Grandaire AC Review: An Affordable Brand with The Most Basic Features

Josh Mitchell

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Josh Mitchell

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Quick Guide - Grandaire

My Opinion

GrandAire is an affordable brand that focuses on what ACs are meant to do -- cool your home. No fancy bells and whistles, the company focuses on three basic models that offer easy long-term maintenance. 

3.6

Overall Score


Reliability

3.25

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Performance

3.75

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Energy Efficiency

3.5

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Warranty

4.0

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Value for Money

3.75

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Pros
  • GrandAire is an affordable, low-maintenance air conditioner brand.
  • It offers basic ACs that can cool your house for good 15 years.
  • If you're upgrading from your current, aged system, you'll notice an immediate reduction in your energy bill.
CONS
  • You have only three models to choose from.
  • There's little difference brand-wise in sound level, energy savings, or even price.
  • GrandAire models aren’t terribly quiet, nor do they offer supreme energy savings.
  • GrandAire dealers are scarce, so parts may be hard to find.

GrandAire offers a limited selection of air conditioners and only provides some of the features you can get from other HVAC companies.

However, what they do well is offer customers a good product for a bargain.

An uninformed decision can cost hundreds of dollars, and you might wind up with a system ill-suited for your home.

I’m here to help and will answer all your questions about GrandAire heating and cooling systems in my in-depth review.

GrandAire AC Systems – Quick Guide!

Best Overall Model

GrandAire WCA6


The GrandAire WCA6 is the most expensive of the models but comes at a reasonable price.

The SEER rating is 16, which means it's available everywhere in the US and provides good energy efficiency.

It’s even eligible for an Energy Star rebate from the government.[1]

Like other GrandAires, it has a single-stage scroll compressor that allows it to operate quietly, with noise levels as low as 69 dB.

When paired with a compatible GrandAire air handler or GrandAire furnace, it will do a great job of humidity control and provide plenty of cool.

Good Value Model

GrandAire WCA5


The WCA5 is the best value model that's available everywhere.The great news is that WCA5s are a bargain.

They boast a SEER of 15, a sign of systems that deliver energy efficiency while cooling homes.

Your electricity bill will reflect this. And its scroll compressor provides some welcome noise-dampening capabilities.

Avoid This Model

GrandAire WCA3


The GrandAire WCA3 air conditioner has been discontinued.

With a SEER of up to 13, its energy usage isn't good enough to clear the minimum standards set by the government.

(Not to mention that it runs at around 79 dB, which is on the loud side.)

It can be found cheaply on the web, but you won't get a warranty; you'll probably have to install it yourself, and GrandAire-specific parts will be scarce.

I'd pass.

Should you invest in the higher-end product? How about a mid-range model? When is a low-end AC adequate?

My team of experts has combed the online reviews and put GrandAire products through their paces to help you differentiate good fits from bad ones.

After all, you'll own your AC for the next 10-15 years if you're lucky.

Winding up with one that doesn't address your cooling needs is a mistake I can help you avoid.

I have also compared GrandAire to other brands to see if GrandAire air conditioning units really do outclass the competition.

Let’s get started!

My Review Of GrandAire Air Conditioners

Finding a lot of information about GrandAire takes work.

They don't even have a central air conditioner page where they brag about how great their product is.[2]

This makes it hard for folks like me to distill information. There are two things I know for sure, though:

  1. 1
    There is little variety from model to model.
    The compressors are all single-stage, not two-stage or variable-speed. The price differential from the cheapest to the most expensive is relatively small.
  2. 2
    There are only three models to choose from.
    Any others have been discontinued because their SEER rating is too low.

Here are some pluses of these units for your consideration:

  • GrandAire Condensing Units feature a painted cabinet finish over galvanized steel and a coated inlet grille with 3/8" (10mm) spacing for extra protection.
  • GrandAire Air Conditioner Engineering: GrandAire AC systems and heat pumps incorporate the EPA-approved and industry-accepted R-410A refrigerant, the environmentally friendly (and mandatory) alternative to R-22.

TL;DR: GrandAire isn't a premium central AC brand. It offers 3 basic central AC models without any fancy bells or whistles.

Pros And Cons Of Buying A Grandaire AC

THE GOOD
  • GrandAire is a good example of an affordable, low-maintenance air conditioner brand. Because the air conditioners lack high-tech options, the ACs are simpler to install and repair than other systems with more features.
  • If you want a basic AC that will still be cooling your house in 15 years, there’s a lot to like.
  • If you're upgrading from your current, aged system, you'll notice an immediate reduction in your energy bill. That's because old units will not maintain their original SEER rating and become energy hogs.
THE BAD
  • You have only three models to choose from, and there's little difference brand-wise in sound level, energy savings, or even price. Other companies offer a dozen or more ACs to choose from, which can help with common cooling concerns (high humidity, uneven cooling, etc.).
  • GrandAire models aren’t terribly quiet, nor do they offer supreme energy savings. You can easily find other brands’ systems that can do both, albeit at a higher price.
  • GrandAire dealers are scarce, so parts may be hard to find.

