All Air Conditioners sold in South Africa must comply with the South African National Standard (SANS). This standard conforms to the International Electrotechnical Commission Standard (IEC). The market is characterised by two types of systems – split and packaged units. A split AC system is made up of two units – an outside unit including the compressor, and an inside air outlet unit, often also referred to as the “wall hung head unit”. The two units are connected by pipes that carry refrigerant. A packaged terminal AC (PTAC) is a self-contained heating and air conditioning system.
The AC market is unique in many respects in that it was originally dominated by a small set of specialist companies, who did not manufacture other household appliances such as refrigerators, ovens and washing machines. In recent years Korean appliance manufacturers added more and more AC to their appliance portfolios. This prompted also South Africa’s biggest manufacturers of appliances to introduce a range of residential AC units, but these are actually all imported units. In addition there are many small and no-name brands, which enter the South African market in the form of direct imports. According to interviews held with industry experts, the market in SA is clearly split between the established local companies and direct imports.
With the high electricity tariff increases experienced since 2007 and the uncertainty of electricity supply in South Africa, it has become important for consumers to become aware of the innovative functionality and features that AC products offer, with a major focus being energy efficiency. An example of this is ‘Inverter’ technology, which uses less energy than conventional models. This energy efficient technology is also often bundled with additional comfort features such as air purifier functionality. Split models dominate the market due to advantages concerning their size, noise levels and energy efficiency performance relative to the traditional models.
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