If you own, manage or work in a restaurant, it’s likely that air conditioning is not at the forefront of your mind. However, as someone who has likely dined out at one point in their lives, it’s clear why this is such an important consideration to make. As more and more restaurants pop up every single year, competition is high. And the reputation of a business and it’s likelihood of filling all bookings and having repeat customers relies on much more than just the food.

People are looking for an all-inclusive dining experience. Once where they can spend time with loved ones, eat great food and create memories. The temperature of a room has a significant impact on this. Too cold and customers will be left shivering. Too hot and you run the risk of heat-related illnesses befalling your diners. The right restaurant air conditioning unit offers the ability to warm up and cool down sections of your property, either by an automated system or through manual controls. This guide will walk through all of the factors you need to consider when researching the ideal air conditioning unit.

We’ve all heard of the office-based debates over air conditioning. The difference here is you’re surrounded by colleagues and the whole debacle has probably become a running joke now. In restaurants, there is more at stake. The temperature of your dining room and food preparation area should be considered in line with health and safety. Both guests and employees need to feel cool, comfortable and, above all, well when they spend time in this environment. One study suggests that the ideal temperature for dining is between 20 – 23°C. However, there a number of challenges presented in a restaurant environment that can cause this to fluctuate:

  • Draughts caused by opening and closing the restaurant door.
  • Individual temperature preferences for diners.
  • Excess heat produced when a kitchen is working at capacity.
  • The number of diners at any given time.

No matter the restaurant size in question, you’ll need to focus on the 4 factors above and any other variables to maintain the ideal environment.


Another area to consider is the level of maintenance needed to keep your restaurant air conditioning system working at full capacity. Kitchens and food preparation areas present a unique set of challenges, based on the activities that take place here and the busy environment in general. Some of these include:

  • A build-up of grease and smoke within the working components of an AC unit. This can happen much quicker than in residential environments and can cause a depreciation in output performance.
  • Excessive heat created in the kitchen contributes to rising temperatures in the dining area. If you have a large kitchen or one with less ventilation, your air conditioning unit will have to work harder to bring it down to a comfortable level.
  • Humidity caused by commercial dishwashers and other activity can also cause damage to the components within an AC unit. This will either lead to damage or poor performance.

If you’ve done any research into AC units, you’ll know there is a wide range of different types. For restaurant environments, however, we recommend a wall-mounted air conditioner. These cost-effective units are easy to install and can be integrated into the design of your space. Most of them are thin, long and can be positioned high up on the wall to stay out of the eyesight of diners.

Here, we recommend you place the unit at the most central point in a room. This will allow the air to flow easily throughout the entire room to keep all diners comfortable. If you have a larger restaurant, use multiple wall-mounted air conditioners around the room to even out the room temperature and minimise the likelihood of cold or hot spots.

Another option is a ceiling-mounted ‘cassette’ unit which can be hidden within a ceiling cavity. These are the ideal option for businesses with a very specific aesthetic and one that would become disrupted when using a traditional AC unit. Additionally, many of these machines can offer 4-way airflow that better circulates and maintains an ideal temperature.


There are a number of ways you can use an air conditioning unit effectively within a restaurant. This will help to reduce costs and ensure that all bases are covered. Our tips include:

  • 1. Make sure to use the right-sized unit for your space. Restaurants that try to use an air conditioner that is either too big or too small are unlikely to benefit from its peak performance. AC units are made to heat rooms of a specific size and work best when allowed to do so. Our blog post, ‘What Size Air Con Machine Do I Need?‘, covers all of the basics and will help you establish the correct unit needed.
  • 2. Use automated or programmable thermostats, where possible. This technology allows an air conditioning unit to detect the atmosphere and adjust the temperature accordingly. Some can also be used alongside other devices to alter temperature depending on the number of people in a room, the time of day, or the external weather conditions.
  • 3. Don’t forget about the toilets. Air conditioning in toilets is regularly left on all the time. Not only can this increase your heating bills but also means that these spaces can be rather cold. During cooler evenings, consider turning the units off or only running them for specified hours.
  • 4. Make use of a start-up/shut down programme. Like with toilets, if you leave an air conditioning unit on all the time, it’s going to escalate your heating bills. Using a start-up/shut down programme means the unit will only begin working at specified times of the day – when it’s needed the most.

Cooling a restaurant presents a unique set of challenges, but many of which can be overcome with the right air conditioning unit. Here at Controlled Climate, we have over 25 years of experience in commercial air conditioning and can help you with everything from design through to installation and service. Contact us today for more information.