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Last updated: 20 October 2017

We review reverse-cycle split-system inverter air conditioners, ranging from small 2kW models suitable for a single bedroom, up to large 10kW models suitable for a large open-plan living area.

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It's essential to figure out the right size or capacity for your room. To pick the best models in the capacity you need, you can just pick a CHOICE Recommended model in that size. Or you can use the filters to select the best models based on:

  • Brand reliability the brands that rate well in our member surveys.
  • Running costs – the better the cooling and heating efficiency score, the lower the running cost.
  • Noise  for the indoor and outdoor units
  • Airflow – it's good to have a useful range of fan speeds, from quiet breeze to powerful blast.

While all the different sizes are included here, scores are not comparable between size groups. For example, it's unfair to expect the same level of efficiency from a large model as for a small one – larger models aren't as energy efficient, but they can cool or heat a much larger space.

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Brand

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List of brands we tested in this review.

Price

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The manufacturer's recommended retail price or the typical price we found in retail. You can often get a better price by shopping around, or CHOICE members can use CHOICE Shopper. You tell us the brand name and model number of the product you want to buy and a price you'd like to beat, and we'll try to find it for you.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 659 and 5519

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Size

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To help you narrow your search, we class air conditioners as small (up to 4kW cooling capacity), medium (4 to 6kW) and large (over 6kW). Scores are only comparable between models in the same size category, as it's not realistic to compare the efficiency of models with very different capacities.

Type

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High wall: the indoor unit is mounted high on a wall so its air flow can easily blow across the room. Floor-mounted: the indoor unit is at floor level, which may be better suit some rooms. Cassette: the indoor unit is mounted in the ceiling.Floor/ceiling: can be mounted in either the ceiling or the floor.

Rated cooling capacity (kW)

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The rated cooling output of the air conditioner in kilowatts. The higher the number, the greater its cooling capacity and (in theory) the bigger the space it can effectively cool.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 1.7 and 9.4

Rated heating capacity (kW)

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The rated heating output of the air conditioner in kilowatts. The higher the number, the greater its heating capacity and (in theory) the bigger the space it can effectively heat.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 2 and 10.5

Costs

Yearly running cost

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Calculated based on how much each model costs to deliver 3000kWh of full cooling and 3000kWh of heating per year at maximum capacity, with the remainder of the year in standby mode (based on electricity costs of 30 cents/kWh). Standby costs add only a few dollars per year, but it may still be a good idea to unplug your air conditioner (if possible) when it's not in use for long periods. While we've based our calculation on a reasonably typical usage, the annual running costs are only an indicative comparison. Your mileage will vary depending on your house, local climate, electricity price and how much you use the air conditioner.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Test results

Airflow score

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Based on the range of airflow on the lowest to highest fan speed settings. Ideally, air conditioners should have a gentle airflow on low settings and a powerful airflow on high. The wider the range of airflows, the better the score.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Cooling efficiency score

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Cooling and heating efficiency scores are based on the model's AEER (Annual Energy Efficiency Ratio) and ACOP (Annual Coefficient of Performance) – a measure of efficiency that factors in standby power consumption when the unit's not in use. Our scores are more precise than star ratings.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Heating efficiency score

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Cooling and heating efficiency scores are based on the model's AEER (Annual Energy Efficiency Ratio) and ACOP (Annual Coefficient of Performance) – a measure of efficiency that factors in standby power consumption when the unit's not in use. Our scores are more precise than star ratings.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Features

Human presence sensor (energy saving)

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This feature detects whether anyone's in the room so the unit keeps cooling (or heating) the room. Some models also direct the air movement towards the sensed person, to focus on that area of the room and not unnecessarily use energy to cool or heat other sections.

Demand Response feature (DRED)

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Demand Response Enabling Device (DRED), also known as PeakSmart. An air conditioner with this feature can be controlled remotely by participating energy companies in periods of peak electricity demand, to run in a power-saving mode. This reduces demand on the grid and should have little impact in your home. See our buying guide for more information. 

Sleep mode

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Sleep mode adjusts the air conditioner's output temperature and fan speed (usually in steps) so the temperature becomes more comfortable for sleeping and the air conditioner runs at lower power and more quietly.

Type

Type

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High wall: the indoor unit is mounted high on a wall so its air flow can easily blow across the room. Floor-mounted: the indoor unit is at floor level, which may be better suit some rooms. Cassette: the indoor unit is mounted in the ceiling.Floor/ceiling: can be mounted in either the ceiling or the floor.

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Status

Reliability

Brand reliability score

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Brand reliability is based on our 2016 member survey and shows the percentage of respondents owning that brand of air conditioner who reported no problems with it in the previous 12 months. "Not available" means we didn't get enough responses to score that particular brand.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 0

Specifications

Noise indoor (dB)

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Noise levels are supplied by the manufacturer. They're broadly comparative, but note that different manufacturers may measure these values slightly differently.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 19 and 65

Noise outdoor (dB)

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Noise levels are supplied by the manufacturer. They're broadly comparative but note that different manufacturers may measure these values slightly differently.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 42 and 69

Included in this review

Members-only access
  • Overall score
  • Recommended
  • Yearly running cost
  • Cooling efficiency score
  • Heating efficiency score
  • Airflow score
  • Brand reliability score
  • Owner satisfaction score
  • Good points
  • Bad points
  • Price
  • Brand
  • Model
  • Status
  • Size
  • Noise indoor (dB)
  • Noise outdoor (dB)
  • Rated cooling capacity (kW)
  • Rated heating capacity (kW)
  • Star rating - cooling
  • Star rating - heating
  • Stated standby power consumption (W)
  • Type
  • Number of fan speeds
  • Operating temperature range (°C)
  • Fast mode
  • Quiet mode
  • Fan only mode
  • Sleep mode
  • Sleep mode auto temperature adjustment
  • Human presence sensor (energy saving)
  • Dimensions indoor unit (cm, H x W x D)
  • Dimensions outdoor unit (cm, H x W x D)
  • Demand Response feature (DRED)
  • Indoor unit model
  • Outdoor unit model
  • Contact
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