India’s domestic air conditioner market, which has been a dependable performer in an otherwise volatile white goods market, is set to change gears again. In a market expected to almost double to over 10 million units in sales by 2020, major changes are afoot. With climate change dominating headlines, we in India know it first hand in the form of ever hotter, and longer summer seasons. On the other hand, an improving power scenario, thanks to some mega government initiatives, is taking care of one of the biggest blocks to AC market growth, reliable and steady power. So what else is happening that will help you make the right pick? At TMI, we spoke to a whole host of Industry experts across firms to arrive at the following key conclusions.
Window AC’s are on their last legs
Yes, incredible as it might sound to a lot of readers, that oldest indicator of status and comfort in the summers, the window AC, is actually dying out. Like the cross ply tyres in the tyre industry, that eventually gave way to the radial revolution, the Window AC faces a concerted attack on two fronts. From ever efficient Split A/c’s, and Inverter technology. So even as a leading industry brand like Samsung has actually stopped selling Window AC’s for some time now, even other brands are no longer placing it on their main display roster. Thus, unless you are severely limited by space constraints, perhaps you should drop the idea of buying a Window AC in favour of a Split. Not only will they fit well inside the room,(besides the unit outside) taking away the requirement to punch a window-sized opening in the wall or your Window, Split AC’s today are simply much quieter and provide better air distribution.
In all probability, Inverter Technology will win the battle for dominance by 2020. If you know the winner, then why delay getting into the right camp? With a sharp focus on power savings and efficiency backed by government diktat, AC’s with inverter technology have a headstart over older technologies. LG, the market leader has shifted completely to inverter technology and pushing to open up a lead in the battle for dominance by 2020. With claims of power savings between 30% to 50%, the premium pricing on Inverter A/c’s can actually pay back for itself in two years, plus the gap will only decrease further as the market expands and prices drop with volumes. Inverter Ac’s alsocome with higher energy star rating when it comes to energy efficiency. In short, if your AC is going to be used for more than 5 months in a year, going for an Inverter technology Ac with a 5 Star rating will be the better long term investment.
Room size and position
Typically, a good thumb rule is to buy a tonne of cooling for every 120 sq feet of space. If the room or AC position is exposed to direct sunlight, then look for more. More importantly, if you want a piece of advice based on anecdotal evidence, as well as feedback from dealers this writer spoke to, avoid 1 tonne or smaller ac’s altogether. More often than not, they underperform badly, break down under stress faster, and even the repair guy will look at you strangely for buying one.
Non AC features
Today, brands are offering a host of features beyond cooling in their AC’s, from air purification to mosquito repellents and more. With pollution becoming such an important issue, the air purification is an angle worth considering, but do it only after you are convinced that it’s worthwhile. Typically, for really smaller pollutants, AC’s alone may not do the job when it comes to air purification. Perhaps the best use they can still serve would be as heaters, as their power consumption would be much lower than coventional heaters.
After Sales Service
And last but definitely not the least, consider this very important aspect of AC’s. while most of the big brands offer service warranties and more, look hard at the legacy of the brands before taking a call. Firms like LG, Samsung, Voltas, and even Lloyd have earned their reputations the hard way, by investing in and building a great network. There are too many brands out there that have jumped into the market to make a quick buck. To ‘leverage’ their existing dealer network, existing brand awareness or many other reasons they believe will work for them. Beware of buying from small time bands with an inadequate service network. In a category like AC’s, a quick and responsive service network is essential, and too many brands fail the test currently. Brands like Micromax, Koryo are still building a reputation, even as ‘premium’ brands like General, Mitsubishi etc have not really sold in numbers that wold throw out good data on their after sales support. Domestic strong players like Blue Star, Voltas remain dependable.
So there you are, 5 key issues that you should focus on, and the rest will hopefully take care of itself.