A Guide to Air Conditioners
If you want to beat the heat but are confused about which AC to bring home, let this buying guide help you pick from the best. The first decisions to make before buying an AC are type (Split or Window) and capacity. Let’s look at both in detail.
Split Air Conditioners
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.
What distinguishes Split ACs:
- Wide blowers for quicker cooling
- Humidity control
- Newer technologies – Inverter AC
- More suitable for rooms that have less ventilation
- Convenient installation as it does not require a window
- Less noisy as compressor and condenser are located outside
Window Air Conditioners
A Window AC is a single compact unit that has all its components contained in one box. Window ACs are great for smaller rooms.
What distinguishes Window ACs:
- Compact, single unit
- Ideal for small to medium-sized rooms
- Not as effective as Split ACs
- Easy to install in a window
- Most can function as heaters as well
- Consumes more energy than Split ACs
Usually, a 100 sq. ft. room (or 10 x 10) will require an AC with a capacity of 1.0 T.
But if the room meets two or more of the five conditions listed below, assume that the capacity required has to be increased by up to 0.5 T. This will ensure that the AC is effective.
Energy Efficiency Rating denotes the efficiency of an air conditioner. It is rated in stars, from 1 to 5 rating.
The following chart shows energy and approximate cost savings for a 1.5 ton Window and Split AC (Non-Inverter) with different star ratings (under standard test conditions and as per the latest BEE regulations).
Inverter ACs save more energy than non-inverter 5 Star ACs.
Note – Assuming the AC runs 8 hours a day at a power cost of Rs 7.00.
The actual operating cost will vary according to the room’s temperature and the settings.
With Inverter ACs, the compressor runs constantly, but at speeds that vary based on the cooling requirement. This technology saves more energy when compared to non-inverter ACs.
This filter removes harmful substances from the air such as bacteria, pollen, dog hair, dust mites and other particles that are extremely small or invisible to the human eye.
Cooling and Heating
Besides cooling, an air conditioner can also function as a heater to keep your home warm and cozy in winters.
This feature reduces the humidity in the room by decreasing the moisture in the circulated air.
This air purifying system captures even microscopic dust particles, effectively cleaning the air being circulated. This filter also makes the AC easier to clean and maintain.
Prevents the accumulation of bacteria, dust and mold on the heat exchanger, extending the life of the air conditioner.
Automatically adjusts the temperature to ensure you are comfortable while you sleep.
There are two types of condenser coils that are used in air conditioners to condense and cool air – Copper and Aluminum. The table below highlights the differences between both types:
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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 states that an area in range of 120 ~140 Sq. ft. area will need 1 ton, 150 ~180 Sq. ft. area will need 1.5 ton and 180 ~240 Sq. ft. area will need 2 ton cooling capacity air –conditioner.
Energy efficiency: Today, with rising mercury levels and increasing electricity tariffs, an energy efficient model of air conditioner is a must-buy. Air conditioners come with star rated energy efficiency ratings; also called EER, which has been standardised by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE). Therefore, any unit with more stars will consume lesser electricity than one with a lower star rating.
Split or window AC: Another deciding factor is whether you want a window AC or a split model. Though window units are cheaper and easy to install, split ACs are quieter, aesthetically more pleasing and provide better air distribution.
Product Price: Price is another important factor to consider as more features and higher star ratings account for a higher price tag. For every star rating increase there is an increase of around Rs 2,500. An Inverter AC is usually 20% higher than a 5-Star rated Split AC.
Air Quality: Indoor air quality is very important while deploying ACs at home; hence AC with a good filter is extremely important to improve indoor air quality. A good filter not only ensures clean air but also enhances the cooling performance and energy efficiency of AC by preventing the choking of evaporator coil due to dust.
Installation requirements: The window AC is a compact unit designed to be attached to the windows. A split AC has a compressor unit outside the house and one indoor unit inside the room, specifically designed for better flow of air. Installation should always be done from an authorised service center. The performance parameter of AC depends on a good or bad installation.
Maintenance & Cleaning: ACs are like cars, and they need regular servicing to remain in best condition and optimum performance. Once installed, there should be regular servicing, preferably quarterly.
Cooling speed: The AC should have an adjustable thermostat (temperature setting) and at least two cooling speeds, and a minimum of two fan speeds as you may want to use variable speeds for different times of the day. An energy efficient setting will be a beneficial addition as it helps in saving energy while providing optimum cooling.
After sales services: After sales services and other add-on features like warranty would certainly be a plus for your purchase. Look for a service oriented brand which has the capabilities and good network to meet the servicing need of your product.
Other important features: Most air-conditioning units come with a dehumidification function, which reduces humidity in the air, for increased cooling and more comfort. Also it is important to check the noise levels of the model, which may range from 19 – 60 decibels. The sleep mode function in an AC is useful as it automatically adjusts the temperature during the night. Your unit should also have an auto restart facility to help restore the last setting after a power break.
Multipurpose: Nowadays, AC is not just used for cooling, but as a multi seasonal product which can also be used in winters for heating. These Hot & Cold Air Conditioners also save up to 35% more energy than heaters. ACs are also the best cooling devices for Humid weather. Special cooling functions are required for optimum cooling and maximum comfort during monsoons. So look for an AC with features which can control humidity and give more comfort in Monsoons.
Room Size: The size/capacity of the AC should be as per the size of your room. If it is bigger it will not be able to provide proper dehumidification and the smaller one will cost you more in terms of energy consumption. Room ACs are available in capacity range of 0.75 to 2 tonne. Inverter AC with variable tonnage can be used for a wider range of room sizes.
Brand: You should carefully choose an air conditioner brand which fulfills your need of maximum energy saving through highest EER, best cooling performance and extensive after sales service. The air conditioner you choose should have functions which provide faster cooling in summers, optimum comfort in monsoon and also protects from disease causing virus, allergens and insects like Mosquitoes, etc.