Canstar Blue’s 2020 air conditioner review has seen brands including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kelvinator, Panasonic, Mitsubishi Electric, Fujitsu General, LG, Daikin, Samsung and Braemar compared on reliability, functionality & features, noise, ease of use, value for money and overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Most Aussie families either have an air conditioner in their home, or just wish they had one. When you live in a hot weather climate like we do, air conditioning simply becomes a part of life, and preparation is key to your cooling needs. Whether you’re at the start of your air con search, or just looking for the final nod of approval for a particular brand, you’re in safe hands here.
To help you keep a cool head, Canstar Blue asked more than 1,000 Aussies for their feedback on the air conditioner they purchased and installed in the last three years. Brands were rated on functionality and features, noise, ease of use, reliability, value for money and overall satisfaction. Those which received the minimum survey sample size of 30 responses are featured below.
Canstar Blue’s annual air con review and ratings have been helping Aussies pick the best air conditioner for their needs since 2011. With the real-world experiences of hundreds of households behind them, our ratings provide a helpful guide to which brands are keeping their cool when times get hot. No two air conditioners are the same, but choosing the right brand gives you the best chance of bagging a good bargain. It’s worth mentioning that our ratings incorporate all types of installed air conditioners – split system (including reverse cycle), window and central/ducted, while portable air conditioners are covered here.
So, which air conditioner brand do Aussies rate best in 2020? Mitsubishi Heavy Industries continues to chill in the number one spot, after rating best for overall customer satisfaction as well as functionality and features, noise while operating, ease of use and reliability.
Here are the best air conditioners in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s latest review:
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was rated best for air conditioners for the second year in a row, being the only brand to achieve a five-star rating for overall satisfaction. Most air conditioner manufacturers landed on a respectable four stars overall, with Braemar rounding up the scores on a solid three stars.
It’s worth mentioning that this year’s champion wasn’t the only one to impress Australians. Kelvinator edged out Mitsubishi Heavy Industries when it came to value for money, receiving the only five-star rating given for the category. Kelvinator similarly got full marks for functionality and features, along with Mitsubishi Electric which also earned five stars for noise.
For further guidance on which air conditioner might be the best fit for your home – and details on what to look for when buying a new one – read on as we review what each brand currently offers. We’ll also look at some other notable brands not included in our 2020 ratings.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is a relatively premium brand that packs a punch with some powerful split system units to keep you cool in the summer months. Expect big cooling capacities from 1.7kW to 9.5kW, but also premium price tags, up to and over $2,000. Some common features include an ‘Allergen Clear’ system to capture and eliminate allergens, Wi-Fi connectivity for convenience and an automatic mode for precise temperature control.
The Avanti PLUS series is its platinum series of split systems. The 2kW unit is boasted for a seven-star “Super Efficiency” rating, being equipped with energy saving motion sensors and eco-operation technology. However, other models deliver 2.5-star energy efficiency ratings and are noted to be ideal for smaller apartments and home offices. For larger spaces, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries sells ducted air conditioning systems which provide up to 20kW worth of power. So, it’s pretty safe to say the manufacturer covers everything.
Here are a few Mitsubishi Heavy Industries air conditioners currently available:
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries rated best in most categories, including functionality & features, noise while operating, ease of use, reliability and overall satisfaction. The only exception was value for money, where it achieved four stars.
Part of the Electrolux Group, Kelvinator is one of the most budget friendly air conditioner brands in the market. The manufacturer sells a mix of split system and window/wall air conditioners, available in power capacities ranging between 1.6kW and 8kW. Most Kelvinator air conditioners fall under $1,000, with prices starting from $509 for a 1.6kW window box air conditioner and reaching up to $1,559 for a more powerful 6kW window box reverse cycle unit for a 7.1kW split system model.
Features are relatively modest across the range and include programs like multiple speed settings, 24-hour timer and sleep mode. One standout function is the dust filter, which removes dust and other large airborne particles. Certain models are also claimed to be corrosion-resistant, ensuring the air conditioner continues to perform well over time as well as longevity. Many Kelvinator split system air conditioners additionally provide concealed digital displays, HEPA filters and LCD remotes.
