How to intelligently spend your money on buying an Air Conditioner (AC)

Summers in India are fast approaching and if you plan to buy an Air Conditioner (AC) to beat the heat, then here is a quick “how to spend your money wisely” guide on the same. I ended up writing this when I realized that we often shop for a lot of consumer durable products without having first read about how to best judge the product.

And surprisingly it takes not  more than 15 mins to dig out all you need to know about any such product. Spending your hard earned money is an integral part of your financial planning, so make sure you get don’t fooled at the showroom by the glib salesman. I will kill my inner instincts and stop this Gyaan and dive straight away on how to buy an air conditioner tutorial.

Split Air Conditioners or Window ACs ?

Even before you hop over to buy air conditioners this summer, you first need to be clear what is a split air conditioner or split AC and what is a window AC. As the name suggests, a split AC comes as 2 separate units, in which one unit is wall mounted inside the room and the other (split) unit is parked outside the apartment/house. Windows ACs, as the name leads you to believe, is mounted on a window of the room and juts both in and out of the room.

Window air conditioners India

Window air conditioner

Split ACs are smaller in size and less noisier and are preferably used for residential apartment rooms while window ACs are bigger in size, more noisier and cool a bigger room quickly.

How to choose

And this is where most of the spenders get taken for a ride by the showroom sales person. But it is really simple to choose an air conditioner unit.

The first most important factor that will drive your selection is the size of your room. The larger a room, you need a more powerful Air Conditioner (AC).

split air conditioners

Split air conditioners

ACs in India, and I guess elsewhere as well, come in units called TONs. Note this unit ton is a measurement of energy and not weight – energy or heat required to convert 1 ton of ice to cool air.

So an ACs cooling capacity is measured in something called BTU (British Thermal Unit). As you would have guessed by now, more the BTU, more powerful is the AC and so would be the cost.

Having understood this, first measure the size of your room in square foot and use the below guide to decide which ton of AC you need for your room.

Square feet Tonnage
50-100 0.8
100-140 1
140-200 1.5
>200 2
star rating of air conditioners india

star rating of air conditioners

While you can use the above as a ready reckoner for choosing air conditioner units, note that there are other parameters like height of the room, number of windows, number of people using the room and even the climate that matters.

The second thing you want to look at when you want to choose an air conditioner unit is its star rating. Star rating of air conditioners in India are a very quick way of inferring what an AC can cost you in the long run and how much your bills could be.

The star ratings of air conditioners in India are done by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and are very reliable. The more the number of stars, the more efficient it is and lesser will be the power consumption. All ACs will come with the star ratings shown on them so you can easily decide which one to choose.

5 star rated ACs cost the most but in the long run they will save you more money than a 3 star or 1 star AC.

Other points to note

Having an air conditioner definitely means a larger electricity bill. An AC can easily mean a bill of Rs 15 per hour of operation.

Like all other products, ACs also require maintenance and so make sure you clean the filter at regular intervals. There are many types of filters available for an AC but stick with the most basic ones.

Never keep the AC in direct sunlight as it’s efficiency will get impacted.

Note that to bring down your electricity bill, always keep the temperate between the outside and the inside as close as possible. This is not always possible but try it out. Use the thermostat to adjust the AC automatically to say 25 C.

Buy a good brand AC, don’t go for local stuff which is easy on your wallet. It can cost you dearly if it breaks down.

ACs can cost from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 – decide based on capacity and star ratings. And have a happy summer !

Comments

  1. Great article. I will definitely forward it to my dad who is shopping for AC.

  2. Quite informative as far as selection of AC is concerned. The points of selection are a must especially the rating.
    You did mention to beware of the showroom sales person but you didn’t mention how can they take customer for a ride? What are the general tricks that’d be tried by them and how to dodge them?

    I am also wondering how buying an AC is part of financial planning? :)

    • @Vivek K, It is “spending your money” that counts and matters in financial planning, among others.

