Which type of air conditioning should you choose for your home?

In very hot weather, many people view cooling their home as a necessity. Switching on a fan or opening a window isn’t always enough. An air conditioner can therefore be a good option for keeping a pleasant temperature in your living environment and maintaining thermal comfort. Reverse cycle multi-split, monobloc...There’s a wide range of options to choose from. You’ll want to look at reviews and compare factors such as cost, BTU rating and energy efficiency. So, what unit should you choose and most importantly, which system is the most suitable for you?

What are the different models on the market?  

 Monobloc air conditioning  

A monobloc or single-packaged model has only one indoor unit and no outdoor unit. The refrigerant liquid as well as the main components (evaporator, compressor etc.) are contained in this unit and the system uses a duct to expel the hot air outside. 

 Split air conditioning 

Mono-split air conditioner: this system consists of an indoor unit and an outdoor unit that are connected by a pipe. So it can only be used for cooling one room in the house: the one in which the indoor unit is located.  

Multi-split air conditioner: this model consists of one outdoor unit and several indoor units. The indoor units are all connected to the outdoor unit but can be adjusted independently of each other. This makes it possible to cool several rooms in the house, unlike with a mono-split system. These systems can be bi, tri, quad-split... 

 Portable air conditioning 

A portable unit can be moved around the house. It can be monobloc, split or reverse cycle. This is a much more affordable product than a fixed system. Not only is it cheaper to buy, there is no fitting work to be done.  

 Fixed or wall mounted air conditioning  

Unlike a portable unit, a fixed air conditioner cannot be moved because it is attached to the wall. This product can therefore only cool the room in which it is located. Generally the indoor unit should be placed at least 2 metres above the ground. What’s more, unlike their portable counterparts, these units require professional intervention.  

Ceiling air conditioning units: cassette or ducted 

The cassette or ducted model works like a wall mounted product, the only difference being the positioning of the unit, which is attached to the ceiling. Cassette systems are often used in large spaces such as offices, conference halls, classrooms, etc., because they can cover a larger area than other types of air conditioners. They may be reverse cycle systems.  

Reverse cycle air conditioning 

A reverse cycle air conditioner, also known as an air-to-air heat pump, is a system that can produce cold air during hot weather as well as heating your abode when the temperature drops. It allows you to adjust the temperature in your house according to weather conditions. So these products work according to the principle of thermodynamic heating, which means that: 

  • To cool the room, the unit will capture the calories in the air, expel them and send back cold air 
  • In heating mode, the calories from the outside air will be used to warm the room 

Solar air conditioning  

Solar air conditioning is a system that uses solar energy to cool a house. This system uses photovoltaic solar panels to convert solar energy into electricity, which is then used to power the system. 

There are two main types of solar air conditioning: solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal. 

  • Solar photovoltaic air conditioning uses solar panels to generate electricity, which is then used to power the device. This is a relatively simple technology to set up, but it’s often less effective than a solar thermal system. 
  • Solar thermal air conditioning uses solar thermal panels to produce hot water, which is then used to power an absorption air conditioning system. Absorption systems use chemicals to produce cold air, which makes them more effective than conventional models.  

As you can see, there are many models on the market to compare. But it’s important to understand that one type does not exclude another... Indeed, a portable air conditioner can be monobloc or split. Just as a reverse cycle air conditioner can be fixed, portable or ducted.  

In short, you can choose a system based on:  

  • Its portability (fixed or portable)
  • Its reversibility (whether you want it for heating or not)
  • Its location (attached to a wall or ducted)
  • Its technology (Inverter) 

By taking all these items of information into account, along with factors such as the unit's size, appearance and BTU rating, you’ll be able to compare the products on the market and find the best one for you. 

What is Inverter technology?  

Some systems use Inverter technology to control the speed of the compressor according to how cool you want the room to be. Unlike conventional systems that operate at a fixed speed, Inverter technology allows the compressor to vary its speed by adjusting the air output according to heat demand. 

Specifically, Inverter technology uses a frequency converter to regulate the speed of the compressor motor. When the temperature in the room reaches the target temperature, the compressor slows down or stops completely. Firstly, this system allows you to achieve optimal thermal comfort quickly, and secondly, it’s very energy efficient compared to conventional air conditioning, which will run at full power until it reaches the desired temperature and then stops.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of air conditioners? 

