Updated 12 May 2015
This is one of those questions that most people only ask when they need to buy one, right? It is a simple question that has a not so simple answer.
More than one!
Even if you have no clue as to which company makes the best brands there is a good chance that you have heard some of the names before. Fujitsu, Samsung (yes, they make air conditioners too), Panasonic, Mitsubishi Electric and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (if I had a dollar for everyone who asks which one of those are better), Midea, Actron, Hitachi, Daikin and LG.
These air conditioning brands are pretty much the “majors” who dominate the Australian market.
And out all of them, which one is the best?
The air conditioning supply chain is mostly still working on a dealer system. Air conditioning companies align themselves with brands to gain a price advantage through higher sales but also to offer what they feel is a quality product worth selling. Nothing wrong with that. But they can’t all service every brand and hope to give each one their full attention and high sales. That’s one of the reasons you can be made to feel like they are pushing one brand over another buy telling you “they are the best”. What your not likely to hear is ” we have a warehouse full of these things we really need to get rid of “. Although that kind of honesty would probably be appreciated by a keen buyer looking for a good price on an over stocked but decent brand.
Well……. the real question you need to ask is not just which brand is best, but also which model is best for YOU. Out of all of these top level air conditioning brands, they all have three major features that make them a good buy.
- High efficiency – compare efficiency ratings on wall split systems
- Very quiet indoor and outdoor units
- 5 year residential warranty
They are the first three things that most people care about. Of course back up service is important too. They all have good back up service, but in this industry which has peak periods ( middle of summer and winter) they can all fall short from time to time. Generally they are all pretty good in responding to a service call in a reasonable amount of time. But remember, a quality brand is much less likely to cause you problems with break downs.
What are the things that might make one brand better for you over another?
- Your budget
If you are working on a budget, be guided by that. For example, a Samsung unit will save you anywhere from $200 to $500 depending on the KW size compared to a Daikin or Mitsubishi. Some units like the Samsung or LG brands now offer wifi options for controlling your air conditioner from your smart phone. It cost a little more for thoset feature so you need to think about if you need something like that
- The installation requirements
Where and how is it going to be installed? Some split system models will only give you 5m in pipe work length between the indoor and outdoor unit before extra refrigerant needs to be added to the system. That will add extra installation costs, because if it is not added, your hard earned money is paying for a system that is not going to work to it’s maximum efficiency. It is important details like these that make hiring experts a wise decision.
- Indoor and outdoor dimensions
Some units are bigger than others. For example, a 5kw Samsung unit is just under 1100mm wide. But a Fujitsu 5kw unit is just under 800mm wide. Imagine buying a split system from an online or bulk store only to find your unit won’t fit in the space you want it too! Also, a Fujitsu 6.8kw out door unit is significantly smaller than most other brands. If you are locating the outdoor unit on a balcony, you may want to save on space.
- Indoor fan power
When you get into large sized rooms that require a long air flow, some units offer a powerful fan mode. Mitsubishi Electric units (MSZ71GE) are capable of pushing air up to 12m. In those situations that might be the right unit for you. But if your room is not that long it probably doesn’t matter to much.
- Great features
Of all the brands right now, the latest Samsung air conditioners seem to stand out as the brand that is offering consumers a great feature. Integrated wireless technology. At the moment they are the only brand that has it. Is it a gimmick? Not really. While it may seem superfluous to control your air conditioner from your phone whilst sitting in the same room as the remote controller, it certainly makes sense to be able to turn it on before you set off for home from work so you can come home to a nice warm house. Or turn your office air conditioner on whilst on your way to work. While most units do have programable timers in there remote controls, who remembers to set it? It is defiantly much easier to do it from your phone, especially when you can also set a reminder to your self to do it and you always have it on you.
- Efficiency ratings
The efficiency ratings below give you an idea on the comparative efficiency at both ends of the price scale.
Daikin FTXS25LVMA – EER 4.44 / COP 4.43 (more expensive brand)
Mitsubishi MSZ25GE - EER 4.46 / COP 4.38 (more expensive brand)
Samsung AQV09TW - EER 4.42 / COP 4.54 (less expensive brand)
Midea MSCP09M4 – EER 4.42 / COP 4.54 (less expensive brand)
As you can see, the higher the price of a split system air conditioner doesn’t necessarily mean higher efficiency ratings.
All of the major brands mentioned here are of the highest efficiency and quality. If you stick to the well known names you probably won’t have any issues with your air conditioner working properly and lasting you a long time. Brands to avoid would be sold through hardware stores and be on the cheap side. If it’s cheap. it is cheap for a reason! There are also some brands online that have units made in China and then re-branded here. Remember also that you are better of with a company that has a service network available for their units. Most cheap brands don’t.