What is the difference between 3 star and 5 star AC

Summary
A 5-star AC has better cooling efficiency than a 3-star AC and so it is more power efficient which enables it to save some electricity. You will find a 5 star AC with a bigger condenser and better build quality. Despite every benefit, 3-star ACs sell more.

Whenever you look for a new air conditioner.

I am sure you stumble upon between a 5 star and a 3 star AC.

Which one is better?

Do “5 star AC” has some benefit over “3 star AC”.

Should you pay the extra money on a “5 star” device?

Or paying extra is waste?

Till now I am sure you would have come across the “electricity saving” benefits of “5 star” over “3 star” AC.

But this is not the only difference.

In this post, I have listed a few points which you “never” would have heard before. 

What is Star Rating


4 star rating on powr saving guide

The star rating is the categorization of an appliance in a group based on its efficiency.

For air conditioners, this efficiency is measured in terms of its cooling efficiency.

Efficiency = Cooling Power / Electricity Consumption

An AC with better cooling efficiency will consume less power and so save some electricity.

Higher the cooling efficiency, higher will be the AC’s rating.

This rating is given by BEE(Bureau of Energy Efficiency) which is an agency under the Ministry of Power.

All the ACs in the market are categorized into 5 groups based on their efficiency.

These groups are – 1 star, 2 star, 3 star, 4 star, and 5 star.

So the ACs with the highest efficiency are put in the “5 star” category and the ACs with the least efficiency are put in the “1 star” category.

These “ratings” tend to change with time.

For example, if you bought a 5 star AC in 2018 then it may have become a 4 star AC in 2021.

Also, You cannot compare the star rating of a window with split ac or inverter AC with non-inverter AC.

When looking for a better power efficient appliance you will have to compare a split AC model with a split AC model or a window AC with a window AC model. 


Cooling and Power Efficiency is higher in 5 star AC


For air conditioners, BEE uses “ISEER value” for making the star ratings.

Earlier EER rating was used but since 2017 ISEER value is used.

iseer rating of an inverter AC

This ISEER rating is an Indian standard that depicts the cooling efficiency of an air conditioner.

Check the below star rating table for “split AC” for the year 2018-2020.

split ac star rating for year 2018 to 2020

You can see that a 3 star split AC ISEER value can vary from 3.5-3.49 and 5 star AC ISEER value is 4.5

From the above table, a 5 star AC will have a higher ISEER value than a 3 star AC.

With a higher ISEER value a 5 star AC will have better cooling efficiency and lower power consumption.


Bill Difference between 3 star and 5 star AC


Until now we can clearly see that a 5 star AC will consume less electricity than a 3 star AC and so save money on electricity bills.

But would this difference of money-saving for electricity bills be that big for you to pay extra for buying a 5 star AC?

Let’s find out using an example. 

I have picked up two split ACs from Amazon.

Assumption

  • Both AC runs for 10 hours daily.
  • 1 unit of electricity cost Rs 7

AC 1: LG 1 Ton 3 star inverter AC (2021 model)

ISEER value: 3.73
Cooling Capacity: 3283 watts

Monthly Electricity Bill: ₹1386/-

AC 2: LG 1 Ton 5 star inverter AC (2021 model)

ISEER value: 4.7
Cooling Capacity: 3470 watts

Monthly Electricity Bill: ₹1162/-

Bill Difference: ₹224/-

From the above example, you can see the difference between monthly bills is ₹224. 

So the 5 star AC will save 224 every month on electricity bills.

In India, we run our AC on an average of 6 months in a year.

Money Saved in a Year: ₹1344

You will save around 1000 rupees each year for electricity bills if you buy a 5 star AC.

You can check the price difference of both the ACs on Amazon.

At the time of writing this article, the 5 star AC was priced 3500/- higher than the 3 star AC.

So, If you would have bought the 5 star AC instead of 3 star AC, then you may have to wait 3 years to recover the extra price paid for the 5 star AC.

I have used a power consumption calculator for deriving the monthly bills for the ACs used in the above example. You can use this calculator for deriving electricity bills of any AC.


Build Quality


It is generally seen that a 5 star AC comes with better build quality and is more durable.

Most of the 5 star ACs present in the market come with 100% copper coiling.

You will never see aluminium coiling in 5 star ACs.

100% copper coiling ensures better cooling efficiency.

With better build quality 5 star AC lasts longer.


Larger Condenser Surface Area


See this answer from Chetan Bharambe who works at Voltas and has around 10 years of experience in the air conditioning and cooling sector.

chetan bharambe answers 5 star AC condensor is bigger
Source

According to him, a 5 star AC’s condenser is bigger than a 3 star AC resulting in better heat exchange due to larger surface area.

Condenser is used in the outdoor unit.

With better heat exchange the cooling efficiency increases and power consumption decreases.

Larger condenser also means a bigger outdoor unit in case of split AC.

This also means the AC will be heavier.

For window 5 star AC, the unit itself will be bigger as both evaporator and condenser are packed inside the same unit.

This means one will need a bigger window frame for fixing a 5 star window AC.

Read More: Difference between a window and split AC


5 star AC remains energy efficient in the long run 


A 5 star AC will remain energy efficient in the long run but a 3 star AC may become poor in terms of energy efficiency in the coming years.

How?

As you already know that star rating gets revised with the passing years.

A 5 star AC may no longer be a 5 star AC in the next 2-4 years. It may become a 4 star AC.

Below you can see the star ratings of split AC. On the left is for the year 2021-2023 and on the right is for the year 2018-2020.

split ac star rating 2018 to 2020 and 2021 to 2023

These tables have been taken from the Bureau of Energy Efficiency(BEE) website.

Case 1: You bought a 5 star AC in the year 2019

From the rating tables, you can see that the ISEER value for a 5 star AC in 2019 will be 4.5.

In the year 2021, the same 5 star AC will then become a 4 star AC.

You can see from the 2021-2023 table the ISEER value 4.5 is in the 4 star category.

A 4 Star AC can be considered as power efficient.

Case 2: You bought a 3 star AC in the year 2019

From the rating tables, you can see the ISEER value for a 3 star AC would be 3.5-3.99 in 2019.

Consider the value of 3.5 for an AC you bought in 2019.

Then in the year 2021, the same 3 star AC will become a 2 star AC according to the newer rating table.

A 2 star AC cannot be considered as a power efficient AC.

Result: A energy efficient AC will remain energy efficient even in the coming years but a not so energy efficient AC will become a power inefficient AC.


3 Star AC models Sells More


Despite the power saving benefit of a 5 star AC, people are buying 3 star ACs more.

66% of all the ACs sold in the Indian market are 3 star AC and only 18% ACs sold are 5 star. 

Data Source: http://www.beestarlabel.com/Content/Files/AC_Notification.pdf

This data is for the year 2017-2018.

One solid reason for people buying 3 star ACs is a lower upfront cost.


Is it worth spending extra for a 5 star AC than a 3 star AC


If you have read the entire article till now then you can better judge for choosing a star rating between 3 and 5.

If your daily usage for an air conditioner is low then yearly saving would be less and so going with a 5 star AC may not be better.

With a tight budget, one can go with a 3 star AC.

However, if daily usage for AC is high like 16-20 hours then 5 star AC would be a better option for long-term power saving.

Reference for Air Conditioner Ratings:
https://beeindia.gov.in/content/standards-labeling
http://www.beestarlabel.com/Content/Files/AC_Notification.pdf

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