Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Consumer Research Sites

It was 98 here today, and I'm typing at you from an un-air-conditioned room on the top floor of a house with a coal-black roof. My IQ, not all that impressive to begin with, has dipped below the cretin threshold. By around 4:15 yesterday, I was slurring my words and clicking the same bookmark over and over again. Not pretty.

At times like this, one thinks "air conditioner". Though, obviously, it'd be better to have such thoughts
before the gigunda heat wave. Darting around to my usual shopping sites, opinion sites, and deal sites, I found I was just not getting anywhere. I was caught in a nasty loop. It was simply too hot to research air conditioners. So logic told me: must buy air conditioner. But it was simply too hot to research air conditioners. So logic told me: must buy air conditioner. You get the idea.

But I got lucky. I bumped into a site I'd noticed long ago, but failed to bookmark: a consumer research site. The set-up is smart: clever, bright surfers dig into all those opinion sites
for you and report the upshot. It's a great idea, and presages what I hope will one day be many more human-mediated web services. Shoot, I'd be willing to pay someone to save some of the frenzied blitzkrieging sessions I go through to research many of my buying decisions! But this site, and another I found like it, are free. And a quick glance tells me that their recommendations are pretty right-on. They didn't hit every nook and cranny of data, but neither are they hasty. I can't offer a thorough analysis of the comparative benefits of each site, though, because, in case you missed it, my senses are dulled. Houston, we do not have cognition!

So I, an overwhelmed lunkhead unable to research for myself, will simply toss you the links. Put them away for times when you turn lunkheaded and can't research for yourself. Or, more likely (do I know you or what?) use them as extra resources for your own research - though it'd be sort of like melting down truffles to make a truffles, if that makes sense (bear in mind that you're dealing with an individual whose thighs are one with his chair).

that. And take that...while I go get a cooling beverage.

And if you find any crucial differences between the sites, please say so in the comments. And once I get an ozone-killing, current-draining, spore-spitting box in my window, you'll hear more from me.

The End. A report by Jimmy Leff. A Jimmy Leff production. Bye bye bye bye bye bye........

UPDATE: I finally got a Sears Kenmore 76081 (8000 btu) for the office, and another for the bedroom. I was initially going to go with the Frigidaire 6000 btu (anything higher than 6000 btu by Frigidaire apparently makes a racket akin to an ascending 737), but the Kenmore is quieter and more sure to handle the full space. For the living room, a Royal Sovereign ARP-5012XH, currently on super-sale for $399 postpaid at Costco.com (though not in Costco stores). It has a double exhaust hose, the holy grail in portable air conditioners. Costco.com also has the more powerful 14,000 btu ARP-3014 for sale at the same price, but it doesn't have the dual exhaust.

Here's the deal on portables: first, they're not so portable. They must exhaust through a window, using short hoses that can't be lengthened. Second, they do not have the cooling power of wall units, even if the BTU rating is the same, because to move the same volume of air they'd need to be far noisier (a window unit vents most of its noise outside, but a portable must be much quieter). Portables can't bring room temperature down to 72 degrees. Rather, they reduce the temperature by ten or fifteen degrees, period. One good thing about portables, though, is that they can be set to just dehumidify (this one removes 100 pints of water/day). So I can ensure that my piano doesn't saturate when if I go away...without creating humongous electric bills by running the a/c compressor while I'm gone.


adam said...

Frankly, I find it hard to beat amazon in terms of consumer review services. It's rare that products aren't on there and, for the most part, I've found the reviews to be pretty accurate with my own observations.

Now, on to your air conditioning predicament. Man, you need to look into high-velocity mini duct air conditioners. Great for older homes where you don't have room for duct work. Yesterday almost persuaded me to invest in it even though I'm in a condo that I'm likely to move out of in the coming year...

Jim Leff said...

I'm extra prone to use Amazon, as I'm in their Amazon Prime program (you pay $80/year to get free two day shipping on most items). I order toothpaste from Amazon, it's that crazy.

But the problem is that Amazon doesn't carry all products. Just re: air conditioners, there's no Royal Sovereign, no Kenmore, no Sharp. Etc.

You have to learn to look around. Similarly, Travelocity will not show you fairs from JetBlue, Southwest, Virgin America, etc.

There is no one-stop shopping on the web, and there may never be.

Mini-duct. Sigh. I'll check them out. Problem is it's already up to 88 in here, and I'm starting to get bleary again. Oh, and I called a handyman to help me install (the Kenmore's notoriously tough), and he told me to wait till the heat dies down. Catch 23, I guess.

Dave said...

I feel, or should I say, felt your pain. On Friday, the air conditioner in my bedroom decided to take a swan dive.

I had just received the latest Consumer Reports. In sum, CR's take is that all the ACs are decent at cooling a room, and energy ratings now clump together, so other factors are paramount.

CR emphasizes one factor that I dont see in other reviews. Every room air conditioner has a distinct bias in the way it directs air flow. So for each model, CR provides this info. I think all of the GE models, for example, are better at moving air to the left.

A happy ending for me. The problem turned out to be debris stuck inside the machine. My super vacuumed it and sucked up dirt, wood, and some metal bits. It's working fine now.

Pat said...

I have one unit in the bedroom, and have spent most of my time in there.

I have a quick fix for one of your problems. Put a bath towel between you and the Naugahyde!

It's pretty cool today! pat

Jim Leff said...

Yes, it IS cool today! Maybe I'll skip buying AC after all!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeff,

Could you give us a review of the Royal Sovereign ARP-5012XH? I am interested in buying one. The heatpump is a nice addition.


Jim Leff said...

John - see this:

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