Air conditioner models 



Monobloc air conditioning 

  • Low power consumption  
  • Fairly easy to set up 
  • Prices can be affordable depending on the model chosen 
  • Not suitable for large areas  
  • Relatively noisy system 

Split air conditioning 

  • Modulate the air conditioning in several rooms independently 
  • More powerful than a monobloc unit, so it can be used for cooling larger areas 
  • Complex and potentially expensive fitting work required  
  • The outdoor units can be noisy  
  • High purchase price 

Fixed air conditioning 

  • Quiet  
  • Better performance than portable units 
  • Regular maintenance  
  • Professional fitting required 

Portable air conditioning 

  • Convenient because it can be moved around the house 
  • Can be stored away when not in use 
  • No fitting work required 
  • Auxiliary device with limited cooling capacity  
  • Noisier than a fixed unit 

Cassette air conditioning 

  • Easy to fit in a false ceiling 
  • Discreet as it’s fitted on the ceiling 
  • Can cool large areas due to its high cooling capacity 
  • High power consumption  
  • High cost 

Solar air conditioning 

  • Environmentally friendly because this system does not emit greenhouse gases or contain any polluting refrigerant 
  • Economical  
  • Long life span of the solar panels (about 25 years) 
  • Expensive to purchase and install 
  • A system that depends on the amount of sunlight available 
  • A complex fitting process 

Reverse cycle air conditioning (air-to-air heat pump) 

  • Option to modulate the temperature according to the season and the weather  
  • Energy savings  
  • High performance 
  • High price 
  • Installation requiring professional intervention  
  • The heating mode is limited and cannot provide thermal comfort at very low temperatures 

What are the most important criteria when choosing a home air conditioning system?  

Before you make a purchase, you want to be sure that the model will suit your needs. So, here are a few things to consider before making your purchase:  

  • The size and layout of the room(s) involved. BTU (British Thermal Unit) is a metric that can help you determine the right product for your size of home, so be sure to check the BTU rating of any products you're considering. The higher the BTU value, the more powerful the system. 
  • How frequently you want to cool your home (or warm it, in the case of reverse cycle models), which may depend on your geographical area. 
  • Your budget because air conditioning units vary in price. Costs can soon add up: you need to take account of the purchase price, fitting for some models, and the cost of getting your system up and running. 
  • The volume of the unit. You may view this as an important factor depending on the space available and how important the image of your home is to you.
  • The noise made by the unit: a noisy air conditioner can be an issue if you put it in a bedroom or office, or if you are particularly sensitive to noise. 
  • The power consumption of the air conditioner. When buying an air conditioner, as well as looking at reviews, pay attention to the energy rating of the one you’re interested in. This is an important item of information because ideally, if you want to save energy, you should buy a unit with a class A rating (or even A+, A++ or A+++) and avoid the lowest letters of the classification system (E, F, G). 

How do I install air conditioning in my home?  

The complexity of the fitting process will vary depending on which type of system you choose. Indeed, if you buy a portable air conditioner, no work is required. Conversely, fixed models must be fitted by a professional.  

If you require a professional to install your system, it’s best to contact several companies for quotes, look at reviews and compare them to see which offers the best value.

It takes just a few minutes to set up the Netatmo Smart Controller from your smartphone. Plug it in near your AC unit, then either fix it to the wall or place it on a table.

How much does it cost to buy an air conditioner and install it in your home?  

How much you will pay depends on the type of unit chosen and the technology involved, but also on the surface area you want to cool or heat. You have to take into account the price of the unit and for some air conditioner models, you also need to add fitting costs. For example, a portable air conditioning system can start at around £250 for entry-level models and go up to more than £3,500 for more comprehensive and sophisticated models (such as portable split air conditioning systems). Cassette air conditioners are much less affordable at about €3,000 on average.   

While air conditioning can be a great alternative to electric fans or opening a window, choosing the right system isn't always easy. With all the different products available and the range of factors you need to consider (installation, cost, BTU, maintenance...), you have to think carefully before making a purchase. The best unit for your home will be the one that suits your budget, is powerful enough to cool or heat all the areas you want, and is also energy efficient.