      We usually do research on buying a car, or a laptop, or for a vacation trip for hotel room bookings and flights, the same holds good for any item you want to spend your money on.
      People hardly do any research on consumer durables.

      Financial planning is not just about investing your money. It is smart and wise buying of products as well.

      So if you buy an AC which does not fit for your room, it will wear off faster and you will spend more on maintaining it – the room will become a freezer or will not heat up quickly if the size if unsuitable. That will blow up your electricity bills.

      I intend to do more articles on spending your money wisely on consumer durables and even vacations.

      • @TheWealthWisher, Hmmmm interesting point you have raised that financial planning is also smart and wise buying of products. Not sure if many people are able to relate financial planning with this but I think now they can.

        I am looking forward to more articles on consumer durables, the tips on how to purchase any product is definitely going to help the readers while doing their purchase.
        It’d be more beneficial if you can also mention the common traps by sales people in which people can fall.

  3. @Radhey,

    Good one, a break from financial planning. Very informative. I think rating is what is matters as this result in overall savings in your electricity bill. I had a friend who worked for TCS and voltas also being part of TATA group, the employees were offered AC at discount rate. But he still ended up buying an AC from Carrier and paid Rs. 5000 extra. It’s been over 5 years and he has not spend a single rupee on maintenance. Moreover it also consumes less power. He had done an extensive research. Most of the people would have opted for the cheaper model.

    • TheWealthWisher says:

      @Rakesh, Great stuff – this demonstrates that he left a discount to pay more for a better product which in the long run has proved useful for him (no maintenance).
      Wise guy.

    • @Rakesh, Your friend indeed made a wise decision. I always look for better star rating and never buy anything less than 3 star, although preference is always for 4 or 5 star.
      The power consumption is something people always underestimate because they don’t see it as lump sump cash in hand. I think it is like inflation that eats up your money slowly but steadily. :)

  4. Nice and timely article.
    I purchased an inverter ac last year.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverter_(air_conditioning)

    This is the most expensive ac. However it saves way way more power than 5* acs.

    The running current of a 1 ton ac is only 4 amps.
    I hardly notice the increase in power consumption. We keep the ac at 25-28 deg. The ac fan is kept minimum and the ceiling fan is kept full. I regularly clean the filters every two weeks.

    • @pattu,

      Inverter AC, never heard about it. Thank your for sharing your feedback.
      Hopefully people would consider this option too while buying AC’s.

    • TheWealthWisher says:

      @pattu, Vow, you are very very clinical Pattu.
      Is it mandatory to clean filters every 2 weeks ?

    • @pattu, May I ask which brand did you buy and what was the price like?

    • ARINDAM MANDAL says:

      DO U CLEAN THE AC YOURSELF??? HOW??? WILL WE DETECT THE DIFFERENCE IN THE ELECTRIC BILL TAKING AN INVERTER AC AND RUNNING IT FOR 8 HOURS PER DAY ????

      • I am talking about cleaning the AC filters. Yes the difference in electricity bill is significant. Also we run the ac from 25-27 deg only.
        Use the night mode to progressively increase temp and run the fan in lowest mode. The running current for a 1 ton inverter ac is ~ 4 amps only. This is what makes the difference.

  5. An interesting insight of applying financial planning towards buying costly consumer durables. My principle is invest in the best (and at times expensive) consumer durable if it results in reducing the recurring operating costs.

    ACs are like elephants, cheaper to buy and expensive to maintain (electricity bills). I have found the following features very helpful to reduce the bills :
    1. Eco mode combined with the functionality to gradually increase the thermostat during the night;
    2. Keeping the room cool by natural methods (insulation). It costs a bit to insulate a room, but the saving is multiple times over long run.

    Regards
    BFA

    • TheWealthWisher says:

      @Banyan Financial Advisors, With regards to your 2nd point – It is also advised that if you keep the ceiling fan on for sometime it helps in air circulation more efficiently. So the ceiling fan helps the AC to run more efficiently.

