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DIY air conditiong installation vs let the pros install it for you

An air conditioning system and heat pump system has stopped being a novelty and luxury item only businesses can afford a long time ago. For decades a/c systems have successfully operated in the domestic environment. In not so long, in the carbon-neutral future, we will stop fitting gas boilers in new builds and will completely switch over to heat pump units. In recent years some new air conditioning manufacturers have emerged offering air conditioning systems for Easy Fit, Pre-gassed, DIY installation. As an air conditioning professionals, we were intrigued when first heard of this, knowing how temperamental air conditioning systems can be and where the value of the heat pump is, we had to find out more about this DIY product.

Problem number 1 with DIY air conditioning systems

google search diy air con uk

Quick search on google for DIY air con unit UK returns 25 700 000 results in 0,7 seconds. The task now is to filter out the systems that are best priced and fit for a DIY task, it may be necessary to go on the second and third page on the google as well. The top advertisement is promising: Panasonic Easy Fit DIY Air Con. On the closer look, it appears the units on offer are so-called monoblocks and not split systems. These air conditioning systems come in one single unit that is fitted indoors. Everything that in the split system is fitted inside the outdoor unit, is fitted in the indoor unit in this case. It appears the system needs two large ventilation holes, presumably d-150mm and up, drilled for a correct functioning of the unit in addition to holes intended for hanging the unit itself. Inconveniently a lot of drilling has to be done in order to install the unit but on the plus side no additional pipework is required, no pressure test required, no vac test is required and no engineer is required. Due to its peculiar layout, the cooling effect of such system and the installation possibilities are limited compared to the spilt systems. Spare parts will be hard to find and because it is so compact it will be hard to work on the system in case of the breakdown. Keep browsing for a DIY split system.

  • Toshiba
  • Sanyo
  • Samsung
  • Panasonic
  • Mitsubishi Electric
  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
  • LG
  • Daikin
  • Hitachi
  • Fujitsu

Pros and cons of air conditioning DIY installation

AIR CON DIY INSTALL PROS

  • save 400-600£ on labour
  • save 100-300£ on brand
  • no need to queue for installation team
  • don’t need to take time off work to meet the team

AIR-CON DIY INSTALL CONS

  • only f-gas qualified persons can legally do it
  • you probably will not strength test, pressure test and vacuum the system
  • because of the above you cannot commission the system and will fall out of the manufacturer warranty
  • in case install go badly wrong you still need to get an engineer on site to complete the install and replace gas
  • unknown brands often don’t provide any aftersales supprt and parts if needed

AIR CONDITIONING DIY INSTALLATION LIFE HACK

THIS METHOD CARRIES RISK OF HEALTH FOR THE INSTALLER, HAS NEGATIVE IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND IS PROHIBITED UNDER F-GAS REGULATIONS. THIS INSTALLATION METHOD INVALIDATES ANY WARRANTY. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REENACT ANY OF THE FOLLOWING.

Air conditioning system can be installed to standards or installed poorly. Up to standards installation is also a safe installation. It requires specialist training, background knowledge, specialist tooling, skills, time, some sort of a warranty, safety equipment, transportation and the signature of the installer on the commissioning sheet. This sort of know-how comes with the price tag.

Mostly in an attempt to avoid the cost of the professional installers many end-users prefer to install the system as a DIY job. There are multiple problems with this sort of installation. The following is a procedure description of the prohibited installation technique of the air conditioning system. It is not a training or manual, it is illegal, stupid and dangerous to re-enact any of this. As for the accuracy of this procedure description, the description is totally fictional and has no connection to real-life at all. Burn after reading.

We assume the power supply is not a problem in this case, maybe the system you install has an indoor plug and the outdoor is powered from inside to outside, so you can run it off your spare 16A circuit breaker in your distribution board.

Assuming the installer decided to overlook the safety procedures we still have a fundamental refrigeration problem to resolve. If this issue is not addressed during installation the system is very likely to suffer performance issues right from the start of the exploitation, system will not be able to achieve rated output, the system will pull more current than the components of the system are rated for, short-cycling will occur, fault of the system is inevitable. It is not going to be a small job to rectify this type of breakdown. To avoid these symptoms in a first place the refrigeration loop must remain uncontaminated of the air and water vapour that is present is the coils and pipework at the time of the installation. Professionals use a specialist tool called a vacuum pump. It is used to pump out any remaining pressure testing/drying gas, or in DIY install case air, from the pipework and coil(s). Not only pump out air and vapour but to create a vacuum in the system, only then the loop is considered clean and is ready to circulate the refrigerant. This vacuuming procedure is not a peculiarity of the installation, it is consistent throughout the manufacturing process of the air conditioning unit. 

