What is the best humidity-friendly AC system?

Air Conditioning FAQs

There are so many different kinds of air conditioning systems and each have their own benefits and drawbacks. But when you live in a hot climate with high humidity, your considerations include an additional important factor: some types of air conditioning systems don’t work well as well in humid conditions or will simply crank up your electricity bills to exorbitant levels in hot conditions.

So how do you choose the best air conditioning system for hot regions with high humidity that won’t damage your pocket year after year? Read on for the ultimate guide to choosing the right air conditioning system for tropical or humid conditions.

What’s the upshot?

If you live in the tropics or in humid conditions, you know how important your air conditioning system is. In summary:

  • The most appropriate option is a cooling only split air conditioner. If you live in cycle prone area, be sure the external unit is anchored well to the external wall.
  • For larger homes or offices, investing in a ducted, cooling-only air conditioning is another good option, and would give you the long-term benefits of seamless cool air and lower energy bills year after year.
  • Evaporative air conditioning, reverse cycle split systems and reverse cycle ducted air conditioning are not recommended in humid or tropical conditions.

Cooling only split system air conditioners are the most suitable option

In hot and humid conditions, using a cooling only split system will be the most appropriate and cost effective solution.

A multi-head cooling only split system is a particularly good option, since it can be programmed to cool either single rooms or multiple rooms at one time.  Each room can also be programmed individually, which means that if one person likes their room ice cold, you don’t all have to suffer or pay the cost of cooling an entire house down. The hot weather or humidity doesn’t slow them down, so multi-head cooling only split air conditioners are a good choice for tropical conditions.

When installed a split system in cyclone prone areas, ensure that the outdoor unit is anchored well to the external wall. Regular maintenance is recommended, because gekkos and other creatures can sneak into the external units and affect their effectiveness.

Reverse cycle split systems are not recommended or necessary in tropical or humid conditions.

Ducted Cooling Only Central Air Conditioning Systems

These systems are often highly recommended for almost any condition. They are aesthetically insignificant, highly effective and quiet as well. The initial cost of installation can be hefty because they require a fair amount of adjustments to your home, such as digging out the ducts in the flooring of each room. Once they’re installed, though, they work well and it will cost less to cool a single room, a few chosen areas or an entire home.

When considering a central a/c system, you should make sure you choose one with a high seasonal energy efficiency ratio SEER rating. Some might have a rating of 6 or 9, but to qualify for an SEER energy star, they need to have a rating of at least 14. With an SEER of 14 or more, you are not only using less energy to cool your home, but your power bills will be much lower every year as well.

In humidity and tropical conditions, ducted reverse cycle systems are not suitable or necessary.

Portable, Window or Room A/C Units are another option

These units are cheap to buy and can be removed and transferred each time a person moves house. These units can be a good solution because they will only cool the room they are installed in. The downside is that these small units are not usually very powerful or energy efficient.

Night Breeze and other new state of the art cooling systems may not be suitable

There are a lot of new, technologically advanced cooling systems available on the market that offer you a much higher energy efficiency rating and lower costs. In most conditions, these would be a viable consideration, but in hot, humid climates, you should be cautious about these new devices. Many are not designed for humid conditions or are experimental, so making significant adjustments to your home to outfit a newly designed system may not be worth the expense. A lot of these systems are energy efficient because they partially rely on the evaporation method, which as mentioned, doesn’t work effectively in humid conditions. This means that while they may have rave reviews and many happy customers, they wouldn’t be as effective for your needs: That one section that relies on evaporation could prevent the whole system from working properly on particularly humid days, which is right when you need it most. In short, if you live in the tropics, you may find yourself making up the cost of your super-efficient, cutting edge cooling system with hefty specialist repairman fees!

Evaporative air conditioners are not suitable for humid conditions

Evaporators are often recommended for hot climates and are promoted as very energy efficient, but in reality, they are not particularly suited to humidity: only to dry heat. They work by pulling fresh air in and cooling it by making it pass through a moist lining, but if the air is already full of moisture, the lining becomes congested and they won’t work effectively. In summary, in climates with high temperatures and humidity, evaporative air conditioning may not be the most effective air conditioning solution.


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