Germany is groaning under an unbearable heat wave. Cool air instead of embers is simply possible – small air conditioners do that. But not all work satisfactorily. Installation is not that easy either.
The Stiftung Warentest looked at air conditioners for “retrofitting”. This refers to devices that can be used to cool an already existing house or apartment and that are not integrated during construction. The good news: it works.
First of all: if you are looking for a quick remedy, you have to rely on the mobile monoblocks – even if they are the poorer choice from a technical point of view. But in the middle of the heatwave you won’t find an installer with spontaneous appointments.
The main problem is availability: in stationary retail there are often not even fans. If you order online, you should find out whether the device is really in stock before ordering.
Warentest thinks about environmental protection
When it comes to cooling, there are several big buts. The first “but” with the product testers is climate protection. The cooling devices have a double impact. They use electricity. Those who sit out and ventilate the summer in a red-hot apartment do more for the global climate than someone who comfortably cools down their home.
On top of that, some air conditioning units use the climate-damaging refrigerant R 410 A. As long as it stays in the system, it does not do any harm, but if it escapes, it is a real climate killer.
In the test, the product testers therefore point to alternative methods of cooling, which tenants cannot do anything with and which are not easy to implement even for owners. In short: A super-insulated apartment would be better than air conditioning, the windows of which can be covered and which is ideally shaded by large trees. That’s right, but those who want it to be cool for the next week will hardly be able to plant a tree for shade.
Two ways to a cool apartment
So there are only air conditioners left. They fall into two groups: split devices and monoblocks. A monoblock looks like a small refrigerator. You can buy it in electronics stores or hardware stores. It doesn’t need any installation. The device is plugged into the socket and good. On the other hand, monoblocks work worse and consume significantly more electricity.
The technically better solution is a split device. Here is one component in the apartment and a second is attached outside. The installation requires the consent of the owner and a craftsman. This is mandatory because of the refrigerant.
But the split devices are much more powerful than the monoblocks. They cooled the Warentest room by ten degrees in ten to 16 minutes. Mono devices took between 45 and 105 minutes to complete the same task. The test room is relatively small at 14 square meters; if you estimate the result for a room of 30 square meters, it becomes clear: A split device should cool it down sufficiently quickly if necessary (30 minutes), while a monoblock would have to be switched on hours beforehand. On the other hand, the split devices with good cooling performance cost between 2300 and 2500 euros in the test. A lot of money.
Our opinion: Because of the significantly lower power consumption, split devices are still recommended. Especially when several rooms need to be permanently cooled. Even if the bedroom is only to be cooled down to sleep, they have clear advantages. The device runs for 15 minutes and as soon as you go to sleep, you can turn it off again.
The best split device in the test comes from Panasonic (CS-Z25TKEW) and officially costs 2500 euros, but it is also available for 2000 euros. It is particularly energy efficient and has weaknesses when it comes to heating. The use of an air conditioning system for heating is common in southern countries, in Germany this feature is often unimportant.
Easier at first glance
The monoblocks are much simpler and cheaper. As mentioned, they cool much more slowly and consume a lot more electricity. They also have another disadvantage: air conditioning systems of this type produce cold air, which they distribute in the room with a fan. But this process generates waste heat. With the split device outside the apartment, with the monoblock in the room. This waste heat must be discharged to the outside with a hose. If you don’t want to drill a five centimeter wide hole in the wall, the window must remain open. Warm air enters the cooled room through the open gap, especially during the day.
You can try to seal the open window with special sets. This is very easy with vertical sliding windows. The supplied sets cannot be used for the tilt and turn windows commonly used in Germany. For around 20 to 30 euros you can purchase appropriate fabric seals for tilt and turn windows. The hose and fabric covering are very noticeable. If you want to open the window, the cladding has to be removed again. To do this, the fabric covering must be removed along a Velcro strip. Even at the top of the window, an impossible task for the elderly.
In short: the monoblock also has an installation problem.
Once the exhaust air problem has been solved, the monoblocks also cool – but at high electricity costs. The best device in the test with a grade of 2.8 comes from D’Longhi (PAC EX 100 Silent). However, it also costs a proud 825 euros. The second-placed monoblock from Comfee (Eco Friendly), it costs only 350 euros and at least achieved a grade of 2.9.
Installation of air conditioning is the problem
The prices of the split units are very high, but be careful if you can get one of these units cheaper anywhere. Split units are sold through installers. Therefore, the product testers have given prices that include easy installation. If you order a split device cheaply online, the installation costs are added to the purchase price. If you can even find an air conditioning technician to install the third-party device.
A powerful split device from Comfee (QE-MSR23-18HRDN1) for rooms up to 60 square meters can be purchased with a connector kit for 733 euros. However, without the installation by the specialist, which the EU regulation actually provides. Regardless of EU regulations, only an experienced do-it-yourselfer can connect such a device.
Of course, there are tons of tricks you can use to keep an apartment cool. But remember: only an air conditioner produces unproblematic cooling. Damp cloths lead to the effect of evaporative cooling, but with regular use they bring a lot of moisture into the apartment. And fans only set the warm air in motion.
You can take the full test for a fee here see.
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