Aircon vs. Electric Fan – Home Economics (Philippines)

Air conditioning has become quite a necessity in a hot and humid country such as the Philippines. However, owing to its high upfront and operating costs, it may be out of reach for the budget-conscious types. Hence, a lot of people are still opting for the cheaper alternative — the electric fan. Which is brings us to this question: what are the pros and cons of an aircon vs. an electric fan?

For starters, an electric fan costs 80% less vs. an aircon, and it uses only 5.4% of the energy an AC uses per hour. However, an electric fan’s cooling performance is lacking – in fact, it doesn’t even cool the air at all, it merely moves hot air from your body and helps evaporate your sweat, which gives the cooling effect on your body.

In this article, we will discuss the difference of an aircon vs. electric fan in-depth to help you in your buying decision.

Upfront cost

It’s no secret that an electric fan is way cheaper than even the most affordable window type air conditioner. How much so?

I will lay out a crude study I did based on the SRPs of Abenson’s current listings (as of January 2021) of 0.5 HP and 0.6HP window type models, and juxtapose that with SRPs of 16″ and 18″ electric stand fans. Here are my findings:

The average retail price of the 0.5HP and 0.6HP air conditioners is ₱11,189.6 compared to the 16″ and 18″ electric stand fan’s average of ₱2,273.5, which means that the electric fan cost 80% less than the most affordable kind of air conditioner.

Operating cost

It should also come in no surprise that the electric fan uses far fewer energy while in use.

ApplianceEnergy ConsumptionPower RatePer Hour
Electric Fan0.064 kWh₱9.744/kWh₱0.63
Air Conditioner1.118 kWh₱9.744/kWh₱10.89

In our previous articles, we’ve shown that the average wattage of electric fans is at 0.0642 kWh, which will cost ₱0.63/hour to run. Meanwhile, the average wattage of window type aircons is at 1.118 kWh, which will cost ₱10.89/hour to run. This means that an electric fan uses only 5.4% of the energy that an air conditioner will use per hour of use.

These calculations use a power rate of ₱9.744/kWh, which is Meralco’s average for all of its customers.

Maintenance cost

An electric fan is easier to maintain as the mechanism is very simple, and you can even DIY it if you know your way around it.

In contrast, an air conditioner is harder to maintain. While you can also do it yourself, some maintenance procedures are complicated and will require you to employ the help of an HVAC technician.

Cooling performance

While an electric fan is undisputedly the cheaper vs. an aircon, what we can’t deny is that the aircon is much more effective at cooling the room – and it’s not even a fair competition.

See, an electric fan does not actually cool down the air, it merely passes air over your body to move the hot air from your body. It also evaporates the sweat on your skin – this evaporation process is what is giving your body a cooling sensation.

The air conditioner also uses this same evaporation process for its operation. First it sucks in air from the intake panel, and passes it through the evaporator coils. Using the same principle as our sweat, these coils evaporate a refrigerant gas called Freon that removes heat from the air, and then blows the now cold air in to your room.

An aircon can reduce the temperature in your room until 14°C. An electric fan does not reduce the room temperature at all. In fact, you should not use an electric fan in very hot and dry conditions.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) advices that you should not use an electric fan when the heat index is above 37.2°C as it “actually increases the heat stress the body must respond to.” Why so?

The wind coming from the fan quickens the rate of evaporation of our sweat (and the humidity in the air); In times of low humidity, our sweat evaporates quickly. No sweat, plus the absence of moisture in the air means that the wind has nothing to evaporate. Instead, the fan is simply blowing warm air over your body. Which explains this meme:

electric fan blowing warm air meme

Conclusion

When it comes to cost, nothing beats the affordable electric fan. However, its performance may not cut it especially in this hot and humid little country of ours. In those cases, it is better to invest in an air conditioner.

If budget does not permit, you can opt for the cheaper air cooler or evaporative fan. Both of these options also do not compare to the cooling performance that an aircon gives, but they do a better job at a cooling the air than a regular electric fan.

Sources

University of Sydney. (2019, August 5). Is it safe to use an electric fan for cooling? Public health guidance on fans not evidence-based. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190805181627.htm

Leave a Comment