Whether you are upgrading an older system or looking to change brands, choosing an air conditioner unit is an overwhelming task. Not only do you have to pick from specific types, ratings, SEER values, and capabilities, but you also need to choose a brand.
This article will focus on the Ameristar brand of air conditioners. The company has many options available, including condensing units, package units, furnaces, and more. We will focus on their air conditioners, which bring value and affordability to a saturated market. Let’s find out if Ameristar ACs are the right fit for you.
Quick Look At Ameristar Air Conditioners
Ameristar started under the Ingersol-Rand branding, forming in Ireland in the 1870s. The air conditioner market and the birth of the Ameristar brand didn’t take off until the production moved to New Jersey.
From there, the air conditioner side of the business was picked up by Trane Heating and Air, and the production was primarily moved to China. While the parts and pieces come from Chinese labor, most of the units are assembled in Texas, while others are still rolling off the lines in Trenton, NJ.
Today, having Trane as a parent company has helped Ameristar reach more homes across the country. With average SEER ratings, smaller units to fit more installation restrictions and cross-country availability, Ameristar could be your next air conditioner.
Cost Expectations & Price Comparisons
As a budget-friendly option under the Trane umbrella, Ameristar is affordable for most budgets. Using the chart below, you can get a basic idea of what to expect when it comes to the three big cost points: unit cost, installation cost, and running costs.
Keep in mind that when you see a quote for installation, it will generally include the cost of the unit itself. This makes the install costs seem quite high. However, when you factor in that the unit is included in the price, it makes more sense.
For the following chart, unit costs with installation, we are using the average cost of $2000 for a 1.5-ton unit. Your actual costs for installation can range from about $2800 to over $7000. Size, region, time of year, and contractor labor costs will all affect the overall price.
If you already own the unit or plan to purchase it yourself, you should talk with your contractor before installation to ensure everything is compatible and ready to go. You should also verify you have the right-sized unit for your space. Your contractor can help with this, which we will outline in more detail below.
|Model||Price* (w/out Installation)||Price* (w/ Installation)||Estimated Running Cost**||Government Tax Break|
|A4AC6||$1950 – 3400||$3950 – 5400||$400 – 490||$300|
|A4AC4||$1675 – 2800||$3675 – 4800||$510 – 625||None|
|A4AC3||$1400 – 2500||$3400 – 4500||$550 – 670||None|
|M4AC6||$1625 – 2750||$3625 – 4750||$410 – 500||$300|
|M4AC4||$1300 – 2400||$2300 – 4400||$520 – 640||None|
|M4AC3||$950 – 1890||$2950 – 3890||$560 – 685||None|
*Prices are estimates for the following: 2.5-ton condenser, 1300-1400 cfm air handler plus a programmable thermostat.
**Running costs based on 21 cents/kWh and 2000 hours of cooling per year. Based on 2.5 ton AC unit.
Note – Other exterior factors can also influence the price; Based on national average
Running Costs Calculated
To calculate estimated running costs, you need to know (and understand) a few variables. First, you need to know how much wattage your system consumes. This will be listed on the ID plate or in the owner’s literature. If the wattage is not listed, you can multiply the voltage and amps to get the watts.
You also need to convert the watts to kilowatts. This is done by simply multiplying the watts by 1000. Then, you need to know how much you are charged by your electric company per kilowatt-hour (kWh), which will be presented on your monthly bill.
After that, you need to know two numbers. First, the number of hours per day the system runs, on average. Keep in mind that this is the total hours the system is actually running, not just “on” at the thermostat. On average, during the summer, a system will run for 4 to 5 hours per day.
Second, you need to know how many days a year your system will run. You can average it over the 12 months or pick a specific time, such as the summer months.
Once done, you only need to put your numbers into the formula:
(kWh x cost per kWh) x (hours per day x days of use)
As an example, using US averages from the BLS (13 cents per kWh), a 3500 watt system running 4 hours a day for the 90 days of summer will look like this:
(3.5 x $0.13) x (4 x 90) = ($0.455) x (360) = $163.80 running cost.
The Importance Of A Quality HVAC Contractor
Having a high-quality contractor is crucial to the success of your new HVAC system. The number one reason for warranty claims, repair needs and inefficient systems is an improperly installed system.
Luckily for us, Modernize helps us find the best contractors in our local area. All you have to do is answer a few questions about your needs. Then you will get a text, email, or call with up to four contractors in your area.
These companies have been thoroughly vetted for you, including license and background checks, pricing, previous customer reviews, proximity to your location, and many other factors. You know that when you get your list, you will have the best contractors in your area for the job at hand.
