Those of you who read our articles regularly, know that we are a small, U.S. Veteran-Owned company in Southern California, and pride ourselves in giving people honest, straight answers to their questions. This will be no different. Most of our family lives in Montana and Maine, meaning that I rarely get a vacation where what type of furnace to buy isn’t a hot topic, and I usually end up sticking my head inside someone’s furnace, despite my insistence that I’m on vacation. Recently the debate is on a Lennox vs Carrier furnace review. I will go off on a bit of a tangent now and point out that we are not Lennox or Carrier furnace distributors, and you shouldn’t trust the review of any company that is – if an HVAC company is a licensed distributor, then that means they are only allowed to distribute that type of furnace, so do you think that they might be a little bit biased? Getting off of my high horse, ASM is not a distributor of either Lennox or Carrier furnace products, but we do install and service both depending on customer preference. Both are well-known companies, but which is better, Lennox or Carrier furnaces? I know that a better writer would leave you in suspense, but I’m not a good writer, I don’t claim to be and I don’t beat around the bush – I’d go with the Carrier furnace. I will tell you why in this objective consumer review of Lennox vs Carrier furnaces. We will do this by examining each furnace brand in four different categories: efficiency, performance and features, repairs and reliability, and cost.
Lennox vs Carrier Furnace Review of Efficiency
How is Furnace’s Efficiency Measured?
Before we delve into the Lennox vs Carrier furnace debate, we first need to understand a little bit about how furnaces are measured for efficiency. If you have read some of my posts, then this should come as no shock to you – it is important to know some of these things before buying. A furnace is measured by it’s Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating, which is measured as a direct percentage of what amount of fuel can be translated into usable heat for your house, the remainder of which is wasted. For instance, if a furnace has an AFUE rating of 80, then this means that 80% of the fuel it consumes will be used as heat, and 20% will be completely wasted as exhaust. As you might imagine, the higher the AFUE, the better. But that efficiency usually comes with a price. Think of AFUE as something kind of like the SEER rating for air conditioners, if you are familiar with that. It is a way that you can directly compare two furnaces’ efficiency. For more reading on what an air conditioner’s SEER rating is, try: SEER vs EER.
Also take a look at: Trane vs Lennox Air Conditioner Review
Lennox Furnace Efficiency Review – Lennox SLP98V Furnace.
Both Carrier and Lennox make oil and gas furnaces. The Lennox Furnace company makes three different levels of furnaces, ranging from their most expensive and most efficient (recommended for Maine, Wisconsin, etc.), all the way down to their most economic series (For California, etc.):
- Dave Lennox Signature Collection Furnaces – their premium brand of furnace; the best they make. 80-98% AFUE
- Lennox Elite Series Furnaces – their middle series, slightly less than the Signature series. 80-95% AFUE
- Lennox Merit Series Furnaces – their economy series. I’d avoid this all together. 80-95% AFUE
Note: the premium, more expensive furnaces aren’t just because of their efficiency, as you can see (although they are more efficient), but are also because of their features which will be addressed in the next section.
For the purposes of our review, I am going to compare the best from each company, so for Lennox that will be the Dave Lennox Signature SLP98V. The Lennox Signature series furnaces range from an AFUE rating of 80% to 98%. Their premium model, the SLP98V is right around 98% in efficiency, and you can’t get much better than that.
Carrier Furnace Efficiency Review – Carrier Infinity 98 Furnace.
The Carrier Furnace company also makes three different levels of furnace, ranging from efficient and expensive (again…think Wisconsin, Montane, etc.) units to more economically priced ones for Californians with mild winters:
- Carrier Infinity Series Furnaces – their most efficient, premium brand. 80-98% AFUE
- Carrier Performance Series Furnaces – their middle ground furnaces. 80-95% AFUE
- Carrier Comfort Series Furnaces – Carrier’s economy brand. Again, I’d avoid this series unless you live in a temperate climate like Southern California. 80-95% AFUE
For the purposes of today’s review we will also use the premium Carrier furnace, the Carrier Infinity 98. The Infinity series of furnaces range in efficiency from 80-98% AFUE, losing out to Lennox by a thin 0.5% margin that I would argue is negligible in the realm of efficiency. Again, if we look at the Infinity 98 we get around a 98% efficiency which is more than enough to keep your house warm and your heating bills reasonably low.
Review of Performance and Features of Lennox vs Carrier Furnaces
You could literally spend hours discussing the intricacies of modern furnaces, but we will keep this at the most basic levels for today’s discussion and only address features that you yourself can see and benefit from.
Lennox Furnace Performance and Features Review
The premium Lennox Signature Series features:
- Energy Star Rating
- G.E. Self-Calibrating Variable Speed Inducer – varies the air-fuel mixture to increase efficiency of fuel combustion.
- Secondary Heat Exchanger – a secondary exchanger (what heats the air) that ensures maximum utilization of combusted gases.
- Duel Fuel – allows your furnace to be combined with an electric heater to increase efficiency in moderate temperatures.
- Variable Speed Blower Motor – makes the unit run as quietly as possible by only running the fan as high as it needs to run – a very reliable and proven feature on furnaces (yet they can’t seem to make them work reliably on air conditioning condensing units – stick to 16 SEER and below on your AC).
Overall the Lennox furnace has a multitude of features that both increase efficiency and comfort. These features, however, can be expected in any comparably priced unit from any of the major brands. Definitely at the cutting edge of technology and all of these features are features that you will want in your furnace if you can afford it.
