Should I use air conditioning in my conservatory?

Most conservatories are designed to be suntraps with lovely views into your garden, so you can enjoy your outdoor space even when it’s not hot outside. However, the sun will heat up your conservatory and this can make it too warm to sit in.

Many homeowners therefore want to find ways of cooling down this space so they can fully enjoy it at any time of year – and this can also apply to businesses like hotels or restaurants that have a seating area in a conservatory.

Air conditioning is a logical option and as this technology has become more advanced, it has also become a more practical one. In the UK, you’re unlikely to need the air conditioning in the winter, as you’ll probably have the opposite problem in that the conservatory is too cold, so hiring air conditioning equipment may be the most cost-effective choice.

What type of unit should I get?

If you will only be using the air conditioning unit in the summer months, a portable device is the most appropriate. These can be plugged into a mains power socket and you will need to position the outlet hose through an open window or door so the hot air that is removed does not get pumped back into the conservatory.

The size of the unit will depend on how big your conservatory is, although bear in mind because the room naturally gets warmer than the rest of your house, you may need a slightly more powerful piece of equipment than you would for a similar sized room elsewhere in your property.

In the UK, the majority of air conditioners are rated in British Thermal Units (BTUs). Typically, you will need four BTUs of power to cool one cubic m of space effectively. Before you start looking for a unit for your conservatory, make sure you measure it and work out the volume of the room to ensure you get a device that is powerful enough.

Should you have a particularly large conservatory, or be using this kind of space as restaurant seating, you may want to hire two units to ensure you can cool the entire room effectively.

Will it be efficient?

One concern with using air conditioning to cool a conservatory is that it will have to work hard to bring the temperature down, due to the heat gain experienced when the weather is warm. Modern conservatories are constructed with a minimum of double-glazed glass, which means the room is excellent at retaining the heat but not so good at dispersing it.

Air conditioning units can certainly bring the temperature down, but when you are deciding what to set it at, consider going for a comfortable temperature – not necessarily one you would call cold – rather than putting it as low as it can go. This will mean your device doesn’t have to work as hard and will be more energy efficient.

You should also think carefully about where you position your air conditioner to ensure the even distribution of the cooled air. Units can work well if they are located below windows at floor level, for example, as this allows the air to circulate effectively. A further advantage to having a portable device is that you can move it to different positions to find the optimum location for your air conditioner.