Most Kelvinator air conditioners come with a two-star energy efficiency, with prices starting from around $500 and reaching closer towards $1,560. Here are a few models currently available:
Kelvinator earned five-star reviews for value for money and functionality & features. It got three stars for noise while operating, but ultimately ended on four stars for overall satisfaction and everywhere else.
Well-known for quality home electronics, Panasonic offers a wide range of wall mounted split system air conditioners, ducted air conditioners, inverter multi split models, cassette and under ceiling air conditioners. Majority of the brand’s cooling range include models from the AERO Series. These are available in 2.5kW, 3.5kW, 5.2kW, 6kW, 7.1kW and 8kW capacities.
Each AERO model contains nanoe air purifiers, which are said to clean the air inside the home and limit the growth of bacteria, viruses and allergens. The built-in function is also claimed to deodorise the space and get rid of bad smells. Many Panasonic air conditioners also come with an inverter to supposedly help lower energy consumption by adjusting the compressor’s rotation speed, based on the room temperature. There are various levels of filtering, deodorising and dehumidifying across Panasonic’s air conditioner line.
Panasonic’s air conditioners start at a slightly higher price point than many other major brands – just over $1,000 – and top-of-the-range models can set you back closer towards the $4,000 mark.
Here are a few models currently available from Panasonic:
Panasonic scored a solid four stars across the board, such as for functionality and features, reliability, value for money and overall satisfaction.
Not to be confused with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, this is another brand carrying the Mitsubishi name. Covering both domestic and commercial sides of the Australian market, across its wall-mounted, ducted, console split, bulkhead, ceiling mounted and multi-head systems, Mitsubishi Electric is a one-stop shop for a variety of air conditioners. If you’re bored of the traditional white finish, some models come in a black or silver design for something different. Wide and long airflow patterns from specifically designed horizontal vanes help push air further into the room. The Mitsubishi Electric wall-mounted range offers both ‘premium’ inverter and standard ‘classic’ single speed compressor versions.
Common features include Blue Fin Condenser, Econo Cool, night mode, i-Save mode, long operation and emergency operation. If you’re looking to get more control over your energy consumption, certain models are Demand Response Enabling Devices (DRED) compatible.
Mitsubishi Electric air conditioners have a high-end price tag, with costs starting at the mid-$1,000 mark and reaching beyond $4,000.
Here are a few air conditioners from the Mitsubishi Electric range:
Mitsubishi Electric earned five-star reviews for functionality & features and noise while operating. It achieved four stars in the remaining areas, including reliability, value for money and overall satisfaction.
Fujitsu General produces almost every kind of air conditioning unit that you could want, including wall-mounted, multi type system, ducted, cassette, ceiling and floor. Within its offering for the most popular type (wall-mounted), there are three ranges to choose from – Classic, Lifestyle and Designer. In each, a choice of reverse cycle or cooling-only options means that you can save the money you’d otherwise be paying for nothing if you don’t want the heating program. Fujitsu, like most brands, has offerings priced under a grand, as well as pricier units costing over $4,000.
The Classic range is apparently designed to be quick, efficient and easy to use. The Lifestyle range is Fujitsu’s most energy-efficient, with some models nabbing a five-star energy rating, while coming in a stylish, standardised style, so the whole home matches. The Designer sits at the higher end of the range, with a sleek, modern finish and extra features. Across the three ranges, many models include a ‘human sensor control’, which automatically turns the air conditioner off if there’s no detected movement for 20 minutes. When someone re-enters the room, the sensor picks up the movement and switches the air conditioner back on. No more accidentally leaving the air con on all day when you rush out the door! Additionally, some models feature a built-in wireless LAN interface, allowing you to remotely control the air con.
Some models from the Fujitsu air conditioning range include:
Fujitsu General maintained a consistent four-star score across the board, including for reliability, value for money and overall satisfaction.
