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Physician, Heat Thyself: What Is Reverse-Cycle Air Conditioning, And Why Should You Install It In Your Medical Clinic?

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Maintaining an equable temperatures in any place of business is important for the comfort of both your clients and employees, especially during the blazing hot peaks of the average Australian summer. However, if you run a medical clinic, such as a private GP's surgery or a plastic surgery clinic, climate control is even more vital—excessive heat or cold can have severe consequences for ill and/or elderly patients and impair the concentration of medical professionals performing delicate procedures.

Consequently, any medical clinic worth its salt will be fitted with a comprehensive commercial air conditioning and climate control system, and many will make an extra investment and opt for a reverse-cycle air conditioning system. The unique properties of these specialised air conditioning systems make them particularly valuable for climate control in medical clinics.

What are reverse-cycle air conditioners?

Reverse-cycle air conditions differ from conventional air conditioning systems in that they can be used to both cool and heat the air in your clinic as needs require. They are essentially a full-functioning air conditioning system and heating system contained in a single package.

When used in cooling mode, reverse-cycle air conditioners function in the same way as any other air conditioning system, drawing in warm air from inside (and, depending on the system you choose, outside) your building and passing it over refrigerant-filled cooling vanes before venting it back into your clinic at a much lower temperature. When set to heating mode, this cycle is essentially reversed, giving this type of system it's name; the air that is drawn into the system is passed over heating elements and is expelled at a higher temperature.

Why should you install a reverse-cycle air conditioner in your clinic?

Medical clinics need to control their internal temperatures with more precision than most other commercial buildings to avoid causing discomfort to patients and exacerbating their conditions.

Doing this with a conventional air conditioner can be challenging; if the conditioner is left on for even slightly too long or if it is set to too powerful a setting, the clinic can become unacceptably cold and will take a while to warm back up to a reasonable temperature. By the same token, keeping your clinic heated during the winter months without going overboard and raising the temperature too high can be similarly difficult, especially if you run a clinic located in the cooler, southern reaches of the country. 

Installing a reverse-cycle air condition gives you an unparalleled level of control over the temperature inside your clinic, allowing you to switch from heating to cooling and vice versa in a matter of minutes with a simple flick of a switch. Although reverse-cycle air conditioners are more expensive than their conventional counterparts, they are considerably cheaper than installing separate heating and cooling systems and can be controlled from a single location by one of your employees.

Reverse-cycle air conditioners also have other advantages; they take up significantly less space in your building than separate heating and cooling systems, especially if you choose a split or ductless system. This can be particularly important if you run an inner city clinic with limited space. They also use significantly less energy than would be consumed by separate heating and cooling systems, making them cheaper to run as well as cheaper to purchase and install.