Informational Guide

Energy Saving AC Units

We have covered the best brands for energy savings when it comes to air conditioners. These AC companies offer efficiency and savings.

by Ian Haynes

There is no way around it. Central air conditioners are an investment. Choosing the best AC brand for that investment can be a challenge. There are plenty of brands offering many different models which can make your final decision tough.

This article will examine the best AC brands on the market right now and help you decide which one is right for your home. We will cover everything you need to know to choose a high-quality central air conditioner, including energy efficiency, costs, and installation concerns.

Whether you are looking for more information on a brand you know well or are looking at options that include brand names you may not have heard of, we have it all right here. Read on and find the best match for your next air conditioner investment.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is one of the biggest concerns for new HVAC equipment. Having an air conditioner with a high SEER rating is optimal but not always the best thing. There are several rating systems used, including EER, SEER, HSPF (for heaters), and Energy Star certification.

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is the most common energy efficiency rating system used for HVAC equipment. It is the ratio between wattage input and BTU output of the machine, where the higher the rating, the more efficient the system.

Some regions, such as the South and Southwest, will require specific SEER ratings (generally SEER 14 or higher). You may need to check with your contractor or HVAC installer to determine what is required in your area.

Energy Savings List

AC Size Vs. Home Size

Air conditioning units are rated in tons. The tonnage of the system will tell you the capacity and capabilities of the machine when in use. It is also a direct correlation to the size, in square feet, of your home.

One ton is equal to about 12,000 BTUs, and most brands will offer air conditioners between 1.5 and 5 tons. Depending on your home’s size, you may need a 2 ton or even a 4 ton unit. For a quick estimation, you want to have between 20 and 25 BTUs per square foot.

We have more information on sizing an AC for your home in this article.

Quality Components & Reputation

Another major factor is durability. You want your investment to last and perform well, and that will only happen with high quality components and great warranties (see further below). One thing to keep in mind is the reputation of the company.

This can be tricky, though, as many of the off-brand names you may come across are actually owned or manufactured by larger corporations. For example, the umbrella groups United Technologies Corporation (UTC) and International Comfort Products (ICP) control about 85% of the current HVAC market.

So while a brand may not have a Carrier or Bryant nameplate, there is a high chance it has Carrier or Bryant internal parts. Build quality, construction materials, and the use of stainless steel versus galvanized steel will be where the big differences come into play.


When considering costs, there are three numbers you need to be aware of. First is the unit cost. This one is easy. It is the basic cost of the unit delivered to your door. This will vary by region, brand, and size of the machine. The typical range is between $1000 and $3000.

Next is the installation cost. However, when looking at this large number, keep in mind that most installation cost estimates also include the unit cost. Installation will vary by city, state, and region, as well as individual labor costs through various contractors. On average, you can expect to pay between $2000 and $5000 for installation (with an average of about $2000 for a 2 ton unit).

Finally, you have the running costs. This is only an estimate since there are so many factors that go into how often your unit comes on, how long it stays running, SEER ratings, etc. You also need to figure in the unit’s size, ambient temperatures, humidity levels, and many other factors to get a direct number. Using national averages, you can expect to pay between $260 and $590 per year to run a new machine.

You can learn more about running costs of AC here.


Warranties for HVAC equipment will vary from a few years to a lifetime. Usually, each component or series of components is warrantied separately.

For example, you may only get 1 to 5 years coverage for the condensing unit housing but can expect 5 to 10 years for the sealed compressor system and coils. Most units with a heat exchanger will also have a 10+ year warranty (up to lifetime) for that system.

The warranty paperwork needs to be read over carefully. It is important to note what is required of you and if there are any time limits. As an example, many of the off-brand models (Tempstar, Comfortmaker, etc.) will offer a 5-year warranty on the system. However, if you register within 60 or 90 days, they will double the warranty to 10 years.

Smart Programmable Thermostat

While not technically part of the system, being able to use a smart thermostat with your new AC will only help to raise efficiency and savings. Smart thermostats allow you to program your air conditioner schedule, have it learn your habits and adjust accordingly, and more.

