How to Prepare and Plan Air Conditioning Installation?

Be Renovative - air conditioner, helping to make house / apartment renovation simple, practical and fun

Air conditioning is a device that “treats” the air in enclosed spaces, allowing to maintain the desired temperature, humidity, clean air, and ventilation. 

Split-type air conditioning devices are called split-type because they are divided into two parts. The first part is installed inside your house or apartment and is called an evaporator. Through this first part, the air will go out. The second part is called a condenser and is installed outside the house, where the air will be “treated”. 

A split air conditioner is a most modern and most used type. To install it, you have to pay attention to a few details. You will need to know how to prepare the installation, be able to choose the exact capacity of the appliance and to define where in the house each part of the split-type will be installed. 

Let’s take a look at each of those details:

How to prepare for the installation of split air conditioning

Start by remembering that one part of the split system is located inside the house and another is outside. Choose the location where the air outlet/window will be located and consider that it will be connected by pipes and wires to the other part of the appliance, which should be inside the room. 

So the closer those two parts are located, the lower will be the cost with pipes and labor. 

For connecting the two parts of the appliance the following parts are used:

  • copper or aluminum tubes (also called refrigeration tubing), with gauges and thicknesses appropriate to the thermal load you choose (see tip 2 below);
  • tubing with electrical wiring, cables sized according to the load of the conditioner and a circuit breaker per each air conditioner;
  • PVC pipes for water drainage, connected to the sewage pipes of the house.

If you are building your house and installing air conditioning at the same time, pass the required infrastructure (the 3 types of pipes above) through the walls at the same time when your plumber is doing the hydraulic installation and the sockets and switches are being placed. 

If your home is ready and you decide to install the split air conditioning system, you will need to open walls and embed the pipes in the existing water system. Then, cover the walls with plaster lining, paint or cover with wallpaper. If your house is built as structural masonry, do not open the walls: let the pipes appear on the outside or pass through the plaster lining.

How to calculate split air capacity for your room

To calculate the capacity for your split air conditioning system, you will need to know the area of ​​the room and when this room receives direct sunlight – in the morning or in the afternoon. 

BTU is the acronym for British Thermal Unit, and it is the number of BTUs that determines what will be the cooling power of your air conditioner. 

Thus, smaller rooms, such as bedrooms, will often receive a split air conditioning system with lower capacity. To get an idea of ​​the capacity of the split, use the following reference table:

AreaSunny only in the morningSunny in the afternoon or all day
9 m27500 BTUs9000 BTUs
12 m29000 BTUs10000 BTUs
20 m210000 BTUs12000 BTUs
25 m212000 BTUs15000 BTUs
30 m215000 BTUs18000 BTUs
40 m218000 BTUs21000 BTUs
50 m221000 BTUs30000 BTUs
60 m222000 BTUs30000 BTUs
70 m230000 BTUs30000 BTUs

Choose the best place to install split air system

Tip 1: Avoid installing the split air system in rooms or places of the house where the air conditioning pipe interferes with the electrical installations or pipes of water and sewage. If you do not follow this tip, there is a good chance to meet unwanted problems down the road!

Tip 2: Also avoid placing the air outlet part on the walls that get too much sun. Do not place the air outlet (evaporator) next to TV sets or stereos, nor any electrical equipment. Electrical equipment can be damaged if water evaporates from the evaporator and creates extra humidity next to the electrical appliances. 

Leave the air outlet part 15cm away from the ceiling and consider that it needs to be easy to access for cleaning, maintenance or filter replacement.

The condenser must be installed outdoors, in a well-ventilated area and preferably where it does not catch direct sunlight. This will help increase the lifetime of the equipment. 

Tip 3: Remember to place the two parts of the split system as close as possible to each other to reduce expenses.

What to do if the air conditioner frequently switched off

Most common cause:

Wrong installation. Possibly the electrician has connected your split system directly an electrical outlet, without creating a specific circuit for it (circuit breaker and wiring only for the split system). In addition to putting your house at risk, this improvised electrical connection compromises the appliance.

Other possible causes:

The error may also be in the voltage. Split type air conditioners mostly need to be connected to 220V (this depends on the country and appliance you have purchased). If you plug into the common 110V outlet, it does not work.

How you could have avoided:

When installing the air conditioner, the electrician should have assessed the mains voltage, the voltage of the equipment and, if the appliance was a split type, which has two parts (one outside the house and producing the refrigeration and another that stays inside the house and blows the conditioned air), should have planned well where each of the two parts need to be located. 

As it draws a lot of energy, each appliance must be connected to a single circuit breaker, which serves to protect the circuits. And the breaker amps level must be selected according to the power of the appliance that you plan to connect. Check with the manufacturer or product label for the recommended amperage. In general, air conditioning can only be connected in 220V, which will depend on the country though. 

If the air conditioner is of the split model, it must be installed in bi-phase or three-phase circuits, that is, only with 220V. Only some models of air conditioning (most of those installed on a window) can be installed with 110V.

7 questions from readers about air conditioning

Is it possible to pass the air conditioning pipe under the floor to avoid having it on the ceiling? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this installation?

Installation of the pipes can be done both on the ceiling and under the floor. The downside of the “under the floor” installation is that if there is any problem with the pipes, you will need to break the floor to access it and fix the problem.

Is it possible to throw the air conditioning water drain through the bathroom or kitchen drain?

If there is no special outlet for the water drain from the air conditioner, it can be placed in any existing drain that does not return a smell of sewage. This can be a kitchen or bathroom drain. Very important that the air conditioner drain is flowing down and cannot be flat. It needs to have a drop of, at least, 1 centimeter.

Does the air conditioner already come with enough factory gas? Or do you need to load more at the time of installation?

Normally the gas already comes in the appliance, which is usually enough, on average, for up to 8 meters of pipe. During the installation, the technician should measure the level of gas and should make sure that the required level is filled in.

Can the air condenser outside be exposed to rain? Does it pose any problems?

No, air conditioning appliances are manufactured to be used outdoors, thus they are ready to be exposed to the sun and rain.

Do I need an accredited technician for the installation?

An accredited technician ensures security and know-how of work with a particular brand of appliance. The most important is to have training and experience.

Does the condensing unit need to be fixed or can it be let loose?

The appliance and its condensing unit must be installed fixed. In the case of vibration, install a suction cup or anti-vibration rubber mat to reduce vibration from the compressor.

The technician, who came to install the split air system has removed the “excess” gas. Now the system does not work properly. Is that correct?

Normally, no gas should be removed from the condenser system. The quantity of gas that comes with the appliance is what is needed for its operation. Sometimes you will even need to add gas when the line is too long. A “technician” should know that. When hiring a professional, always look for one with references and training.

Happy air-con installation!

Read also: How to avoid common mistakes in an energy-efficient renovation? – in this article. And, Golden rules to save money on a renovation project – in this article.

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