CHOICE membership

Air conditioning list prices

I’ve just finished reading the latest air conditioning tests. I have a couple of concerns regarding this article. First issue I have is the accuracy of the pricing which Is certainly far from market competitive in fact I would say some pricing is almost double even triple actual market prices. Secondly there are so many manufacturers that are not tested, how are the units that are chosen selected?

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Choice always uses the RRP with a usual message to shop around because you could do better. Trying to use any street price could be a moving target as they change regularly.

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Hi Paul. The air conditioner review is based on an analysis of data supplied by manufacturers, cross-checked against the government’s energy registry database. We don’t physically test air conditioners any more as it became prohibitively expensive to do that. The details are explained in our How we test article.

We need manufacturers to supply information about air flow volumes and noise levels, as well as other specs and features - we can’t obtain that information from the energy registry. Not all brands respond to the survey, or they respond with incomplete data, so we can’t always include all brands. But otherwise, we aim to include all split-systems available in the domestic market.

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Hi @ChrisBarnes

Are there any other products which you now can’t afford for testing purposes? If so how do you obtain the data needed for the reviews and how do you ensure the accuracy of that data? Are for example sound levels reviewed for operational accuracy in a home/home environment at the typical levels as used by consumers? Does this lack of in house testing affect the quality of the data you provide to consumers? Should there be a list of devices that are now reviewed this way? I’m fairly certain there are other questions others may raise.

These aren’t complaints but are rather seeking to flesh out what has changed, what will change and how this may affect the way people see and trust CHOICE. Perhaps this should be given it’s own topic and in that light feel free to do so.

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I agree as after all it was Choice who caught LG out with their dodgy air conditioner power consumption claims years ago and forced the ACCC to act.

Taking air conditioner manufacturers at their word is akin to believing VW’s emission claims or that FCA vehicles are fit for purpose.

Testing these products goes right to the core of the purpose for Choice.

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Agreed. The point of Choice is the testing of products independently to endeavour to identify the best solution. I can understand ‘desktop’ testing, from a cost point of view but there is very little obvious reporting that differentiates a ‘desktop’ test from a test where the item was poked and prodded by someone with independence and then written up.

Which also brings up the question of there being very little information these days why something gets a better ‘usability’ rating than something else. Years ago there was considerable detail in the magazine why product A was better than product B. These days, if we’re lucky, we get a rating to some criteria that is not fully disclosed.

I’ve suggested before that Choice is becoming poor value for money as there is a considerable cost for access to reviews (and electronic access is almost essential at extra cost). CNET and others provide a similar service for free, in most cases they have actually used the product (and disclose when they haven’t), although there are commercial links attached to the review.

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You have my vote!

And note

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A specific category and a general answer…

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Hi Fred123. Actually you’re thinking of an LG fridge that was caught out by our tests. We still lab test fridges.

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Hi @grahroll. No, air conditioners are the only product for which we do this kind of review. Our lab tests over several years didn’t reveal any particular problem in the industry with incorrect energy labels. The main reason CHOICE undertook testing of split-systems (in the early 2000s I think)was that inverter air cons came onto the market, and at that time we felt that the standards didn’t adequately measure their performance. Since then, inverter models have become the norm, and standards caught up to the technology.

We didn’t take the decision lightly to move to a “paper review”’; it was based on a careful look at past results as well as the costs involved. We decided that there was low risk in doing so and on the whole we think we’re serving our members more effectively with this approach. If we had our own air conditioner lab we would most likely still be lab testing them, but the cost of building such a space is high, we’d have to sacrifice another part of the lab to fit it in, and overall the business case for building an air conditioner room has not added up. For portable air conditioners and other air treatment appliances such as dehumidifiers and air purifiers, we have an arrangement with another lab that is cost effective, but they don’t have the facilities to test split-systems.

There are very few products on the market where we could even attempt this type of review - for most products, there’s no registered performance data at all. So CHOICE lab tests are still the best (and in most cases, the only) way forward for most product reviews.

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A copy of the ACCC undertaking re LG air conditioners.

And a follow up article.

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@fred123 You’re right! The test in question happened in 2003 (before my time), and our report to the relevant government authority at the time triggered further check tests and the eventual corrective action undertaking by LG. It’s true that there can always be cases of non-compliance such as these, but still, as far as I can find, that’s the only time we found such a case in all the air conditioner tests we did.

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