Not all brands or models are compatible with smart thermostats, though (most of them are), and you need to ensure that your system can be controlled by the smart thermostat you currently own or plan to buy.

Smart Programmable Thermostat

Quiet Operation

Noise levels are also something to keep in mind. By nature, condensing units aren’t the most silent of machines in your home. While decibel ratings will vary from model to model and brand to brand, you should pick one that fits your needs.

A single-family home, for example, can get away with a louder machine when there is more space between houses. The typical range for noise falls between 60 and 75dB. There are outliers, though, with quieter units falling near 55dB and louder ones exceeding 80dB.

20 Best Central AC Brands Reviewed

Below, we rate, and compare the best air conditioner brands available today. Each review will cover the brand, its range of models and explore what they have to offer or where they fall short. Read through and find your next AC brand.

1. Carrier

Brand Summary
Number of Models 18
SEER Range 13 – 22
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 49 – 75dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Carrier may be the most popular brand in the world and is credited as the first air conditioner maker. Since the early 1900s, Carrier has been innovating and pushing the industry forward. The Carrier name is now the head of a huge umbrella corporation that houses most of the other brands on this list.

Carrier offers about one and a half dozen models, all ranging in the 1.5 to 5 ton range. Designed to fit both residential and commercial applications, you can find the Carrier name on condensing units in every neighborhood and most shopping centers around the country.

For SEER ratings, Carrier is among the best. With options for all regions and every climate, you can find SEER ratings between 13 and 21, with most models being about 17 SEER. Almost all of their models meet or exceed the requirements for government tax rebates.

HVAC professionals like working with Carrier models, too. Maintenance is straightforward and simple, with installs being among the easiest to perform. The Carrier 24ANB1 and 24AAA* models are among favorites for their ease of use, smaller footprint, and simple connections.

When shopping for a carrier, you can expect to pay between $1500 and $3000 for the unit with another $3000 for install (on average). The Carrier warranty is only average with a 10-year option, even for their top models. Their customer service, though, is one of the best in the industry.

Brand Summary
Number of Models 7
SEER Range 13 – 22
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 55 – 75dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

American Standard is a common brand in residential heating and cooling. While they may not have the numbers compared to Carrier and other big names, they offer affordable units with some great options.

When you buy an American Standard AC unit, you are getting a durable and reliable machine. One of the better features is that American Standard air conditioners can use after-market parts and off-brand replacement pieces. This helps keep repair costs down if it is needed.

With SEER values for every region, you will find the energy efficiency level you need. The northern states will find substantial savings with the SEER 13 and 14 models, while the south and southwest states will find reliable, efficient models in the SEER 15 to 17 range.

For those that want it all, the best models from American Standard are the Platinum 20 and Platinum 18. While they are the most expensive from the company, they are the longest running and have the highest efficiency values, costing just over $400 per year to operate.

HVAC technicians are familiar with this brand due to its low-cost and reliable units. In fact, along with Goodman and a few smaller brands, American Standard is often found in HVAC trade school labs.

3. Goodman

Brand Summary
Number of Models 6
SEER Range 13 – 24.5
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 59 – 75dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Goodman might rival Carrier as the most popular brand. However, the numbers may also be skewed since Goodman spent most of its career catering to multi-family housing. Found in apartment complexes and condos around the country, Goodman’s air conditioners are affordable and reliable.

With the release of their latest model, the GVXC20, Goodman has topped the 20+ SEER mark (24.5 SEER) and continues to offer reliable cooling at affordable prices. The downside is the Goodman compressors. The GSX series compressors are good; they work well and push a lot of refrigerant.

However, they are prone to overheating. If you plan to purchase a Goodman, you will get reliable service, an affordable price, and an install that HVAC pros love. The connections for power are simple, and brazing the copper lines is easier than other brands, thanks to the raised positioning of the valves.

That being said, though, you are better off buying the GSXC series (or the new GVXC) since they have variable speed compressors that control heat much better. Goodman understands this, though, and offers a lifetime warranty on the compressor.

