Samsung air conditioners are made under the umbrella of Samsung Electronics, the flagship company of the Samsung Group. The parent company is a Korean version (based in Seoul) of the Japanese model where a group of companies interacts to gain market leverage on a global scale. Samsung Electronics has more than 160,000 employees in more than 61 countries worldwide.1
Samsung has a two tier strategy for air conditioning. They are making inroads in the high end markets by adding features (many based on their history with computer electronics) and the low end emerging markets with lower priced, basic models. They also grow their business by partnering with a company local to the country they wish to serve. In the US market, they’ve partnered with Quietside2 which handles imports for the States through one outlet. This gives Samsung the ability to market many products to niche markets as a combined sales volume.
Since Samsung makes products worldwide, they can select from a large inventory when deciding which to sell in the US market. Currently, they offer a range of air conditioners and heat pumps by selecting the best sellers in several categories. This includes smaller units designed for single room, residential use, all the way up to heat pump type systems appropriate for businesses or office buildings.3
For home use, the products range from window units up through split systems with a huge, 48,000 BTU, floor-standing unit at the top tier.
Window air conditioners
Currently, no window air conditioners are offered directly to the US market. Window units are sold in other parts of the world (for example, 15 listed for India4 and 6 sold in the United Arab Emirates5). This may change if Samsung decides to import window units through Quietside.
This niche has several offerings in the US. Mini-splits are cassette style units that run off of an outside compressor/condenser unit which, depending on size, may be mounted on an outside wall or set on a pad (like typical central air systems).5
- Vivace line – Features “MPI zone,” an air purification solution using ionized oxygen and hydrogen to destroy allergens and harmful bacteria. “Good Sleep Mode” – a three step system of temperature and air flow designed to aid and enhance sleep. Four stage air filter system for particulates and allergens. Auto temperature selection switches unit from cooling to heating based on air temperature. Units available in 12k, 18k, and 24k BTU.
- Neo Forte – similar to the Vivace line, the Neo Forte doesn’t feature the MPI zone and comes in one additional size – 9k BTU.
- Samsung Classic – this line adds a 36k unit as well as the others mentioned. Styling is more traditional, with a visible grill on the face. Although less modern looking than either the Vivace or Neo Forte models, the Classic includes all of the features above except for the MPI zone.
- Ducted units – the units above are all cassette type, which means they mount on a wall and stick out into the room. The ducted units can be either ceiling mounted or recessed behind the wall surface. A ceiling mount can even be above a drop ceiling, essentially making the bulk of the unit invisible. The air flow is either out the front of the unit or the bottom.6
- Floor stand – this model is fairly unique in the market. It comes in one version, a 48k BTU closet style. It runs as a cooling/heating, split unit (outside compressor) and can be recessed into a wall.7 The unit stands four feet high, runs off a wireless remote and a 4-ton outside unit. It is capable of cooling a very large room efficiently and at a very low energy cost.
Samsung’s inverter technology does provide excellent savings in electrical costs and the units for sale in the US do live up to their promises.8 However, the applications where mini-spits find use in the US are not at the low end of the price scale. They haven’t caught on for residential use, most homeowners still prefer central air instead of mini-splits, or, for smaller cooling needs, US customers still buy window units.
For residential customers unused to Asian style mini-splits, there were complaints about wall mounting – exterior walls may be decorative and it’s difficult to get strong support without damaging existing cladding. Also, initial costs are high compared to window units and filters for the advanced systems are quite expensive to replace.9
Those who have gotten past the price find the mini-split systems functional, quiet and reliable.10
Samsung air conditioners available in the US are geared toward the middle to upscale market. In this niche they perform well and meet customer demands for a stylish look, quiet operation and air purification features. They are particularly suited to a commercial environment where they can make a good impression and meet cooling needs.
Currently, Samsung has many more products they could sell in the US that are doing quite well in emerging markets (India, Asia).
With increasing energy costs, concern about the environment and an awareness of the health benefits of air purification, mini-splits of the type sold by Samsung will increase in demand. Many future customers will encounter these units at hotels, motels and in the business environment where they will appreciate the advantages, perhaps making the transition to residential use.
The only real downside for Samsung is the wide temperature variations seen in the US, which make heat-pump style air conditioners a less attractive choice in parts of the country where it gets quite cold in the winter time. Units will require a supplemental heat source and Americans prefer a single solution rather than a mixed heat-pump/furnace combination.