Central air conditioning, ducted, VRF, multi split system… If you don’t work in the air conditioning industry, different types of climate control can all get a bit confusing. But, if you’re thinking of getting new air conditioning for your home or business, it’s important to know what your options are.

Two really common types of air conditioning are central air conditioning systems and multi split air conditioning systems. Keep reading to find out more about these systems and get advice on which one could be best for your UK property.

What’s a central air conditioning system?

A central air conditioning system is a substantial climate control system. It’s usually used to provide cool (and often warm) air to whole properties. It’s sometimes referred to as ducted air conditioning.

How it works

Central air conditioning systems use ducting and grills to disperse air around a property. This is heated and cooled by one internal central unit. This central unit is often in the basement or loft, and uses a fan system to blow air through a ducting network and into your rooms.

Diagram of a central air conditioning system

The internal unit is connected to an external unit, which houses the system’s condenser and compressor. This is usually installed on the ground at the back or side of the property, or on the roof. However, sometimes the internal and external units are combined into one external unit. This tends to be in commercial properties.

Key features

Central air conditioning systems tend to be quite bulky, as they need space for ducting. They’re most commonly used in the USA and Canada, where the majority of homes and commercial buildings are built with the air conditioning system included. They tend to either be combined with a furnace or used on their own to provide hot and cold air.

However, there are some central air conditioning systems in the UK and Europe too. They’re much less common, but are sometimes used in homes, offices and large commercial buildings.

It’s possible to retrofit a central air conditioning system to an existing property. But, this if often very challenging and expensive, so it doesn’t happen a lot.

As central air conditioning systems only have one internal unit, they cool and heat all areas in the property they supply to the same temperature. You usually control this using a thermostat.

What’s a multi split air conditioning system?

Multi split air conditioning systems are a type of VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) system. This means that you can use them to set different areas of a property at different temperatures.

You can generally decide whether to service one or two rooms, or whole properties, with a split air conditioning system.

How it works

Split and multi split air conditioning systems feature an external unit and usually 1-5 internal units. Split systems only contain one internal unit, while multi split systems have at least two. If you have a particularly large property, you can install multiple multi split systems. This increases the number of internal units you can have.

Diagram of multi split air conditioning system

Like central air conditioning systems, the external unit in a split air conditioning system houses the compressor. This is connected to the internal unit(s) via refrigerant pipes and wiring.

Split and multi split air conditioning systems are usually powered by heat pumps in the UK. They’re handy because they can both heat and cool your home or business.

Key features

You can control each indoor unit in a multi split air conditioning system independently. This means that you can set different rooms and areas at different temperatures to suit you. For example, you can keep your bedroom cooler or warmer than the rest of your property.

Ceiling cassette air conditioning unitIt’s also possible to use a split or multi split system to service as much or as little of a property as required. Just use a split for one small room, or use one or more multi splits to supply multiple rooms or an entire building.

This is a great way to get an air conditioning system that works for both your property and your budget – contact us today for a free quote to suit you.

There are lots of different types of internal unit that you can use as part of a split or multi split system. This makes it easy to pick units that suit your property and style.

Ceiling cassette and ducted units are great if you have space above your ceilings or behind your walls and want subtle air con. Wall mounted units are perfect for bedrooms and small commercial spaces, and floor mounted units are ideal for conservatories.

What’s the best type of air conditioning to install in my UK property?

Multi split air conditioning systems are the most common type of climate control system in the UK. There are several good reasons for this:

Firstly, split and multi split systems can be much more efficient than central air conditioning. Air travelling through ducts can lose heat on cold days and get warmer on hot days, making central air conditioning less efficient than it could be. Not only does this make your climate control less effective, it also costs you money.

Split and multi split systems also give you the control to heat or cool different parts of your property as little or as much as you want to. Central air conditioning doesn’t give you this level of control, meaning that you could end up heating or cooling spaces that don’t need it and, again, wasting energy and money.

Central air conditioning can be a good choice if you’re planning on undergoing complete renovation of a property. Or it’s a possible option if you’re designing and building a new one from scratch. If you get your air conditioning installer involved early on, they’ll be able to make sure there’s space planned in for the ducting and everything else your air con needs.

It’s also possible to retrofit central air conditioning in a bungalow, if both the ground floor and loft are open plan. However, split and multi split air conditioning systems are much easier and cheaper to fit retrospectively, especially if your central air conditioning ends up needing custom solid ducts.

So, if you’re thinking of installing air conditioning in an existing property, a split or multi split system is almost always the best way to go.

Get the right air conditioning for you

Still not sure which type air conditioning would be best for your property? Even if you’ve determined that a certain system is for you, there are still plenty of things to decide on. This includes unit types, makes and location.

If you need some expert advice on a new air conditioning installation, just fill in our online form. We can give you free, no-obligation quotes for the ideal climate control for your property.