You will still have to pay for labor costs to replace the compressor, but that is a lot cheaper than buying a new unit.

4. Lennox

Brand Summary
Number of Models 11
SEER Range 13 – 26
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 59 – 76dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Lennox air conditioners made a huge push in the 1990s to get more involved in the residential areas. Known for their superior performance in the commercial and industrial areas, residential Lennox units are still hit or miss.

This is surprising, though, as Lennox is one of the top rated brands for performance, durability, and reliability. Lennox also has one of the highest average SEER ratings of any brand, with more than one model over 20 SEER and their top model, the Lennox XC25 reaching 26 SEER.

Lennox does have a higher than average unit cost, with most of their models pricing over $2000. Installation is not a simple process as with other brands, either. HVAC technicians don’t prefer to install Lennox (though they will, of course), but the time and specifications are more specific than other options.

If you do opt for a Lennox machine, what you will get is simple comfort, high efficiency, and low running costs. If the units do break down, Lennox offers a great warranty and, depending on the part, may even include labor.

For the overall cost, though, there are similar (and some better) options out there, which may be why Lennox is still king of the commercial side and playing catch up on the residential side. One thing is for sure, though, if you put a Lennox in your home, you won’t regret it.

5. Daikin

Brand Summary
Number of Models 8
SEER Range 14 – 24.5
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 67 – 72dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Daikin air conditioners are not the biggest name in the industry, but they are among the most reliable. Their compressors are almost indestructible and can last longer than most other options out there right now.

There are a few problems, though, which make them less popular. For starters, the compressors do get hotter than other brands, and on certain models, this can lower the efficiency.

The other issue is that they have a mandatory registration to extend the warranty. While this practice isn’t uncommon, the 6-year warranty is doubled when registered, but you only have 60 days to complete the forms. This is usually only seen in lesser brand warranties.

Daikin also isn’t the cheapest model on the market, with prices that rival Lennox. The installation costs, though, are generally less and Daikin has one of the highest SEER averages of any brand (17.8).

When you purchase and install a Daikin unit, you will have cold air for at least a decade without any worries. If you opt for a central unit with heat, though, you may find the heat is not as high as other brands and costs more to keep the temperature up.

For cooling and reliability, though, they are hard to beat. Only Lennox and the newest Goodman model can rival the SEER values, and technicians find installing a Daikin system easier than most. Half of their models also qualify for the tax rebate program, which saves you even more money. It is a good deal for many homeowners.

6. Amana

Brand Summary
Number of Models 8
SEER Range 14 – 24.5
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 59 – 71dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Amana is a popular brand name owned by Goodman. In 2012, the company was merged with Daikin to become a global leader in HVAC parts and products. Because of this merger, Amana and Daikin models are similar in appearance, performance, and values.

Amana air conditioners still hold the original American build and performance and are still the same brand known and loved for decades. Their prices are higher, but the quality of parts and the performance are also higher, held to Goodman’s ideals and expectations.

Like Daikin, the Amana brand doesn’t offer lower SEER models and has no SEER 13 or lower options at all. Usually, these are reserved for northern state installs. However, the more expensive models from Amana are more efficient and perform better in colder climates than the brands that do offer 13 SEER options.

The price is the biggest concern with Amana, as their unit cost and install costs are much higher than average. However, with the higher SEER and Goodman quality compressors, the running costs are much lower than many other brands.

If you want to save money in the long run and have an air conditioner system with great heat output and high compatibility with smart thermostats, Amana is a hard brand to top. Add in their overly helpful customer service, and you will have a system you can enjoy for years to come.

7. Trane

Brand Summary
Number of Models 9
SEER Range 14.5 – 22
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 55 – 75dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Trane air conditioning systems, like Lennox, started their main push in the commercial market. While that is where they make their bread and butter, Trane residential systems have come a long way.

The focus is on efficiency and performance, and this comes at a cost. The Trane systems are leaders when it comes to SEER ratings, with a brand-wide average of over 18 SEER. However, they also post up some of the highest individual unit costs.

