Canstar Blue’s 2019 air conditioner review has seen Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kelvinator, Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic, Fujitsu General, Samsung, Daikin and LG rated on their reliability, functionality, ease of use, quietness, value for money and overall customer 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.
Canstar Blue’s annual air con review and ratings have been helping Aussies pick the best air conditioner for their needs since 2011. Rating brands on factors including functionality, ease of use, reliability, and value for money, we’ve taken the guesswork out of buying a new air conditioner. With the real-world experiences of hundreds of households behind them, our star 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 bargain. It’s worth mentioning that our ratings incorporate all types of installed air conditioners – split system (including reverse cycle), window and central/ducted. If you’re looking for guidance on portable air conditioners, head over here.
So which air conditioner brand do Aussies rate the best? In 2019, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has blown our socks off with a five-star performance for overall satisfaction, as well as functionality, reliability, and noise while operating. It earned four stars for ease of use and value for money.
Canstar Blue’s 2019 review of air conditioners saw eight brands compared and rated in the following order for overall customer satisfaction:
This year, Kelvinator, Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic and Fujitsu General all recorded four stars for overall satisfaction, while Samsung, Daikin and LG scored three stars overall.
Another result of note was Kelvinator being the only brand to score five stars on ease of use and value for money. Kelvinator was also rated best, along with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Panasonic, when it comes to their reliability. Samsung and Fujitsu General joined Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in recording five stars for functionality and quietness respectively. Brands must have received a minimum of 30 survey responses to be included in our final results.
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 2019 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 7-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. So the brand pretty much covers all bases.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries took out top spot in our 2019 air con ratings, with five-star reviews for overall satisfaction and most other areas except ease of use and value for money, where it got four stars.
Part of the Electrolux Group, Kelvinator is one of the most budget friendly air conditioner brands. It features both split system and window/wall air conditioners with numerous models on offer from 1.6kW to 8kW of power output. Most of Kelvinator’s split system units can be had for less than a $1,000, with some as cheap as $479. As you would expect from their prices, features are relatively modest, but most models come with a 24-hour timer and an auto restart. Many of the split system models also feature concealed dimmable digital displays, HEPA and ion filters, as well as LCD remotes.
You can expect energy-efficiency ratings of two stars for most of the window/wall air conditioners, but the split system models range from two to four stars. There are a few 2.5kW models, however, boasted for five-star energy-efficiency ratings, ideal for smaller rooms.
Kelvinator was rated best on value for money, reliability and ease of use, with four stars across all other research categories. That’s a fantastic result against the biggest brands in the game – and suggests you can bag a great unit without breaking the bank.
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 every kind of air conditioner. 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.
Different models offer focuses on different features, such as the MSZ-GE series which operates extremely quietly – as low as 19dBA. Wi-Fi control (available with compatible models) allows you to connect through your smartphone, tablet or computer, so there’s no more fumbling around for the remote. Some models are even potentially DRED compatible. The Catechin air cleaning filter is claimed to prevent the spread of any bacteria and viruses, as well as generally improving the air quality, while the Plasma Duo Filter System adds filters that remove odours. Mitsubishi Electric’s wall-mounted systems can be picked up for less than $1,000, with prices ranging to just under $4,500.
Mitsubishi Electric was rated four stars overall in this year’s review, as well as all other rated variables.
Well-known for quality home electronics, Panasonic’s air conditioners are said to be designed to meet the same standards. The range includes reverse cycle, cooling-only inverter, inverter multi split, ducted, cassette, and under ceiling air conditioners. In the wall-mounted category, consumers can choose from nearly 30 different models. Some include Panasonic’s ECONAVI feature, which detects human activity and sunlight to automatically adjust to reduce energy consumption. For example, it will reduce output if it detects you’re just sitting there reading or watching TV, as opposed to doing something more active, like exercising or cleaning. The Panasonic inverter design has variable rotation speed so that it can heat up or cool down a room faster during start-up, then slow down to maintain the set temperature.
Across the range are various levels of filtering, deodorising and dehumidifying features to explore for optimal air quality. But Panasonic’s air conditioners come with a slightly higher starting price than most other major brands – just over $1,000 – and you could pay in excess of $3,000 for the top of the line models.
Panasonic got five stars on reliability, with four stars in all other factors including overall satisfaction, functionality and ease of use.
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, but at the other end of the spectrum offers 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 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 built-in wireless LAN interface, allowing you to remotely control the air con.
Fujitsu General was rated four stars overall in 2019, with four stars across the board, except for noise while operating where it received five stars.
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 – sounds cool.
Samsung earned five stars on functionality, with four stars on ease of use, value for money and noise while operating. However, it was just three stars for overall satisfaction and reliability.
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 up to nearly five, depending on how many features your budget can accommodate.
Daikin received four stars on noise while operating, but only three stars in terms of overall customer satisfaction and all other rated factors.
Claiming to provide a wider operation range than regular air conditioners, LG offers six different 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 adjustment. 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.
LG was rated three stars in every research category in 2019, including overall satisfaction, except on value for money where it got four stars.
While the following brands did not receive the minimum sample size required to be included in our 2019 review, they may still be worth considering.
Finding the right air conditioner can be a difficult task if you don’t know what factors to consider. When we asked what aspects were most important in their decision of buying a new air conditioner, respondents to our latest survey indicated:
Other key findings from our 2019 survey included:
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 (44%) is the biggest deciding factor for consumers picking a new air conditioner, slightly ahead of the price (41%). It was found that a third of respondents (33%) have an air conditioner with three or four stars, while the more energy-efficient models – between five and six stars – are owned by about one in four (27%). Typically, the higher the energy star rating, the higher the upfront cost. However, it can help you reap the rewards later in the form of lower electricity bills.
From April 2020, the energy-efficiency labels on air conditioners are going to change, under new rules to more accurately determine how much households can expect their units to cost them. The new 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 existing rating method does not take into account the impact that climate has on performance and use of air con.
The principle change from the current requirements is the introduction of a ‘Zoned Energy Rating Label’ which 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 will also take 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. 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.
Australians who have bought and installed a new split system air conditioner during the last three years spent an average of over $2,100, our survey found. 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 one in 20 people (5%) 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.
Certain models are boasted for their smart features and more brands are getting on board with this. Functions such as Wi-Fi connectivity are becoming increasingly popular, allowing your air conditioner to be controlled via a smartphone, tablet, online or as part of a home automation system. While this might not be a key factor, it certainly adds to the convenience of having the appliance, especially if you can remotely turn on the appliance on your way home from work.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has now topped our air conditioner ratings, delivering on the functionality and reliability that Australian consumers expect. However, it’s important to compare a wide range of brands and models before settling on a product that’s right for your home.
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. What that in mind, we hope our 2019 review has proved helpful in your air con search.
Picture credits: archideaphoto/Shutterstock.com, LightField Studios/Shutterstock, New Africa/Shutterstock.com
Our latest customer satisfaction research saw a number of brands rated best in different categories:
Canstar Blue surveyed 3,000 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 3 years (this includes split system air conditioners, window air conditioners and central/ducted air conditioners, not portable air conditioners) – in this case, 532 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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