Evaporative or Refrigerated Air Conditioning Systems – Which One Should You Choose?

Evaporative or Refrigerated Air Conditioning Systems – Which One Should You Choose?

For most homeowners in Perth, having an air conditioning unit serviced or replaced is one of those “once in a blue moon” events that people either postpone or forget entirely. That is, until the air conditioning unit breaks down and you have to put up with the summer heat until the unit is fixed or replaced, Truth be told, having your air conditioning unit serviced regularly will help your home air conditioning unit last for years even decades before you need to consider having it replaced. But if you are currently in the market for a new air conditioning system, you might be having a hard time deciding whether to get an evaporative unit (colloquially known as “evap system) or a refrigerated unit (usually referred to as “reverse cycle air conditioners). We will do an in-depth review of these two systems and find out the good, the bad and the ugly for both evaporative and refrigerated systems.



You need to factor in the cost of labour as well as the current configuration of your cooling system. A split system refrigerated air conditioning usually takes a few hours to install by one or two refrigeration mechanic and/or electrician, while an evaporative system (if all the vents and ducts are already present) would take slightly longer and would require both a refrigeration mechanic and a plumber to be involved in the task. For most homeowners, discussing your plans with a qualified refrigeration mechanic and/or electrician would save you headaches in the long run.


Buying Costs

When buying a new air conditioning system, most people settle for an evaporative system because it is significantly cheaper than a refrigerated system. Often, one unit is enough to cool an average-sized house because it is ducted through every room. On the other hand, depending on the type of refrigerated unit you buy and the size of the house, you may need to have multiple units installed in order to cool the whole house. This issue is further magnified for two-storey houses or houses with a lot of rooms. You need to spend a significant amount of time shopping around for a good brand that would not break the bank.


Performance and Flexibility

Evaporative air conditioners work best in warm, dry weather. In places where the temperatures get to extreme levels or high humidity, they tend to not cool the place as effectively as refrigerated air conditioners. Evaporative systems can cool an average-sized home between 10-12 degrees below the outdoor temperature, but it starts to struggle when the outdoor temperature goes above 38 degrees Celsius. Some evaporative coolers are also not appropriate for bushfire prone areas because a number of older designs do not have noncombustible mesh which stop the bushfire embers from penetrating the evaporative system and wreaking havoc to your home. Refrigerated air conditioners have superior cooling and temperature control in all weather conditions. It allows for your home to be cooled down to a specified temperature and maintains that setting the whole time the unit it turned on. Also, if you opt for a ducted refrigerated system, you are also able to use the same unit for heating your home during winter. Most refrigerated units run at reverse cycle which is versatile and can circulate either cool or warm air to your home.


Running Costs and Operation

In terms of cooling costs, evaporative and refrigerated coolers are not that far apart anymore. If you get an exceptional refrigerated unit with a 6- or 7-star rating, the energy consumption is very close to the efficiency of an evaporative system. On average though, evaporative systems cost cheaper to run because it relies on water to do the cooling while refrigerated systems uses electricity and can use significantly more when the weather is particularly hot. Another consideration with the day-to-day operation is the noise level produced by the units. Evaporative systems generally run quietly, and the noise is barely noticeable both indoors and outdoors. On the other hand, the external exhaust unit of a refrigerated system can produce significant noise which can become annoying to neighbours or other houses with windows nearby. You have to consider the placement of the external unit in order to avoid any complications with the neighbours.


Eco-friendliness and Air Quality

Evaporative air conditioners provide fresh, clean air by circulating outside air which then pass through filters to remove dust particles and allergens. The nature and operation of evaporative coolers also force indoor air outwards and gets rid of stale air and bad kitchen smells quite efficiently. It also has a lower carbon footprint because it generally uses less electricity and uses a water as a natural coolant. In contrast, refrigerated air conditioners require that you keep all windows and doors closed so that cool air would not escape. This usually results in stale air and staying in a room with refrigerated cooling feels like the unit is depriving the room of moisture. It also uses more electricity in general, resulting in a higher carbon footprint.


Which One Is the Better Buy?

There is no clear winner between evaporative and refrigerated air conditioners. As we have enumerated, each one has its own pros and cons, and it is usually up to the home owner to determine his or her needs and which system addresses the needs better. In most cases, consulting a qualified and highly-experienced refrigeration and electrical contractor is a good way of helping you decide which type of system to buy. Contact us at Austec Electrical and we will discuss your situation and recommend the best system for your place so you can stay cool and comfortable for the hot (or even the cold) days of the year.



About Us

Locally owned and operated, Austec Electrical was established in 1984, and has grown into a fully-fledged electrical company, servicing everything from domestic electrical repairs to telecommunications and renewable energy. This experience has helped us build an incredible team of electricians that meet the highest standards of service and has allowed us to build a long list of loyal customers. We offer a comprehensive range of electrical and cabling services throughout Perth. Fully accredited by ARC, The Office of Energy, HIA and the Solar Energy Council, we are fully qualified to provide a wide range of electrical solutions to both residential and commercial clients.