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issue: May 2006 APPLIANCE Magazine

Tokyo Report
Japanese PAC Market Growing Steadily


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by Wasaku Ishida, Japan correspondent, and president, JARN (Japan Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News)

Demand for packaged air-conditioners (PACs) began to grow in the second-half of 2003 and growth continued throughout 2005, reflecting the recovery in the Japanese economy.

Demand for packaged air-conditioners (PACs) began to grow in the second-half of 2003 and growth continued throughout 2005, reflecting the recovery in the Japanese economy. Gradually increasing corporate equipment investment helped spur the replacement market for PACs and according to the Japan Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry Association (JRAIA), domestic shipments in November 2005 totaled 62,940 units, up 9.1 percent over the same month in 2004. The cumulative total for the January to November period reached 738,334 units, up 6.3 percent.
The PAC market is predicted to remain steady in 2006, thanks in part to the replacement situation. Replacement accounts for more than 60 percent of total demand, and about 8 million units were installed 7 years to 15 years ago. Equipment investment in Japan’s manufacturing industry and commercial sector is expected to rise, so demand for commercial air-conditioners is predicted to increase as well.
Small PAC units for light commercial applications are said to display similar trends to those of room air-conditioners (RACs). An increasing number of new models (including large models) are adopting HFC-410A refrigerant. Increased efficiency in operation has been realized due to the adoption of an inverter drive DC motor and compressor or fan motor speed control. Shape optimization of heat exchangers and fans have also helped increase energy efficiency.
To meet replacement demand, PAC manufacturers are striving to ease replacement of existing units. They are endeavoring to achieve a lighter weight and more compact design, extend allowable refrigerant line length, reuse existing refrigerant piping, and simplify field control wirings.

RAC Market Trends

The mature Japanese RAC market showed no significant changes in 2005. According to JRAIA, November 2005 domestic shipments were 332,994 units, up 5.3 percent over the same month in 2004. The cumulative total for the January to November period was 7,037,563 units, 98.7 percent of which were heat pump RACs (approximately 6,948,000 units). Full-year 2005 shipments are estimated to be 7,200,000 to 7,300,000 units. With the Japanese economy seeming to be coming out of the long tunnel of deflation into a course of growth, total domestic shipments in 2006 are predicted to remain strong.

 

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