Canstar Blue’s 2021 air conditioner review has compared Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic, Fujitsu General, Samsung, LG and Daikin on reliability, functionality and features, noise while operating, ease of use, connectivity, value for money and overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Many 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. 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 900 Australians for their feedback on the air conditioner they purchased and installed in the last three years. Brands were rated on functionality and features, noise while operating, connectivity, ease of use, reliability, value for money and overall satisfaction. Manufacturers that 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 consumers rate best in 2021? Mitsubishi Heavy Industries continues to chill in the number one spot for three years running. It earned five-star reviews for reliability, functionality and features, ease of use, noise while operating, value for money and overall satisfaction.
Here are the best air conditioners in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s latest review:
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has blown Aussies away for another year, again rating best as the only brand to receive five stars for overall satisfaction. Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic and Fujitsu General chilled behind on four stars, followed by Samsung, LG and Daikin on three stars.
Samsung was the only manufacturer that managed to get an edge over the reigning champion, achieving full marks for connectivity. Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic and Fujitsu General also proved to be cool picks for reliability and ease of use, scoring five stars in both areas. Mitsubishi Electric additionally impressed on value for money as well as functionality and features, alongside Fujitsu General. Panasonic similarly earned a bonus five-star review for low noise levels.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is a relatively premium brand that packs a punch with some powerful wall-mounted split systems and multi-split systems 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. Some models additionally come with a self-clean function that dries the inside of the appliance as well as a filter to prevent mould.
The Avanti PLUS series is its platinum series of split systems. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has labelled the collection as having some of the most efficient split system air cons, boasting features such as an energy-saving motion sensor and eco mode. As with other air conditioners, the range is generally more efficient with smaller capacity units, such as the 2.5kW model which is said to have a six-star energy rating and noted to be ideal for smaller apartments and home offices. Although the 5kW Avanti Plus stills provides a decent 4.5-star energy rating. For larger spaces, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries sells ducted air conditioning systems which provide up to 28kW 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 clearly blew households away after receiving five-star reviews in six out of seven categories! These include reliability, functionality and features, ease of use, noise while operating, value for money and overall satisfaction. The only exception was connectivity, where it got four stars.
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, Mitsubishi Electric is a one-stop shop for wall-mounted, ducted, console split, bulkhead, ceiling mounted and multi-head air conditioning systems. If you’re bored of the traditional white finish, some models come in a black or silver design for something different. Many of the brand’s air conditioners feature horizontal vanes to supposedly create wide and long airflow patterns, helping push air further into the room.
Some common features include voice control, Google Assistant and Alexa compatibility, i-Save Mode to save preferred settings, Long Mode to distribute the air more evenly throughout the room, and a blue fin condenser to slow down the corrosion process on the heat exchanger of the outdoor unit. Certain Mitsubishi Electric air conditioners are also regarded as Demand Response Enabling Device (DRED) compatible, so the range may be worth looking into if you want to get more control over your energy consumption.
Mitsubishi Electric air conditioners have a high-end price tag, with costs starting at the mid-$1,000 mark and reaching beyond $4,700.
Here are a few air conditioners from the Mitsubishi Electric range:
Mitsubishi Electric was another popular pick, earning five-star reviews for reliability, functionality and features, ease of use and value for money. It achieved a respectable four stars everywhere else, including for overall satisfaction.
Well-known for quality home electronics, Panasonic offers a wide selection of products to suit single-room, multi-room and whole-house air conditioning. Different types of models includes wall-mounted split system air conditioners, ducted air conditioners, inverter and ceiling-mounted cassette 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 X technology, an air purification system developed by Panasonic and Sensitive Choice. It’s claimed to limit the growth of bacteria, viruses, allergens, mould and pollution as well as deodorise the space and get rid of bad smells. Panasonic air cons additionally contain an antibacterial filter to remove contaminants. Some other features include voice control, Wi-Fi control, blue fin technology for added corrosion resistance, and a design that supposedly ensures the air conditioning is still effective despite hot temperatures outside.
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 $3,300 mark.
Here are a few air conditioners currently available from Panasonic:
Panasonic scored five stars for reliability, noise and ease of use, before ending on four stars for value for money, overall satisfaction and everywhere else.
Fujitsu General produces different types of air cons, including wall-mounted, multi-type systems, ducted, cassette, ceiling and floor-standing models for single-room, multi-room and whole-house air conditioning. 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. The Classic range features All DC inverter technology to lower power consumption. Fujitsu air cons are also DRED compatible.
The Lifestyle range is apparently 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.
Similar to many other brands, prices generally start from the mid-$1,000 mark and reach up to $4,500.
Some models from the Fujitsu air conditioning range include:
Fujitsu General maintained five-star reviews for reliability, ease of use and functionality and features. It got three stars for connectivity, but bumped its score up to four stars for overall satisfaction and the remaining categories.
With a focus more on ducted and commercial-grade air conditioning, Samsung now provides only a few domestic reverse cycle split system air conditioners with cooling capacities of between 2.5kW and 8kW. These are said to contain a large fan unit and wide blade to minimise energy consumption and distribute cool air quickly. Common features include Good Sleep mode, which automatically adjusts fan speed and airflow, as well as a removable Easy Filter Plus to collect dust and an Auto Clean function to remove moisture inside the air con and prevent bacteria from growing. Other features include a 24-hour timer and DRED compatibility.
