Carrier vs Lennox Air Conditioner Review | Which AC Brand is Best?

Carrier vs Lennox Air Conditioner Review | Which AC Brand is Best?

So, straight to the point…who makes a better air conditioner, Carrier or Lennox?  Which air conditioning brand to choose is a hotly debated topic in the HVAC industry, and no question gets asked more often than “what’s the best AC brand?”  Per your request, today we will discuss two of the biggest AC brands in our Carrier vs Lennox air conditioner review.  Those of you who have read our articles, know that we are a small, U.S. Veteran-Owned heating and air conditioning company based in California, and have built our reputation on giving straight, honest answers to peoples’ HVAC questions; this will be no different.  I will also point out that we are not official Lennox or Carrier distributors, but do sell and repair both brands.  We instead opt to offer all major brands to our clients, allowing for a frank, unbiased opinion of each.  In this Lennox vs Carrier air conditioner review, we will examine the two AC brands from four different aspects: efficiency, performance and features, repairs and reliability, and finally, cost.

First Impressions – The Carrier vs Lennox Air Conditioner Review

Carrier vs Lennox Air Conditioner Review - Carrier Unit

Before we start our Carrier vs Lennox air conditioner review, it is important to point out that having sold and installed both of these, as well as a dozen other brands, I am a fan of neither.

It has nothing to do with their quality or performance, but rather, the fact that their technology is offered in other brands, for a fraction of the price.  In fact, Carrier air conditioners are owned by United Technologies (UT), which makes several other HVAC brands, including: Day & Night, Bryant, Heil, and Payne.

Likewise, Lennox air conditioners and furnaces have their issues too, primarily with the logistics chain that supports them.  It’s hard to get parts.  We’ll discuss more about that later.

In the meantime, for the last few years, we have been big fans of an HVAC manufacturing company called Day & Night, which is also made by UT, offers the same features and internal components as Carrier air conditioners, and is typically available at a fraction of the price…just food for thought.  More on Day & Night air conditioners can be found here:

This article addresses Carrier vs Lennox air conditioners…for our review of their furnaces, try:

Carrier vs Lennox Air Conditioner Efficiency

To start off our Carrier vs Lennox air conditioner review, we will discuss their respective efficiency ratings.  Efficiency is valued using the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), which is an arbitrary scale ranging from a low of around 7, to high-efficiency units in the 21 to 25 SEER range.  Both Carrier and Lennox offer AC units in high-SEER models.  However, it is important to note – redundantly, if you read our articles regularly – that we feel that there is no added financial benefit to SEER models above 14 and 16 SEER.

We have noticed, through various avenues, including repair calls, that the technology for some of these high-SEER units isn’t quite there yet.  They utilize two-stage and variable-speed compressor technology (offered by both Carrier and Lennox) which isn’t as reliable as their single-speed 14 and 16 SEER counterparts.  Additionally, the replacement of a two-stage compressor is typically two to three-times the repair cost of their standard single-stage counterparts – definitely worth noting.   Once you factor this into the lifetime cost of your air conditioner, it can negate much of the added financial benefit to purchasing a higher SEER model.

Finally, the problem with the SEER model of evaluation, is that it is based solely in a laboratory setting, following a very specific set of parameters (which lay outside the scope of this article).  These parameters may be a decent way to compare efficiency side-by-side between two units, but lack a realistic analysis of what your individual energy savings might be.  For instance, do you live in Santa Clarita, California, or Bozeman, Montana?  Do you keep your thermostat set to 75 degrees, or a frigid 68?  There are just too many variables to conclude whether or not your high-SEER unit is worth the additional cost.  It will be more efficient than a lower SEER counterpart, sure, but will it pay for the additional cost in energy savings?  Probably not.  As such, if you are going to invest in a high-SEER model, I’d recommend you do it for environmental reasons, not financial ones!

Carrier vs Lennox AC Review - Carrier 14 SEER AC unitCarrier Air Conditioner Review of Efficiency Features

Carrier Air Conditioner Efficiency Ranges:

  • Carrier Comfort Series Air Conditioners – 13 SEER – 16 SEER
  • Carrier Performance Series Air Conditioners – 13 SEER – 17 SEER
  • Carrier Infinity Series Air Conditioners – 16 SEER – 21 SEER (including a 19VS ‘Variable-Speed’ option)

Carrier air conditioners offer a wide variety of SEER ratings to choose from, ranging from 13 SEER models which meet minimum federal standards, all the way up to their Infinity Series, 21 SEER high-efficiency model.

