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Reversible air conditioning: what is it?

Last modified: 2021-05-20 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Amanda Harvey

Have you ever heard of reversible air conditioning? While this term is often seen in articles dealing with general knowledge about air conditioning, few can explain its meaning.

In order to fully explain what reversible air conditioning is as well as the advantages and disadvantages of this system, we’ve prepared the following article.

Everything you need to know about reversible air conditioning

How does it work?

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Basically, it’s important to know that a reversible air conditioner consists of a minimum of two units: one indoor and one outdoor. Each of these has a specific role: the indoor unit captures the heat and humid air in the house to move them outside (which produces cold air for air conditioning), while the outdoor unit captures the outdoor heat and sends it inside and thus, ensures the heating of the interior during winter. Note that outdoor molecules captured can be up to an approximate temperature of 5-7 degrees Celsius.

Secondly, note that a reversible air conditioning system with more than one unit inside is referred to as a "multi-split" unit. In this case, several indoor units are linked to several outdoor units.

Energy saving

Of course, the main advantage of the reversible air conditioning system is its ability to perform two functions (heating and air conditioning). This is why this type of system offers valuable energy savings, a reversible air conditioner consuming only one kWh for each 3 kWh. It’s estimated that a reversible air conditioning unit can save between 30% and 50% in heating costs, which is interesting!

The speed of execution

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On another note, it’s important to emphasize the speed at which a reversible air conditioner works, these need only a few minutes to heat or cool the interior of the house. This ensures that you don’t stay in an uncomfortable situation for very long, whether that means it’s too hot or too cold.

Healthier indoor air

Overall, it should be noted that a reversible air conditioning system allows you to enjoy healthier air inside your house, regardless of whether it’s composed of one unit or more. 

Indeed, such a system allows the air to be filtered, which limits unpleasant odours as well as the presence of dust. Of course, it’s important to remember the importance of properly maintaining your air conditioning system so that the filters can perform their role effectively.

Would you like some tips to maximize the benefits of your reversible air conditioning system? Take a look at our article Using your air conditioning: what to do and what not to do.

The installation of a reversible air conditioner

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Let's not forget to mention that a reversible air conditioner is relatively easy to install, although it’s often recommended that you hire a professional to take on this job.

The timeframe for installing a reversible air conditioning system depends mainly on the area you want to cover. If you want your whole house to be heated/air-conditioned by the system, this installation will take between 3 and 4 days. For a contained system, you should allow between 4 and 5 days to put everything in place.

If the majority of ducted systems (with an air circuit) only use one unit inside, it’s possible that several units are required to distribute the air in a house of a large surface area, or one composed of several floors. The longer setup time is due to the need to hide the entire system out of sight.

More concretely, let's say that the aeraulic circuit, as well as the unit(s), must be installed inside a false ceiling or inside your attic (if you’re only looking to hide one unit). If you only have one unit providing heating and cooling, the whole house will be kept at the same temperature, which can be a disadvantage compared to the multi-split system.

The interest of the multi-split system is precisely to be able to adjust the temperature in each room. This is certainly very practical, as rooms that aren’t in use can be heated to a lower temperature or kept at a slightly higher temperature in summer.

The disadvantages of a reversible air conditioner

Following this long list of advantages, one might tend to believe that this system is almost perfect! However, there are a few disadvantages that are essential to discuss.

This system is linked to the fact that this type of device remains dependent on temperature and weather conditions to function properly. Thus, if the outside temperature drops below 5 degrees Celsius, it’ll be necessary to use another heating system in order to maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home. This is why it’s primarily considered as a source of additional heating, which isn’t sufficient in itself.

As for the price, it's important to know that this system performs both heating and cooling functions at the same time and that makes it more expensive to purchase.

Would you like to learn more about the price of air conditioners? See our article Air conditioning prices 2021.

Finally, let's mention that a reversible air conditioning system can make disruptive noise while operating. However, this varies depending on the system. This is why it’s essential to be well informed at the time of purchase.

  The reversible air conditioner
Advantages
  • a multifunctional system
  • cools and heats air quickly
  • it provides clean indoor air
  • relatively easy installation
Disadvantages
  • how it functions depends on weather conditions
  • price can be higher 
  • it can make disruptive noises 

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