While Trane does offer some sub-$2000 models, they are lower SEER, single stage compressors, and stainless steel. Unlike their top of the line model, the XV20i, you won’t see SEER values above 20 and galvanized treated steel housings.

Still, even the lower tiered models have the Trane label, and that means quality. If you are in the northern states and are looking for a smaller, 13 SEER model, Trane doesn’t offer those. However, their 14.5 and 15 SEER models will come in at a similar price, and the extra efficiency will carry over to the winter months when you need the heater.

HVAC technicians will install Trane without much complaint, though their lower connectors and bent refrigerant lines make the process a bit more complicated. This will raise the installation cost some, but not so much to change your mind about your purchase.

8. Coleman

Brand Summary
Number of Models 12
SEER Range 13 – 20
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 52 – 70dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

If you are on the lookout for a quiet condensing unit, Coleman air conditioners may be your answer. These sleek and stylish units are some of the quietest on the market, with decibel ratings as low as 52.

To compare, other brands have models in the 50s decibel rating range but often near or exceed 80 on the high end. Coleman’s highest dB rating is 70. If you have close neighbors or thinner walls and need quiet performance, you can’t do much better.

Coleman also offers you plenty of choices in styles. With a dozen models to choose from, you can pick the model that fits your needs best. Whether that is a 13 SEER model for an install in colder climates or the high-end 20 SEER Echelon AC21 model, Coleman has it and everything in between.

Where Coleman is average is in their warranty coverage. While they do offer a 10 year warranty on sealed systems, they also offer a 90-day labor warranty. However, your installing contractor should also offer this warranty, which usually covers more than just the labor hours.

While Coleman may be a household name in the camping industry, they have yet to breakthrough the residential climate control market. While only maintaining about 1.5% of the market, you can find cheaper options with better internal parts.

However, if you want a quiet, well covered HVAC unit that can cool your home in the summer without much complaint, Coleman isn’t a bad choice.

9. York

Brand Summary
Number of Models 10
SEER Range 13 – 18
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 58 – 72dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

York air conditioners may be the most durable on the market. They take extra time to build condensing shells that will stand up to anything (and we mean anything). From weather to physical abuse, these units are strong.

With relatively low pricing, York is making a statement and trying to gain a stronger foothold in the industry. The main drawback, though, is that when looked at as a whole, the York line doesn’t stand up to the performance and energy efficiency of the bigger brands.

On an individual basis, though, you can find a York for any situation or install location, and with certified HVAC technician installation, you won’t have any issues with your system. Provided you maintain the unit and perform the cleaning and maintenance regularly, these systems can easily last 20 years or more.

With an average SEER rating of only 15, York isn’t the most cost-effective unit on the market. However, their initial unit cost and installation fees being lower than most, York is a viable and affordable option for many homeowners around the country.

10. Bryant

Brand Summary
Number of Models 17
SEER Range 13 – 21
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 56 – 76dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Bryant is another well known and large brand like Carrier and Goodman. They offer almost a dozen and a half units for you to choose from, too. With decent SEER ratings, affordable units, and simple installs, they are a favorite for homeowners and installers alike.

With 17 models to select, you get your option of compressors, designs, construction materials, and of course, SEER ratings. With the 13 SEER units, northern states that don’t use AC can often get comfort at a highly affordable price.

The durability of Bryant machines is evident in their long standing attention to quality and excellent customer service. The downside is that they aren’t the easiest units to install, and labor charges tend to get higher than with many other brands.

It is also possible to get the wrong size since the Bryant compressors run a little larger than the stated size. In most cases, this isn’t a bad thing or even noticeable. However, if you are in the southwest with long, hot, humid summers, that 2 ton unit may work harder and run longer than it normally would.

The Bryant 189BNV is the top of the line model and features a variable speed compressor and 21 SEER performance. It is the most expensive unit offered, of course, but it will end up paying for itself over the course of its life in energy savings.