Ameristar AC Model Numbers Explained
Ameristar follows the Trane method of model number listings. All models are designated using a 5-digit system. Serial numbers also include codes for date of manufacture, BTU output, and other information.
The model number, though, will tell you what you need to know to select the right model. Once you make the selection, you can break it down further to select the BTUs and tonnage size of the unit you need.
The first digit of the model number will be either an A or M. These stand for the brand Ameristar or the non-branded mass-produced models. The non-branded models are less expensive and still have Ameristar on the nameplate but don’t have the higher-quality internals as the named models.
Next, you have the refrigerant used in the system. All models will use R-410a for their refrigerant, which is represented by the number 4. After that, you have a 2-digit naming of the type of system, in this case, AC for air conditioner.
Ameristar also sells heat pumps, furnaces, and air handlers that will have their own designation in this spot.
Finally, you have the SEER rating as a single-digit number. When you see a 6 in the 5th spot, for example, it represents a 16 SEER rated model (more on SEER ratings below).
|A4AC6||1.5 – 5||16||74 – 76dB||18000 – 60000||Single-stage Scroll|
|A4AC4||1.5 – 5||14||74 – 76dB||18000 – 60000||Single-stage Scroll|
|A4AC3||1.5 – 5||13||74 – 76dB||18000 – 60000||Single-stage Scroll|
|M4AC6||1.5 – 5||16||74 – 76dB||18000 – 60000||Single-stage Scroll|
|M4AC4||1.5 – 5||14||74 – 76dB||18000 – 60000||Single-stage Scroll|
|M4AC3||1.5 – 5||13||74 – 76dB||18000 – 60000||Single-stage Scroll|
**based on normal operation
Main Features of Ameristar AC Units
Energy Efficiency/Seer Rating
Energy efficiency is determined based on many factors. One of the easiest to understand is the SEER rating, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio rating. This is generally found on a large yellow sticker either on the device itself or the packaging it comes in (sometimes both).
To figure the SEER rating, it is merely a process of dividing the wattage input versus the BTU output during peak use (the season). Based on the SEER rating, you can get an estimate of how much that particular model will cost you to run each year. Higher SEER ratings are better.
Ameristar has three SEER ratings for their 6 models, two models each share 13, 14, and 16 SEER, which is relatively low compared to other brands that reach 17, 19, or over 20 SEER.
Compressors are one of the biggest energy drains on the system, and a more efficient compressor makes a much more efficient system overall. With inverter compressors and multi-stage compressors on the market, there is only one reason not to choose a model with a more efficient compressor; price.
Ameristar only offers single-stage scrolling compressors. While scrolling compressors are slightly more efficient than standard compressors, they aren’t that efficient. The price drop, though, makes these compressors more viable, helping keep more money in your wallet during the initial purchase.
Condenser Fan Options
Along with compressor speeds, variable speed fan motors can also help maximize efficiency and keep the system at the right temperature to perform optimally.
Since Ameristar only has single-stage (one speed) compressors, there is no need for multi-speed fans. You will find only single-speed fans (on or off) with each Ameristar condensing unit.
When it comes to heating your home, a package unit is usually advised. These are condensing systems, air handlers, and heaters all in one. The condensing unit still sits outside (split system), but the air handler also has electric coils to supply heat.
Other options include electric and gas furnaces, heat pumps, and ductless combo systems. Ameristar offers all of them and at great pricing. Like the air conditioners, though, various models will perform better or worse based on your expectations.
Noise is measured in decibels (dB), which is a rating system comparing the noise to absolute silence. On the scale, the higher the dB rating, the more noise it produces, or rather, the louder that noise is to your ears.
Any decibel rating below 60 is considered quiet, with conversational talking tones rating about a 48. Over 80 is considered very loud (city traffic at rush hour rates about a 72). Air conditioners aren’t the quietest machines, though, and all will produce a lot of noise—Ameristar condensers rate between 74 and 76dB, which is slightly higher than average across the industry.
Warranty (Very Important)
When you purchase a new air conditioner, it is important to pay attention to the warranty. You also need to understand what is required of you to activate the warranty, make a claim, and the process involved. Also, note that almost every brand warranty will not include labor or installation coverage, which should come from your HVAC contractor.
Ameristar has 3 warranty coverage terms. When you buy any Ameristar system, you get 5-year warranty coverage. If you register the product within 60 days, it will double to 10-years. It is highly recommended that you register your purchase as soon as it is installed, providing it is within the 60-day window.
For the heat exchanger, the warranty will extend to 20-years once registered, again as long as it is within 60-days. These extensions are there to get you to register the product and aren’t mandatory. However, if a problem does occur after the 5-year mark, you will be glad you registered.
