When it comes to creating a conducive learning environment in a school, proper air conditioning plays a vital role. Whether that is possible through natural ventilation or by means of an air conditioning system, indoor climate control is proven to be supportive of health, safety and essentially – learning. Planning a commercial air conditioning installation project requires careful consideration of various factors to ensure the comfort and well-being of both students and staff. In this article, we will provide you with a detailed checklist of essential considerations for planning an air conditioning installation project in a school.
How to Choose Your Installation Contractor
Qualifications and Certifications:
When selecting an installation contractor for your school’s air conditioning project, it is essential to ensure that the contractor and their engineers are REFCOM registered and F-GAS trained and certified. These qualifications demonstrate their competence, expertise and adherence to industry standards.
Experience with School Installations:
Look for contractors with prior experience working within educational institutions. They will have a better understanding of the unique requirements and challenges of installing air conditioning systems in schools. Their experience can contribute to a smoother installation process.
If the installation work will be carried out during school hours, consider choosing a contractor whose team has undergone Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. This provides assurance of their trustworthiness and enhances the safety and security of the school community. This should not only a one-off check; an experienced contractor keeps all staff up to date with DBS so that they are approved and ready at short notice for emergency repairs and essential maintenance.
The Air Conditioning System
Internal Unit Configuration:
Evaluate the current and future needs of the school’s spaces when selecting the type of internal unit. Changes in room usage or occupancy levels over time can impact the heating and cooling requirements. Opt for a flexible system design that can be adapted to these changes easily if it becomes necessary at a later date.
Consider Room Layout:
Take into account the layout of the rooms where the air conditioning units will be installed. While wall units may seem like a convenient and cost-effective choice initially, consider the potential need for cupboards or storage solutions in the future. Ceiling cassettes may be a better option to optimise wall space and overall efficiency of the system.
Positioning of External Units:
Plan the placement of the outdoor units strategically. Consider factors such as easy access for maintenance purposes and any future construction or expansion plans. By positioning the external units thoughtfully, you can avoid the need for future relocation once they are installed.
Budget for Maintenance:
Allocate resources for regular inspections, cleaning and servicing of the air conditioning system. It is recommended to have the system inspected and serviced at least twice a year to maintain its efficiency and prolong its lifespan. Regular maintenance also can ensure the manufacturer’s warranty is upheld.
Combined Installation and Maintenance Services:
Choose an air conditioning company that can provide both installation and maintenance services. This ensures a seamless transition from installation to ongoing maintenance, with a single point of contact for any future servicing needs. It also indicates the contractor’s commitment to the long-term performance of the system.
Consistent System Coverage:
When seeking quotes from different contractors, ensure that all quotes cover the same system specifications. This enables accurate comparisons and helps avoid overlooking any essential elements of the project.
Consider Energy Efficiency:
Emphasise the improved energy efficiency ratings of new air conditioning units when discussing quotes with contractors. Investigate the long-term cost savings that can be achieved by installing new, more efficient equipment. This information is vital when seeking grant funding for energy reduction measures.
Energy Efficiency Benefits:
Highlight the energy efficiency advantages of installing a modern air conditioning system in the school. Emphasise the potential long-term cost savings and environmental benefits that come with using a new system. This will support your efforts in obtaining grant funding for energy reduction measures.
Plan For Safety
Install External Cages or Fencing:
To enhance safety and protect the outdoor units from accidental damage or vandalism, consider installing cages or fencing around them. This prevents unauthorised access and ensures the longevity of the equipment.
Plan Ahead of the Summer heat
Avoid the last-minute rush by initiating the air conditioning installation project well in advance. By starting early, you have more time to select from a wider pool of experienced and highly rated contractors. This also helps prevent delays in the installation process, particularly during the busier seasons.
Explore Financing Options
If the upfront cost of the air conditioning system seems overwhelming, consider exploring financing options. Many clients choose to spread out the cost of installation over time, making it more manageable and affordable. It is important to prioritise the installation of an efficient and modern system that will offer long-term benefits.
Flexibility for Future Changes:
School buildings often undergo changes in layout or extensions due to factors such as admissions or curriculum adjustments. It is essential to choose an air conditioning system that allows for future expansion or modification. Some modern systems can be extended to meet additional air cooling and conditioning needs by adding indoor units at a later date.
Evaluate Quotes Thoroughly
Take the time to thoroughly evaluate the quotes received from different contractors. Engage a purchasing expert, if possible, to assess the comprehensiveness of each quote. Consider not only the cost but also the performance, reliability, and reputation of the contractor. Remember that the cheapest option may not always provide the best long-term value.
Communicate System Information
Once the air conditioning system is installed, share relevant information with the school community. This includes operation instructions, energy-saving tips, and any specific guidelines. For instance, inform individuals not to obstruct the indoor or outdoor units to ensure optimal airflow and energy efficiency.
Planning an air conditioning installation project in a school requires careful consideration of various factors. By choosing the right accredited air conditioning contractors, selecting the appropriate air conditioning system, planning for maintenance and addressing safety considerations, you can create a comfortable and conducive learning environment that will benefit students and staff. Remember to budget for maintenance, seek quotes that cover the same system, and emphasise energy efficiency when obtaining funding. With proper planning and execution, your school can enjoy the benefits of an efficient and reliable air conditioning system.
How often should the air conditioning system be maintained?
Regular maintenance, including inspections, cleaning, and servicing, should be conducted at least twice a year to maintain optimal performance and uphold the manufacturer’s warranty.
Why is it important to choose an air conditioning contractor experienced in school installations?
Contractors with experience in school installations understand the unique requirements and challenges of educational institutions, ensuring a tailored solution that meets the specific needs of the school.
Can the air conditioning system be expanded in the future?
Yes, some modern air conditioning systems can be expanded to accommodate future changes in room layouts or expansions. Additional indoor units can be added at a later date to meet cooling needs.
What should be considered when positioning the outdoor units?
When positioning the outdoor units, consider factors such as easy access for maintenance purposes and any future changes in building configurations.