cassettes and ducted systems to name a few. These products are designed for a multitude of buildings, purposes and applications.

By limiting yourself to the narrow choices offered by bulk retailers, you also limit your chances of achieving a highly successful solution.

Does size matter . . . ?

In a word . . . yes.

It is important to get the correct size unit to ensure optimum performance and minimal running costs.

The question is, how do you establish what is correct size unit?

Your specialist air conditioning and heating specialist will visit your site and calculate the heating and cooling loads – taking into account the specific conditions of your home or building ensuring you get the perfect size unit.

Incorrectly sized systems under perform, dramatically reduce the life of the system, can void warranties and increase running costs.

Is the Energy Star Rating important?

The Energy Star Rating helps you understand the relative effectiveness and running cost efficiency of electrical appliances.

When purchasing any electrical equipment pay attention to the energy star rating. The higher the star rating the more energy efficient the product and cheaper to operate.

The Energy Star Rating help you compare the relative efficiencies of different units.

What is an “ambient” operating range of a system?

Ambient operating range is technical talk for the minimum and maximum temperatures that the unit will adequately function at.

It is in the extreme temperatures that you really want your heating or air conditioner to work. Whilst some inferior brands they are not designed to operate in the extreme temperatures, you should look for ambient operating ranges of:

  • -10 to 46 degrees in cooling
  • -10 to 24 degrees in heating

What is a reasonable design life of the equipment?

Remember we talked about the importance of brand when buying a system?

Well, this is where the “rubber hits the road”.

You want to know how long you can reasonably expect a product to last and how long parts will be available if there is a fault with the system.

High quality systems have a design life and parts availability of 10 – 15 years. This means they can be repaired if necessary . . . not thrown out.

What are the electrical requirements of the system?

Different systems have different power requirements. Some systems can require your switchboard to be upgraded.

Again, no one likes surprises. Don’t get caught out discovering you have to upgrade your switch board after you purchase.

Your air conditioning and heating specialist will ensure that your electrical supply is sufficient, meaning no extra expense when it comes to your installation. If your switchboard does require upgrading, you will know before you purchase.

Do systems require maintenance?

Several items impact the effective operation of your system. These include filters and refrigerant pressures.

To ensure optimum performance and lowest possible running costs filters should be serviced according to operating environment and usage; refrigerant pressures checked, and the system assessed for faults and performance annually.

Undertaking annual maintenance ensures efficient operation and can prevent costly repairs.