Samsung’s air conditioners have fairly standard energy efficiency ratings, although many are rated two stars. The most efficient air con is also the cheapest in the range, with the 2.5kW split system unit rating four stars when operating on either the cooling or heating mode.
Here are some air conditioners from the Samsung range:
Samsung proved to offer the best connectivity, achieving five stars. It also earned a respectable four stars for noise, before landing on three stars for reliability, value for money, overall satisfaction and in the remaining categories.
LG is another global leader in home appliances, offering several split system air conditioners, multi-split system air cons as well as cassette and ducted air conditioning systems for larger open areas. It’s worth noting that LG’s line-up includes reverse cycle models, so there’s something suitable for year-round comfort. You can expect to see a few efficient air cons, such as LG’s High Efficiency 2.5kW which has a six-star rating for both cooling and heating.
The Active Energy Control function, which you can manage through the LG ThinQ app, is also a standard feature across the brand’s collection and allows you 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 airflow 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 split system units can be found for around $1,200, with price points reaching over $3,400. LG air conditioners additionally have a generous 10-year warranty on compressor parts.
A few air conditioners from the LG air con range include:
LG was rated a respectable four stars for value for money, before landing on three stars for reliability, overall satisfaction and everywhere else.
Daikin offers a variety of wall-mounted split system air conditioners, multi-split air con models and ducted air conditioning units. Its split system range includes several collections, including Zena, Alira, Cora and Lite systems. These are generally available as reverse cycle units, although some offer cooling-only alternatives. Most series offer capacities between 2kW and 9.4kW, except for the Zena line which maxes out at 6kW.
If you’re on the market for an air conditioner that’s suitable for people with allergies or asthma, all Daikin split system air cons (except the Lite systems range) are approved by the National Asthma Council Australia as part of the Sensitive Choice program. Some models also contain a heat exchanger with a slit fin design, which the brand claims can help with energy performance and capacity output. You can also expect a large cross-flow fan that can produce more air but with minimal sound.
Daikin air con models include:
Daikin rounded up this year’s results on four stars for the majority of areas, including reliability, ease of use, noise and functionality & features. It got three stars for connectivity, value for money and overall satisfaction.
While the following brands did not receive the minimum sample size required to be included in our 2021 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’s what our respondents said impacted which model they bought:
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. This can help give you a better idea of the air con size unit (i.e. kilowatt capacity) you’ll need to look for when shopping to ensure that your new air conditioning system will be powerful enough to cool your whole house.
To do so, multiply the length of the room by the width. Ceiling height may also be considered if you have particularly high ceilings. Typically, you need a minimum of 1kW to 1.5kW of cooling capacity per 10m² of space that needs to be cooled. As a general guide use the following chart:
Air conditioners usually retail between $600 and $4,500, with window air con units being the cheapest installable option. When you’re sizing up rooms for the right air conditioner, you’ll want to make sure that you’re going to get value for money in terms of both purchase price and running costs. Keep in mind these costs include both portable air conditioners and wall-mounted air conditioning systems. Here’s a breakdown of how much an air con unit will cost on average, based on capacity size:
|Kilowatt Capacity||Average Price|
|2.5kW||$600 to $1,800|
|3.5kW||$650 to $1,900|
|5-6kW||$1,100 to $3,000|
|7-8kW||$1,600 to $4,000|
Source: Appliances Online, August 2021.
Canstar Blue’s latest research found that Australian households spend an average of $1,916 on new air conditioners, with the majority of people opting for a split system air conditioner. The survey also showed consumers kept the same model for an average of nine years before replacing it.
When it comes to keeping cool, it’s not just about finding the cheapest air conditioner, but one offering the best value. This takes into account upfront costs, installation costs and ongoing usage 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.
According to our survey, energy efficiency (32%) is the second biggest deciding factor for consumers picking a new air conditioner. A third of people surveyed (33%) have an air conditioner with three or four stars, while slightly fewer own a more energy-efficient model with five or six stars (29%). On the other hand, just 2% purchased a low-efficiency model with two stars or less. Although a chunky 32% 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 were previously 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 air con performance.
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.
While appearance doesn’t seem to be an important factor for many – only 9% 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.
Many brands now offer a variety of smart features on their air con models, including Wi-Fi connectivity. This lets you sync your smartphone or tablet to your air conditioner (and sometimes other home appliances) to change settings, monitor usage and troubleshoot problems remotely. While this might not necessarily be high on the priority list, it certainly adds to the convenience of having an air conditioner, especially if you can remotely turn on your air con on your way home from work.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Electric and Panasonic have placed as the top three brands in our latest air conditioner review and are seen to deliver on the functionality, reliability and value for money 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 in 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 upfront, 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 2021 review has proved helpful in your air con search.
*Prices are taken from respective retailers, Appliances Online and The Good Guys, correct as of August 2021.
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
There are plenty of retailers that sell air conditioners either in-store or online. These include:
Canstar Blue surveyed more than 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, 928 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.
Here are the previous winning brands of Canstar Blue’s air conditioner ratings:
Appliances - July 31st
Find out what size air conditioner you need for rooms in your home, and how much it will cost you.– Read more
Appliances - January 27th
If you’re looking to turn your house into a climate controlled paradise with a new air conditioner, here’s what you should look for!– Read more
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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