Lennox Air Conditioner Review of Efficiency Features

Lennox Air Conditioner Efficiency Ranges:

  • Lennox Merit Series Air Conditioners – 13 – 16 SEER
  • Lennox Elite Series Air Conditioners – 15.5 – 20 SEER
  • Dave Lennox Signature Series Air Conditioners – 18.5 – 26 SEER

Lennox air conditioners also offer a wide range of efficiencies, including 13 SEER basic models, all the way up to their state-of-the-art Dave Lennox Signature Series air conditioners, which boast SEER ratings of up to 26 SEER!

As mentioned before, however, you have to take these SEER values with a grain of salt.  For instance, just as you see the “fine print” at the bottom of drug labels and on infomercials, it is important to understand what I said above…results may vary.  In fact, the asterisk attached to Lennox air conditioners, for example, says this at the bottom of their site:

“Efficiency claim based on comparison of air conditioning and heat pump products’ SEER as published in AHRI (January 2015). Actual system combination efficiency may vary; consult AHRI for exact system efficiencies.”

Look, I’m not bagging on the high-SEER units, (well, I suppose that I am), but all I am saying is, try not to buy into the hype.  Regardless of whether it’s Carrier or Lennox that you settle on, realize that a lot of it is marketing, so do your research (as it would seem that you are, having read this article) before spending your hard-earned cash.  Mike and I, for instance (the owners of All Systems Mechanical), both have 14 SEER air conditioners in our homes…just a thought.

For more on SEER values, you may be interested in:

Would You Buy a New Car Without First Doing Research On What a Fair Price Was?

Hopefully, you wouldn’t.  But people often do just that when buying a new heating and air conditioning system, some of which pay almost half of what they paid for a new car!  We get emails about it every week…someone overpaid by $2,700 and was ripped-off.  Those of you who know us can imagine how well that went over; we despise dishonest contractors.  So, we created a program to help you guys out.  It’s kind of like Kelly Blue Book for air conditioner and furnace installations.  Do your research!  Here’s a short video on it:

 

SHOW ME CARRIER AND LENNOX AC PRICES

Carrier vs Lennox Review of Air Conditioner Performance and Features

Next in our Carrier vs Lennox air conditioner review, we will spend some time discussing the performance and features offered by both brands, including their various product lines, noise levels, SEER ratings, and other features to consider.

Carrier Air Conditioner Review of Performance and Features

Carrier air conditioners come in three different product lines: the Comfort Series, Performance Series, and Infinity Series, in order of increasing features (and cost).  However, it is also important to note that even the “high-end” Carrier Infinity Series air conditioner still contains many of the same internal components as their 14 SEER counterparts, including coils made by Aspen Coils.

Carrier Air Conditioner Models

Discussing every single unit they make is outside the scope of this article, but we will instead address a few of the favorites.

Carrier AC Model Noise Level SEER Rating
Carrier Infinity 21 Air Conditioner 65 Decibels 21
Carrier Infinity 19 VS “Variable Speed” 56 Decibels 19
Carrier Performance 17 Air Conditioner 72 Decibels 17
Carrier Performance 14 “Slimline”* 66 Decibels 14
Carrier Comfort 14 Air Conditioner 72 Decibels 14

* This model is a “Slimline” unit, and unique to United Technologies’ products.  It boasts a “flat” layout that is only 18-inches wide.

Carrier Air Conditioner Features

Carrier vs Lennox Air Conditioner Review - Carrier Slimline AC Unit

Carrier air conditioners offer a variety of options, including:

  • Two-Stage Compressors – available on the higher-SEER models, this allows the compressor to function at two different speeds, instead of just one.
  • Variable Speed Technology – available on the higher-SEER models, this feature allows the compressor to function at high-speed, low-speed, and everything in between.
  • WeatherArmor Technology – protects components from he weather.
  • R-410a Refrigerant – standard on all new air conditioners, this “Puron” replaced “Freon” (R-22) a few years back (although some recent evidence suggests that it is no better for the environment than Freon – go figure).
  • 10-Year Limited Parts Warranty – standard for the industry.
  • Carrier “Slimline” Performance 14 Series – one additional feature that really sets Carrier air conditioners apart from Lennox, is that they offer a “Slimline” series air conditioner that is only 18-inches wide, and fits well on the side of your house, especially if you have a narrow walkway.

Lennox Air Conditioner Review of Performance and Features

Lennox air conditioners are offered three different product lines: the Merit Series, Elite Series, and Dave Lennox Signature Series, offered, again, in order of increasing features and price.

Lennox AC Model Noise Level SEER Rating
DL Signature XC25 Air Conditioner 59 Decibels 26
DL Signature SL18XC1 Air Conditioner 65 Decibels 18.5
Lennox Elite XC20 Air Conditioner 65 Decibels 20
Lennox Elite XC16 Air Conditioner* 64 Decibels 17.2
Lennox Elite XC 14 Air Conditioner 70 Decibels 14

* It is important to note that this air conditioner is capable of attaining a rating of 17.2 SEER in a laboratory setting.  This is important for absolutely no reason, but I found it amusing that they didn’t just say “17 SEER,” but instead noted that it was “17.2 SEER”…and I also enjoy being a smart-aleck whenever possible.

Lennox Air Conditioner Features

  • Multi-Stage Compressors – available on the higher-SEER models, this allows the compressor to function at multiple different speeds, just as the Carrier models do.
  • Variable Speed Technology – this feature allows the compressor to function at multiple speeds, increasing efficiency.
  • 26 SEER Technology – Lennox offers a 26 SEER air conditioner, which costs about as much as your new car (joking, but it’s pricy), and in our not-so-humble opinion, is not worth the initial investment (if it breaks, it’d be cheaper to replace a thruster on the SpaceX)
  • R-410a Refrigerant – standard on all new air conditioners.
  • 10-Year Limited Warranty on the compressor, 5-Year Limited Warranty on covered components.

Lennox vs Carrier Air Conditioner Review of Repairs and Reliability

Lennox vs Carrier air conditioner review - Lennox AC UnitLennox vs Carrier AC Unit Reliability

I’m going to sum up the reliability portion of the review by making a blanket statement (something I rarely do): both Carrier and Lennox air conditioners have outstanding reputations when it comes to reliability.  In fact, most of the major brands do these days, so reliability should not be a factor in your consideration as long as you stick with the major brands.

However, I will take a moment to get back on my high-horse and readdress the concerns I have with high-SEER units.  As with most brand new technologies, there are always a few bugs, and it sometimes takes a decade or two before they are as reliable as their predecessors.

This, of course, is completely independent of the Carrier vs Lennox air conditioner debate, and is instead universal for the industry.  Although high-efficiency air conditioners (i.e. above 16 SEER) are a lot better than they were even a few years ago, we just can’t fully recommend them yet.  Maybe it’s from our roots as veterans, but in the end, there’s something about recommending a unit that isn’t 100% proven and reliable that we just have a problem with.

If you have your heart set on the 21 SEER Carrier AC unit, then of course, buy your heart out…but we’ve had bad experiences, and need to see more before we give it our stamp of approval.  Of course these technologies have been available for years, but nevertheless, there you have it.

And to be honest, we’d make a lot more money if we were pushing the high-efficiency, expensive stuff, so believe me when I tell you…this is just our honest opinion.

  • For the record, we typically recommend that our clients stick with 14 or 16 SEER air conditioners, and feel there is no added long-term financial benefit to investing in high-efficiency units.

Carrier vs Lennox Air Conditioner Review of Repairs

Up until now, this Carrier vs Lennox air conditioner review has really been neck-in-neck, in case you skipped a few sections.  But, here’s where Carrier and United Technologies really set themselves apart from Lennox AC units…repairs.

It is important to understand that any piece of machinery will break down, from time-to-time.  The average lifespan of your Carrier or Lennox air conditioner is between 10 and 15-years (National Association of Home Builders – “Life Expectancy of Home Components”).  Typically, you’ll experience one major breakdown right around the 8 to 10-year mark, usually manifesting itself in the form of a burnt-out compressor.  This is completely normal, and aside from this, your unit should run well and be relatively hassle-free.

