Ranking the Top Air Conditioning Brands | Day & Night Air

When is 25 the same as seven? No, it’s not a clever math problem, it’s a central air conditioning problem. The top 25 brands of central AC equipment in the United States are actually made by only seven different companies. So when you go to compare “brands” of AC units, you need to know that the logo on the nameplate may not tell the whole story.

Seven Manufacturers

Trane is one of the seven leading brands and top-rated manufacturers in the country. Trane also builds American Standard central air conditioners. Carrier owns the Bryant, Payne and Tempstar brands. This sort of thing goes on and on:

  • Lennox produces Allied, AirEase, Armstrong, Concord and Ducane
  • Rheem makes Rheem and Ruud
  • Nortek Global HVAC produces Frigidaire, Kelvinator, Maytag, Westinghouse and other brands

Two other manufacturers, Goodman and York, make six brands between them. That’s 25 different names on equipment rolling off just seven assembly lines.

Which is the Best?

Each manufacturer is producing good-better-best lines, in efforts to avoid competing against their own brands by price point. So look for the original name as the top tier, and you will find just a handful of real successes:

  1. Trane – The best overall central air conditioner in North America, with the XV20i as the state-of-the-art, SEER 20 dual-compressor system as the gold standard.
  2. Lennox – Though once strong products, Lennox AC units have slipped in quality in recent years; one consumer reviewing site listed 193 “very unsatisfied” reviews against only 61 “very satisfied” listings.
  3. Rheem – This is the brand to get if you want to beat older models, but it can’t compete against modern, high-efficiency AC units from Trane and others.

The exception to this brand identity is Nortek, which markets a somewhat reliable central air conditioner in America under the Maytag name. However, this brand recently seems to be requiring nearly endless parts replacements, according to a leading consumer review reporting site.

The various parts going into all those brands are generally made by only three companies, too:

  • Honeywell
  • Johnson Controls
  • Emerson

The differences in quality between brands – those attributes that set Trane above, say, Goodman or York, for example – come from the manufacturer’s attention to detail, the unit’s energy efficiency, and its proper, final installation on site.

Installation Is Key

While Trane is widely acknowledged to be one of the best brands and manufacturers, it is the installer who completes the product. It’s as if your family automobile depended on the local car dealer to add the axle, drive train and wheels to make your made-in-Detroit car work. The local, trustworthy HVAC installer actually completes assembly by tying the AC unit into your house.

Since the manufacturer is delivering an unfinished unit, you need to select your HVAC installer and technician just as carefully as you select your manufacturer. This is why you will not find the superior Trane brand available from some contractors, such as:

  • Plumbers who also dabble in HVAC
  • Carpenters who “can handle” central AC installation
  • Electricians who “sometimes work” on AC

Trane and a few other brands limit access to their high-quality units to HVAC contractors with experience and known track records of reliable, professional installation. Trane trusts their best units to their best HVAC installers. If you search big box home improvement stores for Trane units, you will not find them.

Which Brand is the Best?

You should partner with your local, reliable HVAC dealer to discuss which brand’s combination of energy efficiency, high SEER rating, reliability and ease of service will be most appropriate for your home. Contact Day & Night Air to learn more about how Trane, the brand and manufacturer we recommend, is right for you.