Air conditioning or split system - which is better? Comparative review

Alexey Dedyulin
Checked by a specialist: Alexey Dedyulin
Author: Oleg Zubarev
Last update: April 2019

If a person thinks about how to improve the climatic conditions in his home, office, then there will be a dilemma about what is better - air conditioning or a split system. This happens because each of these types of equipment has both its advantages and disadvantages - that is, there is no ideal option.

In the article we proposed, design features and the principle of operation of climatic equipment are described in detail. To facilitate the process of evaluating the positive and negative sides, we presented the characteristics in comparison. Our recommendations will help you make the right choice.

Equipment selection guidelines

At its core, air conditioners and split systems are two varieties of one type of popular climate equipment. That is, they are designed to solve the same problems, while the principle of their action is similar.

And the only difference is that the air conditioner is monoblock, that is, its body is one unit, and each split system offered to customers consists of two parts. Moreover, they are always placed in different places - one of them is installed outside the heated room, and the second inside.

Since the functionality of monoblock models and split systems is similar, all of them are able to effectively cool the air in a residential, working and any other, relatively small, room. At the same time, air is drained. It is necessary to ensure sufficient comfort in the room, to prevent the development of bacteria.

Wall unit split system
Wall-mounted indoor unit of the split system provides even distribution of warm air

In addition, today, versatility has become an important feature of air conditioners, split systems. As a result, heating with concomitant drainage may not be the only function available to the user.Therefore, anyone can buy a unit that additionally carries out ventilation and filtration.

Nevertheless, one should know that the listed functions in both varieties can be considered no more than additional. Since there are a number of operational limitations. For example, the ventilation mode is best used only in the winter, if warm air accumulates at the top, and it is cold near the floor.

Filtration often allows you to fight only with dust, but more and more manufacturers equip their products:

  • ionizers - designed to destroy bacteria, purify the air of odors and other contaminants;
  • fine filters - they serve to clean the air of various allergens, mold, etc.

But only air conditioners belonging to the most expensive category, which are not available to everyone, can still be compared in terms of efficiency with air purifiers.

Indoor unit split system
The market has the most models related to split systems. You can install this technique in the room of an apartment of a multi-storey building, a cottage or a country estate

And yet all models related to these types of equipment are household. That is, they are used to cool apartments, small shops, restaurants, private houses, offices. For processing air in large rooms, units of a completely different class are used, which are considered professional.

Varieties of modern air conditioners

If a potential buyer needs to understand what is better - a monoblock air conditioner or a split-system consisting of several parts, then you should start by familiarizing yourself with the types of this equipment. And a lot of them were created for convenience.

Split systems are further divided into:

  • cassette - mounted in the inter-ceiling space, belong to the group fresh air equipment;
  • channel - they are installed between the main and false ceilings and allow you to cool the air in several necessary rooms at once;
  • wall mounted - the name indicates the main feature;
  • outdoor - unlike all kinds of wall-mounted models, they allow you to avoid the effects of direct air flows on people in the room. In addition, this type of equipment more evenly distributes chilled masses, which is a significant plus.

Channel units feature of their work are due to channels divorced from rooms located nearby. These are ordinary corrugated pipes, with the help of which warm masses are selected and cold ones are delivered. The equipment allows for the conditioning of a multi-room apartment, a large office, and more.

If there is a need to process air in several rooms, then it is logical to use efficient multi-split systems. Their feature is that any number of internal units is connected to one external unit. Moreover, they can be of different capacities, brands, located at different distances from the outside of the system.

Channel Split System
The air duct of the channel split system is circled in red, and the indoor unit itself can be in the next room

At the same time, there is an important drawback, in the form of the same single external unit. So, if it breaks down, then the entire air conditioning system created by the owners of the premises fails.

Monoblock conditioners are divided into:

  1. Mobile - the most popular equipment of this type.
  2. Window - they have already served their purpose, so this kind is presented in the lines of only a few manufacturers that are not top-end. The reasons for the unpopularity are low efficiency and low thermal insulation of the room, where external air enters through the design of the product.

As a result, the monoblock view for today is represented mainly by mobile air conditioners, compact and mounted on wheels.Therefore, it is convenient to move or transport them somewhere. What is their main feature.

An overview of the best positions in the air conditioning market next article, parsing in detail this interesting question.

Comparison of the most important features

Although many common features have been listed above, the design nuances are affecting. Therefore, both varieties have a number of characteristics inherent only in their type, both positive and negative.

Performance for efficient cooling

Monoblock products are designed for air conditioning rooms with an area of ​​15-35 square meters. m. And the models related to split systems are more powerful, which gives them the opportunity to cope with the same work in rooms reaching 50-80 square meters. m. Although most of them are also designed to work on small areas.

Mobile air conditioning
Monoblock air conditioning fits perfectly into the interior and does not take up much space. But its most sought-after feature is mobility.

The conclusion follows from this: monoblock air conditioners should be bought only for cooling the air in small living rooms, kitchens, offices, commercial premises. Whereas split systems can work effectively in a wider range of areas. This factor is important to consider when choosing.

Noisiness is the main disadvantage

The superiority in the performance of split systems is due to the fact that the noisiest part of their design, called the compressor, is located on the street. Therefore, manufacturers can provide the models belonging to this variety, any necessary power, and without risk to reduce the comfort of people.

As for monoblock products, the compressor emitting noise is located inside the housing due to its design features, and therefore, in a residential or office building. As a result, designers are limited in their ability to increase their productivity, which leads to an increase in noise and sound pressure.

Such discomfort will interfere with a quiet life, read a book, work and will certainly harm health. This is an urgent problem, and it was reflected in the legislative acts of all post-Soviet countries.

As a result, monoblock units lose to their two-block counterparts not only in power, which is not critical, but also in noise. The last moment is fundamental for many potential buyers making a choice in favor of models of one or another type of air conditioners.

Window air conditioner
Window air conditioning is also monoblock, but today they are unclaimed, so they are rare

But a premature decision should not be made, since the noise level of monoblock air conditioners is just slightly higher than that of split-systems, but it is within the framework of common sense and various regulatory acts.

Therefore, it all depends on the personal perception of the person and it is recommended to simply make a comparison. Although a clear advantage in this regard is the two-unit units.

Functionality: no clear leader

Split systems are often equipped with various additional equipment, for example, ionizers, effective filters, various control sensors, etc. And they have additional functions that make it possible to make work of higher quality and less energy-consuming.

Nevertheless, most often opponents of monoblock conditioners complained of such inconveniences as the need to perform condensate drain manually. In some cases, this operation had to be performed every 3 hours.

In addition, insufficient accuracy of monitoring the climatic conditions in the room was noted, which led to a mediocre quality of the established program.

But today it is no longer a rarity of models of monoblock air conditioners, devoid of the listed minuses.They can independently remove moisture into the heat exchanger, therefore, every few hours, you no longer need to spend time on the air conditioner.

Installation of a mobile air conditioner
In a one-piece air conditioner, only the duct is in contact with the outside air, which adds to the reliability of the product

And also in recent years, the quality of temperature control in the room has significantly improved, as a result of the errors of the models of leading manufacturers have become insignificant. For example, one-piece air conditioners Electrolux have long had deviations within 1 ° C, which is quite decent.

If a potential buyer plans to use the equipment throughout the year, including for heating, you should pay attention to the availability of such an opportunity. Since heating with the help of split systems is recommended to be carried out only in the spring-autumn period, or more precisely, up to -5 ° C.

Therefore, in most cases, air conditioning will not replace the main types of heating (centralized or autonomous system).

You can ignore the indicated rule that in the worst case everything will end in breakdown when launched in severe frost. With a favorable outcome, the unit will be able to survive only 2-3 winters, which is not enough, given the cost of modern air conditioners. The reason for the short life will be increased wear of the loaded parts of the compressor.

Additional equipment will help to avoid such problems, but even it will not prevent a 3-fold reduction in power in a twenty-degree frost. This will make the system ineffective.

Monoblock air conditioners lack this feature - they are always indoors. And for heating, built-in ceramic heaters that do not burn oxygen are used.

Broken split system
This is a frozen external unit of a split system, this will never happen with a mobile air conditioner

As a conclusion, we can point out that the buyer should take into account the following feature: the clear advantage of split systems is manifested only in the segment of the most technologically advanced and, therefore, expensive products. Therefore, if there is money to buy a unit with the function of self-cleaning, climate control and other options, then it is better to buy a split system.

If there is no desire to spend money on all the most modern "chips", then the functionality will be of a similar level. Therefore, it will be necessary to make choices based on other advantages and disadvantages.

Reliability and mobility of devices

It would seem that structurally similar and equally functional products should have similar reliability. So it is, but the external blocks of absolutely all split systems work in a more aggressive environment, which significantly reduces the durability of these products. Nevertheless, this is a natural process and there is nothing to complain about.

The external unit of any model is rigidly attached to the external wall, and the internal to the wall, floor. It turns out that each product related to this species is purely stationary.