Carrier Infinity Performance and Features Review
Carrier, as you will see, has many of the same features as the Lennox, and although they do not offer a built-in humidifier option anymore, they do offer one feature we really like: Carrier furnaces are some of the most reliable in the world. This goes for all Carrier brands, including those made by Carrier, such as Day & Night. (A proper system also decreases allergy symptoms and asthma attacks – more information on how to reduce asthma symptoms can be found here: How to Reduce Asthma Symptoms and How Your Air Conditioner Can Help).
Additional features provided by the Carrier Infinity 98 series include:
- Energy Star Rating
- Two Stage Gas Valve – increases combustion efficiency.
- Variable Speed Blower Motor – makes the unit run quietly by varying the speed of it’s fan.
- Secondary Heat Echanger – maximum utilization of combusted gas increases efficiency.
The Carrier 98 provides all of the features you’d desire in a premium furnace, but I’d also argue that it’s inclusion of a humidifier option gives it a slight edge.
Review of Reliability and Repairs for Lennox vs Carrier Furnaces
Up until now, the difference between the two has been really a matter of your own personal preference. This section is where the Carrier furnaces really start to pull away from their Lennox furnace counterparts:
Lennox Furnace Reliability and Repairs.
In our experience and in talking to other Lennox customers, we have often times been called out for repairs on relatively new Lennox furnaces, some even less than a year old. Why? From what we can tell, Lennox parts seem to wear out quicker than their competitors. But that’s not all:
Probably the biggest disadvantage of purchasing a Lennox furnace is how hard it is to find replacement parts, and these parts are expensive and don’t last as long as competitors.
Lennox offers a 10-year warranty on all parts, but the problem is that it can take days (sometimes weeks) to get the proper replacement part. If this part is non-essential then no big deal. But I’d wager that if you took the time to call in your furnace repair technician, then it is probably essential. So are you going to tough out a New England winter for a few days while your new part is shipped in? That’s up to you, but if you live in a colder climate, make sure you have a backup means of heating your home.
Ok…I realize that I’m being a bit too polite – Lennox is horrible to work on, find parts for and repair.
Carrier Furnace Reliability and Repairs.
The Carrier series furnaces are less likely to break down, in our experience, and if they do it is so much easier to order replacement parts. Usually you can get a Carrier replacement part within hours, which is nice if you’re toughing out a winter in Bozeman, Montana.
Carrier also offers a 10-year warranty on all parts, but once your warranty is up their parts are also more affordable.
In the end, as far as reliability and repairs are concerned, the Carrier far outperforms the Lennox series furnace.
Cost Review of Carrier vs Lennox Furnaces
How much does a Lennox or Carrier furnace cost? In short, a lot. Both Carrier and Lennox are the most expensive units on the market these days. Are they worth the money? Well, Carrier is a good unit, but the same company that makes Carrier (United Technologies) also makes Day and Night, using many of the exact same internal components, at about 60% of the price. Take a look at our Day and Night Review for more information. Back to Carrier vs Lennox. Installing a new air conditioner or furnace is not a do-it-yourself project, it is very time intensive and requires a lot of HVAC experience, but the prices a reputable contractor quotes you should be pretty close this: Lennox will typically be slightly more expensive than Carrier.
Here is another way in which the split between Carrier and Lennox becomes obvious. Again, I don’t really understand why Lennox runs about $200 to $300 more per unit than a Carrier, but they do, and both of them rank as “overpriced” on our furnace price-value index. Of course, prices are always subject to change over time, but even if you were leaning towards the Lennox, I don’t believe it is worth the notable price difference.
Here are some articles that might help in your decision:
On my high-horse: Be careful of licensed distributors (Lennox or Carrier, etc.) – they only install their brand of product and can tell you whatever they need to in order to make a sale. That doesn’t mean not to use them, just take what they say about their brand with a grain of salt.
A Final Word About Lennox vs Carrier Furnaces
Although the Lennox and Carrier furnaces are comparable in features and efficiency, the Carrier really proves itself in the reliability, repair and cost departments leading me to offer the following advice: although we will (occasionally) install Lennox products if consumers have their heart set on it, if it were up to me,
I’d recommend you go with the Carrier furnace – Lennox just isn’t worth the money in my opinion.
If you have any further questions, or something your contractor is telling you doesn’t sound quite right, or seems expensive, consider using our Online Air Conditioning Consultation Service. I will tell you though, that all of this is academic next to the most important part of selecting a furnace – how that furnace is installed. It isn’t likely that you live in our service area of Santa Clarita, so listen to me and if you forget everything else from this post, remember this: who you choose to install your furnace is more important than which brand you choose. Worrying about Lennox vs Carrier furnaces is great, but a Lennox that is installed properly will always outperform a Carrier that is not, so spend some time doing your research on local HVAC contractors. Here is a guide to choosing a reputable contractor in your area: How to Choose an HVAC Contractor.
I hope that this article has helped settle the Lennox vs Carrier furnace debate for you. For more information on related topics and do it yourself projects, visit our ASM Air Conditioning Blog. It includes troubleshooting topics like: Furnace Not Blowing Air? A Furnace Troubleshooting Guide and Why is My Heater Blowing Cold Air? If you have any more questions, ASM services Santa Clarita, Los Angeles and San Diego – click below to see if you are in our service area: