The Old vs The New Air Conditioner

Remember when having an air conditioner at all was a luxury?  Remember when having anything but just a ceiling fan was unique?  Any possible negative effect on the environment aside, when airconditioners came into common use, comfort and a heightened living standard prevailed – at least for those of us living in the steamier States, it was.  After all, there are various ways to heat, but the ceiling fan just doesn't 'cut the mustard' on a serious Aussie Summer day, does it?

Well, the sheer pleasure of having 'any old' airconditioner has been replaced by the type and function of the airconditioner, these days.  Is it an inverter?  Is it reverse-cycle?  Is it split-system or ducted?  Domestic airconditioners have now gone the full generational cycle and some of the original luxuries are now dreadfully outdated.

In particular, the old ‘box’ type airconditioner (you know, the ones that hung out of a window - sometimes propped up with a plank of wood - or from a hole punched in a wall), whilst still readily available and probably quite functional, are now looking positively ‘past-it’. 

Consider the following example:


 Out of place : Box air conditioners in a modern house (in three upper story windows, two front, one side)

The photo shows a modern, attractive home on a pleasant, sizeable block of land.  Appealing to any family, yet outdated and obstructive box airconditioners hang out of several windows like, well, monkeys hanging out of a tree!  Hardly aesthetically pleasing!  The lower level of the property was graced with a split system (see the outdoor unit to the lower right hand side of the house) – why was a similar arrangement not implemented for the upper levels?  Multi-head split systems are available nowadays for this type of application.

Although the box air-conditioners are probably highly affordable and effective enough, they detract immeasureably from the aesthetics of the property.  Older systems immediately date or ‘age’ the property they're installed in.  Indeed, considerably older box airconditioners rarely function properly and to fix them would cost more than replacing them.

It is highly recommended, from a property value point-of-view, that older-style box airconditioners be removed and replaced by split system airconditioners (or a ducted airconditioner if appropriate and finances allow).  Street appeal remains a major factor in determining property value and buyer-, renter-, or valuer-appeal, and removing obtrusive utilities like airconditioners, water tanks and garbage bins from view will go a long way to improving the viewer’s assessment of your property’s value.


 Before and After : Although the camera angle is different, and the remainder of the renovation aside, the difference between the brown-timber-veneer-fronted box airconditioner and the modern, white and sleek split system indoor unit is clearly evident.  The patched hole is no more visible in reality than it is in this rather dark photograph.

Externally, the effect is just as profound.

 Before and After : Again different camera angles and additional renovation features to the After photo, but the improved appearance due to the absence of the old box airconditioner is apparent.  Conduit (colour matched to the exterior vinyl cladding) travels from the indoor unit down to the outdoor unit, which has been cleverly hidden behind an opening gate in the battens at the lower part of the house.


Split system airconditioners vary in price depending upon the size (i.e. heating and cooling capacity), the brand, whether inverter technology or conventional ‘fixed speed’ compressor technology and other features.

Although split systems (as well as ducted systems) are the more popular and increasingly more common type of airconditioning unit available and installed these days, box type airconditioners are still available, although there is talk that they will be phased out in years to come.

So if you’ve made the decision to swap one or more unsightly box airconditioners for split system airconditioning – what do you do with the gaping hole that is left?  What traps do you need to look out for to make sure you don’t make an ugly eyesore just a more modern ugly eyesore?  There are potential risks and dangers involved that could catch the unwary. 
RenoSave Card Holders have access to the full Case Study of this renovation "5 Guidelines for Replacing Old Box Airconditioners with a Split System Airconditioner (and how to patch the hole)".

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