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Air conditioning building regulations

With warm summers becoming a more regular occurrence in the UK, more and more British homeowners are choosing to install air conditioning in their homes. In this guide, we look at air conditioning Building Regulations and what you need to be aware of if you’re planning to have air conditioning installed in your property.

Do you need planning permission for air conditioning? What Building Regulations apply to air conditioning in the UK? Keep reading to find out more.

What air conditioning regulations are there in the UK?

Currently, there aren’t actually any official air conditioning Building Regulations in place in the UK for domestic air conditioning systems. But, when it comes to installing an air conditioning system in your home, we always recommend hiring qualified air conditioning specialists to carry out any installation or air con servicing work.

If you live in a restricted area or in a protected building, you will need to consider the usual guidance and restrictions that you would for any home improvement project.

Also, where electrical installations are concerned, your air conditioning installation should adhere to the relevant British electrical safety standards.

Do you need planning permission for air con?

The need for planning permission for your air conditioning will depend on the size of the air con system. If you’re installing a small air conditioning system then it will most likely be covered under permitted development rights, in which case you won’t need to apply for planning permission.

On the other hand, if you plan on installing a large and extensive air conditioning system then it may fall outside of permitted development status and you might need planning permission. This could be the case if your planned air conditioning system is:

  • Bigger than 0.6m³
  • Will be located less than a metre away from any property boundaries
  • Is going to be within a metre of the edge of a flat roof
  • Will be fitted on a pitched roof
  • Being added to a property that already has a wind turbine installed

You also might need to seek planning permission for your air con if you live in a restricted area, such as:

  • Conservation Area
  • National Park
  • Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • World Heritage Site

If in doubt, speak to your local planning office to discuss the details of your air conditioning installation before carrying out any work. They can then provide you with professional advice on planning permission for air con, and guidance concerning air conditioning Building Regulations that may apply at the time.

For more information, take a look at the Planning Portal guide.

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Air conditioning regulations 2018

Although domestic air conditioning doesn’t currently fall under any specific Building Regulations in the UK, commercial air con is another matter. In 2018, new legislation was introduced for commercial buildings with air conditioning and HVAC systems. The regulations set out guidelines on the following:

  • F-Gas – Any company that uses or services refrigeration products that contain F-Gas must meet requirements regarding record keeping and maintenance of the air conditioning system.
  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – All commercial properties that consist of more than 500 m2 of habitable space must hold an Energy Performance Certificate by law.
  • TM44 Regulation – As part of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), building owners and/or managers of properties that have an air conditioner system with an output of over 12kW are responsible for organising regular inspections to ensure the air con’s efficiency.

Engineers installing commercial air conditioning

Other air conditioning regulations

There are some other regulations that you might need to consider when planning your air conditioning installation.

Listed building consent

Just like restricted areas, if you live in a listed building you’ll need to get special consent to install air conditioning in your property. Before starting any installation work, apply for official consent first.

Noise pollution

Although modern air conditioning units tend to be much quieter than old air con systems, you still need to be mindful of any noise that a new installation could cause. If your air conditioning causes noise issues for your neighbours, you could face having to remove it.

To help minimise any noise issues, it’s a good idea to locate any external air conditioning units as far away from neighbouring properties as possible. And you can also consider using fencing, bushes or other soundproofing solutions to minimise any noise that can be heard.

Air conditioning engineer installing unit

F-gas regulations

Most air conditioning systems use refrigerants to cool the air for your home, these cooling chemicals are often referred to as ‘F gases’. Air conditioning regulations dictate that anyone who carries out an installation or servicing work on an air conditioning system with F-gases needs to have the right qualifications to do so.

When hiring an air conditioning installation specialist, make sure they have the appropriate F-gas certification before hiring them.

Air conditioner distance from boundary in the UK

Ideally, your external air conditioner unit should be located at least a metre from any neighbouring property boundary. Although, it’s often sensible to locate them as far from neighbours as possible so that you can avoid any possible complaints due to noise pollution.

For professional advice, speak to your local air conditioning specialists – just make sure you choose an expert with experience and the appropriate qualifications.

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Does air conditioning need Building Regulations?

For domestic use, there are currently no specific air conditioning Building Regulations that apply to installing an air conditioning system in your home. However, we always recommend hiring a qualified air conditioning professional to carry out the installation work. You’ll also need to make sure that any electrical work meets the relevant British electrical standards.

Building regulations are only needed if it’s an outdoor unit and within a meter of the boundary. Other than that, as long as all electrical work complies with Part P and the unit’s energy efficiency complies with Part L, both of which can be certified by a registered installer, no notification is needed. If in doubt, it’s always worth contacting local building control to confirm.

If you’re planning to install air conditioning for commercial (rather than domestic) use, then there are Building Regulations that would need to be adhered to.

How far should an AC unit be from a house?

As a general guide, it’s a good idea to locate your AC unit at least one metre from any other air con compressor or condenser units, or any other nearby obstruction such as a wall, fence, or shrubbery.

The Planning Portal says: All parts of the air source heat pump must be at least one metre from the property boundary.

Do you need planning permission for external air conditioning units?

Not usually. When you’re planning the location of your external air conditioning units, you shouldn’t need planning permission if you adhere to the following rules:

  • External unit is more than 1 metre away from the boundary of the property
  • External unit is installed more than 1 metre from the edge of a flat roof
  • External air con unit is not installed on a pitched roof
  • Compressor unit has a maximum capacity of 0.6m³
  • There’s no wind turbine at the property

How much does air conditioning cost to install?

The cost of installing air conditioning will depend on the size of your room/house and the type of system you’re looking to install. Take a look at our air conditioning cost guide for more information.

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