Living in Indonesia one of the important investments we will make is in our air conditioners. We expect them to run continuously for many years with very little maintenance and to not let us down particularly on those occasional very hot days.
So what do we buy? There are so many to choose from. A decision made all the more confusing in the world of air conditioners with things changing year by year. Let us look at some recent developments to help us make that choice.
Quality has changed a lot over the last few years.
The most important question these days it what brand should I buy. Sadly the quality of many air conditioners that used to be very popular has fallen, probably a result of manufacturing operations progressively moving to China. These days large factories produce many different brands under the same roof, methods of manufacture and quality has become standardised across brands and, as a result, there is little to choose between them.
An example of this standardisation is the fact that, to save costs, aluminium is replacing copper for parts of the cooling coils. Unfortunately aluminium does not resist corrosion as well as copper does and, unlike copper, is difficult to repair if there is a leak.
Voltage fluctuations and compressor damage
In Indonesia we often suffer from unstable voltages in our electrical supply which should, of course, be 220 volts. In our work we have recorded voltages as low as 140 volts which can damage electrical equipment and electronic circuits. Air conditioners that in the past were found to be reliable have increasingly been failing due to damaged electronic control circuits and burned out compressors.
Electronic circuit boards can be repaired or replaced easily however burned out compressors are not a different matter for two reasons:
1 Replacement compressors are usually non genuine spare parts and so are not as reliable and
2 They are generally so expensive you might just as well buy a new air conditioner.
Sadly some of our favourite air conditioners are no longer as reliable as they were. In our hunt for new air conditioners that will provide long term reliable service we have identified
These days some brands stand out above the rest. The first is Daikin which manufactures air conditioners in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Daikin are generally regarded as higher quality machines and are more reliable when compared with other offerings. The Thailand made machines are generally regarded as being higher quality than the Malaysian made ones and so are slightly more expensive. For example a 1pk (746 watt or 9,600 BTU) machine made in Malaysia will cost you around Rp4,250,000 while a similar machine made in Thailand will cost around Rp4,750,000.
Note that prices are at May 2021 and include installation but material costs may be more if long connecting pipes are required.
A second is Gree – which are all made in China. Gree have been working hard to compete with the other brands, they have extensive manufacturing and research facilities and are gaining a reputation for reliability. They are also willing to put their money where their mouth is and offer a 5 year guarantee on parts and a ten year guarantee on the compressor unit (considering item 2 above this is very significant). A standard 1 pk Gree air conditioner will cost you around Rp3,750,000
Both Daikin and Gree appear to have addressed the problem of voltage fluctuations and are making machines that can withstand power surges and voltage drops.
Inverter Air Conditioners
Inverter air conditioners are more complex than standard machines and have been particularly prone to damage, so much so that many people have been avoiding installing them. They do, however offer significant benefits. The inverter converts the AC (alternating current) electrical supply to DC (Direct Current) it’s all a bit technical but what this means is that the speed of the electric motors can be changed according to the amount of cooling you need and this yields savings in power consumption and reduces wear and tear by avoiding the shock loads of switching the compressor on and off.
A Daikin 1 pk inverter air conditioner will cost you around Rp5,650,000.
Voltage Stabilisers can protect your air conditioners
To protect your expensive air conditioners and other expensive equipment you might consider installing a voltage stabiliser particularly in areas such as Ubud and Jimbaran that are noted for voltage fluctuations.
Size – How big and air conditioner do you need?
It is important to get the size right, too small and your air conditioner will be working hard and never getting cool enough, too large and you will be paying a lot in electricity bills. To check the size you need you can go to our online air conditioner calculator at www.mrfixibali.com/air-conditioning/air-conditioner-calculator-12.html.
Note that the level of insulation of your room make a big difference to the size of air conditioner you will need.
Some Air Conditioning Tips
- If you have an old air conditioner (say more than 3 years old) that is still working well I advise that you keep it and make sure it is well maintained.
- Air conditioners lose efficiency as the cooling fins in the compressor unit and the internal unit become dirty. Clean them regularly to keep them efficient, a room in normal use would probably need cleaning every 3 months, this can be less if the room is not used very much but should be increased if there are losts of people in the room or if it is in a dusty environment. Make sure the technician cleans both the internal and external units.
- if you find your air conditioner doesn’t seem as cold as it should be get checked, it may be that you are losing the refrigerant from a leak somewhere. Refrigerant can be expensive so make sure you have an air conditioner technician that you can trust.
- Don’t set your air conditioner temperature too low. If you set the temperature at say 16 degrees C the room will never get that cool so the air conditioner will never stop running which will cost you a lot of money. Also note that an air conditioner will not cool the room down any quicker if you set the temperature lower, the rate of cooling stays the same regardless of the temperature setting. 24 degrees is probably cool enough.
- Something we don’t realise is that air conditioners dramatically reduce the humidity of the air in a room and this makes a huge difference as to how cool you feel. The drier the air the more effectively your body’s natural perspiration cooling works. Drier air also reduces condensation, mould and mildew. It is also a good idea to run a ceiling fan with the air conditioner on to improve the circulation of dry air.
- Air conditioner efficiency is seriously impaired by drafts so it is important to prevent the free flow of air in and out of a room. Sealing doors, windows and vents will considerably reduce air conditioning costs.
- Before you install an air conditioner think carefully where you will install both the indoor and outdoor air conditioning units. Unfortunately architects often don’t plan for the placement of air conditioners. Avoid long connecting pipes, if you can keep them short the machine will run more efficiently.
- Make sure that the outdoor unit is accessible for servicing or you will may find that it won’t get cleaned very often.
- When you book a technician to come to service your air conditioner make sure that he cleans BOTH the indoor unit and the outdoor compressor unit.
- When installing an air conditioner make sure that the drain for the indoor unit is correctly installed or you will have an endless problem with condensation leaks.
For more information about air conditioners go to: www.mrfixitbali.com/air-conditioning/ac-how-it-works-135.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 © 2021 Phil Wilson C.Eng
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