Air Conditioner [ AC] Buying Guide 2023

For tropical nations like India, the summer season brings in mixed feelings for the people. On one side, you get to enjoy the best delicacies of mangoes and ice-cream, whereas, on the other, you have to face the wrath of heat and humidity. And the worst thing is that the summers get stretched beyond the specified period (hello climate change!).

Thus, it is very important to get yourselves equipped properly to bear the brunt of such unbearable times. And what’s a better alternative than Air Conditioner, popularly called as AC. But, it is equally important for you to understand the different types and then go for buying out your preferred model. 

In our blog of the day, we would be discussing in detail the buying guide for an air conditioner.

Different Types of Air Conditioners

In general, ACs fall under the following categories:

Window AC

As depicted by the name, such ACs are installed near the windows of the room and hence come within the accessible range of the user. The entire block is quite big and requires a minimum of 9-12 inches of wall thickness for proper installation.

Some of the advantages that can be enjoyed by this include faster cooling in a single room, easy installation, and monoblock design to simplify the assembling activity. But, it also has its share of issues, in the forms of higher noise values when compared to the other categories, and the need for greater wall thickness for proper installation. 

Split AC

Split ACs are improvised models over the Window ACs and have two distinguish units- air venting box inside the room and compressor and heat-dissipating box outside of the room. Both of these units need to be installed within 40 meters of each other for perfect cooling.

Some of the advantages include faster cooling due to wider blowers, the capability of performance in the larger rooms, less noisy operation, no requirement of a thick wall for installation, and higher efficiency. But, the share of problems come up in terms of the high cost of buying and increased complexity in maintenance, as the technician has to access the external unit also. 

Portable AC

Portable ACs lie as an intermediate between the conventional ACs and air coolers. They are mobile, lightweight, and find their applications majorly within small to medium-sized rooms. If you are conscious of budget and yet want to gain a piece of equipment with significant performance, then this category is the perfect fit for you. However, it requires a specific vent for the setup of the exhaust hose. 

Portable Air Conditioner Buying Guide

Factors to consider before buying AC

Now, let us focus on the factors that need to be considered while buying an AC that fits your requirements and housing infrastructure. Go for the following points:

  • Capacity or Tonnage

The capacity of an AC is highly dependent on the room size, within which the cooling effect is to be observed. Some of the additional factors contributing towards it include ambient temperature outside of the room, humidity, ventilation of the room, exposed area to the sun, and several heat sources. 

For example, a 1-ton AC fits very well in cooling up room spaces within 150 sq. ft. Therefore, be very cautious on this point. You would not like to buy an oversized AC that charges you heavily on the utilities, or an undersized model that takes up a lot of time for cooling.

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  • Efficiency and BEE rating

Owing to the recent regulations from different energy boards on owning up energy-efficient devices, it is highly advised to check up the star ratings on the appliance before making up the mind on any brand or category. Higher the star ratings, better would be the cooling efficiency and lesser would be the utility cost.

The Energy Efficiency Ratio can be calculated by dividing the capacity by the power consumed by the unit. Therefore, hit up the perfect balance between the ratings and MRP (since both of these are directly proportional to each other).

  • Price

Price is a point that is not only observed in ACs but any of the consumer electronics appliances. What was considered a luxury product once, has now become a common household entity. 

Therefore, keep practical limitations on your budget requirements. See the current market price range of any particular tonnage of AC and then determine if the same is a perfect fit for your requirements or not.

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  • Inverter or Non-inverter ACs

Non-inverter ACs or the conventional models worked by converting the AC supply into DC and then back to AC for the compressor motor. It used to happen only in the ON or OFF states of the compressor and provided very limited controls on the overall temperature control dynamics. 

The inverter ones turned out to be more dynamic and allow the compressors to run more independently. It gives up the freedom for smart control of temperature, variable power consumption, and higher efficiency compared to the previous. But, it comes up at a hefty price, complex circuits, and tougher maintenance. 

Hence, you can plan out the best one as per your budgeting and housing requirements. 

  • Noise of operation

As per the regulatory board, the AC also needs to be compliant with the allowable decibels of operation. The higher the speed, the greater would be the noise. Therefore, look at the manufacturer’s guide to gain a fair idea of the point before selecting any of the models. 

  • Additional features

Along with these mandatory factors, you can also aim to look out for the additional features, as mentioned below:

  1. Anti-microbial filters, to eliminate the dust and other harmful microbes that tend to enter within the rooms.
  2. Multiple support features can run throughout the year, as a cooling unit in summer, a dehumidifying unit in rains, and a heater in winter. 
  3. Option for timers in the controls of the AC unit, to regulate the temperature and shut off the unit automatically after a certain period.
  4. Compatibility to smart home appliances of home, for wider and dynamic usage of the device.
  5. Auto-cleaning feature of the filters and coils to reduce the manual labor dependency. 
  6. Smart modes like sleep mode to reduce power consumption per hour and provide relief on the net utility bills. 

