High ceilings are a design feature in many buildings and rooms to enhance the aesthetics and create the feeling of spaciousness. However, this feature has its drawbacks. With a high ceiling, the larger amount of air in the room affects the cooling and heating dynamics. The performance and efficiency of the air conditioning unit are affected, and the temperature control is not ideal. Here are some of the ways a high ceiling affects air conditioning efficiency.
A High Ceiling Means More Space
A high ceiling increases the space your air conditioning unit heats or cools, thus increasing the system’s workload. The increased air volume requires the air conditioner to run a very long cycle to keep all the air cool. It means increased electrical consumption, high energy costs, and wear and tear on the system. A simple fix to this is to ensure that the system’s load capacity is adequate to handle the room’s air volume to create a comfortable home. Also, more extensive air conditioning systems can be incorporated as compensation for the workload.
Greater Output Needed
An air conditioner’s output is measured in kilowatts. A general rule states that each square meter requires 0.125 kw of energy in cooling for buildings with high ceilings. Because the high ceiling makes the room’s volume much larger, an air conditioning unit with a large kilowatt capacity is needed. A properly sized cooling system for such spaces is essential and does the job effectively. An incorrectly sized system will most certainly be costly to maintain and may not cool the room effectively.
Increased Humidity Levels
Due to the large air volume, the indoor humidity level is increased in a room with a high ceiling. While an air conditioner works, it draws some moisture from the air. However, air conditioners are not designed to deal with humidity and cannot handle excessive water vapor in the interior atmosphere. If a room is too humid, an air conditioner works overtime to make the room comfortable. In this case, the air conditioner works harder, runs less efficiently, and requires more maintenance, reducing its lifespan.
Incorporation of a High-Low Ductwork Design
The ductwork design is a significant factor in determining the effectiveness of an air conditioning unit in a room with high ceilings. Hot air rises, meaning most of the heat drifts to the top during winter. The same applies to the air conditioner working extra hard to cool the space above during summer. For the workload reduction of the air conditioner, both high and low return registers can be incorporated into the room. During summer, the lower return is shut down with magnetic covers or dampers to ensure the high return removes the heat from the ceiling. A reverse of this setting during winter causes the warm air to flow down toward the floor.
Increased Cooling Time
Ceiling height affects both the size of an air conditioning unit and the time required for it to cool the room. A room with a high ceiling contains a large volume of air and thus more moisture and heat than a regular ceiling. The high cooling load dramatically increases power consumption and cooling time. Therefore, high-ceiling rooms take longer to attain favorable temperatures. The more an air conditioner runs, the more energy it consumes, and its lifespan is significantly reduced.
No Ideal Height
In a mini-split system, air handlers are generally installed near the ceiling of a room at the top of a wall. They’re placed about 7 feet above the floor to allow easier installation and maintenance. Units are installed at this height because the warm air always stays above the cold air, and they sense the temperature of the air in order to provide sufficient cooling in the room. If an air conditioner is placed too low in a high ceiling room, it will only register the temperature of the cool air below it, rendering the air conditioner ineffective.
In a high-ceiling room, the power consumption of the air conditioner and the air diffusers is quite large. Therefore, air diffusers are required to blast the cold air towards the floor. The diffusers create specific airflow patterns to distribute cold air evenly to ensure the room’s air conditioning is effective.
Reduced Air Quality
A high-ceiling room means many airborne impurities are offending the air purity. The air conditioner must remove many pollutants like pollen, dust, and carbon particles. Breathing clean air is just as crucial as cooling and heating a room. Air conditioners mainly cool the air in a room but also purify the air by filtering the return air.
The air filter captures the airborne contaminants to keep them from entering the air conditioner. The filter becomes dense as more air pollutants are captured, the free flow of air is hindered, and the air conditioner is stressed and requires more energy to run. Its ability to cool is limited dramatically and requires regular maintenance to clean the filters.
High SEER Rating for Air Conditioners
Air conditioning systems have an energy measurement known as the SEER rating. It stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is a value measuring an air conditioner’s efficiency in converting energy to cooling performance. The rating is calculated by dividing the cooling input by the electrical energy input during a cooling season. A room with a high ceiling requires an air conditioning unit with a high seer rating to ensure adequate cooling.
The high efficiency comes at a cost since higher-performing equipment offering better comfort levels and temperature control is often pricey. The advanced technology used to produce air conditioning units with high SEER ratings is responsible for increasing costs. Such a unit in a room with a high ceiling is necessary to control the energy needed to run the air conditioner.
Reduced Air Circulation
Air circulation in high-ceiling buildings is complex and poses challenges when trying to keep cool. The vast space between the floor and ceiling makes cold air circulation a significant challenge, even with a powerful air conditioning system. The high ceiling creates more room for the hot air to rise, and pockets of hot and cold air develop in the regions, causing air stratification.
The most efficient way to cool such a building is by increasing the airflow using air destratification. However, this causes the air conditioning system to cycle longer and work harder when cooling the room. It leads to rising maintenance costs, energy bills, and chances of equipment failure.
While high ceilings are pleasing to look at, low air conditioning efficiency and high energy costs in a building with high ceilings are unintended consequences. Using an air conditioning unit in a building with high ceilings will strain the system. The primary purpose of the air conditioning unit is to provide thermal comfort. Therefore, when purchasing and installing a unit, it is essential to consider the design of your building to ensure adequate cooling.
At American Air & Heat, we offer air conditioning and heating services with repair, maintenance, and installation by certified technicians. We also provide indoor air quality, duct cleaning, thermostats, and ductless systems, and we have a home comfort club. Contact us at American Air & Heat in Oviedo today to learn more about our services.