This is a significant difference from most monoblock air conditioners that designers install on rollers. As a result, the owner can always move him to the desired corner or even another room, if it provides for the possibility of removing hot air. That will help not only get high-quality cooling, but also save.

For example, split systems can make the climate comfortable in only one room. If you need air cooling in the adjacent parts of the building, then you need to buy additional air conditioners. But monoblock products can be transported from the kitchen to the bedroom, other rooms. True, this is not very convenient - only suitable as an economy option.

Installation of one-piece air conditioner
So, heat is removed from the room during operation of a monoblock air conditioner. These temporary inconveniences in space allocation should be considered.

Monoblock air conditioners also have a significant limitation in the form of a flexible hose brought out through an ajar window and a hole in the wall.This element cannot be dispensed with, as it is designed to remove hot air outside the room.

As a result, monoblock products, according to many users, are considered only conditionally mobile. Nevertheless, this is not an obstacle to their transportation to the country, when transported to another rented apartment.

Also available mobile split systems, but the insignificant volumes of their sales, as well as the reluctance of most manufacturers to engage in the development of such equipment indicates its unpopularity.

About the cost of installation work

For today installation of a split system - pleasure is not cheap. Even when there is no particular difficulty for performing this operation, you will have to part with an impressive amount equal to 20-30% of the cost of the purchased product.

You can save money by entrusting the work to non-professionals, but this is fraught, since durability depends on the correct installation, and moreover, significantly.

Air conditioner installation
Installation of the external unit of the split system is a complicated procedure, therefore expensive. But saving on it is not worth it - it can turn into big problems

Owners of monoblock air conditioners are deprived of installation problems. Since it will work in any place where it is installed. But with one limitation - it is imperative to ensure the withdrawal of a flexible pipe through which hot air is transported outside the housing or office.

To do this, make a hole in the wall, window, which is also an additional cost, although in this case everything is simpler and cheaper. Replace the specified work can cover with dense polyester fabrics such as polyester.

It is quickly and easily placed between the window frame and any of its wings, mounted on ventilation. Then, a hose for venting air is attached to the hole.

Air conditioner installation
This is the room where the indoor unit of any split system is installed. Therefore, it is advisable to plan the installation simultaneously with the repair

Often the owners of monoblock air conditioners get out of position, leading the pipe directly into the ajar window. Such a solution can only be considered temporary, because it will allow you to significantly cool the air, but with significantly higher energy costs, which is disadvantageous.

Heat removal from the room
For comparison: often this is how a monoblock mobile air conditioner is “mounted”, although this is not the most economical way

In this category, despite all the limitations and difficulties, there is clearly an advantage over monoblock air conditioners. And this means that the owners of such products significantly save money at the stage of acquisition and installation of the selected unit.

The importance of design when choosing a device

Monoblock air conditioning is most often a design with a height within 70 cm, the width of most models does not exceed 40 cm.

The design of the indoor units of the split system is very diverse, as they come in different thicknesses and lengths. If necessary, you can even hide such a device. Body color is offered by manufacturers in a wide range.

Indoor Unit Design
The design of the internal blocks of split systems is much more diverse, this structural element can even be hidden

In practice, buyers do not differ in special claims - most often they get classic white products that easily fit into any atmosphere of housing, offices, shops. Still, a person with a special taste is better choose a split system due to the greater variety of design decisions.

People living or working on the lower floors of buildings should be aware that outdoor units located in the reach of the vandals often suffer from their actions.

To avoid damage to equipment, it should be placed as high as possible if the neighbors are not against it. Protective structures may be considered. Which implies additional costs.

How to decide on the equipment?

When the future owner of the air conditioner is difficult to do selection of climate technology, then you need to take a sheet of paper and indicate on it all the necessary parameters. And then choose the most suitable type of equipment for them. Then make a choice of the model related to the desired type.

The procedure can take several steps. First you need to determine the exact area of ​​the room, the air in which the air conditioner will cool. If it will be up to 35-40 square meters. m, then you will have to choose the desired type further.

If the area is larger, then only the split system will become the optimal solution, since it is unlikely that a person will find the necessary one-piece air conditioning.

Indoor Unit Protection
Residents of lower floors will need to protect their property from vandals and thieves. Equipment damage is not uncommon

Secondly, the issue of noise is to be solved - it is relevant for most buyers, so it is not practical to put it off. Why do you have to go to retail stores, to acquaintances and compare the sound pressure indicators of different models in order to understand whether noisier monoblock products are suitable or to choose quiet split systems.

If the final choice is not made at this point, then you need to pay attention to the desired functionality air conditioner. When it comes to premium features, you will need a split system.

