How To: Buying a split A/C before summer

Tips & info for Kuwait’s everyday consumers

When I moved apartments in winter, air conditioning was not a priority. Only later did I realize that this was something of great importance. I could only install split-unit air conditioners in my new flat, of which I had no experience, as I had central air-conditioning in my previous flat and window ACs when I was a child.

But this new experience gave me a lot of information. Buying a new split AC is the easiest choice, but it’s an expensive one, especially since I needed many units of a well-known brand. So I had to choose the option of buying used. There are various places where these are sold, the most popular being the used furniture market in Rai. At this market, prices vary from one shop to another, and most brands are available. Even the warranty varies between 15 to 30 days from one shop to another.
The riskier but cheaper option is to buy used ACs from the Friday Market. Here the customer won’t get a receipt, as the sellers are individuals who are not licensed by the ministry of commerce and industry, so they only record the sale on a piece of paper by hand. Basically this paper has no legal power at the customer protection department in case of any conflict, so the customer can only complain at the police station.

Also, the used split units are sold emptied of gas, which means the customer can’t check the cooling function and can only check if the fan works. Even such checks are difficult or impossible at the Friday Market, as there is only one place to plug the socket and they charge for this test. Furthermore, most if not all split units don’t have a plug at the end of the cable. Also, the customer should be aware that the hose of the unit should end with two metallic objects that resemble screws, which if missing, the technician who will install the unit may ask for extra money to fix.

The best choice is to buy the AC from individuals who still have it installed in their homes. This way, you can actually try the AC so you won’t need any warranty. Also, most probably the owner will have the original receipt of the store where he bought it new from, which includes five or seven years of warranty by the company and shows the real age of the unit. None of the units sold at the used furniture market come with original receipts, so the customer won’t know the model or manufacturing year of the unit.

The stores selling new AC units provide installation, which is included in the price. On the other hand, installation charges of used units are very high. Even if you find a unit for KD 45, installation will cost KD 30 at least, and most technicians ask for KD 35. This is mainly because of the hosing connecting the split unit fixed inside the house to the box containing the compressor fixed outside. They charge KD 5 for each meter of hose. Also, they charge for the gas that they fill the compressor with, and they claim that prices have increased, so it’s expensive. And if you need to fix the exterior compressor on a stand, this will cost you an additional KD 10, which may be bargained down to KD 15 for two stands if you’re installing more than one unit.

If you buy the AC from somebody’s house, usually the hose will be included, as well as the stand. But for the gas, the technician will claim it will vanish when removing the unit, so it has to be filled again after installing at your place. In any case, the installation will be cheaper and should never exceed KD 20.

When the split unit has a stronger cooling capacity, the price is more expensive. This capacity is termed in tons, so it starts from one ton, one-and-half, two and so on. For those who are new to this market, they should know that 2400 BTU is not equal to two-and-half tons, but only two tons, as one ton equals 1200 BTU. Some salesmen may try to cheat the customer and tell them the unit has more tons and charge more.

Some technicians may agree to meet you at the market and transport the AC unit as part of their charges. If you’re buying it from the Friday Market, then you should also count paying for the porters who will transport the split units to your car or to the pickup vehicle that you will pay to transfer the units to your house.

It took me a search of three weeks to finally buy and install split-unit air conditioners in my flat, knowing I got the best price and hoping they are a good choice. But the experience made me wiser!

By Nawara Fattahova

This article was published on 29/03/2018