People often ask us what brand of HVAC is the best and frankly, due to consolidation in the industry, what was once great may be not so great today.
The short answer is – your best pick is to buy a brand that is well-represented by service companies in your area. In other words, if you choose a brand that is only serviced by one or two companies in your area, your options for repair are limited.
Companies are also known to change quality standards as their market positions change. Companies, which were once the gold standard, can be downgraded as competing companies enter the market with better products or innovative manufacturing/distribution which the established company cannot compete with. Or the company is bought out and quality suffers to service debt (we see this a lot across many industries). Materials and components may be sourced or manufactured in multiple plants around the globe instead of a central manufacturing facility where all quality is controlled (think Ford or GM). In fact, most people have no idea who owns the brands they purchase today.
Based on our experience in inspecting thousands of homes over the years, this is our opinion of the current brands on the market today. You may find this to be different in your area.
|Company||Best||Good||Budget Friendly/Builder Grade|
| United Technologies |
|Carrier||Bryant||Comfortmaker / Heil / Tempstar / Payne |
ArcoAire / KeepRite / Day & Night /
|Trane Technology |
(Ingersoll Rand – Ireland)
|Trane**||American Standard||RunTru / Ameristar / Oxbox|
|Daikin Industries |
|Daikin||Amana||Goodman / Quietflex|
|Lennox Int’l. |
|Lennox Elite Series**||Armstrong / Aire-Flo / Concord / Ducane |
| Johnson Controls |
|York||Coleman / Luxaire|
| Melrose Industries |
|Gibson / Frigidaire / Maytag |
Sold under the Nordyne brand
*These brands are found under the International Comfort Products line.
**Lennox includes three series under the Lennox brand: Signature (best), Elite (good) and Merit as the low end.
**Trane includes three series under the Trane brand: XL (best), XR (good) and XB as the low end.
Of the seven major manufacturers of residential HVAC systems, only one is 100% American-owned – Lennox.
The Nordyne brands are not found in all areas and the company has undergone several mergers/leveraged buyouts; it is questionable if these brands will survive.
It should be understood in ranking some units as “budget-friendly” or “builder grade” does not imply these units are not good – it simply means they are designed to sell at a lower cost. Brands such as Goodman, Payne, and ComfortMaker are often found in multi-family housing. The SEER rating is often limited to 14 or 16 in these budget-friendly units as well.
The top brands like Carrier, Lennox, or Trane produce differing quality levels of their product. This is especially important to know when you are replacing a system or buying a new home. AC contractors and homebuilders will quickly note they are quoting or providing a “name-brand” AC system but they are less likely to tell you it may very well be the “lowest quality” of the brand. They know that you don’t know, and they take advantage of what you don’t know. You think you are getting a top-of-the-line Trane AC system but you may not know you are getting the Trane XB (budget) version. Trust me, there is a big difference between the Trane XB and the Trane XL. Do some research before you decide.
Any brand is no better than the quality of service it receives. You should always look for a factory-authorized service technician to service your system. They may cost a little more upfront, but you will save in the end and get better performance over the life of your system.
The absolute worst thing you can do is to allow an unauthorized technician to service your system. We’ve seen countless examples of poor service ruining a quality-made system. All systems/brands are not alike! While most technicians can work on a lower-grade Goodman or Payne system, they should not be working on a new Trane, Carrier, Lennox, or Daikin system. Think of it as the difference between a shade-tree mechanic working on a 1968 Chevrolet vs. a new BMW.
Finally, there is no such thing as an “average life expectancy” of a residential HVAC system. It really depends upon the brand/quality level and the maintenance of the system. If you have your HVAC system serviced regularly by a factory-authorized service technician, you should expect a longer useful life.
If you are buying a resale home, you should ask the seller to provide maintenance/service records on the HVAC system. If they cannot, you should assume the system has probably not been maintained properly, and therefore, your useful life remaining will be less than optimal.
Property360 strives to inform our customers of the true condition of the home they are considering purchasing. While many home inspection companies will report “functional”, we want you to understand the obsolescence of the system you are buying. For more information, you need and can depend upon, contact us at (904) 606-1570 for your next home inspection.