Best Ducted Air Conditioning Brands 2015 – Turn on the air conditioner—and shave hundreds of dollars off your heating bill. Tim Forsey describes the learnings (and savings) from experimenting with reverse cycle electric heating. This article was first published in the magazine’s issue 133 (October – December 2015).
Over the past 20 years my wife and I have raised a family in our 100 year old weather board house in Melbourne. Last spring, after our third partial renovation, we installed two air conditioners in preparation for next summer—specifically so my wife and I could stay comfortable while working at home.
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The two air conditioners we selected did just that, easily cooling the entire ground floor living space (128 m
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Which consists of seven rooms and a corridor). On the advice of Matthew Wright (founder of Pure Electric), we chose two top-of-the-line Ururu Saras (US7) produced by Daikin: a small wall unit in our front bedroom (2.5 kW nominal for cooling) and a medium unit in the living room (3.5 kW).
The US7’s total cooling capacity rating of 6kW contrasts with the 14kW multi-head unit the salesman said we needed. So lesson number one: avoid overselling your home if it’s adequately shaded and insulated (see below for more sizing information).
When winter came, I wanted to find out how these reverse cycle units compared to our 20 year old ducted gas heater in terms of health, comfort, convenience and running costs, especially based on research from Beyond Zero Emissions and (formerly ATA,
As Deadly Heat Waves Spread, Access To Air Conditioning Becomes A Lifesaving Question
My conclusion? There are pros and cons when comparing the two heating methods for comfort and practicality. But when it comes to cost, reverse cycle air conditioners beat ducted gas – not just for our home, but probably millions of homes in Australia.
Since late June 2015 (middle of winter), I have tried heating our house using US7 and then gas every other day.
The US7 is equipped and can tell you the outdoor temperature, indoor temperature, indoor humidity and how much electricity they have used since you turned them on today or installed them last year! Adding to that, I spread the thermometer around our living room. I also took a look at our home electricity screen which shows the current electricity consumption data for the whole house from our smart electricity meter.
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And for the first time in my life, often wearing a dressing gown and a headlamp, I traveled past the bushes to the not-so-smart gas meter to diligently record my gas consumption.
I won’t claim that this exercise is the best example of the scientific method we’ve ever seen. There were variables and shortcomings to be managed, such as failing to focus on a task at 5.30am before morning coffee, the Daikin’s user manual not being adequately lit, and my fellow travellers.
Duct Problem: Thermal and visual images of client’s crushed and separated gas underfloor heating duct.
Operation Videos And Manuals
Our ducted gas system has served us reliably for over 21 years. Don’t know what star rating our heater would have received in the mid 1990’s. Using figures taken from the owner’s manual and further measurements and calculations, I learned that the unit can be 75% efficient to get 18.8 kW of gas combustion heat into our floor duct. Today, there are more efficient ducted gas heaters on the market, such as those that use condensing technology.
Bringing heat into the ducts and then bringing it into the house are two different things. Unfortunately, I couldn’t immediately check our floor ducts due to the tight crawl space, but our ducts have been known to be damaged by animals seeking a warm resting place during the winter. During renovations we were able to drill a hole while access was possible. How well the tubes were insulated on day 1 and are still insulated now on day 7600 is perhaps best summed up by the technical term “not great”. Still, hot air comes out of every eight registers, so that’s more. As a casual home energy consultant I can say that this is not true in every home!
Our ground floor living space is very zone friendly due to renovation features such as hollow sliding doors. However, the ducted gas system is designed to heat all 128 meters
Daikin Ducted Air Conditioner, 8.5 Ton At Rs 132000 In Chandigarh
Our ground floor, while often my wife and I spend our waking hours at home in 52m
Kitchen, dining room and living room presented. Later in the evening, it usually drops to 18m
Hence ducted gas losses and inefficiencies are everywhere. Only a fraction of the heat of combustion of the gas enters the ducts. Only part of this heat enters the house and only part comes close to our body. It may be optimistic to assume that we waste only half of the gas we buy for space heating.
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Fortunately, in our last two renovations the emphasis was on insulation, draft proofing, double glazing and heat treatment of the windows. In the middle of winter, we use the heat for three hours most days, never after bed (although our use can go up to nine hours when my wife and I work from home). This means we only pay about $500 a year for gas energy used for space heating.
Still, throwing away half the gas you bought seems like a waste. It is interesting to note that a gas heating system also uses a large amount of electricity and our heater uses a 300W blower to circulate the air.
Fortunately, technology and a changing economy mean that many Australians can now do better, especially if we have a reverse cycle air conditioner in the wall, waiting to be used.
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Scheme of Zero Emission Zero Carbon Australia buildings (right) comparing the efficiency of delivering 10 megajoules (MJ) of useful heat from an outdated gas-fired space heating system (left) compared to modern wall-mounted (ductless) heating with reverse cycle pump air conditioners.
You might think Australia entered the age of electricity in the early 1900s. Well, we haven’t seen anything yet! Converting to an all-electric home and transportation isn’t just for enthusiasts, it can be the cheapest option for many of us.
Daikin’s contribution to this new electric age is the Ururu Sarara or US7. The ‘7’ refers to the fact that the 2.5kW 7-Star model is currently the only 7-Star air conditioner on the Australian market. The words Ururu (‘wet’ in Japanese) and Sarara (‘dry’) refer to the way the US7 uses the refrigerant cycle (like all heat pumps), but is probably the first residential use of a desiccant wheel.
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A drying wheel is a way to add or remove moisture (water) from circulating air, with low energy costs and independent of the desired room temperature. This is an advantage in summer when we want to reduce the humidity in the air without bringing the living space to an uncomfortably low temperature. In winter, US7 can hold more moisture than pipe gas, resulting in health and comfort benefits.
As shown on the Australian Government Appliance Ratings website, the US7 2.5kW achieves a coefficient of performance (COP) of 5.8 in heating mode. This means that under test conditions, for every unit of electricity consumed, the device can deliver 5.8 units of heat. An additional 4.8 heat units are collected as free energy from the air outside your home.
A ducted gas system will only be 50% efficient when using one energy unit of gas to deliver half a unit of heat, while a 2.5 kW US7 is 580% efficient when using one energy unit to deliver 5.8 units of heat. So at this point of comparison, US7 leads in channel gas by a factor of 11.6 (580% vs. 50%). Comparing the energy requirements of heat pumps versus gas pipes reminds me of the ‘no longer makes sense’ comparison when considering halogen lighting and LEDs. Really excellent!
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Note that the larger US7 has a lower COP: the 3.5kW has a COP of 5.05 and the 5kW has a COP of 4.6—lower but still more efficient than gas. And, if you have a 3-star reverse cycle air conditioner and not a US7, don’t despair! A 3-star unit also achieves a COP of about 4 and can be eight times more efficient than natural gas.
In fact, COP test conditions may not fully express the heat pump’s potential. The test conditions specify an outside air temperature of 7°C, so the heat pump may perform better than its rating whenever the outside air temperature is above 7°C. Similarly, it can get worse when the outside air temperature is below 7°C. During my testing, the outside temperature rarely dropped below 7°C when heating was required. Furthermore, if the heat pump does not need to operate at full capacity at any time, the heat exchangers in the unit will be oversized and higher than rated COPs can be achieved.
This is also significant
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