By Princewill Ekwujuru
The inflationary pressure in Nigeria has pitched air-conditioner, AC, producers against each other through strategic and technological enhancements aimed at increasing market share.
The major contenders for market share in the air-conditioner sub-sector include Life is Good, LG, Panasonic, Whirpool, Samsung, Chigo, Sony, Peterson Zachonis, PZ, Newclime, Hisense, Midea, and Bosch. Contenders for the leadership spot are LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Midea and Daikin.
The competition in the market has become stiffer following the various types of technological inventions by the manufacturers designed to improve consumers’ lives.
Factors driving the intense competition and technological enhancements include: Intense hot weather in Nigeria; increased urban migration; , market size, construction of highbrow offices.
This informed the production of ACs of various capacities, colours and stylishly designed ACs that suits consumers’ pocket.
Hence the market is proliferated with different types of ACs such as portable ACs, Wifi compatible ACs, Wall ACs, Window ACs, Ceiling and others.
In a move to maintain their hold on the market, the leaders have also manufactured power efficient ACs, having gone ahead to develop products that have mosquito repellent agent, adjustable fan, thermostat (that allows consumers to control the cooling output.).
Other innovations include remote control (that allows a consumer to operate the unit without having to use the frontal control button), programmable timer, adjustable louvers, filter types, (standard and washable).
Aside these, the increasing volume of imported second hand air-conditioners have continued to rise, also contributing to the battle for market share in the sub-sector.
Vanguard Companies and Markets, C&M findings showed that the refrigerant R-22, was phased out in 2015 in foreign countries, and was replaced by the R-410A, the replacement may not have taken effect in Nigeria.
Multinationals are also lashing on this to boost their market share at the detriment of the consumers and because Nigerian authorities saddled with the responsibility of controlling the entrant of these products may have derailed in their duties.
The battle for market share by major manufacturers’ in the sub-sector has reduced contenders to Samsung, LG, Chigo, Panasonic, Midea and Daikin. (Particularly for Central air-conditioning unit).
However, the major manufacturers’ have not neglected the distribution concept of delivering the products directly to the wholesalers for onward transportation to the retailers.
C&M findings showed that sizable portion of Nigerian consumers still patronise second air-conditioner vendors, because they are ignorant of the compositions of the R-22.
Some of the consumers say the second air-conditioners are more durable than the new ones, while some attributed the patronage to the economic condition. Some say top-scoring air conditioners are energy-efficient and relatively quiet.
Speaking to C&M, consumers were divergent in their preference for the different brands, with majority preferring LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Midea, Daikin and Chigo, with LG, Samsung, Panasonic coming topmost in consumers’ mind, who also commended other brands.
A consumer, Joseph Itiku, said he prefers LG, because it is a brand that has been able to connect with consumers, in terms of affordability and durability. “I love LG for its energy-efficiency; they have an air-conditioner that can be powered by the smallest generator.”
Another consumer, Ajayi Olalemi indicated preference for Panasonic for its low power consumption and quietness. “But I am looking forward to buying Samsung for my children’s room, because of the commendations I had gotten from friends who use the brand.”
James Abori and Hassan Ibrahim said they prefer imported second air-conditioners because they are affordable and stronger than the new ones and have not disappointed them.
Common air-conditioner problems
Air-conditioners like other home appliances have their peculiar problems in spite of the technological enhancements.
C&M findings revealed that one of the most common air-conditioning problems is improper installation which usually results into leaky ducts and low airflow. Other common problems result from faulty installation, poor service procedures, and inadequate maintenance.
Speaking, an air-conditioner expert, Engr. Austin Ogwuike of Refrigeration World, Isasi, Lagos said: “Improper installation of a central air-conditioner can result in leaky ducts and low airflow.
Many times, the refrigerant charge (the amount of refrigerant in the system) does not match the manufacturer’s specifications. If proper refrigerant charging is not performed during installation, the performance and efficiency of the unit is impaired.”
In addition, Engr. Ephraim Ayodeji of Cool Affairs Nigeria, Agbara, Lagos stated that, “unqualified service technicians often fail to find refrigerant charging problems or even worsen existing problems by adding refrigerant to a system that is already full.”