The warmth of the domestic environment and the breath of the external landscape: a conservatory, or winter garden, is a one-of-a-kind space. The structure combines the comfortable character of a house’s interior with the openness of the natural scenery, thanks to the large windows that dress its steel structure, making it welcoming, open, and airy at the same time.
A conservatory can be built anywhere in the world and can be used all year round, regardless of the climatic conditions.
This is all possible thanks to the combination of:
- Modern technologies in terms of insulating construction materials
- Innovative space heating and cooling units
Combining these two factors allows you to air-condition conservatories optimally and thus makes this structure, with the appearance of yesteryear, a real jewel of modern architecture.
How can we ensure a perfect temperature, and what mechanical systems can be used to cool or heat a conservatory?
Let's take a look at it in this guide.
Why you should choose a specific heating and cooling unit
Why should you choose a specific air conditioning unit for your conservatory?
Winter gardens have specific needs regarding internal temperature regulation, due to their particular construction characteristics.
Conservatories are mainly made of glass and steel and have very high ceilings. And all the building walls generally face outwards.
These characteristics explain why the heat is dispersed eight times faster inside conservatories than inside a classic housing construction.
Fresh air also behaves differently in a conservatory than in classic masonry environments, with more marked insulating properties.
For this reason, first, it is necessary to use insulating construction materials, such as thermal break windows and insulating glass.
It will also be necessary to rely on specific solutions for the structure in question, which allow the environment to be heated or cooled optimally and, if possible, also to save on energy consumption—an advantage for the customer and the environment.
From the design of the conservatory structure itself to the mechanical systems that can be used to cool or heat the space, let's check out what options you have to make this environment pleasant in every season.
The structure: roofing, curtains, and ventilation systems
Perhaps that's not the first thing you think about when selecting heating and cooling units for a conservatory.
But choosing the right construction details is the first step to guaranteeing a temperature that makes the space welcoming in all weather conditions and seasons.
Conservatory roofing: choose the material that best suits your needs
A more massive roof or one made entirely of glass, which is the most suitable for fully enjoying the natural light coming in from outside?
The two solutions will determine very different behaviors with respect to the methods of diffusion and dispersion of hot and cold air.
Here are the roofs you can choose from for your conservatory roofing:
- Transparent roof.
This type of roof is made entirely of glass, which can be selective or reflective.
Both types are very efficient in blocking the hot component of sunlight and allow you to isolate the environment efficiently in the coldest periods.
- Blind roof.
Made of metal, which is more insulating than glass, this construction variant can help control the temperature inside the conservatory.
- Mixed roof
The mixed roof consists of a blind metal part and a glass part.
This solution is often adopted when it is necessary to create extensive roofs, as it allows you to create suitable spaces to hide the installation of a lighting system and the lighting fixtures connected to it, as well as the air conditioning unit itself.
The choice will depend on the climate of your conservatory’s location and how the customer will want to use the structure.
Curtains: an elegant solution to keep your winter garden cool
Using curtains can help you:
- block excess heat from outside, especially in particularly hot areas of the world
- create an insulating barrier that retains heat inside the structure in the coldest areas or periods
Using curtains is a functional and decorative technique, which will allow you to manage and modulate your conservatory’s temperature and revolutionize the appearance of the space whenever you want, taking advantage of different fabrics and materials every time.
How to properly manage the ventilation inside your conservatory
Ensure there is good air circulation to avoid overheating the space and deterioration of air quality due to stagnant air.
To have a healthy environment in terms of air and keep the temperature under control, choose construction solutions that promote the passage of air between the inside and outside of your conservatory.
Create small hidden air vents to allow air recirculation, design openings for ventilation, and include windows and doors in the design of the space that can be fully opened.
Even the roof itself can be designed to be opened when the weather permits.
Choosing optimal construction methods and details make your conservatory comfortable and welcoming but are not sufficient to create a comfortable indoor temperature in various climatic conditions.
You will also need to install a mechanical system that can guarantee perfect temperature conditions without having to compromise on brightness levels.
Let's take a look at the best options for heating and cooling this type of structure while remaining faithful to the constructive idea and selected design.
Integrating an air conditioning unit in the false ceiling to cool or heat the environment
One option is to integrate the air conditioning and heating unit into the false ceiling of a conservatory.
This elegant and refined choice will allow you to organically coordinate all the details of the structure with those of the air conditioning unit and prevent "foreign" elements from grabbing your attention.
The unit uses two functional systems: one externally, which produces hot or cold air as needed, and one or more internally, which push the air from top to bottom, air-conditioning the spaces uniformly.
Even if this air conditioning unit is virtually invisible, it proves extremely effective.
Let’s look at an example.
DFN, a luxury outdoor furniture and design company, worked on the design of a 100 square meter winter garden in Doha, Qatar, where the outside temperature easily exceeds 40 degrees centigrade, and the humidity is very high.
Despite the environmental conditions, the size of the space, and although there are no tents or covers on the roof, the Doha conservatory, located within Katara Village, maintains an average internal temperature of 19 degrees centigrade all year round.
This temperature is guaranteed by nine functional units inside the building.
Integrating air conditioning and heating units in the false ceiling is an extraordinarily effective strategy, which allows for optimal air conditioning without imposing itself with bulky structures and machinery that could distract from the beauty and uniqueness of the conservatory.
Integrated underfloor air conditioning unit to cool or heat the environment
Like the heating and cooling option integrated into the false ceiling, it is possible to channel the fresh air and let it out through special grids placed along the perimeter of the floor.
Also, in this case, the view is excellent since even this solution is practically invisible at first glance and allows you to air-condition a conservatory without compromising the design and the general appearance of the structure.
As with the system integrated into the false ceiling, an external unit produces hot or cold air as needed, which is then diffused into the closed environment by internal units, special grids, which push the air from the bottom upwards.
As a rule, the grids are positioned along the perimeter of the conservatory, a technique that makes the implementation of this system even more discreet.
Underfloor system for heating and cooling a conservatory
The integrated radiant floor heating and cooling unit is a convenient option in terms of functionality and maintenance.
In fact, it is a solution that is able to maintain a constant and always pleasant temperature during the cold season inside your conservatory.
The coils through which the radiant system works, in which hot or cold water flows based on your needs, in fact, allow you to cover the entire surface of the floor and consequently generate very uniform heating or cooling, which does not involve any air movement.
The system is very clean precisely because its operation does not involve any air movement and therefore no dust is raised.
This option is also particularly environmentally and cost-effective as it uses much less energy than traditional heating units such as radiators.
Choose the perfect air conditioning unit for your conservatory
As mentioned, the choice of the heating and cooling unit depends on several variables.
What are the customer's preferences?
How will you use the space?
What are the specific climatic conditions of the structure's location throughout the year?
DFN analyzes the results the client wants to achieve with their project in detail and indicates the combination of the best construction techniques and systems to make the most of your conservatory.