When it comes to electric appliances, there’s no such thing as an off switch
The best value electric appliances in Australia are made by Australian companies.
But the industry isn’t as robust as it once was.
In recent years, as prices have plummeted and the number of home owners opting for energy-efficient appliances has grown, the sector has lost some of its luster.
Electrical appliances can run up to 40 hours on a single charge, compared with the average of just six hours for conventional appliances.
That’s a huge opportunity for manufacturers, but also puts them at risk of being overtaken by the likes of Nest and Samsung.
In many parts of the country, customers are increasingly opting for more energy-saving appliances that can be delivered on demand, rather than just as a last resort.
In NSW, a recent study found more than one-third of households have an electric fridge, and almost half have an energy-saver in their house.
As a result, electric appliance makers have had to work hard to differentiate themselves from their rivals, said David McRae, executive director of the Energy Efficiency Association of Australia.
“When you look at the competition, you can see the major companies in the category are really struggling,” he said.
Electric appliances that are energy efficient can deliver up to 12v, compared to a typical two-hour charge.
This means you don’t have to spend a fortune on an expensive new power supply or a costly inverter.
Instead, consumers get the equivalent of a 20-kilowatt power pack.
This means they get the same amount of electricity delivered for the same price as an electric refrigerator.
McRae said the low price also meant that people were willing to pay for these low-cost appliances.
“When you have low prices, it allows the industry to be a bit more attractive to consumers, because they can afford it,” he added.
But the industry hasn’t been immune to competition.
In the last five years, there have been several significant changes in the electricity market.
The federal government launched the national electricity market, which has meant the price of electricity has gone up for some states and territories.
More recently, consumers have been able to switch off their appliances and turn their energy-guzzling appliances off at home.
With the advent of a more efficient electrical grid, electricity prices have dropped significantly, which means that consumers have had more money to spend on energy-efficiency products.
The energy efficiency of an electric appliance can be compared to the efficiency of a solar panel.
If a standard electric fridge costs $2,000 per year, an energy efficiency appliance will cost $2.80, while an electric oven will cost around $10,000.
While these low prices are good news for consumers, McRaa said manufacturers were still struggling to differentiate their products.
“We have to keep up with what’s going on in the market, but it’s a difficult thing,” he says.
Despite the recent changes, electric appliances remain expensive.
An electric appliance’s efficiency can be estimated using a model developed by researchers at the University of New South Wales.
That model calculates how much energy is delivered to a device and how much electricity is needed to maintain a certain temperature.
For example, if the fridge has a 50 per cent efficiency rating, it will deliver about 12v for one hour.
Using the model, a standard fridge can deliver around 10v for three hours, while a standard oven will deliver around 5.5v for four hours.
A standard refrigerator uses electricity to turn the water in a can into a hot liquid.
It uses the same efficiency rating as a conventional appliance, but uses a different energy-savings factor (ESF) to make sure the water is boiled off before use.
Efficiency ratings can vary greatly from home to home, so the ESF is one way of comparing an appliance to a rival.
There are also different types of appliances, including energy-hungry ones that use less electricity.
Another way to compare an appliance is to compare its energy efficiency rating to a fridge.
Although appliances are more energy efficient than conventional refrigerators, they still have to be heated, and can take longer to boil off.
Even with the high energy-consumption rating, the energy efficiency will be less than what the average fridge will deliver, McPae said.
In contrast, the Energy Saving Efficiency of a conventional refrigerator will be up to 99 per cent, and an electric freezer will deliver an efficiency rating of more than 90 per cent.
So, while electric appliances are becoming more common in Australian homes, it’s worth remembering that they aren’t cheap.