Carrier Infinity vs Performance Air Conditioner Review - Which AC is Best?

Carrier Infinity vs Performance Air Conditioner Review - Which AC is Best?

We are often asked about our favorite air conditioning brands, most recently about the Carrier Infinity vs Performance series of air conditioners.  So, which AC should you choose?  First, the shameless disclaimer that this is all based on our personal experience.  We are fully qualified to service and install all major brands, including Carrier products…but rest assured that we are NOT a Carrier dealer, which means that you will get an honest, objective comparison.  Second, ASM is a small, U.S. Veteran-Owned air conditioning company in Southern California, and we pride ourselves on honesty; we don’t sugar-coat things.  So, what you read below about the Carrier Infinity vs Performance series AC’s is the raw, nitty-gritty of the matter, based on our over 25-years of experience in the industry and we won’t be holding back.  Finally, and most importantly, if you forget everything else that you read in this post, then remember that which brand you choose, whether you are deciding between Trane and Goodman, or you are trying to narrow it down between Carrier’s Infinity and Performance series ACs, is not as important as who you have install it.

How your air conditioner is installed, and who you choose to install it is the most important part of the decision you are about to make.  So do some research on your local HVAC contractors and don’t just go with the cheapest.  Believe me when I tell you that you will pay more in the long run.  If you are not in Santa Clarita or the Southern California area (or just don’t like us), here is an article that can help you choose a competent HVAC contractor:

carrier infinity vs performance air conditioner review

Carrier Infinity vs Performance Series ACs and Noise

For our comparison, we used the Carrier Infinity 21 Air Conditioner, and the Carrier Performance 17 Air Conditioner models.

First, lets take a look at how noisy each of these HVAC units actually are.  But, before we dive too deeply into the Carrier Infinity vs Performance review, we need to first ask ourselves a couple of important questions:

  1. First, where is your AC located in your home?  If it is near a bedroom or a commonly used area then this section may be more important to you than it is for someone with an air conditioner on the roof over the garage.
  2. Second, how insulated is your house?  If your home is well insulated, then this section might be less important to you.  However, we often get asked about the noise factor of the newer model air conditioners.  In short, both the Carrier Infinity and the Carrier Performance series ACs are far more quiet than the model you are likely replacing.  But let’s take a closer look:

For those of you who like the quick-and-dirty info like the contractor pricing for Carrier Infinity and Performance models, then you may want to consider using our HVAC Design & Consultation Program.  It provides contractor pricing information, fair installation prices, price breakdowns, sizing information, and much more.  It’s available here:

Click Here to Learn More About the HVAC D & C Program

Carrier Infinity vs Performance AC Review – Noise Levels

Carrier Infinity – The Carrier Infinity model rates at around 65 decibels.  What is a decibel?  For reference, 65 decibels rates at about the same noise level as a normal conversation – unless you’re talking to my wife (joking…I’ll be in trouble for this I’m sure).

Performance Series – The Carrier Performance series rates in at around 72 decibels, which is about as loud as the dial tone on your home phone when you pick it up.

Like I said, the noise these systems make might not be that big of a deal, but take the two questions that I asked you, and keep them in the back of your mind – you will have to decide how important this is to you.

ASM’s opinion is that the difference in sound between the Infinity and Performance series AC units is negligible.  Remember that a properly installed air conditioner can make all the difference.  So, in other words, a properly installed Carrier Performance may be quieter than an improperly installed Carrier Infinity unit.  Just food for thought.

For information on how you can make your current air conditioner more quiet, try our article:

Carrier Infinity vs Performance AC Review of Efficiency

The efficiency of an air conditioner is measured by its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER.  You’re probably wondering, what the hell is a SEER?  Simply put SEER is just a ratio – it’s the ratio of the cooling provided to the energy consumed (In other words, how much cooling was performed / energy consumed = SEER rating).  The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the air conditioner is.  So, let’s take a look at our SEER ratings for each:

  • Carrier Infinity – SEER 21
  • Carrier Performance – SEER 17, which is about 20% less efficient.

carrier infinity vs performanceTo be fair, however, this is to be expected, as the Carrier Infinity is the top-of-the line AC unit, and the Performance series AC is their mid-line unit…so in all reality, it’s comparing apples to oranges.

Your decision on whether the Carrier Infinity or Performance series is best for you all depends on your priorities.  If you live in Texas, where energy is a lot more reasonably priced, then this might not be that important to you.  However, if you live in our service area of Southern California, then efficiency becomes somewhat of a priority.

In my opinion, efficiency is always important, but you need to realize that a new 14 or 16 SEER air conditioner will already be significantly more efficient than the AC you are likely replacing.  We’ve had a lot of repair calls on high-efficiency units (including the Carrier Infinity 21 and Performance 17 Series ACs), and upon further inspection, the amount of money saved by the increased efficiency of these two units, is all but negated, once you factor in the price of more expensive repair parts over the natural lifetime of these units (Around 10-15 years, according to the National Association of Home Builders – “Life Expectancy of Home Components”).