You may also be interested in:

The Problem with Lennox AC Units

When it comes to choosing between having to repair a Carrier or Lennox AC unit, however, Carrier blows Lennox right out of the water…it’s an absolute landslide, in our opinion.  That is because Lennox is completely proprietary, and keeps a singular hold on their logistics chain.  Great for profits, but horrible for you, the consumer.  What makes it worse is that their logistics chain can be HORRIBLE.  To give you a reference, it is not uncommon for us to have to track down a Lennox part (ourselves; not through Lennox) in Canada or the east coast, and it still takes several weeks to get here.  No big deal if it’s nice out, but in the middle of a 105 degree California scorcher, it can be tough.

This is the main reason that we shy people away from Lennox…their logistics chain is poor, and their customer service leaves something to be desired too.  Your air conditioner, no matter how well you take care of it, or which brand you choose, will always need some maintenance or repairs along the way.  Just know, if you go with Lennox, it can take weeks, and you can expect to pay three times the price.

Conversely, Carrier keeps a fluid logistics chain, and many of its most common components are industry-compatible (meaning you can plug in other brands’ parts, since they all use the same internal components).  Those of you who were veterans, know how important a good logistics chain is – enough said.  For this reason alone, if you’ve narrowed it down to Carrier or Lennox…go with a Carrier air conditioner.

You may also be interested in:

Carrier vs Lennox air conditioner review - Lennox 14 SEER AC UnitCarrier vs Lennox AC Review of Cost

Look, those of you who have read our articles before know that we are straight shooters.  Both Carrier and Lennox AC units are grossly overpriced.

I’m not interested in how much a unit costs, per se; I’m interested in providing the most value to my customers.  If Carrier or Lennox want to charge twice as much as their competitors, then they can have at it.  But I do expect my clients to receive something for that extra money…a longer unit lifespan, greater reliability, a foot massage…something.  It just isn’t there

I have a hard time recommending Carrier or Lennox AC units when their competitors offer the same reliability, the same technology, and the same unit lifespan, for a fraction of the price.  We install all major brands, including Carrier and Lennox…but we also see better value in companies like Day & Night and Goodman, both of whom are lesser known than the previous, but still readily available across the United States.  For example, let’s take a look at how the major brands broke out in price for an average air conditioner:

Price for a basic 14 SEER unit:

Carrier $2,378
Lennox $2,399
Day & Night $1,673*

*In the case of Day & Night, you are actually getting the exact same unit as Carrier, with a different shell and name-tag put on…just saying.

As you can see in this example, Carrier and Lennox typically cost around 42% more than their competitors, but also don’t return anything more on their investment.  Furthermore, if you continue to calculate the average for all units, it still sits at right around 40% more to buy a Carrier or Lennox air conditioner, with the high-end units costing almost twice as much as their competitors’ models.

Do Your Research

Look, these are just to give you an example.  Do your research and make sure that you know what a fair bid looks like.  Our program is always here to help you in your research:

TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE CALCULATOR

Look, if your dream has been to own a Lennox air conditioner, don’t let me stop you…I’m talking numbers here, and the numbers just don’t add up for the higher prices.  Do what you want!

In the end, we install both of these brands, but give our customers a firm push (or a swift kick) towards choosing Day & Night, Goodman, or any of the other brands that deliver the same quality and value for less.  No, these companies aren’t the “bargain companies,” or “cheap,” it’s just that Carrier and Lennox pay the money to have some slimy Wharton grad work up a marketing campaign to make them look like the pinnacle of the industry; the others do not.

Here’s an article on most of the major brands and where they fell out in our overall ranking – it’s worth a look:

Final Thoughts of our Carrier vs Lennox Air Conditioner Review

We hope you’ve found our Carrier vs Lennox air conditioner review helpful.  In the end, which AC unit you choose doesn’t really matter to us…all I know is that I’ve spent hours writing this for you, and it’s time for a beer…and by beer, I, of course, mean that I have to go change my eight-month-old’s diaper.  In all seriousness though, if you are truly deciding between Carrier and Lennox air conditioners, realize that both are reliable, but I’d go with the Carrier AC for the simple fact that if (when) it ever breaks down, the Lennox air conditioner will be a lot harder and more expensive to have serviced.  Additionally, try to open your mind a bit, and realize that there are other brands out there that offer superior value.  I hope that this article has been helpful, and we wish you the best of luck in your endeavor.  For more articles like this, visit our ASM Air Conditioning Blog.

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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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