Cooling Your Conservatory: Air Conditioning

If you’re fed up with feeling hot and bothered when trying to enjoy your conservatory in the sunshine, you might be wondering whether air conditioning could solve your problems. Air conditioners are certainly one of the go-to technologies for other areas of the house if you want a fast acting, cool solution, but do they work in conservatories too? Here’s what you need to know about air conditioning for cooling your conservatory.

What is air conditioning?

Air conditioners work in a similar manner to fridges and freezers, extracting the hot air in the room and moving it outside. They use a compressor, which works to draw the warm air from the room into it. The hot air then passes through a condenser and across an evaporator, both of which cool the air. This colder air then passes through a fan which blows it all around the room. The heat itself is expelled to the outside.

Types of air conditioners

There are two basic types of air conditioning you could consider for your conservatory. These are:

Portable air conditioning

The most commonly seen type of air conditioner in homes in the UK, these units are completely self-contained and free standing, and require no fussy installation at all. The unit simply plugs into a mains outlet and start working. The only downside is that they have an exhaust hose which should be vented to the outside somewhere.

Split air conditioning

These units have a separate indoor fan unit and an outdoor compressor. The two units are connected by a hose, and cannot easily be moved. The advantages of this unit compared to the portable type is that it is very quiet, because all the noisy parts are outside. They are also more energy efficient, and can be used in reverse to supply heat too.

The type of air conditioner you are considering will depend a great deal on your own needs and budget. Portable air conditioners cost a fraction of what a split unit will cost to install, and come with the added advantage of being mobile, so you can use them in other rooms too. However, because heating is often a problem in conservatories in the winter, an investment in a split unit fixed to this room could solve two problems at once.

Pros and cons of air conditioning for conservatories

Installing air conditioning in your conservatory may seem like a great solution, but it’s important to be aware of some of the limitations of this technology as well as the benefits available.
Some of the main benefits include:

  • Active cooling, which can actually lower the temperature of a room
  • Some types can run in reverse as a heater for the winter
  • Act as a dehumidifier as well, helping avoid condensation and mould growth
  • Portable units are relatively low cost to purchase

However, while these are all great benefits to enjoy, you should also be aware of some of the limitations of air conditioning, particularly when applied to a conservatory situation:

  • Expensive to run, on average £17 per week if used continuously
  • They are less effective in less well insulated spaces, such as conservatories
  • Portable units are noisy and probably not effective enough to make any difference in a conservatory
  • Fixed units are expensive to install, and your siting options will be limited due to all the glass in your room

If you decide that air conditioning in your conservatory is the right choice for you, do be mindful of the environment and take steps to reduce your energy consumption where you can. Using air conditioning in conjunction with blinds is a good idea, and a ceiling fan can assist in driving the cold air down towards you from the unit. Don’t leave your air conditioning switched on if you’re not in the room; the poor thermal performance of conservatories means your cool air will just escape, and will not build up in the way you hoped.