Does air conditioning have to be noisy?

Shannon Church
Marketing Executive

In a luxury property, every element within every space yields the opportunity for a positive experience to be created. Sound is an important consideration, and widely considered to be a necessary evil when air conditioning is installed. However, it’s quite feasible for air conditioning systems to meet ‘pin-drop silence’ noise levels with specialist design input, and there are several factors that will need to be considered, as outlined below.

Concealed ducted air conditioning fan coil units are widely used in luxury residential properties, as they can be hidden in ceiling voids or behind joinery. These fan coil units can be almost completely silenced by the inclusion of attenuators and acoustically insulated ductwork in the design. Attenuators are, however, an added cost per room of around £1,500 + VAT on any installation, and may not always be feasible depending on the spatial constraints. Air conditioning systems should always be designed and specified to achieve the required cooling duty when running at low fan speed, as this will minimise the noise generated in the first place.

Attenuation and air conditioning fan coil unit concealed in joinery

Noise from the external condenser unit is also a consideration, and one which must be painstakingly addressed in order to meet planning permission and avoid negatively impacting enjoyment of outside spaces. Legislation stipulates that the sound levels must be well below the average background noise level as measured by a qualified acoustician. Compliance with these legal requirements can be met by the strategic location of the condenser unit but may also require an acoustic enclosure to house the unit. More can be read about meeting planning permission requirements here. Acoustic enclosures can cost between £5,000 and £15,000 + VAT, depending on how many condensers must be housed and what level of noise suppression is required. They are also large and can have a substantial visual impact, further adding to the importance of the correct sizing and siting of them to minimise this.

Engaging a suitably qualified specialist to design air conditioning systems, whether they are being installed as part of a new-build or refurbishment project, or being retrofitted into a finished property, is essential to prevent noise spoiling the experience of each space.

Shannon Church

Shannon's day-to-day focus is driving development of our brand identity and ensuring cohesive company-client messaging. Her deep knowledge and understanding of the prime residential sector allows her to solidify and promote our position in the market.

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