Claiming to provide a wider operation range than regular air conditioners, LG offers several wall-mounted, split system, ducted and multi split systems to choose from. All are reverse cycle and include the ‘Active Energy Control’ feature, which allows users to set a cap on the unit’s energy consumption to improve efficiency. LG air conditioners also offer four-way air control – both vertical and horizontal air flow adjustments. Wi-Fi Smart Control is available with compatible models as an optional add-on.
Features to look out for in particular models include a sleep mode with ultra-low operating sound (19dbA), outdoor quiet mode – to reduce noise from the exterior unit – and multiple kinds of filtration and auto-cleaning systems. LG’s units can be found for around $1,000, with price points reaching over $3,000.
A few air conditioners from the range include:
LG achieved four stars for reliability, value for money and overall satisfaction. It scored three stars everywhere else.
Across the Daikin air conditioning range there is an even spread of wall-mounted split system, multi spit system, and ducted air con models. Within the split system line up, the six different models offer more choice than first meets the eye, as each system comes in a few different varieties with varying features, including a choice of reverse cycle and cooling only, or add-on Wi-Fi capability. Notably, the US7 has an astonishing seven-star ‘Super Efficiency’ energy rating, while all Daikin air purifiers and split systems are approved by the National Asthma Council Australia and labelled as a ‘Sensitive Choice’.
In addition to the traditional wall-mounted design that sits near the ceiling, a version that’s more accessible can be mounted down near the floor. A Daikin split system air conditioner can come in at under a grand or cost nearly $5,000, depending on how many features your budget can accommodate.
Several models from Daikin include:
Daikin rated four stars for reliability, functionality & features and overall satisfaction. It got three star in the remaining categories.
With a focus more on ducted and commercial-grade air conditioning, Samsung now provides only a few domestic air conditioners with cooling capacities of between 2.5kW and 8kW. These feature turbo mode for maximum speeds to reach the set temperature quickly, and an auto mode that selects the required operating mode (heat or cool) to reach and maintain the set temperature fast, you can expect reliable temperature control from your Samsung air conditioner. In addition, there’s a Good Sleep Mode stated to automatically adjust air flow direction and fan speed for a comfortable sleep.
Energy efficiency ratings are fairly standard, with most being rated two stars. The range also includes a Fan Mode to help circulate the air around the room without using the cooling functions. The Auto Clean feature will automatically keep the fan running on low speed for a while after the unit is switched off, to dry off the heat exchanger and prevent bacteria growth.
Here are some models from the Samsung range:
Samsung had a mix of scores, but ultimately landed on four stars for reliability, value for money and overall satisfaction. It also got three stars everywhere else.
Braemar sells a variety of air conditioners, including split system units, multi-split system models, ducted and evaporative air conditioners.
All of its air conditioning systems are Demand Response Enabling Devices (DRED). This essentially helps you use less electricity by allowing your electricity supply authority to restrict the amount of power you get at certain times, such as during extreme weather conditions or peak times in the day. Braemar’s line of split system air conditioners additionally features DC inverter technology, which is said to maximise efficiency by regulating the voltage, current and frequency of the appliance. Inverter models are also claimed to reduce temperature fluctuations, lower running costs and operate more quietly compared to outside the home. Since April 2020, all new models now include a New Zoned Energy Rating Label (ZERL). Each Braemar model is generally available in several capacities.
Some of the different series include:
Braemar achieved three-star reviews in all areas, including for reliability, functionality & features, value for money and overall satisfaction.
While the following brands did not receive the minimum sample size required to be included in our 2020 review, they may still be worth considering.
Finding the right air conditioner can be a difficult task if you don’t know what’s important. Our survey found that price and energy efficiency were the two most important factors of consideration for consumers buying an air con. Here are some stats.
