AC Market in Europe

According to Daikin Industries Ltd., the European air-conditioning (AC) market has features that could appear as commercial obstacles, including relatively mild climate, even in Mediterranean areas. Concern for cityscape issues leads to resistance to window-type AC. Portable AC is generally preferred. Overall sales remained low until the early 1990s (under 1.2 million units, according to JRAIA). But heat waves have boosted sales since. After using cooling in cars, consumers started turning to residential AC. In the mid 1990s, the rising income in southern Europe, stimulated AC. The EU is now the 4th market in AC (in numbers of units), behind China, the USA and Japan. According to JRAIA's 2005 figures, residential and commercial AC sales were approximately 5 million units in 2004, bringing demand in the whole area (including CIS and Turkey) to 6 million units, and to an expected 7 million in 2008. Distribution can be divided into 3 main areas: southern Europe (mainly heat pumps and AC), the UK and western Europe (which also require heating) and northern and central Europe where heating and straight cooling AC units dominate. Italy, Spain and Greece are the main southern European users; their preference is for residential split-type AC with a cooling capacity of 2.5-3.5 kW. For years, demand in the two other areas was business-sector orientated, but more recently, consumption in upmarket residences has increased. There is a clear overall preference for discreet plants (i.e. "ductless" or floor-standing types). After large "duct" AC units, "ductless" was soon preferred, particularly in old buildings. The EU Parliament established a goal of 20% conservation by 2020, which encourages the use of energy efficient applications. On the whole, the EU is a rapidly expanding market for HVAC, but demand is varied and shows specific requirements.