11. Ruud

Brand Summary
Number of Models 7
SEER Range 15.5 – 20.5
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 52 – 63dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Ruud heating and air conditioning has a storied and successful 100 year history. Starting with the first gas-fired water heater in the 1890s, Rudd went on to gain success in the air conditioning market as well and, by the 1950s, were a household name.

Today, that tradition in quality and brand recognition continues, and their current lineup of 7 air conditioning models are among the most affordable, reliable, and high efficiency models in the industry.

Working under the Rheem umbrella, Ruud continues to find balance in efficiency and affordability for all budgets. You won’t find any 13 or 14 SEER units here. All of their models are 15.5 SEER or higher, culminating with the top model (the Ultra UA20) at an excellent 20.5 SEER.

The units themselves are fairly durable. While they don’t have the physical durability of a York, when installed by a licensed professional, they offer years of reliable service. With a 10-year parts and compressor warranty and 6 of 7 models qualifying for tax rebates, owning a Rudd is only going to be a good thing.

12. Rheem

Brand Summary
Number of Models 7
SEER Range 15.5 – 20
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 55 – 72dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Rheem air conditioning, as the parent company to Ruud, offers similar ratings, reviews, and performances as their child company. While the construction of the units is slightly different, the internal parts are almost identical.

Rheem, like Ruud, offers great quality parts at affordable prices. The main difference is that Rheem only uses two-stage compressors. Plus, their top two models, the Prestige RA20 and Classic Plus RA17, both use sound dampening condenser housings. This allows these models to perform at a much quieter rate.

Rheem also has a slightly different pricing program (depending on your regional location) and offers their lower-end (though still worthwhile) units at sub-$1000 prices. The higher SEER average also means that you will save money no matter which model you go with.

Combine all of that with a 10 year parts and compressor warranty, customer service that gets the job done, and a quiet running machine, and you have an ideal residential AC unit. One thing you will find, though, is that professional installers like putting in Rheem systems.

They are smaller, straightforward, and have easy access to lines and piping. This can cut down on the installation costs, as the job will be done quicker, saving you some on the labor charges. Overall, though, Rheem (and Ruud) have some of the lowest install fees around.

13. Tempstar

Brand Summary
Number of Models 12
SEER Range 13 – 19
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 56 – 74dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Tempstar air conditioners are under the Carrier umbrella (much like many brands on the list). This means they share a lot of the same manufacturing plants, assembly locations, and storage warehouses. However, there are very few Carrier parts found inside.

As it is, Tempstar caters to a regional specific installation, with a focus on the southeast and central states. They have SEER ratings between 13 and 19 to fit all needs for each climate and will provide an affordable unit for those on a budget.

While the overall affordability and lower installation costs make them alluring, they aren’t as durable as the more prominent brands but will last quite a while. With 12 models to choose from, you can find value and performance to fit your needs.

The best thing about Tempstar (and some other brands to follow) is the no-hassle 10-year warranty. While it isn’t lifetime like Goodman, the no-hassle part means that if anything goes wrong in the first half of the warranty period, the entire unit is replaced, not just the part. It is a good deal for those times when something does go wrong and makes Tempstar viable as a brand to own.

14. Payne

Brand Summary
Number of Models 12
SEER Range 13 – 19
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 56 – 74dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Along with Tempstar, Payne is also under the Carrier group and has almost identical units. Like Tempstar, Payne air conditioners focus on regional branding, making them easier to find in the northern states.

They have a durable shell that can withstand a lot of weather abuse. The machines are efficient, and the higher-end models, like the PA16NW, use Ion System controls. This is a wireless communication system that helps monitor temperatures and performance while communicating with the Ion air handler system inside the home.

The good news is that if you opt for the Ion systems under the Payne “Premium” line, they will connect with any other Ion System installed, be it Tempstar or Comfortmaker (or others). Finding parts is made easier because of the compatibility.

Payne also offers the 10-year no-hassle warranty option for the Premium models. Value models get 5 years while the entry-level models range between 1 and 3 years warranty. Payne is also fairly simple to install, lowering the installation fees. Combined with one of the lowest pricing systems of all brands, it is a great unit for those on a tighter budget.