One of the first steps to finding the right air conditioner for your home is measuring the size of the space you wish to cool. To do so, multiply the length of the room by the width. Ceiling height may also be considered if you have particularly high ceiling. Typically, you need a minimum of 1 to 1.5kW of cooling capacity per 10m² of space that needs to be cooled. As a general guide use the following chart:
According to our survey, energy efficiency (33%) is the second biggest deciding factor for consumers picking a new air conditioner. One in three (35%) respondents have an air conditioner with three or four stars, while slightly fewer own a more energy efficient model with five or six stars (27%). On the other hand, just 2% purchased a low efficient model with two stars or less. Although a chunky 34% of those surveyed admitted to having no idea how many stars their air conditioner had.
Typically, the higher the energy star rating, the higher the upfront cost. But it can help you reap the rewards later in the form of lower electricity bills.
In April 2020, the energy-efficiency labels on air conditioners changed to more accurately determine how much households can expect their units to cost them. The rules set minimum energy performance standards and labelling requirements for air conditioners of up to 65kW in capacity – so pretty much any size unit you are likely to find in a normal home. This applies to single and double duct portable air conditioners, double duct portable reverse cycle evaporative coolers and ducted air conditioning. Portable air conditioners have previously been exempt from regulations around the use of energy ratings labels. The previous rating method did not take into account the impact that climate has on performance and use of air con.
The new ‘Zoned Energy Rating Label’ includes information on the energy-efficiency and annual electricity usage of that air conditioner across three climate zones – hot, average and cold – instead of just one. It also takes into account the noise level produced by the unit when operating under full load.
When it comes to keeping cool, it’s not just about finding the cheapest air conditioner, but one offering the best value and taking into account air con installation costs. Do you want an air conditioner that simply blasts cool air at you, or do you want one that provides a bit more in the way of features, energy-efficiency and usability? While it might mean paying a higher price, you can be certain that you’re spending it on additional benefits, which can save you in the long run in terms of your electricity bills.
Our survey revealed Australians spend an average of $2,163 on new air conditioners, replacing a previous model that lasted nearly nine years on average. So, buying an air conditioner is probably best thought of as an investment – an investment in your home… and your comfort. With that in mind, it pays to do your research.
While appearance doesn’t seem to be an important factor for many – only 3% said it was an important factor for them in our survey – you might still look out for specific styles that suit your home. There are several brands that tap into the black appliance trend such as Mitsubishi Electric, while others also have silver finishes if white is too ‘ordinary’ for you. Additionally, brands like Daikin feature curved front panels for a stylish and elegant design.
Brands are constantly boasting about including a variety of smart features. A popular example is Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows you to control your air conditioner via a smartphone, tablet, online or as part of a home automation system. While this might not be necessarily high on the priority list, it certainly adds to the convenience of having the appliance, especially if you can remotely turn on your air con on your way home from work.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kelvinator and Panasonic have placed as the top three brands in our latest air conditioner review and are seen to deliver on the functionality and reliability many consumers expect. Fujitsu General has also been a fairly consistent performer over the years. But despite the scores, it’s still important to compare a wide range of brands and models before settling on a cooling system.
Air conditioning capacity and energy-efficiency are perhaps the most important factors to keep in mind when comparing models. Ultimately, there is no point buying a system that is too large, or too small, for your property’s requirements.
These are factors that will also have an impact on your ongoing energy costs. With power prices so high, energy consumption has never been more important. Buying a highly efficient model will likely cost you more up front, but it should save you money in the long run. You’re also likely to get an all-round superior model if you’re willing – and able – to spend a bit extra.
When it comes to air conditioners, you typically get what you pay for. With that in mind, we hope our 2020 review has proved helpful in your air con search.
*Prices taken from respective retailers, Appliances Online and The Good Guys, correct as of August 2020.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
Picture credits: Archideaphoto/Shutterstock.com, LightField Studios/Shutterstock, New Africa/Shutterstock.com
Our latest customer satisfaction research based on a survey of 1,071 air conditioner users saw a number of brands rated best in different categories:
Canstar Blue surveyed 6,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and installed an air conditioner in the last three years (this includes split system air conditioners, window air conditioners and central/ducted air conditioners, not portable air conditioners) – in this case, 1,071 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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See our Ratings Methodology.
*Product availability and price range are current as of the stated date, may be subject to change.
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