Imagine a cooler that works like an air conditioner, fights humidity, does not require water refills every few hours, and consumes only 10% of the electricity an AC does? It’s a reality now!
“One fine day during the summer of 2008, I reached home to find my husband Pranav and his team of technicians working on an air cooler. I was working as a professor in a business school at that time and Pranav had started an air conditioner repair, installation and distribution business from a home office. When I asked him what he was doing, he said – ‘I am inventing something. I have found a way to make ice in this cooler with the things used in any air conditioner.’ He loves experimenting with electronic appliances and, at that time, I honestly didn’t believe that something like this was possible. I just thought it was another one of his whims. But it turned out to be really good and that is how Vaayu Hybrid Chillers came into existence,” says Priyanka Mokshmar, one of the founders of Vaayu.
This couple has now started a business making hybrid cooling machines that blend the technology of traditional coolers with compressors used in air conditioners.
The idea first came to Pranav when his father informed him that their electricity bill was coming way too high because of the air conditioner in the office room that was used all day long. With a view towards saving electricity, Pranav replaced the air conditioner with a cooler. However, it wasn’t much use in the tough summers of Indore.
“Based on the humidity, air coolers usually bring down the temperature of a room by five degrees, which was not enough. Pranav started trying to put ice in the cooler everyday but it was practically not possible to keep doing so at regular intervals. That was when he decided to utilise all the equipment used in an AC and make ice in the cooler itself. Once it was ready, the cooler was able to bring down the temperature of the room to 18 degrees,” says Priyanka.
The Vaayu Hybrid Chiller basically works with the help of a refrigeration cycle operating via the compressor and condenser connected to it.
When switched on, a refrigerant from the compressor flows into the cooling coil of the condenser, reaching the water in the cooler and chilling it. The condenser cools down the refrigerant and helps in dehumidification to control the humidity level. The chilled water is circulated on the pads covering the sides of the cooler with the help of a pump. There is a thermostat to maintain the water temperature, which automatically switches the compressor off as soon as ice is formed. The cold water further reduces the temperature of the air that is pushed out.
“We installed the entire refrigeration cycle inside a cooler-like body. It can be any metal body. We make ice inside the body at temperatures of -8 to -10 degree Celsius. Because of that ice, the water around it gets chilled up to 10 or 12 degrees. And because of the chilled water, the air delivered outside varies from 18-24 degrees Celsius. This temperature is maintained even if the outside temperature goes as high as 42 or above. The compressor also has an exhaust fan like cooling system, which prevents it from heating up,” explains Priyanka.
In this process, the compressor is being used only for making ice. The thermostat switches it off as soon as adequate ice is formed. This is different from normal ACs, in which the compressor-condenser cycle is continuous. Thus the power consumption by Vaayu is only 10% that of an AC. “Suppose you have a 200 square feet area, you will need a two ton AC that will consumes more than 2500 watt electricity. But Vaayu consumes 250 watt power,” claims Priyanka.
One also does not need to fill water into this hybrid cooler again as again, as it takes water automatically from a tap connection, like any water RO system, whenever the water level goes below a certain limit.
Once they were ready with the design, it took the couple about two years to finish the process of obtaining a patent for Vaayu. In 2014, Priyanka left her job and joined Pranav to start their organization. And finally, after several visits to venture capitalists, they acquired a funding of Rs. 1 crore under the collateral-free Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme of the government of Madhya Pradesh. In addition, Priyanka and Pranav put in whatever money they had from their savings as well.
Today, they have a team of 40 people, two manufacturing plants in Indore, and distributors in five states including Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, and Maharashtra.
They have set up Vaayu experience zones in different regions for people to see how the machine operates because it is a new concept.
A Vaayu Samadhaan app helps in after sales service; users can register a complaint simply by scanning the barcode on their warranty cards.
The cost of Vaayu chillers begins at Rs. 22,500. Their biggest machine, MIG 24, which is meant for cooling a 1000 square feet area, is available for Rs. 85,000. According to Priyanka, an equivalent air conditioner will cost about Rs. 1.25 lakh.
Prior to setting up this business, 39-year-old Pranav had worked in the field of air conditioners for about 14 years. Priyanka, who did her MBA and PhD in marketing, was teaching in a business school in the city. The couple is now planning to expand to as many cities as possible, and cater to the increasing demand for Vaayu.
You can contact the couple by writing to them at [email protected].