It has been very hot recently, far hotter than most of we long term Bali residents can remember. Air conditioners are working harder than ever. Many of us are finding our air conditioners are breaking down more than they used to, why is this?
As far as we can tell there are two reasons.
The first is that the quality of many air conditioners is not what it used to be. There was a time, only 3 or 4 years ago, when we could recommend air conditioners that were more reliable or operated more effectively than others however, as more and more air conditioners are being made in China, very often in the same huge factories, the standard appears to have levelled out between the different brands.
Cynics say that, to keep selling new products, manufacturers build in obsolescence, products are designed to breakdown after a certain length of time. This may well be the case with air conditioners.
There is also a tendency for manufacturers to continually shave off small amounts in manufacturing costs and an example of this is to slightly reduce the thickness of copper used in the heat exchanger pipes, when you make millions of machines each year this can save a lot of money but does increase the likelihood of corrosion and leakage.
Some brands are still made outside China most notably Daikin of which ones made in Thailand are the most popular followed by those made in Malaysia.
- Unstable Power
The second is the reliability of the PLN power supply. While we don’t get the blackouts we used to get, it is common to get voltage drops sometimes as low as 130 volts.
Voltage drops have two noticeable effects on air conditioners:
- Air conditioners have electric motors in the indoor unit to drive the fan and in the outdoor unit to drive the compressor. Electric motors need a certain amount of power to run and so, if the voltage drops the electric current increases and higher currents create more heat. A common problem we are finding in compressor motors, that have to work very hard, are burning out.
- Low voltage plays havoc with electronic circuit boards and the sensors that operate them which can become confused or even burn out.
Modern air conditioners have ever increasingly complex electronic controls and this is particularly the case with inverter air conditioners that are continually monitoring temperatures and adjusting the speed of the compressor to alter the rate of cooling. With erratic electrical supply we are finding many people are avoiding inverter air conditioners and going back to standard models – more simple, more rugged.
Voltage Regulators (Stabiliser or Stavolt)
If you have expensive modern air conditioners, especially inverter air conditioners, it is a good idea to install a voltage regulator.
A standard voltage regulator can bring voltages as low as 140 volts or as high as 240 volts back to the 220 volts our appliances need. This will cover most areas of Bali but some areas (notably Ubud and Jimbaran) have higher voltage fluctuations and you will need a higher capacity voltage regulator that can cope with voltages as low as 110 volts.
It is important to choose a good quality voltage regulator that will cut off the power to protect your equipment if the voltage drops too much. You will find that the small voltage regulators you buy for computers, usually less than 2 KVA (2,000 watts), will not cut the power off and your equipment could be damaged.
You can read more about voltage regulators here: www.mrfixitbali.com/electrical/electrical-equipment/electricity-voltage-regulators-114.html
Many of the refrigerant gases our air conditioners used to use are now obsolete due to the damage they do to the ozone layer. The very destructive R12 was totally banned long ago and 2020 is the target for the progressive removal of R22 from the market to be complete. So, from this year, R22 and even the very destructive R12 are totally banned. Most air conditioners these days have standardised on refrigerants R32 and R410A.
There is another option however, LPG gases formulated as refrigerants. Pertamina markets one under the name Musicool. These work very well and are said to reduce the amount of power required to compress the gas resulting in savings in electricity and less wear and tear on the air conditioner compressor. They do, however, have one serious drawback, unlike more commonly used air conditioner refrigerants, LPG refrigerants are highly flammable. With this danger in kind it is important that LPG refrigerants are installed by people who know what they are doing, do not let that satay wafter from down the road anywhere near your precious air conditioners.
- Buy a brand of air conditioner with a good reputation, do your research and identify the brands that are being recommended and why.
- Ask about the guarantee, this will tell you which manufacturers have confidence in their products.
- Avoid air conditioners with complex electronic controls, this includes inverter air conditioners.
- Make sure you are not using R12 or R22 refrigerant.
- Protect the electronic circuits and compressor by installing a voltage regulator to correct voltage fluctuations in the power grid, this is especially important in known problem areas which include Ubud, Jimbaran, Karangasem and Singaraja.
- Keep your air conditioners well maintained and cleaned. Cleaning the heat transfer fins in both the indoor and outdoor units not only reduces operating costs, it keeps the air conditioner operating efficiently which reduced wear and tear on the compressor.
You can find more information about air conditioners here www.mrfixitbali.com/air-conditioning/ac-service-136.html
Previous “Fixed Abode” articles can be found subject indexed on our website at www.mrfixitbali.com. Opinions expressed are those of Phil Wilson. He can be contacted through the website or the office on 0361 288 789 or 08123 847 852.
Copyright © 2020 Phil Wilson
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