You have a lot many brand choices when buying a room air conditioner. There are around 40 small and big brands competing for the market share in the Room Air Conditioner (RAC) industry in India.
But the top 6 brands (Daikin India, Lloyd Electric, Blue Star, Voltas, LG & Hitachi) collectively account for over 80% of the RAC market share by the volumes of AC’s sold.
All the top six brands are popular among the growing middle-class with high disposable income, who now sees AC as a necessity rather than a thing of luxury.
Below is a snapshot of the brand hierarchy in the Indian RAC market.
An easy approach for the first-time AC buyer would be to stick with any of the top six brands in the popular segment.
Now that you are aware of the brand, let us study the parameters that will help you make an informed AC purchase decision.
Broadly 4 things strike people’s mind while researching for an air conditioner –
- The AC type
- The electricity bill or power consumption
- Additional features Vs cost
- After-Sales Services
You will get your top 6 parameters from the above points that will help you buy an air conditioner.
Check out – 11 best air conditioner in India
Air Conditioner Type
In India, you can purchase any of the below air conditioners –
- Window AC
- Split AC, and
- Tower AC
The last 15-year trend shows that people have preferred Split ACs over Window ACs. Because of its sleek beautiful design matching your room interiors and noiseless fast cooling performance.
Tower air conditioners are hardly preferred by Indian families. They are better than ceiling fans but far from a Window AC. Tower AC at the max best suited to small 8ft x 10ft hostel rooms.
#1. Split Air Conditioner
A separate indoor unit (blower) and the outdoor unit (compressor, condenser and the heat dispensing coils) combine to form a Split AC.
You can only see the blower mounted on the wall inside your living room. While the rest of the parts sit outside – on the back, roof, or any conveniently accessible place of your house.
Split AC cools faster large spaces with a blower pushing large volumes of cool air as compared to Window AC that has a smaller blower.
People prefer split air conditioners because they make less noise as the compressor is outside. They are available in a beautiful sleek design blending with the interiors of your room.
- Split AC is slightly more expensive than window ACs.
- Spend extra on covering interconnecting tubing of more than 10 ft.
- Refilling of refrigerant on relocating or reinstalling air conditioner.
Go with Split AC –
- If you require fast cooling of larger spaces
- Have infant, elders, or family member who are a light sleeper
- Prefer sleek AC suited to room interiors
#2. Window Air Conditioner
Window ACs are box-shaped single units containing a compressor, condenser along with a blower slot in the front.
They are pretty large and heavy (55 to 65 kgs) because all the AC components are fitted inside a single chassis. Which also makes them cheaper as compared to the split AC.
You require about 9 -12 inch thick walls to mount a Window AC. In case if your walls are thinner, then an additional iron frame support structure will be necessary.
Window ACs are suitable for small rooms of sizes 80 sq ft to 100 sq ft and where space is a constraint. But are easier to install because you do not need to drill walls and conceal air tubes.
- A small blower slot takes time to cool the room
- A noisy environment can disturb sound sleep
- The room needs to have a window or wall opening to keep the AC.
- Bulky and does not match with room interiors.
Go with Window AC –
- If you are on a budget & do not mind the noise.
- Are living in a small home on rent or have a transferable job.
- Want an easy-maintenance air conditioner.
Air Conditioner Power Consumption or Electricity Bills
People worry most about the air conditioner power consumption.
Below is a simple calculation that you can use to know your next month’s electricity bill if you install a new air conditioner now.
First, let’s collect some information
The cooling capacity wattage of an air conditioner can be found on the back, like the one shown below.
The cooling capacity wattage details can also be found on the energy efficiency star ratings displayed on the AC.
Or in the “Tech Specification” section of the product leaflet or online.
The cooling capacity wattage details on the technical specification section for a 1 ton Voltas AC.
Next, you need to know the energy efficiency rating of the air conditioner (EER) or ISEER in India. ISEER can be found on the star rating logo.
Or you can use the following “AC Energy Saving Chart” from Lloyd for indicative EER numbers.
You will also need to have –
- the number of hours you would be going to use your AC and
- one unit cost of electricity from your electricity distributor.
For example, if you are purchasing an AC that consumes electricity at the rate of 5150 watts per hour and having an ISEER of 3.55.
Then power consumption for your AC will be cooling capacity / EER (or ISEER).