GrandAire Air Conditioner Prices – How Much Do They Cost?

Pricing By Model

As I mentioned, there are only three models to choose from, and there is not a huge difference in design from the top to the bottom.

You can buy any GrandAire and have it installed from about $3,500 to $5,500.

Model

Price** (without Installation)

Price of Installation

Estimated Running Cost*

Government Tax Break

WCA3

$1590 – 1890

$3590 – 3890

$490 – 520

None

WCA4

$1650 – 1950

$3650 – 3950

$470 – 515

None

WCA5

$1780 – 2200

$3780 – 4200

$455 – 490

None

WCA6


$2180 – 2660

$4180 – 4660

$440 – 480

$300

*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.

TL;DR: GrandAire ACs are very affordable ranging from $1590 to $2660 (without installation) for a 2.5 ton condenser and AHU.  

Cost Variation Across US States

The region can influence the price of an AC due to several factors:

  • Environmental Conditions: Regions with hotter climates generally have higher demand for air conditioning. High demand can drive the cost up.
  • Local regulations and codes: Different regions may have varying building codes and regulations related to heating and cooling products.
  • Installation Costs: Labor costs for professional installation can vary by region. In areas with higher living costs or where specialized skills are in high demand, installation costs may be higher.
  • Tax incentives and rebates: Some regions may offer tax incentives or rebates for the installation of energy-efficient HVAC systems.
  • Shipping and transportation costs can also vary by region.

TL;DR: The overall climate in a region, local regulations, labor costs, and supply and demand affect the price of GrandAire ACs in U.S.

How To Get The Best Price In Your Area

I always recommend getting at least three different quotes, especially for a product that costs thousands of dollars.

One HVAC company may be running a deal you're unaware of. Another may have a surplus of GrandAire ACs they're eager to sell.

Still, another may offer a package deal that consists of a furnace/air handler and air conditioner combination. If you need both replaced, this is the way to go.

You'll save on installation costs, be able to synchronize your warranties and get a heating and cooling setup that's compatible, ensuring the best possible performance.

TL;DR: Consulting multiple vendors and getting at least three quotes is the best way to find a great deal on any central AC unit.


GrandAire Reviews Highlights

There are two types of compressors on the market: scroll and reciprocating.

Reciprocating ones are the technology of old. They've been around for decades.

The problem with them is that they're not terribly energy-efficient and tend to be noisy.

Scroll compressors are the latest technology and are part of every GrandAire air conditioner. 

They have three major advantages:

  1. 1
    Energy savings.
    An air conditioner with a scroll compressor can help lower your electricity bill.
  2. 2
    Durability.
    All GrandAire ACs have scroll compressors, which don't have as many moving parts, so they are less likely to need repairs or to be replaced.
  3. 3
    Quieter operation.
    Some ACs can also have noise-canceling insulation, though you must ask for and order it specifically.
The compressors in all GrandAire models are single-stage.

This means that when the AC is on, it’s working at 100% of its capacity.

(If you browse through other brands, you’ll likely find multi-stage compressors. These offer better energy efficiency and better noise levels.)

A GrandAire AC is made with copper tubing combined with an aluminum fin coil.

Copper tubes offer the best heat transfer, and aluminum fins offer good value.

The air conditioners are easy to install and service.

They have easy-access service valves on all models; external high and low refrigerant service ports; only two screws are needed to access the control panel; and they come factory-charged with R-410A refrigerant.

TL;DR: GrandAire does not offer a huge feature-set for its ACs unlike other brands. Most of their ACs come with basic functions, but they all do offer scroll compressors as opposed to reciprocating compressors.

Grandaire HVAC Family

GrandAire Air Conditioner's Warranty Analysis

What is their warranty coverage?

All GrandAire HVAC equipment is AHRI rated and comes with a 1-year Advantage Replacement Warranty as well as 10-year Compressor and Parts Limited Warranties.

Also included is a Unit Replacement Warranty, which provides a replacement if the compressor or outdoor coil should fail within the first year.[3]

Registration is a Must for Full Coverage

The 10-year warranty requires timely warranty registration and applies to the original homeowner only. The warranty period is 5 years if not registered within 90 days.

What are their conditions and restrictions?

In jurisdictions where warranty benefits cannot be conditioned on registration, buyers will automatically receive a 10-year parts limited warranty.

The outside portion of a split system must be matched with a GrandAire indoor coils (aka fan coil).