Brand Summary
Number of Models 12
SEER Range 13 – 19
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 56 – 74dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Comfortmaker is another brand under the mighty umbrella of Carrier and Bryant. Being a part of the ICP/UTC group has its advantages. While Bryant, Carrier, and Heil have higher quality and better SEER values, Comfortmaker air conditioners and the other smaller brands can focus on pricing.

The biggest difference with Comfortmaker, aside from being marketed more in the Midwest, is that they have fewer options per model. Still offering 12 different models, the focus on the 1.5 ton models is more limited.

With a focus on larger units, the install options are a lot smaller. However, homes requiring a 1.5 ton unit are smaller and, in general, take less to cool or heat. A 2-ton unit can still accomplish the job and may be a better fit for your needs anyway.

Related Article – Learn more about the difference of a 2 vs 2.5 vs 3 ton AC units.

Because of the attention to the larger units, though, Comfortmaker prices are slightly higher than Payne or Tempstar, even though they are almost the same units. Of course, this will depend on where you are located, the cost for installation labor, and when you buy your unit.

Comfortmaker does offer the 10-year no hassle warranty, replacing the entire unit in the first 5-years should anything go wrong. This is an excellent deal for those on a budget and worried about their air conditioners failing when they are needed most.

16. Heil

Brand Summary
Number of Models 12
SEER Range 13 – 19
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 56 – 74dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Heil Heating and Air Conditioning is another value brand under the United Technologies Corporation Group (UTC) like Tempstar and Comfortmaker. However, Heil is the mid-range between the value brands and the big names.

With Heil, you get more internal parts that carry the Bryant or Carrier name. However, these generally are current model parts and may be a year or two old. While they are still new, they aren’t the latest or most technologically advanced. Those will be found inside the Carrier and Bryant machines.

What this means is that you get a more reliable system with name-brand internal parts at a fraction of the price of the big names. They are more durable and rugged than the value brands and tend to last a little longer. You will pay more, though, so if your budget is smaller, you will want to compare first.

The 12 units offered under the Heil brand are similar to those of Payne and Comfortmaker. And like those brands, the premium line features Ion System controls and communications. You get the same 13 to 19 SEER efficiency, and Heil has a bigger hold on the southern market.

Like the other brands, they also share the same no-hassle warranty. And while the unit cost is a little more, the installation fees are generally lower, making Heil a value both upfront and in the long run with energy savings.

17. Ameristar

Brand Summary
Number of Models 6
SEER Range 13 – 16
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 74 – 76dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Ameristar is a well-known and popular brand working under the Trane umbrella. They offer 6 models with varying degrees of efficiency, pricing, and rebate options. What you do get is a brand that has a reputation for excellence and durability.

Ameristar air conditioning options are more limited than other brands. Because of the way Trane operates, its value brand is more about pricing and performance than options and a large model pool. Each unit, though, is not the best when it comes to the SEER rating.

Only 3 of their models will qualify for the tax rebate, which requires a SEER rating of at least 16. Because Ameristar only goes up to 16 SEER, you need to ensure you choose the right model if you are looking for the rebate option.

While it is true that Ameristar performs better in colder and less humid climates, it won’t matter where you are as long as you get a corresponding model. the 15 or 16 SEER units will perform well in any location and keep your home cool in the summer.

The best thing about Ameristar is that each model has a small footprint. This keeps installation requirements to a minimum and costs low. If you register your purchase within 60 days, they will double the warranty from 5 to 10 years.

Brand Summary
Number of Models 12
SEER Range 13 – 19
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 56 – 75dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Day & Night air conditioning is another value brand under the much larger Carrier group. Like their counterparts Comfortmaker, Tempstar and others, you will find plenty of options to meet your needs.

Day & Night focuses their sales in the west, and though they can be found all over the country, their biggest sales come from the coast. The builds for Day & Night don’t share all of the characteristics of the others. Because of this, you will find slightly higher noise levels and a different housing material.