ASM’s opinion is that it depends on your region and energy prices, but we’d recommend neither the Carrier Infinity or Performance AC in the efficiency category.  In most cases, you just don’t need it; opt instead for a reliable (and less expensive) 14 or 16 SEER Carrier AC unit.  Or better yet, take a look at Day & Night air conditioners, which are made by the same company that makes Carrier, with many of the same internal components.

However, if your heart is set on Carrier Performance or Infinity technology, the Infinity is more efficiency.  Twenty-percent more efficient, and that is a big difference, but how much do you have to pay for this added efficiency?

Also see:

How Much Does the Carrier Infinity vs Performance Cost?

The final thing to look at when making your decision between the Carrier Infinity vs Performance series AC units is the cost.  Now, I’m about to clue you in to some of our trade secrets, but I have never been of the opinion that your contractor needs to keep the real prices from you to make a profit (in fact, we actually used to list the exact prices on our site, but unfortunately some people found this confusing when we told them that ductwork and installation were extra – we have to make a living!).

Regardless, the Carrier Infinity 3-ton (the average size used in U.S. homes) has a contractor wholesale price of only around $350 more than the Carrier Performance series (ballpark – could be more at times due to fluctuations in the industry).

Our opinion on price is to pay the extra money to get the added SEER rating of the Infinity, if you aren’t going to get a basic, more reliable 14 SEER air conditioner.  The difference in price is negligible when compared to the energy saved over ten years of use, and both will cost about the same to repair.

You may also be interested in:

Save Money on Your New Carrier by Watching This Short Video

For those of you who are really concerned about choosing the right AC for the job, make sure that you aren’t taken advantage of.  A new air conditioner is expensive.  Here’s a short video on how you can save money, and avoid the tricks and traps of predatory contractors:


ASM’s Final Verdict on the Carrier Infinity vs Performance Series

The final though I’d ask you to keep in mind regarding the Carrier Infinity vs Performance question is to ask yourself how long you plan on keeping your home.  If you are flipping a home, for instance, then I’d recommend you buy neither of these products, as Carrier is on the high-end of the HVAC price spectrum.  Or if you are planning on selling your home in the next few years, then again, I’d ask you to think this through.  However, if you plan on being in your house for a while, or are undecided, and if you truly have to decide between these two (instead of a nice 14 or 16 SEER unit; sigh), then I would recommend buying the Carrier Infinity over the Carrier Performance air conditioner.  Here’s why:

For only a few hundred extra for the Carrier Infinity, you get:

  • A 20% higher SEER rating – the energy saved over 10 years of use will more than pay for this.
  • A quieter system.
  • The Carrier Infinity also has a higher degree of control over your temperature when used in conjunction with the Infinity Controler.
  • We have heard some (not many) complaints about the noise from the Carrier Performance series.  We haven’t heard anything bad about the Carrier Infinity.

In the end, the choice is yours, but like I said, at ASM we believe in efficiency and no nonsense.  Our opinion is to go with a 14 or 16 SEER unit if you can, but choose the Infinity if you are going for a high-SEER unit.  Rest assured that both are high quality air conditioners, so you can’t go wrong.

Again, I am going to beat the dead horse – spend time doing research on your HVAC contractors because they are not all the same.  Doing your research may mean the difference between a comfortable, well installed unit…and an annoying, unpleasant experience, rampant with follow-up maintenance calls.  At ASM, we offer free 24-hour emergency service on all of our installations.  Wherever you live, expect that most reputable contractors will offer the same type of guarantee.  For more information on the Carrier Infinity vs Performance series ACs, visit the Carrier website.

Also try:

Final Thoughts on Carrier Infinity vs Performance AC Units

We hope you’ve found this Carrier Infinity vs Performance review helpful.  If you live in Santa Clarita or the Greater Los Angeles area, give us a call at ASM.  Or if you live elsewhere, and something your contractor is telling you doesn’t seem quite right, consider using our online air conditioning consultation service.  If you have any further questions on the Carrier Infinity vs Performance series air conditioners, our blog has several other helpful (hopefully) articles.  Final thought: If you do decide to go with the Carrier Infinity series, make sure you research some of their competing brands, such as Day & Night and Bryant – both of which are made by the same company that makes Carrier: United Technologies.  ASM has more articles on other subjects in our ASM AC Blog.  If you live in Santa Clarita, Los Angeles or the Santa Barbara area, click here to see if you are in our service area:


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Timothy Kautz
About the author
Tim K.

The University of Virginia - 2005 / The Wharton School of Finance - 2016 / U.S. Naval Aviator 2005-2015. At All Systems Mechanical air conditioning and heating, we believe that the experience our clients have is every bit as important as the products they receive. Simply put, our results speak for themselves, and we'd be happy to help. If you're in the market for a new AC or furnace, make sure that you get a fair price! Try our online calculator; click the tab on the top of this page for more information.

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