Air Conditioners in the UK  updated - Jul22

In the UK it can be very difficult to find yourself a decent reasonably priced air conditioner, although things are improving.

I have put this page together in the hope that it may help save you the endless hours of searching for information/suppliers and the great expense of finding out about them the hard way as I have done.

Note - I am not in the trade and have no knowledge of air conditioners apart from what I have learned whilst finding myself a decent system, so anyone who has anything to add/correct on this page please feel free to contact me at - alanesq@disroot.org

Air conditioners can still be very expensive bits of kit in this country and if you don't have several hundred pounds to spend then a simple fan can make a big difference to how "intolerable" the hot weather can seem. Get the biggest fan you can and get it as soon as you can because if you wait until the hot weather arrives you won't be able to find one in the shops.
The problem with a fan is that when the weather gets really hot it will just be blowing hot air onto you and not helping, in the more mild heat they can help a lot though.

Here is a simple explanation of how the air conditioner works

There are a couple of air conditioners being sold in DIY shops etc. which are a portable unit with a large air pipe you stick out of the window, they tend to cost from 100 to 300 ukp. In my opinion these units are of very little use and I wouldn't recommend buying one as they are really nothing more than a personal cooling fan (if you have one of these units please let me know what you think of it?).
I bought myself the smaller model (3500btu)  good many years ago for 500 ukp and even though it was only in a 9 foot square room it was unable to lower the temperature of the room at all, eventually the compressor failed and I couldn't find anyone who would repair it for less than the unit cost new so I had to throw it away.
These units work by sucking air in from the room over the condenser (hot part of the air conditioner) and out of the window through a pipe, so hot air is going to be sucked back into the room to replace the air blown out of the window, also the units tend to get hot themselves and this also adds to the heat of the room.
Note - There are units which have two air pipes out of the window, one sucks air in the other blows it back out again.  I suspect these units are better but I have not seen one in action to know for sure?

The next option is a "split portable" unit, which can be moved from room to room, but instead of just putting an air pipe out of the window you put a large box (the condenser) outside (the right hand side of this picture)
I have had a couple of these units and I can confirm that they work very well (a bit noisier than an installed aircon as the compressor is still inside the room but I am very impressed with it)
They can suffer from freezing up as the components are so compact, but they are a massive improvement on the above type  Some you can disconnect the pipes so they could then be passed through a small hole in the wall.

The cheapest split portable I know of is HERE (I have no idea if they are ok or not)

Another type of air conditioner is a "window rattler" unit, they are a single box which is installed in a window opening or a large hole in the wall so that half the unit is inside and the other half outside.
I imagine these could prove quite difficult to install as it requires a large hole to stick through (If you have a opening window it will fit in then it should be easy but if you have to make a hole in a wall it is going to require a very big hole)
My father has one of these units in his motor caravan and reports that it works very well, the only down side is it's a bit noisy.
These units are very common in America

The cheapest split portable I know of is HERE (I have no idea if they are ok or not)

If you look at air conditioners in America they are much cheaper than over here, so after some searching I found a company in America who said they could supply me with one which would work in the UK but when I started asking to buy it they seemed to get difficult and wouldn't accept payment by credit card so I gave up on this idea. (I have since been told that as their units will not be CE approved they are not allowed to sell them to us over here?)
I understand that although other countries sell some 240volt equipment they can use slightly different voltages and frequencies to us and this may cause problems if you try and use the units over here ?

I myself was just about to order one of the split portable units for £1000 (this was around 15 years ago) when I received an email from Lake Refrigeration (In Watnall near Nottingham) saying they could supply me with an installed type room air conditioner (ie the sort you see in shops which is bolted to the wall and has a big condenser outside) of 9000 btu for around 600 ukp, I took them up on this offer and now have the unit installed and I am extremely pleased with it (I have now had this for over 3 years and am still very happy with it)
Lake delivered it to my house, I installed the units myself and then Lake came back and did the final checks and commissioning for me as this involves the use of a vacuum pump and other specialist equipment and the final cost including all pipes etc. was around 750 ukp.
The installation involves screwing the unit to the wall, knocking a half brick sized hole in the wall, basic mains wiring and routing the two copper pipes between the inside and outside unit all of which I did in a single day without any problems
(Lake can do all this for you but this will of course increase the price)

Installation of my air conditioner: Image1 Image2

This was over 20 years ago now and it is still going strong - it has been a life saver on many occasions

I recently enquired about prices to replace it as its getting old now but quoted around £1250 + vat
BTW - There looks to be some very good info here on DIY aircon installation which is probably the way I would try next time?

Information companies have asked me to pass on:

Sep 10
Company name: Andrews Sykes
Title: Air conditioning hire
URL: http://www.andrews-sykes.com/air-conditioning/

Description: Andrew Sykes is the UK’s largest specialist hire company, with more than 25 years experience and over 30 depots and hire-centres across the UK. Catering for various requirements and virtually all industry sectors from small businesses, multi-site operations to international corporations using only the safest and most reliable machinery and equipment sourced from the world’s top manufacturers. Andrew Sykes follows a stringent quality policy validated by BS EN ISO 9001:2000 accreditation. 

Comments from site visitors:

Peter Banks of Climatemaster:
We use the "Split portable" units in our hire fleet and they have proven successful with hirers and have been reliable.  However reliability appears to be related to initial cost.  Same old story " You get what you pay for".
The comment regarding fan noise emanating from the window units, this noise appears inherent with to this type of unit and as a consequence this type of unit has a nickname in the trade of; " window rattlers".
At the larger floor areas of the sizing program the result appears to under size the cooling unit. Generally the quick rule of thumb used in the trade utilises the room volume not area.

Info about fans (from David Rice)
The tower type fans are very good.
I have bought a ceiling fan and it certainly feels cooler in my room now.  Its silent running so you can leave it on overnight, it did wobble on the highest speed but there's a balancing kit with it and so I balanced it and now it just wobbles a little.  Its on a ball and socket joint so the bracket takes the wobble not the roof beam.   It does need an earth wire.  I got my fan from B&Q, the price range is anything from 19.99 to 100ukp. 

Possible aircon suppliers



If this information has saved you money please feel free to make a donation via Paypal to alanesq@disroot.org
(maybe I will one day get back the £500 I lost learning this information the hard way)

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