Buyer’s Guide to Air Conditioners

SMART SPENDER>BUYER’S GUIDE

Buyer’s Guide to Air Conditioners

The hot summer’s near and it’s time to turn the A/C on. If you’re buying an air conditioner for the first time or need to replace your ancient model, here’s a checklist of what to look for

By Carlos Gonzales

Thirty four degrees Celsius is not “warm.” It’s the “Sahara Desert.” Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration but summer nights can be awfully hot. Electric fans just won’t do it and if you’re still keeping your decrepit 80s- or 90s-era air conditioner, you’ll wonder if it has miraculously transformed into a heater or at least a glorified blower.

The average life expectancy of an air conditioner is around 10 years, after which it starts having more problems. The longer you hold on to it, the less sense to have it fixed since repairing it may not be cost-effective and will likely not do much good in the long haul. You might as well buy a new unit that’s much more energy efficient and will last a longer time.

So whether you’re replacing a unit or buying for the first time, there are five things you should consider:

1. Type

Air conditioners come in at least four types: window, split, centralized, and portable. Your choice depends on your space requirements and budget.

Window: This is the most common type for home use, particularly for small rooms, installed through a window or a hollow area of a wall. Pros: ideal for small rooms, relatively inexpensive, and easy to install. Cons: a bit unsightly, can’t handle big spaces.

Split system: A notch above window types are split systems, which come in either as a package (no outdoor components, but take up room space) or in separate components (indoor and outdoor). They can also be wall mounted, floor mounted, or ceiling suspended. A variant is a multi split system, which is similar to a split system except one outdoor component powers multiple indoor parts, thus is able to cool the entire house instead of just one room. Pros: cools bigger space better, sleek and compact design, quieter. Cons: more expensive, require professional installation.

Central ducted: A centralized system uses an indoor unit linked to an outdoor compressor unit that pumps cool air through flexible ductwork around your house. Pros: efficient, quiet, cools entire house. Cons: most expensive type, difficult to install.

Portable: The newer portable air conditioners can be rolled around the house. Pros: portable, cheaper, consume less energy, simple to install. Cons: less powerful, can’t be a substitute for standard types.

For most homes, a window type or split system is sufficient. But if you have a big house, centralized air conditioning may be a better option. For living rooms and kitchens, a portable unit will suffice.

2. Size

The most crucial factor to consider when buying an A/C is its size, which should be based on how big your room is. If it’s too small for your room, it will not be cool enough and your air conditioner has to work harder, thus consuming more energy and jacking up your electricity bill. If it’s too large, it may cool your room fast but it will feel damp and humid since there isn’t enough time to remove moisture. There are generally three sizes for window and split type units:

Small: For rooms smaller than 25 sq.m. Horsepower: 1.0 HP or below unit. Capacity: 8,440 to 10,550 kJ/hr (kilojoules per hour).

Mid-sized: For rooms between 25 and 44 sq.m. Horsepower: 1.5 or 2.0 HP. Capacity: 12,661 to 22,156 kJ/hr.

Large: For rooms between 50 and 72 sq.m. Horsepower: 2.5 or 3.0 HP unit Capacity: 24,266 to 35,872 kJ/hr.  

For most rooms, small- and mid-sized air conditioners are enough. Aside from the room area, you should also take into account factors like ceiling height, other appliances, natural light, number of occupants, and adjust the required cooling capacity and horsepower accordingly.

3. Features

This is what sales people will highlight to differentiate their models from competitors. So what exactly should you look for?

Inverter: This automatically adjusts the fan and motor speed of the A/C to cool down rooms quickly and more efficiently as well as maintain a constant temperature, which can save on power consumption. Models with inverters are a little more expensive but they can save 30%-50% in electricity.

Energy Savers: Look for a set of operating modes that help save energy usage, such as a timer, sleep mode, energy saving mode, auto restart, and the like.

Air Direction: You’re A/C is installed usually at either side of a wall, rarely at the center, so you need to direct airflow toward one side. Look for a model that has air flow control steps, air direction control, and a remote control.

Purifiers: Newer models have the ability to filters dirt and dust particles (even germs) to purify the air in the room as well as remove odors.

Dehumidifier: Removes some the humidity in the room without having to cool the room, so this should

There are other extra features that may appeal to you. Just remember that the more functions there, the more expensive.

4. Efficiency

Don’t just look for the initial purchase price but the total cost of ownership. The critical aspect is efficiency, which affects electricity consumption. What you should look for is an Energy Star rating, expressed in EER (energy efficiency ratio), which indicates how good an air conditioner is at turning electricity into cooling. For every point difference in EER, you save 10% in electricity cost. Air conditioners manufactured after October 2000 should have at least a 9.7 EER. To get the yellow Energy Star label, the unit must have a 10.7 EER.