      • @TheWealthWisher,
        I might slightly disagree with it. Not an expert, but my logic says:
        1. Hot air rises up.
        2. Turning the fans will push hot air down;
        3. It is always advisable to have AC installed above a specific height so that it sucks in hot air and pushing down cold air;
        4. In this attempt AC maintains a flow of air. Switching on air would limit the ability of AC to cool the air quicker and hence reduce it’s efficiency.

        Regards
        BFA

    • @Banyan Financial Advisors, How does one insulate a room? I never heard of it, who provides this service?

      • @Vivek K,

        Never thought I would be an engineer :)

        There are many ways to insulate a room :
        1. Have heavy curtains;
        2. If your room / flat is on top floor – Put anything which prevents direct sunlight on the ceiling;
        3. Have light colour paint on your outer surface walls to reflect light and heat away;
        4. While building a property, have gaps between the walls and get them filled with insulation material like cotton wool.

        It is very common – do some hunting on google and you shall identify people who do it professionally.

        Regards
        BFA

        • @Banyan Financial Advisors, Thanks for the tips BFA. Points 1 & 2 are already taken care of. #2 is N/A to me and 4 is not feasible now.

          The Bangalore weather is still manageable without AC but yea if needed I will try to insulate the room first with the help of experts and then think about AC. Somehow I always prefer to stay the nature’s way.

  6. Yes, this is what I like. We should spend some time and research before we buy anything. I am sure all the things we need are not so urgent and we definetly can research on it at least using internet.

    This will help you planning/tracking on your expense which indeed rightly taken care by Radhey saying part of financial planning. And the bonus here you get is almost the exact product you wanted !!!!! After buying many realize that this is not what they wanted really, they got the wrong one and the reason is mostly salesmans :).

    I liked the idea to spend correctly on right product and also reduce maintenance cost.

    We should always try to plan our expense correctly. I have very bad relations with agents and salemans. This mostly happens when I go with my friends to purchase a product which I don’t have much idea about. I make the salseman mad with my questions (LOL) !!!! Many times happened this. There are times when I know the product, I explained salesmans to stop them directing wrong and they had no choice but agree with me. Sometimes I can hold myself giving advise haha though I don’t do it always.

    One more thing Radhey. The new look of website feels good and decent.

  7. Radhey this is the final design and functionality of the new website or still you are going to improve it.

    Are you going to off the reply on comments :)…… The logo looks great though the header color feels little dark (sorry I felt it).

  8. Agree with Chirag, the site indeed gives a new vibrant look but reply and grouping of answers option should be there i believe.
    Also, black color even I am not so sure about it. I thought green was the color of wealth wishers :)

  9. abhinav says:

    i want to buy a panasonic inverter 1.5 ton ac but i am confused with voltas 1.5 ton five star ac…. i dont no which one is better choice interms of energy saving as well as customer support by these two company. please let me know as i am very confused which should i buy???
    Thanks

  10. @Abhinav,

    Why don’t you read Pattu’s comments, he had done a lot of research before buying an AC. It will definitely clear your doubts.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverter_(air_conditioning)

  11. Alex Shukla says:

    Hi,

    My room is about 145-150 square feet. Is it ok if I use a 1 ton AC. Like you have allowed upto 140 sq feet for a 1 ton ac. Will I end up burning the condenser because of over working it? 1.5 ton is much more expensive and also seems to consume a hell lot of energy more than a 1 ton AC. Besides at the place where I live, most of the time there are power cuts and we pay 15 Rs per unit of generator electricity.

  12. Partha Banerjee says:

    Dear Welth Wiser,

    I am plaining to purchase a AC and my room size is 230 sq ft the shop keeper had said a AC of 1.5 ton but my question is about a bill suggest me is inverter ACs are more power saver or its a marketing.
    Secondly which company Ac is best.
    and last what AC to purchase i mean window or Split AC.
    Please do suggest.

    Thanks,
    Partha Banerjee.

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