Tax Breaks Explained
The government tax rebate program is a system designed to offer an incentive to purchase new, highly efficient machines. Each qualifying air conditioner will earn a $300 tax credit that is as easy as filling out a form to get.
To qualify, you must purchase and install the unit before December 31st, 2021. However, there are currently attempts to double the offer and extend the rebate program through 2026. You must also be the homeowner and reside in the home. Rentals and new construction do not qualify.
The system must use a modern refrigerant (R-410a) and be a minimum of 16 SEER. Ameristar has two options that qualify; the A4AC6 and M4AC6 models (16 SEER) will get you the rebate.
The Pros & Cons Of Ameristar AC Units
As with anything else in life, Ameristar air conditioners have good points and downsides. Let’s examine both now, so you know what to expect from the brand and their AC selection.
What We Like
- Lower average cost of installation
- Unit pricing is below industry averages
- Free registration extends warranty to 10 years
- Smaller condensing unit footprint
- Only modern refrigerants used
- Readily available models across the US
What We Don’t Like
- Average SEER rating lower than most other brands
- Higher estimated running costs than some brands
- Limited SEER selection
- Smallest units (SEER 13) not eligible for install in the South/Southwest
Comparing Ameristar With Other AC Brands
If you are wondering how Ameristar compares to other well-known air conditioner brands, you are in luck. We wondered the same thing, so we figured it out and are here to share. Take a look as we compare Ameristar to Trane, Bryant, American Standard, and Lennox.
Ameristar Vs Trane
Trane Air conditioners started out as a commercial-focused solution and moved to the residential market shortly after popularity and reliability hit a high. Now the parent company for Ameristar, Tran has a residential offering for every budget.
What you get with a Trane model, though, is high-quality parts, variable speed compressors, and durability the name is known for. While Ameristar units still use good parts and will last a while, they aren’t as efficient as their parent company’s models and will likely need repairs and replacement parts sooner.
However, for initial costs, Trane is among the most expensive brands, and you can buy Ameristar, get good quality and cold air for quite a cost savings.
Ameristar Vs Bryant
Bryant air conditioners share a couple of things in common with Ameristar. First, their lower prices. Bryant machines are affordable for most budgets across the board, with prices ranging between about $1200 to $2400 (unit cost). You will also find that both brands have named and non-branded units for sale.
The similarities pretty much end there. Bryant has 18 different models to choose from, compared to Ameristar’s 6. You will also find that across the line-up, Bryant has a much higher SEER rating average (16.14 SEER) than Ameristar (14.33 SEER).
You will find that Bryant has a 10-year warranty that does not include labor costs (about average for the market). Still, they tend to wholesale to retailers instead of direct sales, making them harder to get and can introduce inexperienced contractors performing the installs.
American Standard Vs Ameristar
American Standard is another highly popular brand. Like Goodman, you will find a lot of American Standard units installed in neighborhoods across the country. They also have a higher sales and installation rate in the south due to their higher SEER ratings compared to other value brand models.
American Standard has similar costs compared to Bryant and Ameristar, with more affordable options even at the higher SEER rated models. However, their installation tends to be higher, and repairs are slower. Since American Standard uses their own parts, you must replace them with an OEM specified part to maintain the warranty.
Where Ameristar shines against this brand is in its installation fees and overall costs. While American Standard will save you more money in the long run, the units are larger and more difficult to place, adding to the labor costs.
Lennox Vs Ameristar
Lennox air conditioning compares more to Trane than Ameristar. As a big name brand, Lennox has high initial prices and higher-quality parts than Ameristar. However, you are going to pay for those quality items, and it can get quite expensive.
Lennox, though, has a solid reputation for being durable, corrosion free and long lasting. Some units have been known to run strong and optimal even 25 years after install (with proper care and maintenance, of course).
Ameristar may not last 2 decades, but their initial pricing makes them a bit more alluring. However, their biggest downfall is the energy efficiency rating, which is much lower than Lennox. With 11 models to choose from, Lennox offers you SEER ratings from 13 to 26, making them one of the highest efficiency central air conditioners around.
Want to see more top brands of air conditioning units? Here are just some of the other reviews we’ve put together to help you find a system that bests suits you.
Finding an affordable, high-quality and long lasting air conditioner is a challenge. If you are currently looking for an upgrade to an existing system, Ameristar has a few reliable options. While you aren’t going to win “most efficient home of the year” awards, you may get a consolation prize for the most money saved.
Ameristar units are highly affordable, easy to install, and take up less space than almost every other brand out there. The size alone is a high draw, but it is countered with a lower SEER rating. Still, for the budget-conscious, the units do produce cold air and remove humidity, which is the whole point.
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