What are the top 10 air conditioner brands of 2016? If you’ve read some of our articles then you know that All Systems Mechanical is a small, U.S. Veteran-Owned business in Southern California – we pride ourselves on giving straight, honest answers and have built our reputation on it. This will be no different. Whether it’s a list of the top 10 air conditioner brands, or how to fix your furnace, most of our blog entries come from two areas: first, how to troubleshoot common air conditioner problems, and second, the most common questions we get asked by customers while on the job. No question gets asked more often than, “what is the best air conditioner brand?” The answer, however, is not so simple. Are we talking about the best air conditioner brand for your money, or is money no object to you? In that sense, a better question would be, what are the top 10 air conditioner brands of 2016? Although many of our clients are millionaires, most are not. So, in this article we will discuss our list of the top 10 air conditioner brands from the viewpoint of which brand provides the best value to our customers, and help you figure out which HVAC unit is best for you and your family.
Top 10 Air Conditioner Brands of 2016 – Price vs. Value.
So what is the best air conditioner brand? To answer this, it is important to understand the difference between price and value. When an air conditioner has a good price, it means that it is cheaper than other comparable HVAC brands. However, if that air conditioner has a low price but also has a poor reputation, then one might say that it has a good price, but a poor value. As such, when making a list of our top 10 air conditioner brands, we will be addressing this from the aspect of the best value to our customers.
As another example of why value is a better way to evaluate air conditioner brands, let’s take a look at Carrier. Carrier is a fantastic product with a solid reputation backed by a track record of success. In fact, Carrier invented modern air conditioning – so why not just buy a Carrier? Carrier is fantastic, but Carrier is also extremely expensive, typically running about $1,000-$3,000 more than some of their competitors for similar models of equipment – this may be no big deal to you, but to most consumers this would lower Carrier’s value.
How Value Was Determined for the Top 10 Air Conditioner Brands
All Systems Mechanical 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 Los Angeles 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.
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Top 10 Air Conditioner Brands – The List
Important Tip 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 I can tell you for certain 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 the other contractors are cheaper, 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. Moral of the story: don’t skimp on this project…do your research on the best HVAC contractors, not the cheapest – this is what a good contractor should cost in California:
Whether you live in our service area, or not, take a look at this article for help on how to pick a contractor:
When is the best time of year to buy an air conditioner? Take a look:
Group 1 – Our Top Picks for the Top 10 Air Conditioner Brands of 2016:
1. Day and Night Air Conditioning and Heating Equipment
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 one 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 (and 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 exactly the same units, and all four brand tags actually came in the 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 cases so they can differentiate the brands (which was smart on their part), but they are all still eerily similar on the inside…
Why? As someone who has installed and repaired the internal components of each, I can tell you that they are identical, and in the basic 14 SEER models, they still look the same on the outside. As such, Day and Night gets our vote for the best value to our customers, and is first on our top ten list.
For more information on Day and Night, see the following articles:
2. Goodman Heating and Air Conditioning
Second on our list of top 10 air conditioner brands is Goodman Manufacturing. Goodman owns another brand, Amana, but different from the relationship between Carrier and Day and Night, Goodman is the more affordable version of Amana. They use the same internal components, and have a reputation for reliability. Plus, they have the best warranty pay-out program on the market.
Read more on Goodman in our article:
3. Mitsubishi Electric Ductless Split Heating and Air Conditioning
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.
4. Carrier Air Conditioning and Heating
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 Tim, 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.
More on Carrier can be found here:
Group 2 – Middle-of-the-Line Picks for the Top 10 Air Conditioner Brands of 2016:
5. Bryant Heating and Air Conditioning
Bryant has a good reputation and is reliable. That being said, they just lack an edge that makes some of the other brands just a bit better, in our opinion, and that’s the same reason I mentioned above for Day & Night and Carrier. They offer the same technology as Day & Night, but are slightly more expensive, and don’t have the same name-recognition as Carrier. As such, they ended up in the middle of our list of the top 10 heating and air conditioning brands.
More on Bryant can be found under:
6. Amana Air Conditioning and Heating
Amana is a fantastic company with a long standing reputation, but their equipment is available under the name Goodman for a lower price, which is why Amana ends up in the middle of our list of the top 10 air conditioning brands.
More on Amana:
7. York Heating and Air Conditioning
York is also in the middle of our list of the top ten heating and air conditioning brands. They are reliable and well built, but lack some of the features that our list-toppers have.
More on York can be found here:
8. Trane Heating and Air Conditioning
Trane rounds out the end of our recommendation list of the top 10 air conditioner brands. Trane 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 American Standard. Unfortunately, they also had some 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.
More on Trane:
Group 3 – Top 10 Air Conditioner Brands Not Recommended by ASM:
9. Rheem Heating and Air Conditioning
Continuing our list of the top 10 air conditioner brands, we didn’t feel comfortable leaving out a couple of the brands that we do not recommend. Rheem‘s equipment does work, and it is typically reliable, as are all major brands. The problem is, however, what happens when they break down.
Rheem makes their coils in a “zig-zag” configuration that differs greatly from their competitors, who use an A-frame configuration. In our experience, this typically makes them more prone to freezing up and very difficult to clean properly, often times resulting in the eventual replacement of the coil.
More on Rheem:
10. Lennox Air Conditioning and Heating
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. 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 is horrible. It 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. Just a thought…
More on Lennox can be found here:
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 Thoughts on ASM’s List of the Top 10 Air Conditioner Brands of 2016
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.