In a minute I will get in to how to choose the best brand Air Conditioner. Before that, there are a few critical things to keep in mind when you are considering the opinion of someone that is telling you what the best brand is to buy. At the core of that is their motivation for telling you the best brand to buy. So, if you are looking for the best air conditioning brand for your home, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind as you read each review. At the top of that list is the factors they use to rate each system. Make sure those factors are the things that matter you.
What might not matter to you?
Only about 2.6% of Americans are buying 17 to 21 SEER systems. These high-end units are fantastic but cost more than double the 13 to 16 SEER systems. They use DC inverter technology and variable refrigerant flow. They also have dozens of protective sensors and electronic safety devices that keep it from burning up a compressor or motor. While I think these systems are awesome, It is not really a factor in deciding the best air conditioning brand for most people.
Is it a Real Review or is it Sponsored?
Maybe the toughest thing to decipher about an air conditioning brand review is if it is TRUE. It goes without saying that not everything you read on the internet is true. Here are a couple clues that may come in handy.
Some brands are manufactured in the same factory under different names. Each unit has the same exact components and the same people assembling them. Much of the time the model numbers are even the same. So, I would be suspicious if the 2 or more brands that are made in the same plant do not have the same score and reviews. Below is a short list of brands that share a factory.
- Amana, Goodman,
- Trane, American Standard
- Nortek, Frigidaire, Maytag, Comfort Air
- Carrier, Bryant, Payne
- Rheem, Rudd, King Air
There are about 100 other brands that put their name on someone else’s product. Some of the larger brand air conditioning service companies have ordered stock with their name on it.
What Type of Air Conditioning unit do you have?
There are 14 different types of residential comfort systems. For the most part, Americans use a ducted system. 90% of ducted systems fall in to one of 4 categories.
- Heat pump package with electric heat and electric cool
- Gas package with gas heat and electric cool
- Split system with a gas furnace, indoor evaporative coil and and exterior condensing unit.
- Split system with a Heat Pump air handler with evaporative coil and and exterior condensing unit.
There are a couple companies that do everything pretty good while others will fall short in one or two of these. Some brands are downright awful in one of these categories but do okay on the other.
I will say that off the shelf, there is little price difference between the best and worst. Maybe $700 is the spread. When you think about a 15 – 20-year investment this is a marginal amount.
Another problem with surveys and review sites, they are talking to customers that bought in the past 2 or 3 years. Not really that helpful if you are primarily interested in longevity.
So, what is the best source for a legitimate review?
Oddly enough it is not on a review site. It is more likely on a blog or Vlog. Here is a case in point. Last Week I removed and replaced a 7-year-old Amana. I videoed it and put it on YouTube. A few days ago, I put a new reversing valve solenoid in a 28-year-old Ruud and posted that video. A month ago, I did a video where I put a new blower motor in a 16-year-old Trane and then had to go back and fix a leak in the coil this week. All of these were put on youtube.com.
As an AC repair man, I see trends in what I work on. I see the same issues over and over on certain brands. I can even tell you on some units where to start looking for a leak or a specific problem. Your best resource for a legitimate review is someone that spends his or her day fixing them. Not to be confused with a guy that is only selling them. I can tell you with certainty that there are good brands, and there are better brands. Then there are brands that are out right a bad investment for a homeowner.
If you ask me what I work on mostly it is Old Rheems, Old American Standards, Old Carriers, and ICPs. These units are 15 to 35 years old and still going. Some have had many parts changed out while others are still chugging along with their original equipment.
As for newer systems under 10 years I work on York, Goodman, Amana, Maytag and Trane. Each of these have their own set of issues. Coil leaks, ECM Motor failures and even compressor failure is not uncommon on these brands. I would tend to see these brands as ones that have more problems.
Get the most out of your New AC purchase
If you have any doubt in your mind about the best air conditioner to buy for your home, get the longest possible labor warranty with the longest possible parts warranty. Fast Affordable Air offers a 10 year conditional labor warranty with their Rheem air conditioning and heating system installs.
Even if you need to buy an extended labor warranty from a third party with a small $100 deductible, I would consider this money well spent. 10 year extended labor warranties cost under $1000. Some are as cheep as $650. They are also transferable. If available take the plan with the refrigerant coverage option. You will be glad you did.