Cool through the summer
The number of heat days and tropical nights is also increasing in this country. Air conditioning systems are therefore more in demand than ever – we asked what needs to be considered when purchasing and installing them.
It’s getting hotter and hotter: According to climate studies, the number of hot days in Austria will rise to 50 or more by the year 2100. However, some places were not far away from this in 2022: In Seibersdorf, for example, the temperature climbed above the 30 degree mark on 41 days in the previous year, and Bad Deutsch-Altenburg had 45 days with more than 30 degrees. The problem is that hot days and tropical nights cause the thermometer to climb in many houses and apartments. This in turn results in concentration problems, sleep disturbances, exhaustion or even serious health problems.
Air conditioners can provide a remedy in such cases: “You should definitely go for a so-called split air conditioner,” says Franz Hörhager from the technical sales department of Kratky Kältetechnik GmbH. As the name suggests, this consists of an outer and one or more inner parts. “With multi-split systems, you can connect up to five indoor units,” Hörhager says. By the way, the devices can be used not only for cooling, but also for heating, for example, during the transitional period. Asked about quality features of the equipment, the expert points to two values – the EER factor, which indicates the efficiency of air conditioners in heating and cooling, and sound power, which is standardized for each unit. The former should be as high as possible, while the latter should be as low as possible.
Before choosing a particular device, in any case, calculate the required cooling capacity. For this purpose, various factors are taken into account, from the compass direction in which the windows are oriented, to the volume of the room, to the insulation of windows, walls and ceilings. “The rule of thumb for power is 100 watts per square meter of cooling capacity,” says Hörhager, who advises in this context to consult experts both in the selection of the air conditioner and in its installation. “For the latter, you need the appropriate equipment and the knowledge to prevent the system from leaking after a few years,” the expert said. However, a refrigeration technician is indispensable for the commissioning of the air conditioning system. “It’s regulated by law that only he can put them into operation,” Hörhager knows.
Speaking of legal regulation, split air conditioners can not be installed easily. “Every outdoor unit requires a permit,” Hörhager said. In Vienna, for example, this requires the approval of the building police, MA 37, which often also requests an opinion from MA 19 (Architecture and Urban Design). It may also be necessary to consult the Office of Historic Preservation. In principle, the landlord must also give his okay, as the installation of an air conditioning system represents a significant change to the leased property. If the system is installed without a permit, the landlord may be subject to an action for adverse possession. Apartment owners, in turn, need the approval of all co-owners in addition to the approval of the building authority. If one of the parties is opposed, an out-of-court settlement can be initiated. But even in the case where it is not allowed to install an outdoor unit, there is a solution – in the form of a water-cooled split air conditioner. In this case, the air-conditioning indoor unit is connected to a heat exchanger unit, which can be installed wherever there is a power connection or water supply or drain.
The situation is different with mobile air conditioners, which can be placed in any apartment. Hörhager advises against these, however. “Mobile air conditioners need quite a bit more electricity than split systems, they are relatively noisy – and their size and performance are limited,” the expert knows. This is because the devices draw in the indoor air, cool part of it and release it back into the room. “But you need a hose to blow the rest out,” Hörhager says. And that’s where the problem lies: either the hose has to be laid outside through a hole in the window pane or a window has to be open for it. However, the resulting negative pressure draws warm outside air back into the room. Keyword negative pressure: This can also lead to the formation and spread of carbon monoxide in the presence of gas heaters, fireplaces or solid fuel stoves. “If you do reach for such a device, you should at least choose a system with two hoses,” Hörhager says.
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