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Ice Cold Baby

In tropical Singapore, the air-conditioner is like a god-send especially in sweltering weather. Without this amazing invention, who knows how heated things can get at home?


Making History Cool

Compared to its predecessors, the modern-day air-conditioner is a less than environmental friendly appliance that guzzles loads of energy in order to cool the environment you’re in. As the story goes, the air-conditioner first materialised as a basic concept in ancient Egypt where the climate was dry and hot. Reeds were hung in windows and were moistened with trickling water, which enables the air blowing through the window to be cooled via evaporation. Ancient civilisations like China and Rome, which were ahead of their time, also had the equivalent of air-coolers that made use of natural resources and left zero carbon footprints. Take the Romans for example, they had an impressive network of waterways that channelled water into entire cities and supplied millions of people with the life-saving liquid. For the more affluent citizens, some of these water was even piped through the walls of their houses to cool down the brickwork and lower the room temperatures.

Over the centuries, serious attempts to cool the environment were made. But it wasn’t till 1902 that the first modern electrical air conditioning unit was invented by Willis Carrier in Buffalo, New York. Originally designed to improve the manufacturing process in a printing plant, the unit could control both temperatures and humidity. By sending air through cold coils (filled with cold water), the resulting cool air helped bring down temperatures and humidity to conditions that could maintain consistent paper dimensions and ink alignment in the printing room. This technology was subsequently used to increase productivity at the workplace, and later to improve comfort levels at home as well as in automobiles. As you probably guessed, demand soon soared and led to an upward trend in residential sales in the 1950s—which eventually resulted in the contemporary air-conditioner that most of us can’t do without.

LG Multi Inverter Health+ Series 3 (Price: $3,299) &
LG ARTCOOL Platinum Series System 3 (Price: $3,799)


Choice of Horsepower

When it comes to furnishing the new home, the air-conditioner inevitably comes into the equation if your budget allows it. But before you go shopping for one, be sure to do your research first. Don’t choose air-conditioners just by brand alone, but by the ‘horsepower’ or ‘BTU’ capacity that they are built with to cool your room. If you pick an air-conditioner with insufficient BTU, then it’ll take longer for it to cool the room, thus leading to more energy consumption in the process.

With this in mind, how do you calculate the optimal BTU you need for your room? The best way to go about it is to approach the salesperson with your floor plan to get a more accurate estimate.

Avoid getting an air-conditioner with too high a BTU capacity because it will cool the room too quickly, causing the compressor to start (cut-in) and stop (cut-out) too often. Why is this a problem? Well, this is because the compressor will suck up to 6 times more power than it will when it’s running—which will increase your utility bills and cut down the lifespan of the compressor. Another factor is the humidity. An oversized BTU capacity will only remove some of the humidity within the room and leave it with a damp clammy feeling.


You should also consider the amount of sunlight the room receives and whether it has a mezzanine level (an additional floor located between main floors of a building), because they will affect the BTU capacity that you should get. For example, a sunny room will definitely require a higher BTU. Even the number of people can be a major factor. In short, get an air-conditioner with a higher BTU capacity if you have a sunny room or you expect more than 2 people to stay in it. You can, of course, lower the temperature by using curtains or window coatings that reflect heat so your air-conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard. Don’t forget to conduct regular air-conditioner maintenance and set the temperature at a comfortable level instead of the lowest to save energy. Another way to distribute the cool air faster without overworking your air-conditioner is to have a ceiling fan.

And the best way to extend your air-conditioner’s lifespan? Try to cut down on your usage.
Mr. Sean Lee, Product Director from LG Electronics Singapore (Air-conditioning and Energy Solution) has this to say, “all air-con systems can be used for standard operating hours and is based on individual usage as well as habits. We would recommend a standard of 8 to 10 hours of operation for all air-cons in Singapore.

Light users are usually recommended to use multi-split units for about 3 hp (30,000 BTU) while heavy users are recommended the LG Multi V system where the horsepower can go up to 80 hp (800,000 BTU).”


Inverter or Non-inverter?

After calculating the BTU, you’ll need to consider if you’re getting an inverter or non-inverter air-conditioner. Here are their main differences:


Inverter Non-Inverter

More expensive

Less expensive

Saves on utility bills in the long run as it uses a variable speed compressor to maintain the room at its required temperature

Uses up to 40% more electricity as it switches off once the room reaches the preset temperature and comes back on again when it senses an increase in temperature

The compressor enjoys a longer lifespan since its speed can be adjusted to meet the necessary cooling load.

Due to the alternating ‘off’ and ‘on’ mode, the compressor has a shorter lifespan.

The outdoor unit has a lower noise level than the non-inverter.

The outdoor unit is noisier than the inverter.

Allows you to choose a combination of different BTU capacities
e.g. 12 + 18 + 24 (System 3 with 3 units of 12,000 BTU, 18,000 BTU and 24,000 BTU respectively)

Allows you to choose a combination of different BTU capacities

Great for heavy users

More suitable for the light user

To make things even easier for you, here’s a simple checklist:

  • budget
  • number of people or type of activity expected in each room
  • amount of sunlight the room is expected to receive
  • room dimensions (square area and height of ceiling)
  • inverter or non-inverter

For a proper installation that will not lead to future leakage or other problems, you can read up on the 10 things about air-conditioners you should know before confirming the purchase. Have fun shopping around!

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