A few days back we published an article on tips to buy an air conditioner (link) and since then we got several requests from people asking for tips to buy air conditioner. Although we covered most things related to technology on that article but there was one thing that we did not cover: which is selection of a brand. And this came up consistently when we discussed about air conditioners with people. The most common statement that we received was “all this is fine, but which brand should I buy?”. At Bijli Bachao, it is our consistent effort to be impartial in our tips and ideas and we try to avoid naming brands. We make sure that our suggestions talk more about technology rather than endorsing a specific brand. So we will try to answer this question as pragmatically as possible.
There are multiple bands of Air Conditioners available in Indian market and it all makes it confusing for people to decide on which brand to buy. Although we had published an article in the past covering various brands of air conditioners and the number of energy efficient air conditioners that they offer (link). But the list is more on numbers, market share and BEE star rating. We also have a link that lists the top ten air conditioners by energy efficiency (link) but that is again only on BEE star rating. When someone decides on a brand, the decision goes beyond numbers and is equally qualitative than quantitative. Air Conditioners can contribute about 30-40% of electricity costs in a household so it is very important to make a right choice while buying one. So here is our analysis:
Air Conditioner brands that are known for their air conditioning technology
There are some brands that are known for their Air Conditioning technology. These companies have done extensive research on the subject of cooling and provide the best in class technology. Their models are energy efficient and also last longer than most air conditioners. In few of our energy audits, we have observed that models of such brands give higher efficiency even when they are quite old (obviously they need to be maintained well as well). But better technology makes them last longer and provide better efficiency.
Most such brands are expensive to buy. So the capital cost is high, but the efficiency factor makes them pay back for themselves in terms of energy savings as well as longevity. The caveat is that they may not have service centers available in smaller cities, which may make maintenance of the air conditioner a little difficult.
Generic brands that are into multiple appliances
There are some brands that sell a lot of kinds of appliances and are generic. They may not be expert in cooling technology, but the models that they offer are above average. Because of their focus on multiple things, their models may not be the best in the market, but they provide very competitive pricing. Models of these brands are slightly cheaper than those of the brands with “best technology”. These may turn out to be value for money if the use of air conditioner is not very high.
Many such brands have larger market penetration and thus their presence is there in remotest of locations in the country. Getting access to their service is quite easy, and thus regular maintenance of these models is possible. Many of these brands have energy efficient models but the longevity of those will not be as good as the ones with “best technology” brands. But as said, they can be great value for money if the use is less.
There are some brands that provide cheapest models in the market. It is an observation that they hardly focus on energy efficiency and thus most of their models are low on star ratings. These brands may provide inexpensive models but the lower energy efficiency increases the electricity bills. If they use is high, they can significantly increase your electricity bills. As we discussed in one of our previous articles that it is not just the capital cost that is important while buying an appliance, it is also the operating cost that is important (link and link). Most appliances consume more money during their operation than while buying, so it is a factor that one needs to keep into consideration. If you are really challenged with money and do not have any option then buy an inexpensive brand, but keep a note that it can increase your electricity bills.
Finally going for a brand also has a lot of emotional factors and people prefer buying a brand because of their good experiences in the past. And that also matters a lot. The guidelines that we have given above can help you identify with a brand, but ultimately it is your brand preference that will make you choose one. It is good to keep one thing in mind that an AC bought will be with you for almost 10 years, so make the right choice keeping in mind all the costs involved.