Comparing air conditioning quotations can be confusing. Simply choosing the quotation with the cheapest ‘bottom line’ is often a recipe for disaster. We have created this independent guide in the hope that it will help you to quickly assess the various quotations you have obtained and determine which company is offering you the best equipment at the most competitive price.

Are the quotations ‘Like-For-Like’?

The main reason for a disparity in pricing is generally down to either the quality and/or the power of the equipment being specified. It is vital to check the kW or BTU (British Thermal Unit) rating of the units. The higher the rating, the more powerful the cooling and heating output. Unless the alternative quotations are all suggesting the same brand and power, you are not comparing the quotations on a ‘like-for-like’ basis.

Bear in mind that selecting leading brands such as Daikin or Mitsubishi Electric will make a quote approximately 10% more expensive than for other brands. However, the advantages of installing a leading brand usually become evident after a few years when the benefits of the increased longevity of the premium equipment are realised; these top-end units can often provide twice the life expectancy of budget brands.

We firmly believe that this small initial price premium will more than pay for itself over the life of the equipment. In addition, it often proves to be more difficult to source spare parts for budget brands than it is for major manufacturers.

Are the Companies ‘Like-For-Like’?

It is also essential that the companies you have requested alternative quotations from are ‘like-for-like’ companies.

Comparing a quote from a “man and van” operative against a specialist air conditioning company is not realistic and it often proves to be false economy when making use of a “one-man-band”.

Larger air conditioning companies are generally fully insured in the unlikely event of mishaps or design faults with your installation. A major reason large air conditioning companies with full teams of engineers and support staff find it difficult to compete with an engineer working from his home is down to the cost of insurance. Insurers are fully aware that mistakes can happen, and high premiums reflect this. You may find (too late) that your “man and van” operative does not have sufficient (or indeed any) insurance.

The most important of the insurances for your air conditioning installer is Professional Indemnity Insurance. This covers you or your business if any major structural faults occur as a result of a poorly designed installation. Do not confuse Professional Indemnity Insurance with Public Liability Insurance that every trader is legally bound to carry. The latter will not protect you against design problems. Of course, should you be willing to take the chance with a budget installer and hope that “all will be fine”, that is your prerogative!

It is also important to consider the level of after-sales service and warranties offered by your installer. Many installers will not offer any ongoing servicing or maintenance (essential to ensure the validity of any warranties) and warranties supplied by a one-man operation will inevitably be at a far lower level than those provided by a large air conditioning company. For example, a one-man operative may offer you a one-year manufacturer’s warranty or, if you are lucky, you may get three years. However, many of the larger air conditioning companies offer a minimum three-year warranty and sometimes even five, seven or 10-year warranties. We strongly advise you to consider the length of the warranty on offer when making your decision.

Questions to Ask?

– Do the estimates specify equipment with the same cooling/heating output and the same brand?

– Are electrical works and mains power included in each of the quotations? Many quotations appear to be “all-inclusive”; however, it often emerges that crucial services including the provision of mains power have been omitted.

– Are the quotations offering units of the same type? For example, a wall-mounted unit is considerably cheaper than a ceiling cassette unit or a ducted system.

– Check whether the price of Lifting and Access equipment is included.

– Have you been given a fixed price for the supply and installation or is the installer quoting per day? If they are quoting per day, be careful; there is no incentive for them to get the job done!

Other points to consider when making your decision

Do the companies offer showroom facilities? We believe it is very important that you see the units in operation, not just for aesthetic purposes but to check that the noise levels are acceptable especially in the case of residential installations. Should the company that you wish to choose not provide showroom facilities, we very much suggest that you at least take advantage of visiting another company’s showroom to see what you are getting.

We hope you have found this guide both informative and useful and should you wish for any other independent advice; please feel free to telephone us.

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