With summer approaching, most people would be inclined towards either buying a new air conditioning system or getting their existing ones serviced. If you are ready to beat the heat wave, you are one among the many. According to estimates up to 15% homes in India will be equipped with air conditioning systems by 2020. With global warming becoming a pressing issue and the need for cooling systems becoming more than just a luxury, this figure seems justified.
That being said, considering you are ready to prepare yourself for the rise in temperature, here’s everything you need to know before making the purchase.
Things to keep in mind before buying
Location of Installation
The very first thing you need to consider is where you are looking to install the air conditioner. This will determine both the size and type of air conditioner that you need. A room with a small window is a good match for window-type AC. However, if you have a room without a window, a split air conditioner is more viable, considering the cost of installation. On the other hand, you also have to consider the space outside the room where you would need to place the external unit.
It is also wise to consider the angle in which the air would flow inside the room. One strategy is to let the air blow inside the room from the entrance to inwards. This ensures that cool air isn’t being thrown towards an opening door or window thus resulting in better cooling.
An air conditioner is a home appliance that is expected to blend in with your interiors, therefore its design is something you should consider carefully. Most air conditioners ship in a while colour variant which makes it suitable for installation in most rooms. However, there are also ACs which come in different colour and patterns. A patterned air conditioner may be suitable for dark coloured rooms. For light colour themed rooms, a white one should do just fine.
You may also want to consider other features that come with the AC to suit your requirements. Most ACs in the market come bundled with a remote control. There are also some that take advantage of home automation. These ACs support WiFi connectivity. This enables them to host some extra features. For example, the smart ACs that are offered by Lloyd.
Noise tolerance level of the room
If you are looking to place the air conditioner at home, the noise of the air conditioner isn’t always a deciding factor, however, if you are looking to install the appliance in the bedroom or study, you may want to reconsider. Window ACs make significantly more noise than split air conditioners. Split air conditioners are composed of two components; the indoor unit and the outdoor unit. The outdoor unit is where the compressor and fan is located. If the outdoor unit is placed at some distance from the outer side of the room, noise levels can be reduced. This, however, can increase the installation cost of ducting and wiring. The window AC is suitable for most small and medium-sized homes’ living rooms.
There are several brands that manufacture ACs, some old and renown and others that are new and not so popular. Although this choice filters down to personal opinion, sometimes you must consider other brands without prejudice. For example, most people would opt for a specific brand (Samsung for example) considering they have had a good experience with other home appliances they have used (like televisions). However, air conditioners are built differently and require more maintenance. One must choose a brand wisely based on these criterions.
- Initial cost of the air conditioner
- Cost of Spare parts
- Maintenance cost
- Availability of service centers around your home
Types of Air Conditioners
With the prerequisites out of the way, let’s discuss the type of air conditioners currently available in the market.
Window Air Conditioners
Window air conditioners are one of the most commonly used cooling appliances around the world. They have been around for a long time as well. These machines are rapidly being replaced by split air conditioners and portable cooling devices owing to their flexibility in installation. Window air conditioners come in a single unit and require a larger hole to fit it into. This cavity must usually be made at the time of constructing the wall. This requires more planning and reduced flexibility.
WIndow air conditioners come in various sizes based on their cooling capacity. This is measured in tonnes, where one tonne translates to about 3.5kW of power. Which means that a one ton AC will consume 3.5kW power if it is run for an hour. A window air conditioner with higher tonnage usually means that it will be bigger in size since the compressor and fan is the same unit.
Currently, window ACs in India are available in seven cooling capacities viz. 0.75 Ton, 1 Ton, 1.1 Ton, 1.2 Ton, 1.4 Ton, 1.5 Ton & 2 Ton. The smallest capacity 0.75 Ton air conditioner should be able to ideally cool a room that has an area between 80 and 100 square feet. The largest available 2 ton AC should ideally be able to cool around 240 square feet. This is however subject to many other conditions. Read on to find how to calculate the ideal tonnage of air conditioner that you require to buy.
