Disclaimer – These are all personal views and in no ways promoting or discouraging a specific model of AC over others.

I had a 7 year old O General 1.5 Ton AC (similar to this model that is available these days – though I dont know the exact model number and the star rating). Since the AC was not performing very well, we thought of buying a newer one.

Being conscious about power consumption (and the eventual impact on the environment), when I got to know about the new super efficient AC from EESL, I thought I should try it. A quick look at the features and specifications and it is also clear that there is no other AC that compares on its energy efficiency (as is demonstrated with EER of 5.4 for this AC).

I took the plunge. Purchase from their online store was efficient. Installation was prompt (within a couple of days) and the folks (from Voltas Authorised Installation Center) who came mentioned that they are installing this model for the first time.

Before I get into the data-driven observations on the energy efficiency of the EESL AC, let me first give a short primer on AC operation for those who may not be aware. If you set 24 degrees for a regular AC then its internal logic will look at the temperature of the air returned back from the room and (in a crude sense) will switch on the compressor as the temperature goes above 25 degrees. With compressor ON, the room will start cooling down and as the return air temperature reaches (in a crude sense) 23, the compressor is then switched OFF. As a result, one typically will observe compressor ON and OFF cycles in a regular AC operation. For the inverter AC, rather than ON and OFF, speed of the compressor is reduced to then maintain the right temperature.

Let me now dive straight into data driven observations. I had an energy meter installed at the mains level from which we collect data using our own IoT platform every 30 seconds. Below is the power consumption on the night of August 2 when my older O General AC was running through the night (with set temperature of 28 degrees – we feel comfortable at this set temperature, given our room size, so this is what we set regularly). Peak power goes up to approx 1700 watts and the overall compressor ON duration (which directly translates into total energy consumption through the night) is also quite high.

No alt text provided for this image

Below is the power consumption on August 4 (just 2 days later) with the new EESL Voltas AC running through the night (again at set temperature of 28 degrees). Looking at the data and relating it to the features of the AC since the inverter AC from EESL has twin rotary BLDC, at the set temperature of 28 degrees, it seems like one BLDC is always off (except for the initial period just after the start) and the other one also cycles on and off. Correspondingly, the peak power is reduced to approx. 500 watts and the overall on duration also is reduced.

No alt text provided for this image

Overall, the energy consumption has reduced by more than 50% and it also shows up in the power consumption sampled from the meter. One can calculate the exact savings achieved and also its correlation with different set temperature and outside weather conditions but that comprehensive evaluation is not the goal here.

Overall, I am quite happy with the energy savings. However, the broader customer service from EESL leaves a lot to be desired. I will share some experiences and then follow up thoughts on this front next.

I wanted to have 4 year extended warranty. For this when I called up Voltas, they ask me to call EESL. When I called EESL, the customer support person first asks me for my account login and password (for the first time someone has asked me for account password on phone) and later still failed to resolve my problem. I was then asked to send email to EESL and it has now been more than a week and the problem is still unresolved.

I personally feel that if EESL really wants to succeed in this direct selling to end consumer (unlike their previous model of selling B2B) it has to develop a whole new “customer first” mindset. If I am buying from EESL then I have my expectations that whatever is claimed online will be provided. If Voltas tomorrow does not provide quality service, is EESL equipped to take up the customer calls and ensure that Voltas does honour their warranty (or the extended warranty)? Will EESL ensure that if I escalate the problem to them, it will be resolved timely – say within 24 hours? Can all this be done in an affordable manner without creating a large call centre as they move towards realising their dream of selling 2L ACs?

While the LED model from EESL was successful, I had similar experiences with the LED lights that I bought from TPDDL as well. They did not last long but since I paid a small amount and I could easily replace them with the new lights, I did not mind poor quality. Now that I have paid more than 40k for the AC, I will expect that EESL lives up to all that is claimed on their website. They can not simply shrug away from their claims saying that warranty has to be directly serviced by Voltas because I have eventually bought this from EESL (in a similar way I hold Amazon responsible for the products bought from their platform).

Being an energy conscious person myself, I would really love to see EESL succeed with their plans. India’s cooling demands are only going to grow and with such initiatives, the government can ensure that these increasing cooling demands do not put increasing load on our grid (and the extra electricity is better utilised to power off some more distant villages). To this effect, a simple thing I can think of which can help EESL succeed with greater probability is to maybe add connectivity to these ACs (in the next specifications they release) and on their end, use a data platform, which can ingest live data from all the ACs that they sell. This can have multiple benefits:

  1. They get to understand how these ACs are performing in the field. The type of data that I shared above will then be available for all the 50,000 (and then eventually 2L) ACs they plan to sell.
  2. Additional savings can be realised by allowing users to schedule their ACs on and off (beyond the basic night mode that comes with the remote).
  3. They will also be able to hold the manufacturer liable for the warranties. The data can easily tell them when the AC had problem and when that problem was resolved thus giving a very good customer service.
  4. To take it a step further, the system can automatically raise a ticket based on the data (even before the end user realises that there is a problem) and manufacturer (Voltas) can send someone to service the AC. No other manufacturer is providing such a customer service today and EESL can take a lead (with pretty much no manpower involved and the whole system being automated).
  5. ACs life degrades over time. This data will also be useful to then decide when it is better to replace the AC than to continue operating it inefficiently. There is no such mechanism available at this moment for any ACs available in the market.
  6. Such a connected AC can then also be useful for commercial entities (e.g. a restaurant chain, banks, ATMs) whereby at a central level one can put time based schedules and also ensure that ACs are not operated beyond the desired set temperature.

Eventually with all this data, who knows, EESL can tomorrow also revolutionise the cooling by Uberising it i.e. selling cooling as a service. If adopted at scale, every AC that gets installed will be a super efficient one and people only pay for the hours they use rather than paying upfront for the AC and hence taking short terms decisions which are inefficient in terms of energy because of lower upfront cost).

All this can be easily developed on top of the IoT platform that Zenatix has developed and at a very affordable cost. I would love to hear if EESL would like to collaborate on that front.