How to choose an AC?

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So – you’ve decided that you want to buy a new AC, however you haven’t started striding through the shops yet. Or, you’ve visited a couple, you’ve seen several different models, you’ve talked with several different clerks but you still have no clue what to choose?

Well, here are some general advices that might be of help.

Imagine that you’re in a shop talking with a clerk and he tells you “What you need is a nine.” After that he shows you several models of those “nines” (or twelves, or whichever). He might also tell you which model is the best of them. At that point you may start wondering whether or not the choice is actually quite clear and simple.
Probably it is – after all, ideally, that clerk is there for a reason and he knows what he’s talking about.
However, to be certain that you’re making the right decision you need to have at least some understanding of the matter – what “a nine” means, what “a twelve” means, etc.

Well, as we mentioned in a previous blog post, in catalogues AC’s power is shown in BTU or in kW. Most AC firms name their models with a letter designation, some digits and then some more letters. For example: AY-XP09GHR, MSG-09 HRN2, ASYA 9L, CS/CU-E09 JKE-3, etc.

You might notice that all of those have the number 9 in them. And if you open a catalogue you’ll see the BTU data (for cooling mode) – 8900, 9000, 9200 or some other similar number. Those are the actual names of the model, used by the producer. However instead of saying 9000 we just say “a nine”, instead of saying 12000 we just say “a twelve”, etc.

So – before choosing your AC you need to ask yourself:

“What do I need an AC for?”
That’s the big question. You can find an innumerable amount of ACs in the market and they all look the same, but they are not. At the very least – the prices can vary a lot. Why is that so? Well, of course – both the quality and the brand can be very different.

That’s why the first question should be – exactly for what are you going to use the AC? You can use it mainly for cooling in the hot summer days but not during the winter, because you have better options for that. Or you might use it only for heating during the colder months. Or for both.

If that’s clear, the next question should be “How much am I willing to pay for an AC?”york-logo
As we said, the difference in prices comes mainly from the difference in quality and brand (which are two different things). If we have to make a rough (and alphabetical) layout it would look like this:

• High quality – York, Carrier, Daikin, Fujitsu, General, Mitsubishi, Sanio, Sharp, Toshiba
• Medium quality – The more expensive Chinese models (some of Haier’s models), Korean models (Hyundai, LG, Samsung), Panasonic and some others.
• Low quality – Most of other Chinese brands (Elite, Haier, Midea, Osaka, Sang), some Italian brands (like DeLonghi), and others.

Of course, that’s far from an exhaustive layout since there are an awful lot of brands out there and since they and their quality change basically every year.

And that’s why the previous two questions are so important:

• If you’ll be using the AC mainly for cooling during the hot summer – in that case you have a quite vast array of choices. Pretty much every model on the market will do a good job, even the cheaper ones. The only possible catch here is to check the temperature coverage of the AC (especially for cheaper models from smaller brands), because sometimes it might not be consistent with the temperatures where you live.
• You’ll be using your AC for cooling during the hot days and heating during the transitional seasons (autumn and spring) – again, there’s a large choice of prices and models. Most ACs will work, however it’s strongly advisable to steer towards more prominent brands.
• You’ll be using your AC for heating during the cold winter – in that case you need to be sure that you’ve picked a truly high-quality AC. Simply put – heating is where quality matters more.
Why is that so however, why is quality more important during the winter?
Well, the temperature coverage of most cheaper models reaches only 19.4°F / -7°C, while the better, more expensive modes reach 5°F / -15°C or 4°F / -20°C with ease.
You also need to know that the date in most catalogues are for the following temperature levels:
• For heating: indoor temperature of 68°F / 20°C and outdoor temperature of 44.6°F / 7°C.
• For cooling: indoor temperature of 80.6°F / 27°C and outdoor temperature of 95°F / 35°C.

Note that the heating capacity shown in the catalogue is for 44.6°F / 7°C while in the winter you might face much lower temperatures – as low as 4°F / -20°C. In such a case the heating power of an AC will drop drastically. And yes, the power expenditure will drop as well, but not as much. That’s why you need to choose a more powerful AC. Especially if it’s a conventional one (a typical “on-off”), then it might frequently shut off which will lead to a faster amortization. Additionally, more powerful models work with a bigger air flow.

For heating it’s more advisable to choose an inverter AC, although a conventional one will work at lower temperatures as well if it’s of high quality. However an inverter model has a better power range which will be of use when heating because it can regulate the power better.

Even when it comes to mainly cooling however, it’s still better to choose a higher quality and more expensive model. Keep in mind that cheapest models have a much shorter lifespan, they often have problems and start making loud noises much sooner.

So think long term – it’s better to pay more for a higher quality, but you also don’t want to overpay – often you don’t need the most expensive brand or model, simply because it doesn’t get that cold where you live, you don’t have to cool/heat that large of a space, etc.
Choose carefully.