How Value Was Determined for the Top 10 Air Conditioner Brands
Florida Air Service specializes in the installation and repair of heating and air conditioning systems, both residential and commercial. We are licensed to install all major brands. What this means is that we have no loyalties to any one specific HVAC equipment supplier. It is important to point out that we have no horse in this race – we gain and lose nothing by recommending one brand over another, and the only thing that drives our opinions are our customers’ satisfaction. We cannot risk installing something that is not the absolute best value for our customers’ needs, and we wouldn’t have built the reputation we have in a highly competitive Fort Lauderdale and Broward County market if we weren’t honest. In other words, this isn’t the first time that we’ve made this list for a client, it’s just the first time we’ve published it online.
There are four contributing factors that we used (weighted equally) in determining value for our list of the top 10 air conditioner brands:
- Reliability – we cannot recommend a company that has reliability issues or customer satisfaction will suffer greatly.
- Cost – part of determining value is cost. Is one brand too expensive? Do you get more bang for your buck with one air conditioner brand over another?
- Customer Service – how does the company deal with warranty problems and do they readily supply spare parts at affordable prices?
- Features – although delving deeply into features is beyond the scope of this article, features available were taken into account when making our list.
Top 10 Air Conditioner Brands – The List
Important Tips Before We Start
Disclaimer – Before we start, it is important to understand that these are our opinions, and they sometimes conflict with consumer reviews. Why? There is no way to tell for certain, but what I can tell you for certain is that each and every one of our field technicians sees the same thing that I see:
- Premature failure of components is almost always the result of improper installation. There is a right way, and there is a wrong way.
Realize, that despite what you might think, all of these brands are comparable, for the most part. Many of them even use the same internal components, made by the same companies, and some are even produced on the same assembly line. Yet, in a search, one has higher reviews than the other?
At the end of the day, the most important part isn’t the brand you choose, it’s doing your research on the contractors you will use to install it. Think about it – are all mechanics the same? How about all doctors? Mechanical contractors (aka “air conditioning contractors”) are not like the other trades in that we require extensive knowledge of all mechanical systems and their components, including high and low voltage electrical, plumbing and refrigerant.
Your AC system is an engine that will run for hours a day, for 15-years, if done properly. Yet, every guy with a truck and a wrench is out there saying that they’re a contractor. We often come across people who are taking multiple bids for their project (which is a good idea), and then, against our advice, decide go with the cheapest contractor available to “save money.” Listen, it always costs you more in the long run.
To give you a reference, we are almost never the cheapest bid, and we tell people that at the start. We do not use undocumented laborers or unskilled workers, we use high quality parts, and everyone on our team is an HVAC professional – but that costs money. If one contractor is significantly cheaper than others, ask “why?” These units aren’t just something that you plug in and it works, and not all materials are the same; they require on-site, custom fabricated parts and tuning to work properly. Installed improperly, it will fail in just a few years, and sadly, we see it all the time…just a thought.
That being said, over 25% of our business is going out to peoples’ houses after they hire the cheapest possible contractor they can find to install their new unit, and then uninstalling and reinstalling everything for them. It is expensive, and costs a lot more than if they had just done it right the first time. My advice, since most of you aren’t in our service area, is to just pay the money for a real contractor. The other guys are cheaper for a reason…there is a proper way to do this, and unfortunately, most people don’t know how to do it! I’ve seen Carriers fail after three years due to poor installation, and Bryants that are 25-years-old.
- Rheem/RUUD (They're the same unit)
- We love Rheem/Ruud. The warranty is fantasic. The customer service is top notch. Their systems are easy to work on. If you're looking for top quality and an affordable price, ask for a Rheem/Ruud.
- American Standard/Trane/Ameristar (They're the same unit)
- Trane makes a residential series air conditioning and heating unit, but is better known for their solid reputation in the commercial HVAC industry. They also own and make equipment under the name American Standard.
- Mitsubishi (ductless)
- If the world were a different place, Mitsubishi Electric would be our go-to company. They are used extensively in Japan and Europe – two societies known for perfectionism. They are reliable, and the most efficient systems on the market. So what’s the catch?The catch is that they are ductless systems, meaning that you have to install one in each room at several thousand dollars a pop. Each unit has to have its own drainage, electrical and line set run to it. So, if you’re just trying to get the garage some air conditioning for when you are working on the car, this would be the option for you. But, to do an entire house with ductless air conditioners would be far more expensive than a central heating and air conditioning system – sometimes $30,000 total! As such, they rank third on our list of the top 10 air conditioner brands.
