Thursday, April 30, 2009

My hunt for air conditioner

It was monday in mid april. We were running our cooler at full speed. But it was still throwing out hot air. I tried sleeping but the heat was too much to bear. Even the bed was hot and the pillows were wet with sweat. That was the time when i decided that i should be going for an ac. Air conditioning is essential for a good night sleep in india.

My understanding was that i would get 2 ACs - one for me and another for my parents and it should cost between 25K to 30K max. I opted out of split ACs because, they require a lot of work for installation and cost a lot as well. Window ACs are relatively cheaper and since I had window AC space in all my rooms, it would be easy to install.

My first problem was to figure out the tonnage of AC that i should go for. Calculators are available - if you search for "AC Calculator" on google. Most AC calculators provide the amount of BTU required for specified room size. BTU stands for British Thermal Unit - something used to calculate the amount of energy. Well most calculators say that for a room of size 14 x 11 with sunlight should require an AC of around 10,000 BTU. And another room of size 10 x 12 should require around 8,000 BTU. A general 1 Ton AC outputs around 12,000 BTU & a 1.5 Ton AC outputs around 18,000 BTU.

So all this technical babble tells me that i should go for a 1 Ton AC in my smaller room and a 1.5 Ton AC in my bigger room. Though the AC tonnage calculator by LG at says that you should always go for a 1.5 Ton AC no matter what the room size is.

Next and the most important thing is to decide the amount of electricity an AC would consume. There are ACs which consume less electricity than the others. This fact has a formula and the formula is known as EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio). EER is simple to calculate. Just divide the BTU with the Watts. So if you take an AC with 12,000 BTU and which consumes 1300 watts - the EER for that AC would be 12000/1300 = 9.23. Good ACs should have an EER of > 10.0. In India the calculation is done differently and a star rating is calculated and put on all the ACs. So a 3* AC is more efficient than a 2* AC, and the cose of a 3* AC is more than a 2* AC.

After a lot of research and armed with all this information i started out on a hot sunny saturday to get the ACs. First stop was at Chroma Electronics store. They dont know anything about EER or Wattage or Tonnage calculation. The range of ACs available were only Voltas and Hitachi. All they knew were about the stars. A voltas 1* 1.5 ton would cost around 15K. Same thing with 2* would cost 18K and 3* would cost 21K. A nearby store was promoting haier window ACs 1.5 Ton with EER of around 10.3 at 17K. I have no idea how good they are.

Our next stop was sector 18, Noida. Just in front of centerstage mall, noida there is a 3 storey shop which has almost all brands of AC. Again they were promoting Voltas, LG, Samsung, Hitachi. They had Onida and OGeneral as well. But the models were very few and they looked like no one was purchasing them. Even godrej sells ACs. I was surprised. The market is full of 1* AC at 15K. No one was willing to compromise on the price. Imagine a world without discounts. Later after roaming around for 3-4 hours i was able to figure out that major players in the market were Hitachi, LG, Voltas and Carrier. You could also get ACs from Samsung, Electrolux, Whirlpool, Onida, Ogeneral, Haier, Godrej, videocon - but they were not as popular. People generally asked for LG and took a 1* AC.

I was very confused. I realized that i had not done enough research. The sales executive were terrible. In the same shop two sales executive were selling different products. One says that whirlpool is the best AC - no problems has been reported. Other salu in the same shop would say that Voltas is the best AC. It is from TATA. Whirlpool and all are just crap. I also re-realized that salus are meant to sell. It is said that a sales person should be able to sell an AC to a person living on the north pole. You can never trust a salu.

Everybody was tired and exhausted due to my research. We - who sit in the AC all day long and type on the key-board to get our monthly paycheques, have all turned soft. Even an hour of walking we run out of breath. And i have been dragging everyone for about 3 hours in the sun. I realized that i should take a decision without proper research - else everyone would be disheartened - 3 hours of walking in the sun and still no result would be frustrating.

