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The worst reverse-cycle air conditioners for heating your home

These models rated lowest for heating efficiency in our review.

worst air conditioner for heating generic
Last updated: 24 June 2020

Reverse-cycle air conditioning is actually a very cost-effective way to heat your home, and can be surprisingly cheaper to run than even a gas or electric heater.

Of course the upfront costs of air con are much bigger, which can make choosing and buying the right unit stressful. Plus, once it's installed, you can't exchange it. 

To help make choosing easier, our air conditioning experts review about 200 models each year, covering all the major brands on the market, including leading brands such as Daikin, Mitsubishi Electric, Fujitsu, LG and more. 

In our most recent air conditioning reviews, we encountered some excellent units and some poor performers when it comes to heating. Here are the five worst to avoid.

reverse cycle air conditioner two women

The air conditioners that rated lowest 

If you're dreaming of a toasty warm home this winter, these models might leave you a bit cold. Interestingly, the same brands also produced some of our review's top scorers – a result we often see across product reviews. 

"The brands in this list aren't bad brands," says CHOICE's air conditioning expert Chris Barnes.

"It just goes to show that even a good brand can sometimes make some pretty ordinary products. In some cases these air conditioners are older models that may be overdue to be phased out or replaced with more efficient lines."

Even a good brand can sometimes make some pretty ordinary products

Chris Barnes, CHOICE air conditioning expert

We've focused on small size air conditioners (up to 4kW) here as they're the most popular type in Australia. If you're after medium and large ones, check out our full reviews. (Just note: it's unfair to compare large against small units – they aren't as energy efficient, but they can heat a much bigger space.)

Of course, heating is just one criteria for a great air conditioner. Our reviews also assess cooling efficiency, airflow, noise, key features and more. 

The worst air conditioners for heating your home

1. Daikin FVXG35K2V1B

  • Heating efficiency score: 40%
  • Rated heating capacity: 4.5kW*
  • Price: $2639
  • Approx. yearly running cost: $485

*This is the heating output of the air conditioner. A unit with a higher heating capacity can generally heat a larger space. 

Read the full Daikin FVXG35K2V1B review.

2. Haier AS35TB4HRA / 1U35MA4ERA

  • Heating efficiency score: 40%
  • Rated heating capacity: 3.8kW
  • Price: $702
  • Approx. yearly running cost: $482

Read the full Haier AS35TB4HRA / 1U35MA4ERA review.

3. Haier AS26TB4HRA / 1U26MA4ERA

  • Heating efficiency score: 41%
  • Rated heating capacity: 2.9kW
  • Price: $641
  • Approx. yearly running cost: $482

Read the full Haier AS26TB4HRA / 1U26MA4ERA review

4. Braemar BSHV25D1S

  • Heating efficiency score: 43%
  • Rated heating capacity: 2.8kW
  • Price: $1100
  • Approx. yearly running cost: $472

Read the full Braemar BSHV25D1S review

5. Daikin FVXS35RV1A

  • Heating efficiency score: 44%
  • Rated heating capacity: 4.5kW
  • Price: $2199
  • Approx. yearly running cost: $475

Read the full Daikin FVXS35RV1A review.

person installing ceiling insulation

Top tips for before you buy a reverse-cycle air conditioner

Insulate your home

Make sure your home is insulated – particularly the ceiling. This will help keep your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer, with or without air conditioning. 

Do your research

Before you buy, check out our expert air conditioner reviews and check the heating stars on the rating label – the more stars the better. 

And make sure the unit is suitable for where you live. A home in Tasmania is going to have different heating requirements to a home in Perth, so find out how the unit will perform in your region. 

"The new zoned star-rating label now being rolled out gives more information about how the air conditioner performs in different parts of Australia and New Zealand, so you can pick a model to suit the region you live in," says CHOICE's air conditioning expert Chris Barnes.

Buy the right capacity

It's important to find the right size air conditioner for the space you need to heat and cool. Don't be tempted to undersize to save on the upfront cost, or to go for the biggest available unit in the hope that it will work better – they're both false economies.

"As alway, try to size the air conditioner's heating capacity correctly for the room where it will be installed," says Chris. 

"Models that are too powerful or too underpowered won't run as effectively or efficiently." 

Here's how to find the right size air conditioner for your needs

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