Portable Air Conditioners
As the name suggests, these type of cooling appliances are smaller, more lightweight and portable as compared to a window or split air conditioners. They aren’t the most effective when it comes to cooling since they are similar to window air conditioners but lighter and portable. They also make slightly more noise as compared to window air ACs as their compressor is located indoors.
These machines are equipped with exhaust hoses which are used to exchange hot air with cooler air. The room’s warm air is pushed outside out through its hoses. Most portable air conditioners come with 2 or 3 hoses that are detachable. You cannot increase the number of hoses as it may reduce the machine’s efficiency and/or shut the compressor off. These type of cooling units are not so popular in India.
Split Air Conditioners
These are the most widely used type of cooling equipment which can be found in most homes. It is widely popular as it is relatively less expensive and easier to install. Split ACs are split into two units – indoor unit and outdoor unit. Since the main noise creating machinery is located outside the room, split air conditioners reduced noise levels as compared to window air conditioners.
These machines come in various cooling capacities but their size isn’t directly relatable to it like in the case of window ACs. This is because the major cooling mechanism is fit into the outdoor unit whereas the indoor unit is more compact. Currently, in India, split air conditioners are available having a cooling capacity of 0.75 Ton to 4.5 Tons.
Calculating The Right Size of Air Conditioner (Tons)
This is a rather baffling question when one is looking to buy a new air conditioner, how many tons of air conditioning would be ideal to cool the room? Most people would consider a standard scale in which a 1 Ton AC will cool between 80-120 sq.feet, a 1.5 Ton AC will cool between 120- 150 sq. feet and a 2 ton AC will cool up to 250 sq. feet. However, it is not always the carpet area that must be considered while making this choice. Let’s have a look at few other variables to consider.
The number of people who will occupy the room: If the room is going to be occupied by a large number of people (say 5-6 people), you will need to increase the requirement of air conditioning by 10%.
Lighting in the room: If there is a higher number of windows in a room, this would mean more sunlight entering into the room. In addition to that, there will be some amount of warm air that may enter the room through these windows which is why you may need to increase the capacity of the AC. Alternatively, you could also use curtains to reduce the effect of lighting instead of getting a higher capacity air conditioner.
The volume of the room itself: As mentioned above, just considering the carpet area alone wouldn’t be sufficient for choosing the tonnage of an AC. The height of the room also plays a vital role. Here’s a simplified way in which you could calculate the best AC as per the dimensions of the room.
Firstly, calculate the volume of the room
Total Value (V) = Length (L) x Breadth (B) x Height (H) [Dimensions in feet]
|Volume of Room (V)||Ton of AC Required|
|Less than 750 cubic feet||0.75 Tons|
|Between 750 and 800 cubic feet||0.75 Tons|
|Between 800 and 900 cubic feet||0.75 Tons|
|Between 900 and 1000 cubic feet||1 Ton|
|Between 1000 and 1200 cubic feet||1 Ton|
|Between 1200 and 1500 cubic feet||1.5 Ton|
|Between 1500 and 2000 cubic feet||1.5 Ton|
|2000 to 2300 cubic feet||2 Ton|
Energy Ratings Explained
Star Ratings: As you might have noticed in various appliances, energy star ratings are assigned to them. When it comes to air-conditioners, these star ratings hold a lot of significance and it is an important metric to consider before you purchase an AC. The simple rule here is that higher the star ratings, lesser the electricity bills. By this measure, a 5 Star AC is the most power efficient and a 1 Star AC is the least. Even the pricing increases as the number of stars increase. This is how normal non-inverter ACs are rated based on their power efficiency.
Inverter ACs carry a different rating as compared to normal air conditioners. This is because their mode of operation differs. Inverter ones offer higher efficiency as compared to 5-star ACs. They are also priced higher than star-rated non-inverter ACs. However, in the long run, these machines offer more advantages. Their compressors are subject to less wear and tear over the years. You will also be able to save more money on your electricity bill when you use this type of air conditioners.
Currently, Inverter ACs have a separate rating mechanism but BEE plans to merge this sometime in 2018. After that, you can directly compare non-inverter ACs with inverter ones based on their energy rating.