In the absence of desire to spend money on installation, anti-vandal funds, protective visors, protecting the conditioner from moisture, it is worth choosing a monoblock model.

If the choice is still not made, you will have to use additional arguments. For example, it might be a suitable design. You need to understand that in the case when the model should be mobile, the question of choice should end only with the acquisition of a suitable monoblock model. This applies to buyers renting housing, commercial premises, summer residents.

It is no alternative to have to abandon the purchase of a split system to people living in buildings classified by the authorities as a historical heritage. Since spoiling their facades and other walls is not a good idea.

The possible complexity of the choice indicates that no type of equipment has clear advantages over another. This is confirmed by statistics: more often people buy split systems, but this advantage is far from overwhelming.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

The video below will help potential buyers quickly figure out what type of air conditioner will be preferable for them:

In the video, an overview of the features of the compact split system:

Today, mobile all-in-one air conditioners, like split systems, are efficient equipment that can cool the right amount of air and perform a number of additional functions. And if necessary, he will do all this in automatic mode.

But each of these types has a number of advantages, disadvantages, given which potential buyers should choose the optimal model.

And what type of climate equipment did you prefer to install at home or in the country? Tell us what was the deciding factor in your choice. Please leave comments in the block below, share useful information and photos on the topic of the article.

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Visitors Comments
  1. Dmitry

    Of course, a split system is much better. We live in a cottage, they took it in the M-video about 2 years ago with a free installation. It perfectly refreshes the air, but consumes a lot of energy, so we try to use it infrequently.

    I would like to note that the author did not mention such an important factor as wall density, if it is wadded, then nothing will work. The device rattles heavily, which to some extent will affect the duration of the operational life of the structure.

    • Expert
      Alexey Dedyulin

      I realized, Dmitry, that the outdoor unit is rattling. We must look for a reason, which may be:

      - impeller malfunction - inspect the fan blades. You can detect deformations, cracks, other damage. Impeller replacement required;
      - malfunction of the fan bearings - turn the blades by hand, evaluate the free rotation, the absence of extraneous sounds. Check backlash with lateral and longitudinal swings of the shaft. Defective bearing must be replaced;
      - Installation of the air conditioner on brackets without rubber vibration dampers.

      Visual inspection of the outdoor unit may reveal other causes of noise.

  2. Split is more advanced than air conditioning. Now, in my opinion, no one puts air conditioning, they have become a relic of the past. At least among my friends, everyone immediately buys split, without even considering air conditioning as an option. I have also had a similar system for several years. It works silently, the air does not dry out, it is necessary to clean once a year.

    • Expert
      Alexey Dedyulin

      Good afternoon, Vika. Window air conditioning leaving the market is a delusion. Look at foreign news in English, naturally, on this topic. In North Carolina, for example, 11 models of these “gadgets” have recently been tested. They chose the most popular - can you imagine how many Americans are generally offered?

      The best turned out to be GE PHC08LY (do not think that advertising - they do not sell them in Russia) - among many advantages voice control: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT. There is also a smartphone setting. Noise less than the refrigerator. Energy efficiency class Energy Star. It also transmits a power consumption report to the smartphone. I think your split system will look like a relic of the past.

  3. Previously, we had a monoblock air conditioner in the country, it cooled the air very well. Now, of course, no one will install such ones, all modern people prefer the split system, it not only cools the air perfectly, but also doesn’t eat oxygen. You can stay in the room all day, and in the evening feel normal. We put a split system in a private house, while satisfied.

  4. Dmitry

    I did not understand the topic in the previous comment about eating oxygen. How is this? None of the air conditioners consume oxygen. Why is the statement that you need to put a separate split system in each room is taken for an axiom. In my apartment (kopeck piece), the air throughout the whole territory of one split-system installed in the living room is sufficiently refreshed.

    • Alexander

      At the expense of oxygen, indeed, dubious conclusions, well, they put a Conder on each room for one simple reason - the uniform distribution of cold in each individual room. That is, you can install a powerful split in the hall, and at the same time leave the door to the bedroom open, but in the hall it will work at full power and there will be oak, and the bedroom has a slight coolness. So I don’t know how you manage to cope there, but the fact remains.

      • Expert
        Alexey Dedyulin

        The principle “Each room has its own split system”, Alexander, is implemented by people who do not know about the existence of multi-split systems. By the way, your reasoning in the commentary also indicates that you are not familiar with multi. I advise you to read the article "Types of air conditioners for an apartment"- there is a section" Multiblock climate technology ".

        The latest in the Russian market is the invertor FREE Match - the brainchild of Hisense. One external unit can “carry” 16 (!) Internal ones. They are configured individually.