Designed for humid and saltwater air, the galvanized steel will hold up better, but it comes at the cost of more noise. Without sound dampening, the decibels of these units can reach 80dB or higher.

As far as performance goes, though, Day & Night offers both the Premium and Value lines, with the higher end models using Ion System communication technologies. You can also replace almost every part with any other brands, including Tempstar, Comfortmaker, Payne, and even some Carrier versions.

With moderate SEER ratings, and sizes ranging from 1.5 to 5 tons, you are sure to find the size and comfort level you need. The no-hassle warranty goes for 10 years, just like the others, too. With a low unit cost, cheaper installation, and a body made for humid weather, Day & Night is a brand to watch, especially for those on the coast.

19. Grandaire

Brand Summary
Number of Models 4
SEER Range 13 – 16
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 69 – 79dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Grandaire is technically a part of the UTC group with Carrier. However, initially part of Ingersol-Rand, Grandaire is made and manufactured by Watsco, Inc. for Baker. Watsco formed a type of merger with Carrier, bringing Grandaire under their wing, but is actually a separate entity, unlike Tempstar and Comfortmaker.

Grandaire doesn’t have a grand model lineup, though. With only four models to choose from, the selection is simple. Pick your SEER rating, and you pick your model. The SEER range falls between 13 and 16, one each for the four models.

While not for everyone, Grandaire air conditioners are reliable, rugged, and mostly US-made. Grandaire is also low-cost, making their units for every budget and need. They also have a similar warranty.

That warranty is 5-years long, but if you register within 90 days of purchase, it will be extended to 10 years. The first 12 months of the warranty are a full replacement, giving you an entire hot and cold season to test the unit and the install and find any issues.

As reliable as they are affordable, there is little we can say that is bad about Grandaire. A good warranty, simple, clean models, and a straightforward pricing structure make Grandaire popular in the southeast and the midwest.

20. Armstrong

Brand Summary
Number of Models 5
SEER Range 13 – 20
Tonnage Range 1.5 – 5
Noise Range 52 – 80dB
BTU Range 18000 – 60000

Armstrong ACs are about in the middle of the pack with plenty of options to make a solid purchase and not so many features that bring up the price.

Armstrong Air Conditioner units are ideal for people looking to upgrade an older system with a high-efficiency model that doesn’t want to break the bank. The installation will be the most considerable cost, though.

You will find half a dozen models with high efficiency and various sizes. The prices of the units are lower than most of their competitors, and they have plenty of features to utilize. Armstrong offers a single model with a variable speed compressor, two models with a two-stage compressor, and four models with a single-stage compressor.

All Armstrong air conditioners are split systems, meaning you can choose the right internal air handler unit for your home. Armstrong are among the loudest condensers in the industry. However, they are also among the most affordable because of the lack of these types of extra features.

These models can save you money over your current system and come with a great warranty to back your purchase.

The Importance of Proper HVAC Installation

Proper HVAC Installation

Seeking a professional HVAC technician to install your new AC system is crucial on many levels. First off, it is almost illegal everywhere to have an air conditioner installed without the proper certifications and licenses.

Nationwide, for example, you must hold an EPA 608 certification to even work with refrigerants. However, there are financial concerns as well. Government tax rebate programs require professional installation, and improper install is the leading cause of efficiency loss and higher energy bills.

Finding a contractor isn’t that difficult, but finding a trustworthy and professional one can be. At Networx, you can get high-quality professionals delivered right to your inbox or cellphone. One quick search will return up to 4 top-notch, vetted, and reviewed professionals you can contact right away.

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Tips for Keeping Your AC’s Working Well

Central air conditioners need to be maintained, and this is something that you should do regularly and in conjunction with yourself and an HVAC technician. If you want your new AC to last more than 10 years, perform at its best and be the most efficient version it can be, follow the following guidelines.

You should always refer to your brand-specific owner’s manual. This will outline exact care procedures, replacement and cleaning intervals, and how to access each component for maintenance.