Therefore, we conclude on our take of the important and additional factors under the buying guide of an AC. Let us know of your queries and concerns in the comments section and they would be answered as quickly as possible.

Inverter AC vs Normal AC

Recording all-time high temperature in summers has become a regular phenomenon in recent years since global warming is accelerating at an alarming rate. This has resulted in the increasing prevalence of air conditioners, making them more of an essential requirement than a luxury for every household. In case you plan to buy an AC, you must look for a cost-effective, energy-efficient, and environment-friendly air conditioner, so you and your loved ones live comfortably and breathe clean air.

Today, there are two types of air conditioners accessible in the market: non-inverter air conditioners and inverter air conditioners. Though both the air conditioners have similarities, their compressor technology is what separates them. Let’s have a thorough understanding of both the air conditioners:

Inverter Air Conditioner

The primary function of an inverter is to convert the frequency. Similarly, an inverter air conditioner changes its cooling capacity by adjusting the compressors’ power supply frequency. It operates at maximum capacity until the desired temperature is reached and then switches to part load to sustain the desired temperature. 

Working of Inverter AC:

An inverter air conditioner is known to adjust the compressor’s speed to control the refrigerant’s flow rate, leading to less current and power consumption. The inverter features precise temperature control, and with the attainment of a set temperature, the unit’s capacity adjusts accordingly to prevent temperature fluctuations.

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Advantages of Inverter AC:

Enhanced Cooling

When required, an inverter AC can run the compressor at a higher speed and provides instant cooling.

Low Noise

Inverter air conditioners function at a low speed, which is the primary reason behind the quiet noise operation of the inverter AC.

Low Power Consumption

An inverter AC automates cooling and heating so that it consumes less power, hence saving energy.

Powerful

As soon as an inverter air conditioner turns on, it operates at total capacity. As a consequence, the desired temperature is easily achieved.

Disadvantages of Inverter AC:

High Maintenance Cost

Since inverter air conditioners have more complex circuitry and a higher proportion of moving parts, their maintenance costs would be higher.

Inadequate Dehumidification

The degree of cooling achieved by an inverter AC varies depending on the heat input; it is insufficient for dehumidification if the set temperature is not extremely low.

Non-inverter air conditioners 

Non-inverter air conditioners comprise traditional technology of air conditioners and are one of the most commonly available air conditioners in the market. A non-inverter air conditioner regulates the temperature simply by turning on and off as the specific temperature is achieved. Consequently, the machine is forced to work harder, resulting in a great deal of noise.

Advantages of Non-inverter air conditioners

Costs Less

These air conditioners cost significantly less than the inverter air conditioners are suggested over inverted conditioners since they are low priced.

Disadvantages of Non-inverter air conditioners

High power Consumption

Non-inverter air conditioners tend to have more power consumption because the compressor turns on and off frequently.   

High noise level

The air conditioner works harder as an outcome of the constant turning on and off, resulting in a great deal of noise.

Inefficient Cooling

A non-inverter air conditioner cannot regulate the cooling level, so it does not provide instant cooling when required.

Inverter AC or Non-Inverter AC: Which one to Choose?

Both types of air conditioners have their advantages and limitations; we still recommend inverter air conditioners due to their benefits, namely low power consumption, less noise, and enhanced cooling. On the other hand, inverter air conditioners are more costly than non-inverter air conditioners due to higher installation and maintenance costs, but they are more reliable and have a longer life span. Choosing the type of air conditioner depends on your suitability and convenience, so choose wisely.

Portable Air Conditioner Buying Guide

As defined by the basic terminology, a portable AC is a mobile unit that can be easily moved within and outside of the house. They have caster wheels to aid in the movement, are lightweight, and generally fall within the range of 28-34 feet. It does not require any permanent installation like window and split ACs and therefore, its efficiency and functionality lie in between a fan and high-end AC (window and split types).

How Does a Portable Air Conditioner Works?

The two major tasks of any model of portable AC are as follows:

  • Cooling down of one or multiple rooms as per the user requirements (Primary function).
  • Dehumidification or removal of excess moisture from the air (Secondary function).

Based on the standard refrigeration cycle, every portable AC has the following three components:

  • Refrigerant for cooling of the air.
  • Compressor for compressing the inlet air.
  • Fan for circulation of the cool air within the designated space.

Therefore, the following are the basic ways of working with these models:

  • The fan of the portable AC begins sucking the hot and humid air from the internal room, whose temperature and humidity are to be brought to the convenient levels.
  • With the condenser coils, the hot and humid air is cooled down to extract the moisture and transfer the heat to the refrigerant. As a result, the refrigerant fluid turns into a gas.
  • The cool air goes back into circulation inside of the room.
  • Similarly, the moisture from the air also gets removed either manually or via smart technology, as per the requirements of the user.

