“With large elements of the market dependent on construction activity in commercial and industrial sectors, the market has inevitably suffered a difficult period post 2008. However, the prospects are now for strong growth over the next five years as construction in important sectors, such as factories/warehouses, offices and retail, drive demand. Add to this retrospective installations and replacements, and the increased frequency of retail and hotel refurbishment among chains, and the market is set for strong growth”
– Terry Leggett, Senior Analyst
This report addresses the following key questions concerning the air conditioning equipment market:
- How strongly will the market develop over the next five years?
- Is that growth sustainable over the entire five years and what will be the market drivers?
- Which sectors hold the best prospects in what is expected to be a dynamic market?
- How is air conditioning equipment reaching the market?
- How have companies involved in the market faired during the downturn that followed 2008?
The function of an air conditioning system is to create and maintain a specific temperature, humidity, or other atmospheric condition in a given space, and to supply purified air to the area. For the purposes of this report, the UK market for air conditioning equipment has been segmented into:
- Central Plant Air Conditioners - Central air conditioners circulate cool air from a central plant room through a system of supply and return ducts. Supply ducts and registers (openings in the walls, floors or ceilings covered by grills) carry cooled air from the air conditioner to the building. This cooled air becomes warmer as it circulates through the building, then flows back to the central air conditioner through return ducts and registers. Central air conditioners are either split or packaged. The report is segmented as follows:
- Air Handling Units - An air handling unit is a factory made assembly consisting of a fan or a number of fans and other necessary equipment. Standard air handling units are built to standard width and height dimensions, with the length varying. They can be picked “off the shelf” from a catalogue and tend to be less expensive than more customised air handling units.
- Packaged Chillers - Packaged chillers are integrated packages (refrigerants) with pumps, tanks and controls. Packaged chillers can be either open or closed systems, with integral evaporator or secondary heat exchangers. Packaged chillers can come with air or water cooled condensers, insulated pump stations and centrifugal blowers available for heat recuperation.
- Terminal Units - Terminal devices and heating products include variable air volume units, fan coils units and constant volume systems.
- Fan Units - Fan units comprise an electrically powered fan, a heat exchanger coil and a drip tray for condensate. The units may or may not incorporate a filter or fresh air supply.
- VAV Units - Variable air volume systems provide zone control by varying the quantity of air at a constant temperature. They can reduce costs by operating supply and extract fans at reduced speed (and therefore volume) for much of the year. VAV units are mainly found in buildings with year-round cooling demands.
- Constant Volume Systems - These units are relatively low cost and easy to commission, but unable to provide adequate zone control. Separate systems may be required for different zones, increasing capital costs and plant space.
- Packaged Air Conditioning Equipment = The evaporator, condenser and compressor are all located in one cabinet, which usually is placed on a roof or on a concrete slab next to the building’s foundations. Air supply and return ducts come from indoors through the exterior wall or roof to connect with the packaged air conditioner, which is usually located outdoors. Packaged air conditioners often include electric heating coils or a natural gas furnace. This type of air conditioner is mainly used in houses and small commercial buildings.
- Split System (indoor/outdoor) - Split refers to the physical separation of the condenser and the evaporator. An outdoor metal cabinet contains the condenser and compressor, and an indoor cabinet contains the evaporator. In many split system air conditioners, this indoor cabinet also contains a furnace or the indoor part of a heat pump. The air conditioner’s evaporator coil is installed in the cabinet or main supply duct of this furnace or heat pump. If a building already has a furnace but no air conditioner, a split-system is the most economical central air conditioner to install.
- VRF Multisplits - Variable refrigerant flow systems are split systems providing heating or cooling using refrigerants or water. They are useful in office blocks, hotels and large retail stores, which may require cooling in some areas and heating in others. Multisplits comprise of one outdoor unit connected to up to five indoor units by means of pipework sets. Each indoor unit has its own pair of refrigerant pipes and electrical connections to the outdoor unit.
- Close Controlled Systems - Computer operational centres controlling conditions 24 hours a day.
- Portable Units - Portable units help with spot cooling areas that aren’t cooled by a central air conditioning system.
- Window/Through the Wall Units - They are supplied and installed as a single item, in a casing, sometimes with a built in sleeve. These units protrude through the external wall or window of the room which they are installed. They are suitable for single rooms and limited to a maximum of approximately 6kW cooling.
- Rooftop Units - Rooftop units comprise a single standard unit, with all the elements of cooling and air distribution designed for external mounting, as they are not normally put in plant rooms. Air is delivered to the building directly through ducts. Rooftop units are offered as an off-the-shelf package, fully integrated and cannot be split into different elements and installed separately. Some units provide heat by gas or electricity, or as heat pumps utilising the reverse of the refrigerant cycle. Rooftop units can also be fitted with economisers to utilise free cooling from outdoor air when conditions apply.
- Self Contained - Self contained or packaged terminal units (ptu’s) are labelled as such because all of the machinery (condenser, furnace, evaporator coil and blower) is contained in one large cabinet. The most common form are rooftop units. Heating only, cooling only or heating and cooling can be obtained from these machines. Some manufacturers design them with interchangeable panels that allow ductwork to be attached to the bottom, rooftop applications or to the sides for outdoor location of the unit and through the wall ductwork.
- Air Distribution Products - Includes diffusers, air valves, grilles, chilled beams, unit ventilators, unit heaters and wall fins.
Information provided within this report in relation to production, imports and exports are based on non-domestic air conditioning equipment only, and as such the totals are not directly comparable to the market value and market segmentation figures quoted in this report.
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