Upgrading Old Ducted Aircon to New ActronAir ESP Platinum Plus Ultima Review

Our old ducted air-conditioning system lasted only 10 years perhaps you could say 8 years if you count its hopeless under performance for the last two years of its service. We installed an Accent ducted air-conditioning unit for over 12K, which back in 2006 was touted as one of the best systems around and being Australian made it was supposed to be built for Australian conditions, be made out of good quality parts, and most importantly do the job of cooling our home down as efficiently as possible. Sadly, none of these things were true. 

At the time, we replaced several wall mounted split systems with our old ducted unit and was told by the contractor this would save energy usage considerably. However, we actually found little difference in energy consumption and our electricity bills were as high as ever.

Our 19kW ActronAir ESP Platinum Plus Air-conditioning unit (image above)

Cutting a long story short, although our Accent air-conditioner came with a 5 year warranty and although nothing really went wrong with it in that time frame, it pretty much ran like a dog and by the eighth year it was sucking power like a DeSal plant without hardly cooling our place down at all. In the end, we found Accent Air and our original installer had both "gone under" (not surprisingly) and sold out to Reece so trying to find someone to talk to about our failing unit was impossible. Plus, replacing the unit was not an option due to several compatibility or pricing factors and repairing the unit was not an option either due the the sheer cost of replacement parts and the fact that some parts were no longer available.     

Therefore, we really only had two options: go without a ducted air-conditioning system and just leave the holes in the ceiling like some relic from the past; or, we could replace the full ducted system with a new one.

The latter is what we decided to do… We replaced our awful lemon Accent Air ducted system with a new 19kW ActronAir ESP Platinum Plus system (the ESP Ultima is the latest model) and after much trepidation/anxiety I am happy to say nearly 12 months onwards we are absolutely wrapped with the cost savings and performance of our new ActronAir unit.   

Obviously, the first thing I asked our installer (Redsell in Caboolture/Morayfield) was if they could somehow utilise parts of our old ducted system to save us as much money as possible and the answer we thankfully got was absolutely! In all, we saved around $3000 by keeping some of the current infrastructure such as ducting that was still up to standard and of course the ceiling vents. In fact, Redsell utilised the exact vent plan as it was and didn't require cutting new holds or repairing vents and this did save us a considerable amount of money in parts and labour.   

Before I go on, I should state why we chose an ActronAir ducted system particularly after being burnt from a previous "Aussie made" brand. Put simply, my long and tedious research online and chatting to potential installers etc kept leading me back to ActronAir plus not long before I started looking for an air-conditioning unit the company or specifically this particular ducted unit (the ActronAir ESP Platinum Plus system) had received a top industry award. Adding to that, the cost saving figures regarding power use, sustainability, and efficiency were hard to overlook compared to other brands. So, I decided to give another Australian aircon company a go.    

I know some people would assume since I am into self-sufficiency and sustainability that someone like me should want to "suffer the elements" and try to use natural free ways to cool our home down instead of running a large 19KW inverter air-conditioning unit. The truth is, we do our best to cool our home naturally without excess use of power but at the same time my "green" beliefs are not one dimensional or regressive or unrealistic… I've never been a martyr for the cause and although I'm into frugal living, self-sufficiency, etc, I still like the luxuries in life and enjoy the benefits of a modern 21st century lifestyle.  And, one of those benefits is the ability to regulate the temperature within one's home to stay comfortable particularly in a subtropical environment like ours when the heat and humidity can sometimes be unbearable during the summer months!      

Anyway, getting back on track, I'm certainly in the ducted system camp as opposed to using separate split systems throughout the home. Separate split systems are fine if your cooling plan is limited to one or two rooms and your home is small but they are terribly inefficient for larger homes with lots of rooms to cool like our place. The initial outlay is more to install ducted air-conditioning; however, the medium – long term running costs of a good ducted system will save you money simply because a ducted system can do the same or a better job as several split systems more efficiently.     

Our ducted ActronAir Platinum Plus system took the Redsell installers a full day from sun up to practically sun down. The team of installers (about 8 guys) was run by two ex-soldiers (both crafties) and they ran the installation like a military operation – I was quite impressed (being a former Sergeant Major) at how well the team worked together.  Yes, if I was to review Redsell Air Conditioning and Electrical I would give them ***** 5 out of 5 stars for reliability and professionalism as ducted air-conditioning suppliers and installers (disclaimer – this is not a paid ad or sponsored article whatsoever I'm just happy that's all).  

This particular system can be programmed for up to 8 separate zones and unlike many ducted systems (particularly the older ones) the Platinum Plus doesn't need a "constant zone" (a zone that's always on, usually the main living area) instead; this system can be switched to any single zone, several zones, or all zones. So that means, if you only want one room cooled such as the main bedroom it can be selected and that'll be the ONLY room it cools saving heaps in outherwise wasted energy.

The unit also has smart temperature sensor and control software, which actually turns the system into sleep or standby mode (practically off) when the room reaches the desired temperature. This feature is probably the single best power cost saving/efficiency measure of all because instead of the air-conditioning unit running flat out constantly it actually stops or idles thereby using only as much electricity as necessary to keep the room/s at temp.

We have a big house –  it's double story – but we didn't need to incorporate the bottom floor because it's always cooler down there anyway plus one of the vents/zones is strategically placed over the inner stairwell and the cool air automatically drifts down. All up we created 6 zones upstairs: Main bed, bedroom 2, bedroom 3, living/kitchen, dining, and entry, with 10 ceiling vents adequately covering the full top floor (excluding bathrooms). This design works a treat and the 19kW ESP Platinum Plus system has plenty of grunt to easily and quickly cool our home down during the hottest days or indeed heat it up occasionally through winter.

We installed two fixed wall controllers one in the main living room/kitchen and the other in our main bedroom so we have the convenience of two places to operate the system when required. Also, the controller can be programmed to come on or turn off and we find the timer to turn off very useful especially at bed time when you just want the unit to run until you nod off to sleep and then it switches itself off after a predetermined time limit eg 1 or 2 hours.      

For about an extra $1000 You can get the wireless system and control your unit from your phone even when you're away but we decided the extra technology inclusions weren't really necessary and to be honest I doubt it would have been much of a convenience – we find walking a few extra feet to the wall control unit to operate it or turn it off pretty easy. This wireless feature can always be retro installed later anyway if you decide you want the extra convenience of switching the unit on as you are travelling home from work or the beach… bit of an unnecessary luxury I think but in the fast changing world of mobile technology some people want these features. 

So how much have I saved in electricity costs since installing this latest ducted air-conditioning unit? Well, I have to admit keeping exact records is not really my "thing" but I do know our quarterly electricity bill through summer was down considerably from the previous year by at least $300. On average, ActronAir state general savings in excess of $1000 per annum for a standard household using the ESP Platinum Plus air-conditioning system of other units and from what I have found I don't doubt this figure.

The outside ActronAir unit purrs along wonderfully and is hardly audible, which is a big change from our old Accent unit that sounded more like an old idling diesel truck at the depot – I bet my neighbours are glad we upgraded!

Overall, I give the ActronAir Platinum Plus ducted air-conditioning unit a big thumbs up and our local installers from Caboolture at Redsell should also be commended for their professional install and great customer service.  

Almost 12 months on and our system has lived up to our high expectations of being an efficient user of electricity and an excellent performer in cooling or heating our home.

Feel free to comment or ask questions below using our Facebook comment section or our generic comments section.      

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