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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Are portable AC units worth buying in India?

We know Split A/C and Window A/C systems. While they are popular and efficient, they do have some disadvantages. Very recently I learnt about the availability of Portable AC Units (sometimes referred to as Tower AC also). I was curious to find out if they are worth buying. This post details my findings.

Below is a quick comparison of conventional Air conditioning (Window/Split) vs portable air conditioning units.
Window/Split AC
Advantages
Disadvantages
1 More powerful 

2 More models and options available
 1 Can't be moved. Needs one per room minimum- for small families with one or two people, who spend few hours in living room and few more in bed room, two AC means double the expense, without full usage.

2 Needs installation effort
Not convenient in rented houses or those who need to keep moving cities frequently
Portable AC
Advantages
Disadvantages
1 Movable units- easy to change direction or move around on need basis
2 No installation expenses
3 Serves the purpose of cooling a bit to some extent

 1 Can't cool medium/big rooms. Portable A/Cs are efficient only in small rooms- around 10ft by 10ft.
2 Not truely portable. They have a big hot air duct that needs to be connected to window
3 No Resale value
4. Major Consumer goods brands like LG, Samsung etc are not offering portable AC. Only few lesser known brands.
5. Star ratings not available as in conventional ones. Power consumption could be higher
When I tried investigating a bit more about Portable Air conditioning systems, AMFAH brand came up prominently on the net. AMFAH has a video demo on youtube explaining how their portable AC works. But we can't ascertain cooling power in the video- that has to be felt in person. So I went to their office in Egmore, Chennai to check it out in person. Below are some pics and first hand observation notes from my visit.

AMFAH 1 ton portable AC costs about INR 35000. It comes with 3 year warranty for compressor and 1 year for whole unit. Min temperature setting possible was 18 degree C, not 16 as in many conventional ACs. As I went inside, the staff opened a new unit, connected it to power socket and switched it on. Cool air started coming out of it, but unless I keep my arm closer to the vent, I couldn't feel it. Of course we were in a room too big for the capabilities of this AC. In small rooms it could be more effective. Compressor needs 3 minutes to turn on- I am told.
The important thing to note is the hot air exhaust duct. This portable AC unit doesn't release water out, but it needs a way to expel hot air. That is facilitated by a plastic flexible duct pipe as you see in the picture. We need to connect this end to an window outlet. This means the unit needs to be kept within about 1 meter from the window, unless you can plan some extension to this pipe.

Connecting this pipe to window is tricky. There is an apparatus provided in the box, which helps fix the pipe to the window. But this apparatus is meant for sliding type windows, which are common in western countries. In India most windows open in a flip style, where this apparatus will not be of much use. (watch online demo to understand this better)
Surprisingly, popular AC makers like LG, Samsung etc are not selling portable ACs in India. (LG sells portable ACs in USA). Either they realize that portable ACs can't be effective in India and selling them could prove to be counter productive as customers realize their limitations, OR they feel portable ACs may cannibalize their main business- window and split ACs.

There seems to be no resale market for portable ACs either. Sites like OLX have near zero listing of Portable ACs- few existing listings seem to be from recent buyers who've realized the limitation of portable AC after buying it and want to get rid of it.

Apart from AMFAH, Llyod seem to be another brand selling portable ACs in India. Lloyd's model is cheaper by 10k compared to AMFAH, with similar specs. Snapdeal had this product listed for about 25k. The user reviews are mixed- few suggesting it is total waste of money, while few saying it is fine for small rooms. Another lesser known site is selling the same for 2k less- Check this 

Conclusion: Portable AC is not a replacement for window/split AC. Where possible one should go for these conventional Air conditioning units.

Portable ACs may work for small rooms and can be considered when there're some challenges to buying/installing conventional AC units.

What do you think?

Update: This pot has been one of the most read posts on my blog in recent times.

43 comments :

Destination Infinity said...

I guess this maybe worth at 25k, but I am not sure if I'd want to take a risk with brands I've not heard about. Besides, one needs to check how much time it takes to cool the room - it it's too long, then it may not be an attractive option. I like the concept, though. There are energy efficient air conditioners rated at 450W, etc. that consume very less power compared to normal ACs, but they are not easily available, at least not from the bigger brands.

I was thinking about an air cooler and dehumidifier, but in India, there are surprisingly less options for effective cooling.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Rajesh for your insights

Anonymous said...

Excellent Review

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks

Ravi Gupta said...

Is there separate 15 AMP socket (Used for Microwave) required for portable A/C ?

Anonymous said...

some one reply to Ravis question

Shrinidhi Hande said...

I know it is 3PIN, but doesn't know about 15AMP.. You can call them and find out

Anonymous said...

Good Review, Appreciate your efforts towards collecting and sharing the info.

AP said...

Nicely written informative post. This had been useful in evaluating whether or not to purchase a portable air conditioner.

AP said...

A well written crisp article, has been useful to me in deciding whether or not to but a tower ac . Thanks!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks AP and Anon

sophie said...

V useful review

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Sophie

arun kumar said...

Very helpful

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Arun

Dinesh Jadav said...

shrinidhi
Good review..nice information..tower type air conditioner is common at outside India by samsung ,LG all major brands with very good air conditioning functionality.however too costly.
Still in india split or window is best option
Dinesh

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Dinesh. I bought a split AC recently

Nasar ulhuq said...

Thanks for the great points.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Nasar

Anonymous said...

Really informative article.I saw llyod offering 1 ton portable ac at paytm..it has eer of 2.6w/w. And my requirement is 10x12 ft..shall i go for it.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

I think portable is still bad idea, unless you can't afford or use a split, I suggest not to opt for it.

Satpal Kundu said...

Portable A/c is useful only for places where one needs it for just few hrs ..it's easy to install for sliding Windows/doors and can be very easily shifted between two rooms ... It seems purpose is altogether different than usual a/c...I have seen them being used ... One can very easily shift between different room as per need...

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Satpal - Thanks for your comments.

Commodore EG Govindan said...

Extremely glad to go through the review. I am not going for portable.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Fine Sir. Thanks for the kind words

Anonymous said...

It costs around 300 dollars from a major brand like LG in the us ... If market is open at this price in India .. It will kill the split AC market and so its all business strategy .... ... U have to have split AC ... As the price is way too high for a portable AC ..

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks

Vilas Gurav said...

Thanks very good information

Aubs said...

Excellent review. Thank you v much.

samuelbaroi said...

I once saw a Lloyd's portable AC in Harmony, Park St, Kolkata with price tag of RS23000 as I remember. But very doubtful about its efficiency.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Samuel- It is not suitable for a normal Indian room

@Aubs and Vilas: Happy you found my post useful.

Anonymous said...

Extremely helpful & thnx for the detailed review as it saved my so much of time.

Neha Rai said...

Like so many others have commented..."this blog has been extremely helpful and appreciate the detailed information" on portable ACs in India. Thank you

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Neha, Anon

Neetu Arora said...

Thank you, the post was just the information I needed. Extremely helpful.

Rohit Nalawade said...

Thanks for your review Shirindhi...really helpful for someone looking for an alternative to the conventional AC

Shrinidhi Hande said...

You're welcome Rohit and Neetu

Anonymous said...

Recently croma is selling a portable ac. Can you review the same. Info given by you was quite good.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Will try if time and situation permits

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review, very useful information.
I Recently went to Croma and noticed the portable A/C apart from the two brands mentioned, there is another brand called Super General, the sales person mentioning that this is part of O General group.

Priced at 37K.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Anon- thanks for the additional input

Anonymous said...

I was looking for such a detailed I NFO about portable acs thankfully I found this.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

You're welcome