  • Keep the air filter changed.
    A new air filter will improve air quality and increase airflow allowing the system to work properly. Each filter will need to be changed every 30 – 90 days, depending on the type you purchase for your system.
  • Vacuum and clean the vents in each room.
    This will prevent air blockages, reduce moisture retention and keep burning odors out of the system.
  • Hire an HVAC technician once a year to perform a complete system inspection.
    This will help identify any issues before they become costly repairs, ensure your system is charged, not leaking, and in perfect working order. A typical inspection should last about 2 hours.
  • Clean the condensing unit twice a year.
    At the start and end of each season, cleaning the coils and fins as well as the inside of the condensing unit will keep airflow, cooling, and performance at high levels.
  • Clean evaporator coils annually.
    This can be done during the inspection by the HVAC technician or as a DIY project. Cleaning the evaporator coils and drain pan will improve the cooling ability and efficiency of the system.
  • Trim and maintain the area around the condenser.
    Shrubs, trees, and even tall grass can block the airflow and cooling ability of the condenser. Maintain at least 3 feet on all sides of the unit free from debris, growth and build up.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

How long does a central air conditioning unit last?

Most central air conditioners will be warrantied for at least 5 years with many brands and models having 10 year warranties. However, with proper care, maintenance, and routine cleaning, a central air unit can easily last 20 years or more although it does depend on a variety of factors.

Related Article – We have discussed the different factors that contribute to how long your air conditioner lasts here.

Can I install my own central air conditioning?

While the ability to install a central air conditioner can be done by many people, it isn’t always legal to do so. Unless you own the proper tools, hold an EPA 608 certification, and have extensive knowledge of home climate control systems, it is not advised. While single-part replacement of non-refrigerant-related parts can be done as a DIY project, it is still recommended to leave the work to HVAC professionals.

How do I make my central air conditioner quieter?

Air conditioners, specifically condensing units, can get quite loud. There are a few things you can do to minimize the noise, though. The easiest method for an existing system is to use a condenser blanket. You can also plant noise-absorbing shrubs nearby (maintaining clearance), such as ferns, rubber plants, and many others.

You can also use fencing to minimize noise, ensure the unit is mounted properly and cleaned annually. While there will always be some noise, controlling how much is a matter of patience and understanding how noise travels.

How much does central air cost per month?

There are far too many factors to give an exact number for everyone. Things like ambient temperature, elevation, the month in question, humidity, and how often the system is used all need to be accounted for.

However, you can get a close estimate by knowing a few things. If you know the kilowatt intake (watts of the unit divided by 1000), cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity, number of hours per day the unit runs, and number of days in the month you want the number for, you can figure it out.

Multiply all of those figures together (3.5 kW x $0.13 per kWh x 4 hours x 30 days, for example) will give you an estimate of how much your AC unit will cost to run per month.

What is the best time of year to buy an air conditioner?

The off and slow seasons are the best for buying and installing new air conditioners. Units themselves are generally at their lowest price at the start of the warmer month. For the best deals, you can shop for an air conditioner in March or April.

Installation should also be done around this time or in the fall. Summer and winter months are when HVAC technicians are at their busiest, and labor prices tend to rise during those times.


Choosing the best central air conditioner brand can be a lengthy and challenging process. There are dozens of brands to choose from, and many of them are almost identical in features, components, and even pricing.

Aside from initial cost and installation fees, SEER values are among the biggest decision factor there is. For tax rebates, you need a SEER 16 model or higher and a professional installation. Of course, climate, region, and average temperatures will also play a factor in your decision.

Hopefully, you have a better idea of the various brands available and know what they have to offer you. Good luck with your new air conditioner purchase, and we hope your summers are cool and comfortable.

Last Updated on July 9, 2022

Ian Haynes

Ian Haynes is an HVAC writer, and researcher. He has worked on hundreds of articles relating to home cooling, heating and air quality with a vast knowledge of the technical aspects of these types of appliances. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador. Learn more about the AC Lab team here.