KERALA

Air conditioners turn hot favourites for Kochiites

COOL choice:With summer heat on the rise,

COOL choice:With summer heat on the rise,   | Photo Credit: Photo: Vipin Chandran

Staff Reporter

KOCHI: As a blistering sun bakes the city and its occupants wilt under the heat, air conditioners are selling like hot cakes sending its dealers laughing all the way to the bank.

“There is almost a hundred per cent rise in the sale of air conditioners this year. We have sold almost double the units this January alone compared to last January,” said V.A. Ajmal, managing director of the Bismi, an outlet in the city dealing in electrical appliances.

And April when the summer peaks and the sale of air conditioners normally hit the roof is a full month away. M.A. Rafi, branch manager of Videocon heading operations in Kochi expects a substantial increase in sales during March. “We expect a projected sales growth of 30 to 40 per cent,” he said.

Air conditioners with one ton capacity are the most in demand. The average price of a one top-capacity air conditioner hovers in range of Rs. 16,000, that of a 1.5 tonne Rs. 20,000 while the average price of a 0.80 tonne one is in the range of Rs. 14,000. Along with the cost factor, the customers now weigh in the star rating of the air conditioner which denotes its power efficiency.

“The urban customers here are fully aware of the star rating and gives it due importance along with the cost factor,” Mr. Rafi said.

Aji Kumar, a salesman at the QRS Retail Limited outlet on M.G. Road, said a starred unit saves up to 2.5 units of power during an eight-hour run. There are three star ratings, five, three and two, depending on the power efficiency. “However, along with the star rating the price also goes up. A starred one-ton air conditioner costs up to Rs. 20,000,” he said.

Mr. Ajmal expects the sale of 0.80 tonne units to go up in the days to come. “Families, which otherwise could not afford an air conditioner but forced to buy one because of the oppressive heat usually prefers it,” he said.

For such customers there is the instalment scheme. For instance, QRS accepts four months' EMI along with service charge as down payment giving eight months' time to repay the rest, Mr. Kumar said.

Usually, the branded units would have a five-year warranty for the compressor and a one-year warranty for the body. QRS offers an additional two years service over and above the warranty period on payment of an additional charge.

The traditional window air conditioners slowly seem to become obsolete. “We no longer deal in window units. Out of the total sales across the market, they account for maybe 2 per cent,” Mr. Kumar said.

Meanwhile, as even nights get hotter, people who had air conditioners but used it sporadically are keeping their units switched on for longer periods. “Now with the increasing heat we are forced to wake up in the middle of the night and switch on the unit again,” said Pramod, a senior executive of a private company in the city.

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