For your AC the power consumption will be = 5150 / 3.55 = 1450 watt hour.
Or 1450 / 1000 kilowatt hour = 1.45kwh.
And you are going to use it for 5 hours a day and the cost of 1 unit of electricity is Rs. 6.
Then the electricity cost for a month due to the new air conditioner will be = kilowatt-hour (kwh) of AC x daily running hours x 30 days x cost of one unit of electricity.
Your monthly electricity bill = 1.45 x 5 hours x 30 days x 6 per unit.
That comes to Rs. 1,305 per month.
That was a simple calculation that will give you a rough idea of the cost of running an air conditioner.
But actually, there are a lot many factors that affect the AC power consumptions like –
#1. Size of the room where you are going to install AC
The larger the room size, the longer is the time taken to cool because your air conditioner will have more square footage to cool. More details can be found below in point 1.
#2. Average city temperature
When the air temperature outside your house increases, the air-conditioner works harder to cool the home because the compressor works more.
So if you are residing in a city with temperatures over 38 degrees you will require a higher ton AC.
#3. Your house is located on the top floor or is higher than the 3rd floor
Flats located on the 3rd floor or higher generally have more exposure to sunlight. That causes your room walls to heat up more as compared to flats on the ground floor.
If that is your situation then it is a good idea to pick a little higher ton AC.
#4. Number of people in the room
The human body releases heat by radiation and evaporation of moisture from the body surface and through the respiratory system.
Average heat generated by an individual is taken as
- For office work – 450 BTU / h
- At home – 300 BTU / h
If you have more than 4-5 persons in a room then you should consider 10-15% additional AC capacity.
#5. Electrical and electronic appliances in the room
Electric motors convert electricity into heat and light. The fact is hard to detect but your electrical and electronic appliances add to room temperature.
The amount of heat may be low individually but collectively the appliances can make a room warmer.
So if you have an office space with 10 people working on a PC in a 150 sq ft space then you should definitely increase your AC capacity by 30%.
#6. Two or more room walls & ceilings exposed to the sun. Or AC facing west or south
Homes facing south or west are exposed to the sun for a longer time period. They may take longer to cool than homes facing north or east. Similar is the case with homes that have walls or ceiling exposed to direct sunlight.
As a rule of thumb, you need to increase cooling capacity (AC tonnage) by 30% in case any of the above two conditions are met.
For example, if you are considering AC for a study room of size 10 ft x 15 ft, then you will require 1 ton AC.
But if your room wall is facing west (receiving sunlight) and your house is located on the top floor with a ceiling exposed to sunlight then going by the above 1tons + 1 x 0.30, i.e. a total of 1.3 tons AC would be appropriate for you.
Factors like city temperature, the height of ceilings and floor location are something that you cannot change.
But you can work on a few of the factors stated below to pick an AC that will have an optimum power consumption.
#1. AC Tonnage and Room Size
Given a room size, an AC with lower tonnage will not be able to maintain your desired temperature on hotter days. Which will lead to long hours of AC usage on lower temperature settings.
Whereas, excess tonnage AC will cool your room quickly but will not remove humidity, making your room feel damp, warmer and less comfortable. Higher tonnage will lead to more power consumption.
Both situations will exert your air conditioner and result in more power consumption.
In India, there can be slight variations, but as a rule of thumb you can consider purchasing an air conditioner as under
|AC Tonnage||Room Type||Room Area|
|Up to 0.80 tons||Kids room||Up to 90 sq. ft|
|1 ton||Study Room||90 to 150 sq. ft|
|1.2 – 1.5 tons||Bedroom||Up to 200 sq. ft|
|2 tons||Living Room||200 to 300 sq. ft|
For a room size of beyond 300 sq ft, you will require more than one air conditioner.
Also read – best washing machine in India
#2. Energy Efficiency Star Ratings
Higher star-rated air conditioners are more energy-efficient as compared to lower-rated air conditioners. This means the AC uses lower power for the same amount of cooling.
You should look for AC having at least 4-star ratings from the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), Department of Energy Saving, Govt. of India.
The below chart from BEE shows energy & cost savings for a 1.5 ton Split AC at different star ratings.
#3. Inverter Air Conditioners
Inverter air conditioners do not look different from your regular air conditioners but employ electrical inverter technology that can save almost 30% of your electricity bill.
