Ducted air conditioning used to be the preserve of offices and hospitals now it’s been made more compact and less expensive for the modern home

In the pipeline

by Andy Bryenton

Winter is barely over, but summer is already on the minds of many homeowners, who are not looking forward to the humidity and heat a Kiwi holiday season can bring. Then there are those who cannot accommodate a wood or coal-burning fire, but find that a multi-unit heat pump system will be bulky, unsightly or just plain expensive.

Spring is a great time to tackle the issue of air conditioning, as it comes at a time when the industry is in between the ‘peaks’ caused by reactionary or ‘last-minute’ customers. Ask any AC tech, and they will tell you — folks wait until they are too hot or too cold to call in the pros. The right time to act is now, as you will beat the rush and likely be able to get faster service or even a sharper price.

The buzz this season is all about a solution that combines aesthetics with technology. Ducted heat pumps can be tucked away in the roof, where many Kiwi homes have already got space for ventilation units and extractor fans.

Advances in the efficiency of heat pump tech mean that a compact ‘core’, well insulated and centrally located, can pump warm or cool air into the home, at the touch of a button.

There are no big wall-mounted consoles, either, just tiny disc-shaped vents in the ceiling.

A second advantage is the opportunity to boost efficiency with a second heat exchanger. While the main heat exchanger in a system like this lives outside, just as in a conventional single-room heat pump, the second one works to provide pure air from outdoors, but to warm it with outgoing stale air at indoor temperature.

With this unit in the system, the benefits of pure air come without the temperature drop of opening a window! Your home may be suitable for ducted heat pump air conditioning if it has a generous roof space to run the insulated ducts, and if it’s of a compact ‘footprint’.

It’s important for the layout to contain as many simple direct lines as possible from the central ‘core’ to the outlets in bedrooms and living area.

For the best summer cooling, an air input grate should be placed on the shady side of the house.

The benefits, a clean, uncluttered look, more wall space for windows or artwork, and heat or cool in every room via your phone or a remote.