How Does Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning Work?

In this blog, we’re going to discuss what reverse cycle air conditioning is and how it works. You will also learn the benefits and some helpful maintenance tips to ensure its longevity and efficiency. So, if you’re looking to switch to reverse-cycle aircon, this post will surely be helpful.

What is Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning?

Reverse cycle air conditioning is a climate control system providing heating and cooling to a home or building. It utilises a dedicated four-way reversing valve, which you can find in the outdoor unit. This particular reversing valve can switch the flow of the refrigerant, effectively reversing the refrigeration cycle.

Here’s a quick summary of what happens:

  • In the winter, heat is collected from the outside environment, even when it is very cold. Heat is then brought inside as the outdoor unit expels cold air from the room.
  • In the summer, cool air is gathered from the outside, bringing it inside the house. The outdoor unit will expel the warm air from inside, so you feel cooler.

With a reverse cycle aircon, you only need one unit for your cooling and heating needs.

How Does Reverse-Cycle Air Conditioning Work?

Reverse cycle air conditioning systems use a refrigeration cycle to push heat from inside your home to the outside. The critical element is the heat pump, which utilises the refrigeration cycle to cool down or heat the internal environment.

Here’s how it works to cool your home:

  1. A fan draws air from your home.
  2. Cool air will then pass to the coil containing the cold refrigerant.
  3. The refrigerant then works to absorb the heat from the space.
  4. The low-pressure cold liquid refrigerant will be compressed and converted to create high-pressure, hot gas.
  5. A fan pushes the gas to a heat exchanger located in the outdoor unit.
  6. The refrigerant gas will be cooled and liquefied.
  7. As the refrigerant flows through the expansion valve, heat is absorbed as the gas goes back to the evaporator.
  8. The cycle continues through the cooling process until you turn off your reverse cycle air conditioner.

When you require the heating function of your aircon, the process is the same as above, except the heat is extracted from outside, drawing it in. Note that the system can do this task even when it’s cold out.

Some reverse air conditioners have an automatic defrost cycle, allowing you to enjoy a heated home even when the temperatures drop to -15℃.

These nifty air conditioning systems can fulfil their function even in the hottest or coldest of Perth temperatures. You can also choose between a split system or a gas ducted reverse cycle system.

Differences between split system and ducted air con

Split System vs Ducted System

A split aircon is probably the most common system used in homes. Small to medium houses benefit from a split system because it performs well and is energy efficient, as well.

The main distinction between a split and ducted system is that a split system consists of two units: one unit is installed inside the house, and the other is placed outside. The indoor unit is the evaporative heat exchanger, which you commonly mount on the wall, whilst the outdoor unit is the condensing heat exchanger.

Compared to ducted aircon, split systems are much cheaper and faster to install. However, if you have a large room or live in a double-storey home, a ducted system may be a better choice.

If your home is quite expansive or you have a flat roof, we recommend a ducted reverse cycle aircon instead. This system is energy efficient, too, and can even hike up the value of your home. A ducted aircon does not have a separate outdoor unit. Everything is incorporated into one large box that sits outside your home. The compressor and condenser are inside this unit, and the evaporator coils are for cooling purposes. As with split system air conditioning, there is no evaporator.

Ducted reverse cycle air conditioner systems deliver warm or cold air using a series of ducts. These ducts are commonly installed under the floor or in the roof cavity. The beauty of using ducted systems is that they allow you to regulate the climate of different rooms through zoning. That’s why it’s an excellent choice for those who live in areas with high humidity.

Why Choose Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning

Why Choose Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning

Whether you pick a split system or a ducted reverse cycle air conditioner, you will gain many benefits from your unit. We’ve listed some of them below so you can decide whether this type of air conditioning system is ideal for your home:

1. Energy Efficient

A reverse cycle system uses up to 40% less electricity than standard split systems with 2-way or 3-way reversing valves.

In Australia, energy efficiency is assessed through Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS). All units come with the Zoned Energy Rating Label (ZERL), which tells you the capacity output for cooling and heating. Look for the star rating on the label, too. The more stars the model has, the higher the energy efficiency. You can also look up the star rating of a particular model by visiting Energy Rating Calculator

2. Air Quality

The air from a reverse cycle system is cleaner than what came in. It has been filtered through the heat exchanger before being cooled or heated by the refrigerant. That’s why these systems are mostly used in hospitals. They help reduce airborne infections such as Legionnaires Disease and MRSA.

3. Temperature Control

With reverse cycle air conditioning, you can set the temperature you want rather than adjust it throughout the day using a thermostat. This means you don’t have to worry about hot spots in rooms where people spend most of their time or cold places where people don’t spend much time.

4. Moisture

The system can use heat to extract moisture from the air, making it easier for you to breathe comfortably inside your home or office.

5. Easy Installation

Reverse cycle air conditioners are simple and quick to install, especially a split system. No ducts are required for heating or cooling, making the system ideal where ductwork may be difficult or impractical to install in existing homes or buildings.

6. Low Noise

Most reverse cycle air conditioners today are designed to emit low noise. You can get your ZZZs peacefully without getting disturbed by loud humming or clanging as the appliance operates.

7. Environmentally Friendly

The reverse cycle system uses free cooling from the outside environment instead of an electric compressor, making it one of the most environmentally friendly ways to cool your home and reduce energy bills.

Maintain your reverse cycle air conditioner

How to Maintain Your Reverse Cycle Air Conditioner

The reverse cycle AC is one of the most efficient ways to cool your home. But to get the most out of this technology, you must maintain it properly. Here are some tips:

1. Clean the Condenser

Your reverse cycle air conditioner’s condenser is the part of the outside unit that works with the indoor evaporator to cool your home. Over time, dirt, dust, and leaves can build up in this part of the system. Therefore, you should clean the condenser coils twice a year — once before summer and again before winter. This will ensure that your AC runs smoothly during those seasons.

You should also check for any obstructions in front of your unit, as this could cause it to overheat and shut down unexpectedly. Be sure not to use harsh chemicals when cleaning. Use a soft brush and mild detergent.

2. Check for Leaks

Leaks from your reverse cycle air conditioner could cost you money and increase your energy bills over time. You should check for leaks at least once a year by using soapy water or a leak detection solution on all connections to see if any bubbles appear.

If you find any leaks, contact a professional for repairs immediately. They could lead to more severe problems like mould growth or electrical fires down the road if left untreated.

3. Inspect the Compressor Belt Regularly

The compressor belt connects the motor and compressor to work together efficiently. If there’s a problem with this belt, it can cause damage to other parts of your unit and will need replacing immediately. You should inspect this belt at least once every six months for signs of wear or damage; if you notice any cracks or tears, have it replaced.

4. Clean or Replace Filters Regularly

A dirty filter doesn’t just reduce airflow; it can also cause overheating, damaging your unit. If you have a wet filter system, it should be cleaned at least once per month. If you have a dry filter system, clean it at least twice per year.

5. Keep the Entire System Clean

It’s essential to keep your air conditioner clean to avoid mould and dirt build-up, which can affect its performance. Remove any dust and dirt from the coils with a brush or vacuum cleaner, and wipe down the entire unit regularly with a soft cloth to remove any residue.

For aircon installations and maintenance in Perth, it’s always best to seek professional services. Joondalup Heating & Cooling will install your reverse cycle air conditioner for you and ensure it works efficiently. Contact us to get a free quote today.

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