Inverter technology-based ACs regulate the speed of the compressor motor. As soon as the room gets cool, the inverter air conditioners lower the speed of the motor to save the energy and refrigerant used to cool the air.
As compared to this the non-inverter ACs run motors at full speed and then stop once the room temperature reaches the desired level.
On temperature increase, the motor once again runs at full speed causing a repeated on-off process that consumes more power and makes unnecessary noise.
Other Advantages of Inverter ACs-
- Constant cool room temperature
- Lower sound and vibration
- Faster cooling as compared to non-inverter AC
- Longer AC life
- 20 to 25% higher cost than the non-inverter AC
- More expensive parts, in case of replacement
Additional Features Vs Cost
I have tabulated below the additional features available with air conditioners –
|Wifi compatibility||Allows you to start cooing your home’s wireless as soon you leave office.|
|Self-clean||Helps reduce your AMC bills because your AC automatically moves a brush across the filter to clean dirt sitting on the wings|
|Activity sensors||Lowers energy consumption by switching off when you are not in the room.|
|Voice command||Allows hands-free AC control over Alexa|
|App control||Allows AC settings, operations and information on mobile rather than the traditional remote.|
|Anti-Bacterial Filter||Keeps your room pollutant-free. Harmful substances and microorganisms like pollen, dust, bacteria and pet hair.|
|Dehumidifier||Makes your room pleasant by removing excess moisture in the air during the monsoon season|
|Inverter technology||Saves on electricity bill and offers constant cooling|
You may or may not need all the additional features depending on your personal preferences. But there is no harm if you get additional functionality at a reasonable price.
While I believe that there is no standard price attached to the additional feature. This may vary from brand to brand.
For assessing the cost of additional features, on Amazon, I have selected split ACs with 1.5 tons capacity having 3 stars and above as filters.
With the above filter, I get 150 search results across brands and keeping other parameters the same.
The lowest-priced was a Haier AC costing around Rs. 31,000 and the highest price was Toshiba AC costing above 95,000.
But that is an exceptional case.
I feel that we can limit our study to the first 80% or 120 ACs. Because that is where most of the ACs from the popular brand segment lies.
|Parameters||Haier 1.5 Ton||Voltas 1.5 Ton||Toshiba 1.5 ton|
|Price||31,000 (approx.)||41,000 (approx.)||95,000 (approx.)|
|Star Ratings||3 star||5 star||5 star|
|Warranty||Product – 1 year|
Compressor – 6 years
|Product – 1 year|
Compressor – 5 years
|Product – 1 year|
Compressor – 5 years
|Additional Features||High-Density Filter|
Advanced Air purificationActive Dehumidifier
Antibacterial coatingPlasma ion Purifier
What I find – higher star ratings and inverter technology increase the air conditioner’s cost.
The additional features like Air purification and dehumidifier come at an additional cost of around Rs. 9000 and above depending on the brand.
There is no uniform pricing adopted by the brands.
If you are living in congested metros like Delhi or Kolkata then you may think of buying AC with air purifiers. Or a better idea would be to go for a basic AC and a dedicated air purifier.
Dehumidifiers are useful when you are residing in coastal areas receiving a lot of rainfall.
Otherwise, what I find is that you can do pretty well without any additional air conditioner features.
ACs have fairly complex electrical, mechanical and electronic components inside. That requires servicing even when they are working fine. So you will always have yearly recurring maintenance going on.
While purchasing, opt for an AC brand that has a proven record of quality servicing, especially in your area.
If you are not sure about the service record of an AC company, don’t hesitate to ask dealers. If required, call up the AC brand customer care center and make inquiries.
Don’t just buy an AC because it fits all your parameters and you like it. AC is an ongoing asset that needs servicing year after year to work properly and last long.
Make sure that your air conditioner will be serviced well and at affordable rates. If you are not sure about the aftersales offered by the brand, you should not buy its ACs.
From all the research and analysis, what I have found is that you should first get a good understanding of your house or office space. Specifically, the room environment where you intend to place the air conditioner.
The room size, floor location, the walls & ceilings exposure to the sun, the number of appliances & people in the room including the outside temperature.
In nutshell, the 6 key things are –
- Air conditioner type – Window or Split Ac
- AC cooling capacity (tons) – as per the room size and other factors
- Go for higher Energy Efficiency star ratings
- If possible pick an inverter AC
- Look for value additional features
- Go with a brand that offers quality after-sales services