- Carrier/Bryant/Day & Night/Interntaional Comfort Products/Tempstar (They're all the same)
- We love Carrier air conditioners and they have a top notch reputation in the industry. That being said, their biggest downside is their price. “But Jessica, you get what you pay for right?” In most cases this is true, but I just have a hard time putting them first when you can get their technology at a more affordable price tag under the name of Day and Night. I don’t care about names, I care about value. But Carrier is one of the gold standards in the industry, and if price is not a factor for you, this is definitely something to consider. On the top end, they also offer a 21 SEER model that they do not offer in the Day & Night or Bryant lines. That’s why we have them as fourth on our list of the top 10 air conditioner brands.Although Day and Night is not as well known of a heating and air conditioning supply company as some of their competitors, they are currently number two on our list of the top 10 air conditioner brands. Their products are reliable and their customer service is top notch.But there’s another reason we like them, and it’s because of who manufactures their equipment. Day and Night is made by United Technologies, who also makes Carrier (plus Bryant, and Payne), they use the same internal components, including an Aspen coil, and we were told by a United Technologies representative (the company that owns both names) that they are actually rolled off of the same assembly line.In fact, most contractor won’t tell you this, but up until about six or seven years ago, they used to just roll out the exact same units, and all four brand tags actually came in the same box…the contractor would decide which brand they were selling (Carrier, Bryant, Day & Night, or Payne), and place the tag on the unit themselves. As you might imagine, we would tick-off some of our competitors when we’d tell people, “what would you like? It’s all the same price…if you want a Carrier, we’ll throw on the Carrier tag…” Yet, Carrier sometimes runs $800 to $2,500 more than Day and Night for the same unit. They have since changed their unit cases so they can differentiate the brands (which was smart on their part), but they are all still eerily similar on the inside…Really, the only downside to Day & Night is their availability...they aren't available across the entire country, unfortuantely, which is why we just can't keep them in the number one spot. But if you have Day & Night inyour area, they are worth consideration. As someone who has installed and repaired the internal components of each, I can tell you that they are almost identical, and in the basic 14 SEER models, they even still look the same on the outside. As such, Day and Night gets our vote for one of the best values to our customers, and is second on our list of the top ten air conditioner brands.
- Bosch/Florida Heat Pump (They're the same unit)
- Goodman owns another brand you may have heard of...Amana. However, the relationship between Amana and Goodman is quite different from the relationship between Carrier and Day and Night (which we will talk about in just a moment). Goodman is the more affordable air conditioner brand, while Amana is marketed as their high-end counterpart.Goodman is one of the best deals on the market, and you are getting a premium brand (Amana) at a more affordable price. They are solid and reliable, and made in Texas (who doesn't like Texas?). Plus, they have the best warranty pay-out program on the market.
- York/Champion/Guardian (They're the same unit)
- York rounds out the end of our recommendation list of the top 10 air conditioner brands. York does make a residential series air conditioning and heating unit, but is better known for their solid reputation in the commercial HVAC industry. They also own and make equipment under the name Champion and Guardian. Unfortunately, they have reported issues with their warranty pay-out program for warranty parts. That being said, they are still a reliable company, just not the top of our list.
- Lennox rounds out the bottom of our list of the top 10 air conditioner brands. We just can’t recommend them.10-20 years ago, they were THE name in heating and air conditioning equipment. Unfortunately, they have since become problematic, in our opinion. Unlike other manufacturers who use similar or even the same internal components, Lennox is completely proprietary. To get parts, you have to go through Lennox. So what’s the problem?The problem is that their logistics chain can be horrible, and we’ve had a lot of trouble with them. It sometimes takes weeks to get parts, and when you do, expect to pay three times as much for them. Their customer service also leaves something to be desired. As such, we steer our customers completely clear of Lennox equipment whenever possible, even though we are licensed to install them. We do repair them, however…the last time took us two weeks to get the part and it was flown in from Toronto, Canada. Look, this is just based on our own experience and opinions, so do your research…but we’ve had nothing but problems with them. Just remember, that they most important part of your decision is the contractor you choose. If you've got an honest HVAC contractor that you like, then BUY THE LENNOX. He (or she) will find the parts if you need them. Just a thought…
Moral of the story: don’t skimp on this project…do your research on the best HVAC contractors, not the cheapest.
Pro Tip Before Selecting Your Air Conditioner:
As you can see above, there are a lot of options to consider. But, when doing your research, be wary of contractors that are “factory authorized dealers,” or who advertise that they are “your friendly local Lennox dealer,” for instance. These companies have a vested interest in selling you only one brand of equipment – their brand – and therefore, they will tell you line after line about how they have what you are looking for. You shouldn’t be interested in one brand, but should instead be interested in the brand that provides you the best overall value for your air conditioning installation, and what works best with your house.
- An example of this would be Day and Night or Carrier, who both offer a “Slimline” condensing unit that is only 18 inches wide. This may be the solution to your home if you have a narrow walkway on the side of your house, for instance, but will not be a solution provided to you by a “factory authorized Trane dealer.” Trane doesn’t offer a Slimline series.
- Instead, look for companies that install all major brands, as these companies will typically give you options that meet your needs, and don’t have a vested interest in pushing one specific brand on you. Air conditioners, like cars, have good years and bad years – make sure that you use a company that will give you options.
Final Review of the Top 10 AC Brands
For those of you with short-term memory issues (or maybe you just scrolled through the in-depth explanations that I just gave you because, like my flight students, you don’t listen to a single word that I say), here is the list in rapid-fire:
- American Standard/Trane/Ameristar
- Carrier/Bryant/Day & Night/International Comfort Products/Tempstar
- Bosch/Florida Heat Pump
Final Thoughts on Florida Air Service's List of the Top 10 Air Conditioner Brands of 2020
If you forget everything that you read in this article, remember this: who you get to install your HVAC equipment is far more important than which brand you choose. That being said, some brands are different, and if you go with any of the first eight brands on our list of the top 10 air conditioner brands, then I think you will be pretty happy. Take the reviews that you read online with a grain of salt and remember that many of these problems are the result of improper installation. People rarely go online to write something positive about an air conditioner or heater – it’s only when it doesn’t work that people typically feel compelled to write a review. Just a thought. The list above is our opinion based on our experience, and all we can give you is our honest assessment – we are not going to make more or less money by pushing any particular brand of equipment. Customer satisfaction is what drives our company, so hopefully this top 10 list helps you in your endeavor. If you live in Southern California, click below to see if you are in our service area – we’d be happy to hear from you.