Then i called up a friend of mine and he told me that if you are undecided, you can close your eyes and purchase a Hitachi. It is around 4 thousand costlier than other ACs but it is very efficient and in a year's time it should be saving enough to make up for the extra cost. And in the long run it is more cost efficient. I then remembered my debate of whether to purchase a diesel or a petrol car. I had decided to purchase a petrol car which is costlier than a diesel car - but whose running cost is high because petrol is costlier than diesel. And though i did not regret my decision - but i still debate the same fact. I had gone for initial low cost and high cost of running with my car. So, i should go for initial high cost and low running cost. Maybe it will be beneficial in the end. Bingo - i made the decision to take a Hitachi AC. 1 Ton with EER of 10.6 costed 21.5K and 1.5 Ton with EER of 10.6 costed 25K. Whereas i was getting 1.5 Ton Voltas with 3* - EER of around 10 for 21K.

Remember that An AC has an additional cost of installation which is around 500/- and you have to have a voltage stabilizer - which starts from 2.2K and goes up to 4-5K. It is better to go for a voltage stabilizer with copper winding.

Later, the next day i sat down and did my research and found out that AC has 3 brands to look out for - Voltas, Carrier and Hitachi - for budget, mid-range and the best AC respectively. Carrier is a very good option for those who are looking at better efficiency and low power consumption in mid-range. Maybe i should have bought a carrier AC and saved myself some money. Anyways, the AC is installed and running successfully.


ahmoos07 said...

Brother,i have been planning to buy an AC so was researching on net and found your blog..and i m in EXACTLY the same postion as u were 2 years ago help me now ,u still think u should have gone for carrier AC ??

Jayant Kumar said...

After using the Hitachi's for almost 3 seasons now - I have realized that Hitachi is a luxury.

If I have to get a new AC today, i could go in for either carrier or Onida. I have an Onida at my Parents place and it is running superb for around 5 years now without any issues.

O-general also has some really nice reviews on the net.

Avoid LG & Samsung, they do not last even for 2 seasons...

ahmoos07 said...

thanks for the reply man,that was a great help.take care..

Anjan Roy said...

Your post is very neutral & your last reply is extremely valuable. I am also in the same dilemma & am wondering weather Onida will be a good choice or not. As you stated, it is running at your parent's place...could you please provide some specifics? E.g. is it s window/split? What capacity & what model?
O General seems even more costly than can't afford Hitachi/O General for now. :(

Thanks in advance for all your help. Much appreciated!

Jayant Kumar said...

@anjan it is a window ac 1.5 ton. This year I again went ahead and got another Onida window ac for my place.

Earlier Onida used to have compressor supplied by hitachi. But recently that has changed. Lets see how this ac performs.

Hitachi was way too expensive 27K. Onida was only 20K. Hitachi was a 4* and onida is a 3*. Career is 2*.

The difference between 3* and 4* is only 200 watts. Paying almost 8K extra for this 200 watts sounded odd...

Anjan Roy said...

Thanks Jayant. I was running through several online write-ups & am bit confused off late people seem to be complaining about Onida - stating it makes a lot of noise (thorugh cooling seems to be good). One of the store in Kolkata advised not to go for Career (due to some coiling problem). Hitachi seems to be the only one - which no one has anything to compalin, except "not so good" service. So, how is your Onida performing? 1.5 Hitachi split appears to be around 39.5 in Kolkata.

Jayant Kumar said...

My onida makes less noise than the hitachi and provides better cooling as well.

Hitachi is well over priced. Once you go for a hitachi, you will always try to get it serviced from the hitachi service center. A normal wet service in delhi costs around 250/- but the wet service of hitachi window ac costs 550/-

Also hitachi has recently closed all its toll-free service nos. Earlier service SLA was 48 hours. Now they do not care - my last service request remained open for 7 days without any calls from the service center.

Vijesh said...

Hi Jayant,firstly I appreciate you for your honest advice.I am from Gurgaon and am planning to buy a 5 star rated 1 tonne split A/C.
I was also planning to buy Hitachi but you said that their after sales service was poor and expensive.
In that case kindly advice me on Voltas.Is it a good buy ? How is their after sales service ?

Jayant Kumar said...

voltas is a good buy. I do not have any first hand experience with voltas. But from what i have heard, it is the preferred brand in budget acs

Sky Bird said...

Hi there. Nice blog. You have shared useful information. Keep up the good work! This blog is really interesting and gives good details. AC Stabilizers, AC wall mounted voltage stabilizer.

Prabhat said...

I had a very bad experience of Voltas (vertis premium) 1.5 window AC, recently its cooling coil damaged, now the problem is that Voltas has stopped manufacturing the cooling vent of most of its models. So be careful before buying it....