Air Conditioners & Air Conditioning in Indonesia
If you are new to Indonesia, you may not have realized that living in this region with its tropical climate and high level of pollution presents special home maintenance challenges. One system that requires particular attention is your air conditioning units.
In Indonesia air conditioning is referred to by its acronym - AC or "ahh say". The natural air of open windows is jokingly referred to as "AC alam" or natural air conditioning.
While the air conditioners in your home help ensure a level of comfort in the hot and muggy tropical climate, be aware that the air conditioner is probably the most expensive appliance to run in your house, in terms of the cost of the electricity. If you plan to run all the air conditioners in your house at the same time, be sure that the power supply can accommodate that amount of electrical consumption and the power is properly balanced. If not, you will "blow a fuse" when you have all your air conditioners turned on at the same time..
If you are considering adding to the power capacity in your home to support all the air conditioners (and other appliances) running at the same time, or if you are renting, asking the landlord to do so. Know up front that you may put your house into a higher billing rate which will GREATLY increase your electric bill. The higher the capacity, the higher the rate you pay ... so that comfort comes with a price tag! Most landlords are not willing to do so as to reduce the capacity of the electricity after you move out back to its former levels is also a costly process.
Types of Air Conditioners
There are several types of air conditioning units installed in residential or apartment units such as split, window, floor, cassette or ceiling types.The type of air conditioning system most commonly installed in houses or apartments is a split type system. This air conditioner consists of indoor blower, outdoor compressor and refrigerant pipe.
The capacity of the units varies and you should choose the best unit for your needs, depending on the total area to be cooled. Available units have ½, ¾, 1, 1½, 2, 2½ PK (Horse Power) and more. More capacity needs more power and every capacity determines cooling level stated in BTU (British Thermal Units). In general, the ¾ PK has 7,000 BTU and 1 PK has 9,000 BTU and in the residential sector the standard used usually is 600 BTU for every 1 M2 room. This means that a 1 PK unit will serve around 15 M2 room. Improper AC capacity of a unit installed in a room will affect the cooling quality and the AC unit itself.
If your electricity is limited, and you can't install air conditioners in every room you'd like to have them in, consider utilizing fans in strategic locations to keep the cooler air moving into adjacent rooms that don't have air conditioners.
Maintenance of your Air Conditioners
Because of the buildup of dust, dirt, and mold within the interior blower and exterior compressor, air conditioners need to be serviced regularly, once every 2 or 3 months by a professional maintenance company. The service should include thorough cleaning of the indoor filters, blower and water drain, and cleaning of the outdoor unit including fan blade and outdoor cover. In the outdoor unit ampere and pressure levels should be properly measured and should follow the requirements noted on the AC nameplate.
Depending on the air conditioner’s capacity, the cost of cleaning will be around Rp 100,000 to Rp 200,000 per unit (5/2019). There will be an extra cost if Freon needs to be added. If you are renting your home, refer to your lease agreement to determine if you or the landlord is responsible for this routine cleaning. In most cases, routine maintenance is the responsibility of the lessee.
The lack of regular AC maintenance can result in poor AC performance, leaking, and further damage to the compressor and other AC components. It is strongly recommended that you service all of your air conditioning units at a minimum every three months.
If any members of your family are sensitive or allergic to molds and mildews, you'll find that regular servicing will help keep these problems under control.
It is recommended that when service men are cleaning the AC in doors you might want to have a maid or servant watch them, especially when they are in bedrooms where there may be valuable items, just as a security precaution. Although it is advised that you only use reputable companies, there have been incidences of items missing after the service people have left.
Enjoy the Cool
With a little attention to your AC units you can stay cool even during the hot, dry, and dusty months of the dry season.
Life in the tropics is quite an adjustment for those coming from temperate climates, for many reasons. While air conditioning your home is a big expense, many find it a necessity in the hot, humid and polluted climes of Indonesia's big cities. You'll make the decision that best fits your family's budget. Many see a cool home as a quality of life issue!
Our thanks to Colliers International for their generous contribution of the original article and to other volunteers for their suggestions and updates!
Last updated April 8, 2019