The basic fixtures associated with the portable AC to help out in executing the entire cycle are as follows:

  • Standard window venting kit to expel the exhaust and provide ambient conditions within the room.
  • Water reservoirs to collect the condensate and later can be removed with a hose pipe.
  • Evaporator coupled with an air duct, to directly remove the moisture from the exhaust and lower down the number of manual cycles of removal.

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Things to Consider Before Buying a Portable AC

It can often get overwhelming when you find a large number of options in the market for portable ACs. In such cases, the buying guide is sure to help out in resolving the confusion. Therefore, look out for the following points to get help perfectly:

The first factor that needs to be looked upon is the size of the portable AC. It is determined in the units of British Thermal Units (BTU) and is directly proportional to the cooling power and room space i.e. higher BTU can impart better cooling to any larger room.

Therefore, to aid the perfect BTU for your requirement, look at your room space in which it would be put up:

  • Small spaces, that can cover up to 350 sq. ft of floor space.
  • Medium-sized areas that range in between 351 to 700 sq. ft of floor space.
  • Large-sized rooms or commercial corners, that go beyond 700 sq. ft of floor space.
  • In addition to these, some of the external points that need to be considered within the room are window space, cross ventilation facility, and high ceiling.

The second factor comes up for the location of the portable unit and how would the ventilation and exhaust get affected in the overall process. Since the cooling unit vents out the hot air, the same must be dumped properly into the atmosphere.

The conventional methods allowed installation near the windows for direct exhaust into the atmosphere. But, the newer methods allow the set up of a special window kit that is coupled to the exhaust and helps in the effective release of the hot air (in other terms you need to put up the AC a bit away from the nearest window).

The next factor is decided on the choice of the users in taking up either a single hose or dual hose portable AC. The following are the differences between these units:

  • Single hose types work by pulling out the stagnant air from inside of the room and then cooling the same with the help of an internal motor. Using the hose and window, they take up the excess warm air and filter it out into the atmosphere. They are generally cheaper than the double hose types.
  • Dual hose types work by pulling out fresh air from outside and circulating the same within the room through one hose and removing the excessive moisture and warm air through the other hose. They are quicker in action and efficient than the single types.
  • The next factor lies in deciding on the kind of water removal system required. The majority of the available models are of self-evaporating types, where the condensed water is recycled back into the air. Some of the models are of manual type, where you need to drain out the excess water manually from any hose pipe.
  • Some of the other variants to the category include gravity drain (where the water is continuously drained out to the nearby floor drain by the force of gravity), condensate pump that collects the extra water through a drain hose, and bucket (an internal container that holds the extra water up to a threshold limit and needs manual removal eventually).
  • Efficiency is another pivotal factor that needs to be taken care of since you would want an option that performs best and yet charges minimal on the overall utilities. Therefore, go for the higher BEE rating to get your choice.
  • The operation modes (like eco mode, sleep mode, and other requisites) as per user requirements can also form a selection criterion for any portable AC. Thus, check out the smart ones that provide all of these features and require no special wiring or out-of-the-world powering requirements.
  • Keeping in mind the nearby surroundings, it is also important to have a look at the noise of the operation before making the choice. Since the system uses motorized fans and compressed systems, it must create some degree of noise.
  • Still, many manufacturers are working on damping it by offering multiple features, like a programmable timer, multiple speed, and sleep mode. Each fan speed has a decibel reading associated with it and therefore, make yourself familiar with these before opting for it.

The ease of installation and maintenance also form another pivotal layer, as the ideal cases of both are required to improvise on the net user experience. Some of the basic maintenance works include cleaning of the air filters, regular draining of the water condensate, servicing of the running parts, and rechecking of the installation point.
You can also lookout for the options of heating methodology within the portable AC for winter conditions. It can either be via a heat pump (extracts heat from external environment and then disperses within the surroundings) or an electric heater (that converts electrical energy into heat and then releases the same from an installed heat strip).
Some of the special requirements can include auto-washable air filters, remote control, directional airflow, digital control, strong caster wheels, and an all-in-one unit of operation.

Benefits of a Portable Air Conditioner

The following are the basic benefits of a portable AC:

  • Features of conventional ACs at a reasonable price and better performance than ordinary fans.
  • Easy portability to sort out the transportation or shifting issues.
  • Multiple features to enhance the flexibility of usage (in the forms of modes of operation or settings to optimize the overall performance).
  • Easier disposal options when compared to the regular AC models.
  • Lesser room space when compared to the conventional AC models.

Therefore, if you are constrained by budget and yet want the best relief out of hot summers, humid rains, and chilly winters, then go for the best model of portable AC. Let us know of your concerns on any of these buying points in the comments section and they would be resolved quickly.