2017 Air Conditioners
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Canstar Blue reviews and rates air conditioners from Daikin, Fujitsu General, LG, Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic and Samsung on factors including reliability, functionality, noise levels, ease of use, value for money and overall customer satisfaction.
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Canstar Blue research finalised in May 2017, published in May 2017.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Panasonic: The cool kid on the block
There are two types of households in Australia – those that have an air conditioner, and those that wish they do. Air conditioning is a part of life when you live in a hot weather climate, and preparation is the 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.
Since 2011, Canstar Blue’s annual review and ratings have been helping Aussies pick the best air conditioner for their needs. Ratings brands on factors including reliability, functionality, ease of use 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, high-level 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.
When it comes to keeping cool, it’s not just about finding a cheap air conditioner, but finding the best value. Do you want an air conditioner that simply blasts cool air at you, or do you want one that offers a bit more in the way of features, energy-efficiency and usability?
Top air conditioners in Australia
For the second year in a row, Panasonic has blown away the competition to top our ratings with five stars for overall satisfaction. It also rated five stars with regards to reliability, functionality, ease of use, noise levels and value for money. It’s the second year in a row that Panasonic has emerged victorious in our customer reviews, suggesting that it’s a trusted brand with plenty going for it. It’s certainly one of the more tech-focussed air conditioning brands out there, with some impressive features that make air conditioning a little more fun. We’ll review each brand in detail shortly, but first, here are the key findings from our 2017 survey:
- Australians who have bought and installed a new split system air conditioner in the last three years spent an average of about $1,800. Those who installed ducted air con spent an average of close to $5,000.
- Old split system air conditioners were replaced after an average of just over 8 years
- Energy efficiency (45%) was the biggest deciding factor for consumers picking their new air conditioner, marginally ahead of price (44%)
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. Below is an overview of the six brands in this year’s review, plus several others worth a mention.
Panasonic air conditioners
Well-known for quality home electronics, Panasonic’s air conditioners are said to be designed to meet the same very high 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 that 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. Panasonic 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 its top of the line models. But Aussie consumers are sold on Panasonic, rating the brand five stars in almost every category in 2017.
Daikin air conditioners
Across the Daikin air conditioning range there are 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 7 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 up 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 four, depending on how many features your budget can accommodate. However, Daikin is generally considered to be a leading brand in the air con world, previously topping our customer ratings and this year earning a respectable four stars in most research categories, but only three in terms of value for money.
Other useful links:
- Air conditioning running costs
- A guide to cleaning your air conditioner
- How much does ducted air conditioning cost?
Fujitsu General air conditioners
Fujitsu General produces almost every kind of air conditioning unit 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. Within each, a choice of reverse cycle or cooling only options means you can save the money you’d otherwise be paying for nothing if you don’t want the heating program.
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 5 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! 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. A previous winner of our air conditioner ratings, Fujitsu was rated four stars overall in 2017, with three and four stars across the board.
Mitsubishi Electric air conditioners
Covering both domestic and commercial sides of the Australian market, across 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 finish 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 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 up to just under $3,000. Mitsubishi Electric was rated four stars in this year’s review, with a mixture of three and four stars across specific categories.
LG air conditioners
Claiming to provide a wider operation range than regular air conditioners, LG has 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 energy 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 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 units can be found for under $1,000, with price points reaching up to over $3,000. LG was rated three stars in every research category in 2017.
Samsung air conditioners
With a focus more on ducted and commercial-grade air conditioning, Samsung offers just one model of domestic wall-mounted air conditioner. With an 8kW cooling capacity, turbo mode for maximum speed to reach the set temperature quickly, and an auto mode that automatically selects the required operating mode (heat or cool) to reach and maintain the set temperature, you can expect reliable temperature control from your Samsung air conditioner. The Auto Clean feature will automatically keep the fan running on low speed for a bit after the air conditioner is switched off, to dry off the heat exchanger and prevent bacteria growth.
It’s not so strong on the energy efficiency front though, with a two star energy rating. However, it’s a Demand Response Enabled Device (DRED), which means that, depending on your energy provider, you can opt in to have power consumption limited during peak demand times in order to reduce strain on the network, while also potentially saving you money. Samsung rated three stars overall in 2017, with three stars in most other categories, too.
Other air conditioner brands
While the following brands did not receive the minimum sample size required to be included in our 2017 review, they may still be worth considering.
- Dimplex: Best known for its portable air conditioners and portable heaters, Dimplex is not to be overlooked when it comes to split system air conditioning systems. Promising quiet operation and dehumidifier functions, you can expect to pay a little over $1,000.
- Kelvinator: One of the most budget air conditioner brands, most of Kelvinator’s split system units can be had for less $1,000, with some as cheap as $600. As you would expect from their prices, features are relatively modest, but most models come with a 24 hour timer and auto restart.
- Midea: A specialist in the world of washing machines, Midea is also a mid-range brand of air conditioners. With prices ranging from as low as $800 to as high as $1,700, Midea covers all budgets and offers some useful features, such as turbo and sleep modes, plus a self-cleaning coil.
- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries: Not to be confused with Mitsubishi Electric, this is another brand carrying the Mitsubishi name. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is a relatively premium brand that packs a punch with some powerful split system units to keep you cool over the summer months. Expect big cooling capacities, but also fairly high prices, up to and over $2,000.
Our 2017 air conditioner ratings featured in a special 7 News report on appliances, which you can watch here.
Which air conditioner brand is best?
Panasonic has now topped our air conditioner customer ratings for two years in a row, which is a good sign that it’s delivering on the reliability, functionality, ease of use and value for money 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 continuing to rise, energy efficiency 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 2017 review has proved helpful in your air con search.
Frequently Asked Questions
Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. 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 – in this case, 554 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 alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.