Air cons less cooling and costlier to run than makers say

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 June, 2006, 12:00am

Leading air-conditioner brands fail to meet makers' claims for energy efficiency and cooling capacity, according to the Consumer Council.

The watchdog tested 15 models bearing grade 1 labels for energy efficiency certified by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department. The department labels efficiency on a scale of one to three, with grade 1 the most efficient.

But analysis of test data showed four models, made by LG, Carrier, Fortress and Toshiba, did not meet the standards for grade 1 classification.

The most energy-efficient model tested was produced by Philco, and the least energy-efficient by Toshiba. Its model only conformed to the lowest standard, grade 3.

Assuming an air conditioner is used for 10 hours a day, 180 days a year. the difference in the cost of running the most efficient and least efficient models tested was 18 per cent, or $293.

'The amount of money might look tiny, but there is usually more than one air conditioner in a household. When all air conditioners are turned on, the amount of money involved will be quite considerable,' said Ching Pak-chung, vice-chairman of the council's publicity and community relations committee.

'To the consumers, this [grade 1 energy label] may appear to be of little assistance to them in making purchase decisions.'

Toshiba said the air conditioner used for the test could have had mechanical problems, and it had commissioned a recognised laboratory to conduct tests on a sample of the same model. Those tests showed the model met the grade 1 standard, Toshiba said.

The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department said it would investigate the suspect models and it had asked suppliers to retest performance and efficiency. A spokesman said noncompliance would result in suppliers being taken off the voluntary rating scheme.

The cooling capacity of all the models was also tested, and only two models, produced by General and Samsung, could deliver the cooling capacity claimed for them.

The capacity of the air conditioners tested range from 2.5kW to 2.64kW, which is considered suitable for cooling a bedroom or a living room. Carrier and Toshiba models fell more than 8 per cent short of the manufacturers' claimed cooling capacity.

The other 11 models sampled were also found to fall slightly short of the cooling capacity claimed by manufacturers, but were within the tolerance level of 5 per cent.