The heat is on for air conditioners
Modern problems require modern solutions. Air conditioners are both a problem and a solution. They allow us to control the temperature and humidity of our sterile indoor environments. Unfortunately, hydrofluorocarbons (HCFs), the most common type of coolants used in ACs, also end up increasing global temperatures.
The air conditioner import export data shows that hundreds of billions of dollars worth of air conditioners are being traded every year. As perception toward ACs changes from a luxury to a utility item, the market continues to grow.
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Air conditioners have a few common components: evaporators, condensers, compressors, and coolants. Coolants are heat-absorbing liquids that run through the AC systems in thin copper pipes. Indoor units circulate the room’s air over the pipes, and the coolant absorbs the air’s heat & evaporates. This way the room’s air becomes cold.
A condenser unit and a compressor pressurize the gas to liquid and release the heat outdoors. Thereby increasing outside temperatures. We have come a long way from putting wet grass on our windows to cool the incoming winds.
Most of the leading AC technology comes from a few countries; Japan, China, South Korea, and the US. Meanwhile, the biggest demand for ACs is from China, India, and the US. One major factor that exports depend on is the availability of affordable skilled labor. It is unsurprising then, that China, Mexico, and Thailand are leading the list.
Just like its computers, America gets a lot of its heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) tech made in Mexico. The air conditioner export data also shows a lot of entries for Vietnam, which is becoming Thailand’s biggest competitor.
Top exporting countries (2020)
- China ($21.4 billion)
- Thailand ($7.14 billion)
- Mexico ($5.06 billion)
- United States ($2.46 billion)
- Germany ($2 billion)
Whether it’s a sofa or an AC, the USA’s demand for affordable consumer goods is abundant. The air conditioner import data also shows that Americans import from China. The three European countries leading in imports are surprising, considering their prevalent anti-AC culture.
For instance, office buildings in France don’t have places for ACs and require tedious approval procedures for installation. The people here import portable indoor solutions to find relief from the heat.
Top importing countries (2020)
- United States ($11.3 billion)
- Japan ($2.93 billion)
- Germany ($2.79 billion)
- France ($2.37 billion)
- Italy ($2.18 billion)
What to expect
The picture has definitely changed since 2020 as many European countries have doubled down on decarbonization. As temperatures increase and weather patterns fluctuate, ACs are more needed than ever. A massive demand is arising in developing countries especially. Just look at the fastest-growing markets for both sales and production: Indonesia, Vietnam, China, India, and Thailand.
For developed countries, this is cause for alarm. Italy, France, Greece, and Spain have already adopted various policies to address these issues. More sustainable air conditioning methods will be a crucial part of the market’s future. Since sales are higher than ever in developing countries, but the climate crisis is at our throats, more efficient technology is a vital part of the solution.