Air conditioners are one of the big ticket purchase for a typical Indian household. The main reason is the power consumption and associated electricity bill which makes owning an air con a very costly affair. It is not uncommon to see more than 1 air con in many households, which only adds to the concerns. However, thanks to inverter technology the power savings are significant with inverter air conditioner and the higher cost you pay over regular air conditioner is justified. In this article, we will look at what makes inverter air conditioner consumer less electricity, and other associated benefits of it. With energy efficiency gaining momentum globally, it is imperative that we are aware of the latest technologies that consume less power. Moreover, saving from energy efficient appliances can be significant.
How does an air conditioner work?
There are 3 important components of an air conditioner. These are:
- Evaporator – Cools the internal air with the help of liquid refrigerant. It is an indoor component
- Compressor – A pump that applies pressure on the refrigerant and further heated up
- Condenser – Acts as a heat transfer unit. It is an outdoor unit and expels the heat to the outside. The gas condenses to liquid and circulates back in to collect more heat
These are the main components of any air conditioner, though there are other parts such as fans, thermostat, air filter etc. Split AC’s are the most popular and we would be discussing them mainly. Window AC units were more popular earlier and used relatively less these days. Centralized ACs are commonly found in commercial buildings. We will not discuss Window ac and centralized ac here.
Evolution of refrigerant gas
The refrigerant gas has evolved over time as ozone depletion has been a major topic. First we started off with chlorofluorcarbons or CFCs. Then we moved on to Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). Freon or R-22 is the most common HCFC, gas widely used both in ACs and refrigerators. However, in an effort to reduce environmental impacts, a newer and less polluting gas, named R-410A is gaining momentum these days. In fact, when you do the research, look out for this term Puron or R-410. They both mean the same. It belongs to Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) class. They do not cause ozone depletion.
In fact, when you buy ac for your home, make sure it uses R-410A gas. R22 will be phased out in few years and you may not get adequate after-sales support in few years. Moreover, they are relatively more environmental friendly. I am sure, pretty soon they will come up with more environment friendly gas, but until then R-410A should serve the purpose.
What is inverter technology?
In traditional air conditioner, the compressor is either in off or on state. When it is on, it operates at full capacity and as a result consumes more power. When the thermostat reaches the desired temperature, then the compressor shuts off but the fan continues to operate. However, in an inverter air conditioner, the compressor is always on. However, consumes power depending on the temperature. In effect, it uses variable compressor speed.
Does inverter ac reduce power consumption?
Definitely, yes. In fact, that is the main selling point of an inverter air conditioner. Since, it uses variable speed compressor, it draws the required amount of power. The energy savings are said to be ~30% or more depending on the city you live in. For more details on inverter technology and how much power can be saved, do read the detailed explanation provided here.
Is stabilizer needed for inverter air conditioner?
The obvious answer would be yes, as India is well known for voltage fluctuation. I am sure you have horror stories of how appliances in home conk off due to voltage fluctuation. I have also experienced this with my washing machine. Inverter air conditioner comes with an inbuilt stabilizer and generally your salesman will recommend not purchasing a voltage stabilizer.
In fact, when I purchased my first inverter ac few years ago, the salesman convinced me not to buy one. He said even a double booster stabilizer may not help much. He said a triple booster stabilizer might help and it is quite expensive. So I took the risk of not buying one. However, if your area suffers from voltage fluctuations regularly, go ahead and buy a stabilizer. My salesman was practical and did not try to sell the stabilizer. I told him jokingly, if anything happens I shall come back to you. He said, sure even if it is outside warranty, you can come back. Wow, that was some confidence.
Pro-tips for ac maintenance:
- Learn how to clean the air filter. This one tip will save you some money from service charges. Some companies do provide 1st year free service. But do not expect them to come regularly and service your ac. You have to call and remind them. I figured out it is easier to do it myself. It is very simple and takes only few minutes. Check this video to see how to clean the air filter.
- Note: If you are allergic to dust, do not do this yourself. Get a ac mechanic or someone from your home to do it. Even I am allergic to dust, but since I clean the filter every month, not much dust accumulates.
- Water leakage: As your ac gets older, sometimes you will find water leakage from the indoor unit. This is mostly due to accumulation of dust in the indoor cooling unit. It is highly recommended that you call an ac mechanic to clean it thoroughly. Also ensure the outdoor unit is cleaned ny him.
- Sometimes, the entire coil might have to be replaced. Again this typically happens when the ac gets older. If it is copper coil, it could cost upwards of Rs 5K. If it is old ac, there is nothing much you can do other than replacing the coil. I had to replace both interior and exterior coil within a span of few months. This is where an AMC helps.
- If you plan to take AMC, it is better to take just before the warranty is about to expire. Moreover, it would be ideal if you can get an AMC for 2 or 3 years. This is because, it will be difficult to get an AMC after 5 years.