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Air Conditioner Buying Guide

Consumer VOICE experts have made things easier for you by compiling a checklist to refer that will help you to choose the best AC for your household. 

The Indian market is flooded with various brands of air conditioners (ACs), with their several aggressively priced models that can be mainly differentiated in terms of aesthetics, design, appearance, colour, size, etc. As per our study, there are over 2,000 models of air conditioners of various brands and capacities in the market (there are about 700 models just in the category of split AC of 1.5 ton capacity). Who would say buying an AC is as simple a task as any!

Let’s start with understanding different types of ACs available in India. 

  • Different Types of ACs

  1. Split AC: Split air conditioners are made up of two parts – an indoor unit and an outdoor unit that work together to cool the room. Usually, Split ACs are faster at cooling, more energy efficient and quieter than window AC.
  2. Window AC: Window AC is the simplest form of an air conditioning system and is mounted on windows or walls. The evaporator side is located facing the room for cooling of the space and the condenser side outdoor for heat rejection.
  3. Inverter Type AC: Inverter AC can vary the compressor speed. The compressor (fitted in the outdoor unit) doesn’t need to switch on and off continuously, but instead just speeds up or down as need demands. By not actually having to stop and start several times a day, there’s less stress on the compressor and less electricity is used, so inverter models are generally more efficient and cost less to run.


  • Which Type of AC should you buy?

Window AC vs Split AC vs Inverter AC

This is the basic question that you need to answer before you set out to get a new AC for your household. A window AC, a split AC,  or  an  inverter type  AC  (variable speeds) what is required?. While window AC units are cheaper and easy to install, split AC units are quieter, aesthetically more pleasing, and provide better air distribution. Usually, split ACs are also faster at cooling, more energy efficient  and  quieter  than window ACs. Globally, window ACs have almost gone out of production, but in India these still make for a good alternative to consumers.

In an inverter AC, the compressor (fitted in the outdoor unit) is powered by a variable-speed drive or ‘inverter’ that enables the compressor to run at a range of speeds from slow to fast, to match the output required. An inverter unit will gradually increase its capacity based on the capacity needed in the room to cool down or heat up the room. This means the compressor doesn’t need to switch on and off continuously, but instead just speeds up or down as need demands. By not actually having to stop and start several times a day, there’s less stress on the compressor and less electricity is used, which is why inverter models are generally more efficient and cost less to run. They can maintain a set temperature within a narrow range. Most split systems on the market these days are inverter models.

Most conventional compressors run at a constant speed and these types of units vary their capacity by switching on and off at different intervals. Switching on this type of unit will start to run on full load. This can cause more wear and tear on the compressor and uses more power to start up each time. These models aren’t as efficient to run as the inverter models, but can be cheaper to buy.

Choosing an inverter AC over other conventional ACs may seem to be a smart decision. But at the best of time and with the best of information and budget, making the final choice can still be a challenge. What is best? The best according to your need, want, budget and preference, or the best generally speaking, or the best according to the environment? Other practical concerns can run the gamut from size and cost to capacity and noise, and after-sales service as well. Here is a compilation of all the things that you would want to know before making the all-important buy.

  •  When is a Good Time to Buy Your AC?

Avoid buying in peak season if you can; that will be summer in most parts of India, but could be midwinter too if you’re in a colder region. If possible, shop around before the peak season starts, so that your new unit is installed and ready for when you’ll need it most. Alternatively, it can be worth buying just after the season ends. Old stock may go on sale as retailers make room for new models. While the newest models may be a bit more efficient or have new features, a recently superseded model at a bargain price
can be a great choice.

  • What should you consider while buying an air conditioner?

5 Points to Consider When Buying an AC

The idea is to choose an air conditioner that fulfills your  need  for  maximum  energy  savings through highest energy-efficiency ratio, best cooling performance and extensive after-sales service.

  1. Capacity: The capacity of the air conditioner should be considered depending on the floor size of the room for which the AC is required. A rough measure is that an area in the range of 120 -140 sq. feet will need an AC with 1 ton capacity; for 150-180 sq. feet it will be 1.5 ton; and for 180 -240 sq. feet it will be 2 ton.
  2. Energy Efficiency: Air conditioners come with star-rated energy-efficiency ratings, implemented by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). Any unit with more stars will consume lesser electricity than one with a lower star rating. If the regular usage of your AC is more than four hours/day, go for a higher star- rated (4-5) AC, though a 3-star AC can also serve your purpose. On the whole, 3-star ACs are more popular as mid-range power saving gives consumers a great price advantage as compared to a 5-star AC.  The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has introduced a new star-rating methodology called Indian Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (ISEER) for air conditioners. This methodology factors in variance in higher temperatures in India and rates air conditioners accordingly. Consumers can now purchase air conditioners with higher efficiency, leading to lower electricity bills. Read more about ISEER Rating

  1. Copper versus Aluminum Coils: ACs now come with aluminum coils (condenser coils) where the cost is slightly lower but offer lesser life/durability. It makes sense to not compromise on the cost – always insist on copper-coil ACs. They have a much longer life and less leakage complaints.
  2. Installation and Cartage: While placing your order, be aware that installation charges, if any, are generally included in the unit cost. Also, insist on free home delivery while placing the order.
  3. After-sales Service: Look for a longer service- oriented, reputed brand – one that has the capabilities and the network to meet the servicing needs of your product. Ask your friends and relatives for feedback.

Consumer VOICE compared energy efficiency and prices of various models of 1.5 TON SPLIT AC  and 1-1.5 Ton Inverter ACs to help you to choose the best air conditioner that suits our household requirements.  

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Divya Patwal


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