So how do you get any contaminants out of the pipework in this sort of the setup. The system will not last long unless this is done. This method works on the systems that are designed with normally open valves. So on the indoor unit power off(0V) all valves open, if any fitted at all. Most manufacturers use this technology as standard.

Firstly you will need goggles and gloves to protect your self. The method where the trick is to hang the units, pipe up the indoor unit. On the outdoor unit prepare both ends of the pipework but only connect the liquid pipe to the outdoor unit. The liquid line is always the thinner one, gas side is always the thicker one. After that be prepared to quickly pipe up the suction pipe, the last remaining connection, but before you do, you must open the discharge port, yes, the one you already piped up. So the gas that is under the pressure in the condensing unit would naturally push from the condensing unit through the liquid pipe, through the indoor coil and out the suction pipe, the one that is not piped up yet. On its way through the loop, the refrigerant gas will push out any air and vapour remaining in the pipework and coil. You only will need to open the valve on the outdoor unit connection port for a few seconds. The scope of this procedure is to get the vapour out of the pipe by the displacing the air in the pipe with a refrigerant gas of the system, which is in a vapour state in this part of the cycle. The gas must have some amount of acceleration and mass flow, but not too much, just enough to push the air out the open end of the pipework. You cant see the air coming out the pipe but if you to block the open pipe with your hand you would feel the pressure building up in the pipe, but don’t do that. If you see any vapour, it will be the refrigerant vapour and you can presume there is nothing but refrigerant in the pipework. Close the liquid line connection port shutoff valve. Now you should swiftly pipe up the last connection and finish the loop.

Second problem with the DIY air conditioning installation is misleading information

Often online stores offer air conditioning units labelled as Easy Fit, Pre-gassed and Quick-Fit: these are meaningless words, all air conditioning units come pre-gassed, installations require roughly the same amount of labour and you still need a pro to install the system.

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Tools needed for air con installation

  1. an electric drill
  2. diamond core hole cutter and a tail to fit on
  3. drill bits to drill holes to hang indoor unit and outdoor unit
  4. screws, plugs, or plasterboard anchors to hang indoor unit
  5. plugs or anchors to hang outdoor unit
  6. you will need a flaring tool to flare the pipes unless the pipes are supplied are of a quick coupler type or they come pre flared
  7. manifold and hoses for pressure testing
  8. vac pump
  9. a nitrogen regulator
  10. oxigen free nitrogen to strength and pressure test the pipework
  11. expanding foam to mold the hole

Compare refrigeration contractor prices around London area

ALTERNATIVE CONTRACTORS SECOND BEST VALUE COMPANIES

125.00
CALL-OUT FEES FROM 125-200 GBP
SERVICE FROM 60-120 GBP P/H
VAN STOCK PARTS AVAILABLE
ATTENDANCE ON AGREED DATE - 78%
ATTENDANCE ON A DAY BEFORE THE AGREED DATE - 13%
ATTENDANCE A DAY LATE - 9%
ON THE SPOT FIX RATE 52%
SECOND FIX RATE 40%
THIRD FIX RATE 8%
WARRANTY ON SERVICE 3-6 MONTHS
SOME PROVIDE RE-CALLS AND OTHERS DON'T
GOOD ACCESS TO ALL BRANDS
LEGAL REFRIGERANT USED

PLUMBERS AND COWBOYS DOING FRIDGE AND AIR CON WORK

0.-
NO CALL-OUT CHARGE.
SERVICE 20 GBP P/H
VAN STOCK NOT AVAILABLE
ATTENDANCE ON AGREED DATE - 30%
ATTENDANCE ON A DAY BEFORE THE AGREED DATE - 0%
ATTENDANCE A DAY LATE - 70%
ON THE SPOT FIX RATE 10%
SECOND FIX RATE 25%
THIRD FIX RATE 65%
WARRANTY ON SERVICE 0 DAYS
NO RE-CALLS. PLAN "B" IS TO IGNORE YOU.
WILL SELL YOU A NEW BROKEN FRIDGE
BLACK MARKET REFRIGERANT USED

Air conditioning division opening hours

Monday

Office: 9am - 6pm | Service: 10am - 8pm

Tuesday

Office: 9am - 6pm | Service: 10am - 8pm

Wednesday

Office: 9am - 6pm | Service: 10am - 8pm

Thursday

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Friday

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Saturday

Duty engineer 10am - 8pm

Sunday

Duty engineer 10am - 8pm

Duty engineer is subject to availability

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