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Usability of Air Conditioning

Usability of Air Conditioning

Usability of Air Conditioning

In a typical day sitting at my desk on the Web Development floor I'll come in, take off my coat and drape it over the back of my chair. A bit later on I might get a bit warm and roll up my sleeves. Then the arctic wind starts up and I have to put my coat back on. A couple of hours later it's tropical again and I'm down to a T-shirt. It's still unclear whether this is caused by people fiddling with the controls, a faulty thermostat or gremlins. But these discussions in the internal forums got me thinking...

Whoever set the aircon to 21degrees on the cool setting please leave it alone. It's like a fridge in here now.

And someone else chimes in with...

As I'm sat directly under an aircon unit I can tell you that for half the day the air is quite warm and comfortable, then for the second half it really plummets - getting quite drafty. It does this each day. Is this how it is supposed to operate?

Then, on another day...

Another plea from the arctic conditions against the backwall. Please don't set the aircon to any extremes of temperature if you're a bit hot or cold. It shouldn't be necessary to set the unit to 'heat' or 'cool' or any temperature outside of 23-24'C.

'Heat' or 'Cool'?! Why does an air conditioning unit have settings for 'Heat' and 'Cool'? Surely that's implicit in the temperature setting. What does it even mean if the current temperature is 23 degrees and you set the aircon to "cool to 30 degrees"? Or "heat to 10 degrees"?

Having three units switched off and one set to 30' on heat isn't going to work. You can't make localised changes by switching units off with extreme differences between them.

Well, that makes sense but in that case, why give the different units independent controls? In the end it was decided...

If you haven't been trained in using the Air Con ... then please ask Pete or me and we'll gladly help.

If that means I can spend a whole day without alternately sweating and freezing then I'll gladly abide by the rule but I just don't understand why operating an aircon unit should require training. All it needs is two buttons: one with the label "Make the room warmer" and the other "Make the room cooler". Update: here's a photo of the control panel, courtesy of Kelly!

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9 Comments
Community Gaffer
All it needs is two buttons: one with the label: “Make the room warmer” and the other “Make the room cooler”.
That's a bit naive though, because you get hotspots through a room. I.e. in front of windows, near doorways. I guess the idea is that you tweak each air con to overcome it's own micro climate? Does the master than apply across them all with the tweaks in mind? Who knows. The one thing I do know though: The guy who designed those controls was an engineer, not a user interface designer!
Community Veteran
I'm just guessing here, but maybe the 'heat' and 'cool' options direct the way in which the air conditioner responds to the thermostat. In practice, what I'm suggesting is that maybe the 'heat' setting means the AC turns on when the thermostat reaches the temperature you've set it to, whereas the 'cool' setting does the opposite: turns the thermostat off at the temperature you've set it to. These may sound like they'd effectively do the same thing, but they actually wouldn't.
Plusnet Staff
LOL (a lot) @ this blog. It doesn't help that at least half of the wall is glass window. Gentle adjustments to your local unit should be perfectly acceptable however - even set to warm if you're cold. 'Local' not 'global' setting though. It really isn't rocket science you lot.. thermodynamics mebbe .
Just browsing
The heat setting will make the air con blow out warm air, the cool setting will do the opposite. In reality however all that's needed is for a temperature to be set either globally or locally, then the air con units decide how best to keep the room at the set temperature...
Not applicable
Set all of the units to 22oC on the AUTO mode... that way they will hear *and* cool to keep at 22oc?
Community Veteran
I'm sure Nick (who used to sit in front of the air con unit) will agree with me that it's got a mind of it's own. With no one appearing to have been near it today, it just suddenly started blowing an Artic wind at me Sad
Just browsing
/me think he has figured out the reason behind the constant desk changes at plusnet... No one wants to sit under the aircon :p
Not applicable
You now know what the "con" in "air con" really means. It's a freezing February day outside, yet I'm sat here in a short-sleeve T-shirt and it's not getting cooler.
Not applicable
Why the hell do air conditioning have heating setting and cooling settings, i think they should have one setting and thats the temparature you want the room to be, whether hot or cold. because hot to someone else is not that hot to someone. Or if it does have heating settings, then why not specify the temparatures that are hot and the temparatures that are cold.