While choosing an air-conditioner, keep in mind the approximate number of hours you intend to use the AC. If you plan to use it sparingly, it is better if you opt for a low-star AC as it costs less. But if it would be used for at least a few hours every day, it makes total sense to buy a 5-star or an inverter AC as you would save a lot of money in electricity bills.
To know in depth about how BEE energy ratings work, you can read this article.
This is a straightforward amount and is the total cost of the machine you pay to buy it. Pricing for each AC might differ based on where and when you choose to buy. You can also search for the lowest online price of the AC you want to buy on Pricebaba.
The installation costs for air-conditioners change based on where you buy them from. Some online and offline retailers also offer free installation. If not, the overall installation cost will probably be within Rs. 2000 in most cases. This excludes the additional copper wire cost though, which you would need to bear separately depending upon a bunch of factors.
Copper wire cost: Most brands offer a limited amount of free copper wire but in case your AC setup requires more of it, you will have to incur the additional cost. The people who come for installation will inform you about this requirement. In most places, the price of copper wire is Rs. 200/foot, fitting costs included.
Servicing cost differs based on whether your machine is in warranty period or not. The major servicing cost involved after buying an air conditioner involves around its compressor. Most brands offer up to 5 years of warranty on their compressors. If you happen to run out of warranty and your compressor goes bad, it can cost you anywhere between Rs. 8000 or above.
The second major cost that comes in the maintaining an air conditioner is its cooling gas. As mentioned above, the gas is circulated in the copper tubes which are prone to rust. If you are living somewhere like Mumbai which is subject to high humidity levels, it is very likely that the copper tubes may rust and crack. This will result in less cooling and eventually no cooling at all. To get this fixed, a local AC mechanic can mend the tubes for a charge ranging between Rs. 500 – Rs. 700. You will have to refill the gas in the compressor after this as well. This will cost you around Rs. 2500 for a 1 Ton Air conditioner. This isn’t covered under the warranty offered by most brands.
Frequency: If you are living in a region with high humidity, it is likely for your AC to leak out coolant gas once every year, so you will have to set aside Rs. 3000 for its maintenance. If you happen to live in a region with low humidity, the frequency of replacing the coolant would be and could be once every two years.
Electricity cost is something most buyers don’t take into account while buying an AC. This is where star rating matter, and you must decide accordingly. As explained earlier, the higher the star rating, lower will be the electricity bill. Inverter ACs are the most power efficient among all. Below is the electricity cost estimation for homes and offices.
Cost for Homes (Running 3-4 Hours/ Day)
On an average, if you buy a 1-ton air-conditioner and use it for approximately 4 hours, the monthly electricity cost would be somewhere around Rs. 620. This is an estimation considering that the per unit cost of electricity in your location is Rs. 4. If you consider the same factors for a 1.5-ton AC, the monthly electricity cost would be approximately Rs. 920. To keep the calculations simple, we have assumed it to be a normal air-conditioner. If you opt for a higher star rated machine, the costs will be comparatively lower and vice versa.
Cost for Offices (7-8 Hours/Day)
When it comes to commercial spaces, the electricity cost per unit differs from residential places. For a 1-ton machine, the monthly costs would go up to Rs. 1,382 considering that the AC runs for around 8 hours every day. Keeping the same metrics as the base, a 1.5-ton system will incur you Rs. 2,073 for a month. If you choose a 2-ton AC, the monthly cost would be around Rs. 2,880. This is again for an AC without keeping any star rating as a reference, if you choose a better rated AC, the costs shall be comparatively low.
That’s everything you’d need to get an air conditioner up and running. With summer right around the bend, the mercury is set to soar and there isn’t a better time than now to go pick out a perfect cooling appliance for your home or office. You can check out available air conditioners and compare to find a perfect one to suit your needs here. If you have any more questions, feel free to drop them in the comments section or message us on Facebook or Twitter and we’d be glad to help 🙂
-With Valuable Input From Aditya Mohanty