5. Noise

Many air conditioners are noisier than your snoring spouse, which makes sleeping a bigger challenge. So if you’re a light sleeper, look for a unit that runs quietly in the background, not blaring scandalously. Some models indicate their low and high indoor and outdoor noise levels in decibels (dB). The lower the number, the quieter it is.

[SIDEBAR]

[note: please save space for this table]

What to Buy

Carrier

Kolin

Panasonic

Kelvinator

LG

Condura

Whirlpool

GE

Haier

Kenmore

Sharp

14 comments on “Buyer’s Guide to Air Conditioners

  1. Thanks for the post! I’ve learned a lot regarding finding the best air conditioning unit, efficiency is one of the most considered thing when choosing and having air conditioners.

  2. This is what we should have before choosing and buying air conditioning unit. This is a very big help to those who really need to have units in their home. We can also get good ideas and advices from famousacandheat, try to check guys.

  3. very informative, nice to find this site and to know we have one (in the phils).
    im planning to buy a Samsung window type, me and my wife like this as this is the identical size with our old (condura) aircon. i didnt see the samsung brand on the what to buy.. any reason or product review? thank you!

  4. I’m a satisfied owner of 2 kolin airconditioners,it is very efficient and silent. I used to own a national panasonic and condura,year 2008,i changed our masters bedrooms airconditioner to a kolin and my electric bill went down from P7k to P5,8k-P6k, after a month i changed my daughters condura to kolin and our bill went down again to around P5,4k. It is not the inverter type,and yet it is very efficient!!!!

  5. My friends, do not buy a Samsung Wall mounted air conditioner of any type. I bought two of them over a year ago, at a cost of over P70,000 for both units. And they have had this reoccuring problem with electrical boards which are too sensitive to fluctuations in electricity, and each time the elecrical boards failed I had to pay over P5,000 to replace them, parts & labor. Samsung’s after sales service is simply dismal and self-serving, with no real compassion for its customers. Samsung may make great cell phones, but their air conditioners are not reliable, I wish I had invested in Carrier air conditioners, as I can’t help but notice that most major commercial establishments in the Phils utilize Carrier. Do not make the same mistake I made…get a Carrier!

  6. I have Samsung Wall mount AC too. Same as RIchard problem. Circuit board need to be replace and I need to pay for parts and labor for almost 6K. Very bad choice if you will buy Samsung AC. Don’t buy Samsung AC.

  7. So far the Samsung brand is not recommended here. Any thoughts on other brands please? I’m looking to purchase one of the following brands: Carrier, Kolin, Condura, Panasonic or LG.

  8. Can anybody tell me if any of the reliable brands still make floor mounted AC (not the floor standing split type)? I just bought this condo unit that includes floor mounted Carrier AC in the bedrooms but the brand does not make them anymore. I need another one for the living space. I was told by the developer that I can buy the split type, the outdoor component will go to the provisioned space by the wall of the building and the indoor component will be where I want it to be but installation requires ripping off part if the cemented wall. One unit owner said it cost her P100,000+++ for the unit and the installation sometime September 2013. Thank you for any thoughts that you may share with me.

  9. Highly informative. I am planning to buy 1hp lg premium inverter but i’ve learned that lg’s after sales service is poor. Can anybody recommend what A/C inverter to buy which is not that expensive, has good after sales service and can help me save electricity? I heard condura is less expensive and yet durable but its EER is only 10.4 compared to lg which is 15.8. Its so confusing.. 1st time buyer here.hehe Thank u!

  10. planning to buy window type aircon, 1HP for 30 sqm unit. im planning to buy LG because it’s cheaper but lower BTU. If Carrier brand, bit expensive,high BTU but lower EER. any suggested brand?

  11. im now using LG 1hp manual a/c, my problem is its a bit noisy and ndi n sya nag-aautomatic khit sobrang lamig n ng room. so feeling ko ung motor nya tuloy2 lng ung takbo which i guess is the cause kung bakit medyo mataas kuryente ko. Bka po may alam kayo n mapagkakatiwalaan n magaling gumawa ng air con? Please help…thank you!

  12. I have 2 kolin inverter split types (1hp and 2hp units).
    this june, they will both be 3 years old. both are functioning as well as they have been since new, are still quiet and still very cold. I follow the 6-month cleaning/service schedule and so far the kolin contractors have been ok. no horror stories.
    not too bad for a “budget” brand.

  13. many people are sayings that split-type is better, but that is not the case in my experience:
    - so hard to find a stable secure place to put the outside component
    - after a few months, the connection started getting bite marks, probably from rats
    - cleaning the unit is more difficult
    i have to switch back to window type AC :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>