Before replacing any unit, written authorization is required from the local GrandAire distributor technical service contact to validate that the AC was installed properly and that the component did not fail as a result of abuse.

Labor charges may apply.

How Does It Compare To The Competition?

GrandAire's warranty is excellent and is in line with major AC companies. (Trane offers 12-year coverage on their compressors, but otherwise is similar.)

TL;DR: Overall GrandAire's warranty is on par with most major brands. Its not the best, but it is certainly far from being the worst. 


GrandAire Air Conditioner Models Compared

Model

Tonnage

Seer*

Noise Levels**

BTU’s

Compressor

WCA3

1.5 – 5

13

70 – 79dB

18000 – 60000

Single-Stage Scroller

WCA4

1.5 – 5

14

72 – 75dB

18000 – 60000

Single-Stage Scroller

WCA5

1.5 – 5

15

71 – 76dB

18000 – 60000

Single-Stage Scroller

WCA6

1.5 – 5

16

69 – 75dB

18000 – 60000

Single-Stage Scroller

*up to
**based on normal operation

GrandAire WCA4

Main Features
  • Size (in tonnage): 1.5 - 5
  • SEER (up to): 14
  • SEER2: 14.3
  • Noise Level: 72 - 75 dB
  • Price: $3,500-$4,500
  • Availability: Regional

This is now the bargain GrandAire model, with a SEER that allows dealers to sell and install it in the northern states of the US, where the need for cooling isn't as high, but not in the south.

Check with your dealer to check whether your state allows you to install one.

The efficiency is a bit better than the WCA3, and the price is comparable.

GrandAire WCA5 - Middle-Level Model

Main Features
  • Size (in tonnage): 1.5 - 5
  • SEER (up to): 15
  • SEER2: 15.2
  • Noise Level: 71 - 76 dB
  • Price: $3,700-$4,700
  • Availability: National

If you live in the south of the US, this model's SEER allows you to install it without any stipulations. (It's fine for northern states, as well.)

You also get an Energy Star certification, which makes it eligible for a government rebate.

Its price is just a bit higher than the WCA4, and it’s just a bit quieter, but not so much that you’ll notice.

GrandAire WCA6

Main Features
  • Size (in tonnage): 1.5 - 5
  • SEER (up to): 16
  • SEER2: 15.5
  • Noise Level: 69 - 75 dB
  • Price: $4,200 - $4,800
  • Availability: National

This is the high-end of GrandAire.

The compressor is single-stage (not two-stage or variable-stage).

It doesn't offer great humidity control, though its noise level - down to 69 dB - is the best of the models.

You'll hear the difference clearly.

The SEER for the price is good, offering a break on your electricity bills for a reasonable starting price.

GrandAire WCA3 (Discontinued)

Main Features
  • Size (in tonnage): 1.5 - 5
  • SEER (up to): 13
  • Noise Level: 70-79 dB
  • Price: $3,000-$4,000
  • Availability: Scarce

This used to be GrandAire’s budget model, but changes took effect on January 1, 2023.

The minimum SEER rating increased on ACs.

Previously, new air conditioners required a minimum SEER of 13 in northern states and 14 in southern states. In 2023, it changed to 14 and 15, respectively.

That doesn't mean your current 13 SEER AC is illegal; it just means you can't buy a new one that's rated that low from a dealer.

You can certainly find this model online (probably for a bargain), but you'd have to install it yourself, as few HVAC technicians would take on the task.

No warranty will cover it, you won't be able to get the proper permits, and it will fail during an inspection.

The bottom line might be right, but for about $500 more, you can get the next step up, the WCA4, which has numerous advantages.

Grandaire WJA4 (Discontinued)

Main Features
  • Size (in tonnage): 2 - 5
  • SEER (up to): 14
  • Availability: Discontinued
This is a packaged AC with the condenser coil and the compressor inside the same unit.

It’s the solution when a split system won’t work. It’s designed to be a fit for homes that don’t have the yard space for an outdoor unit.

Like the other ACs, it’s single-stage, but it does have a multi-speed blower. Its 14-SEER rating means that it’s not allowed in southern states.

You can buy optional electric heat strips to install inside the unit for chilly winter days.

This product has been discontinued due to its low efficiency.

TL;DR: There are only three models from GrandAire namely, WCA4, WCA5, and WCA6, currently in production and they are all basic. While they may not have the most innovative features or the highest efficiency rating, they are, however, some of the cheapest in the market.


GrandAire Installation Explained For Homeowners

Model

Price** (without Installation)

Price** (with Installation)

WCA3

$1,590 – $1,890

$3,590 – $3,890

WCA4

$1,650 – $1,950

$3,650 – $3,950

WCA5

$1,780 – $2,200

$3,780 – $4,200

WCA6

$2,180 – $2,660

$4,180 – $4,660

Can DIYers Install GrandAire By Themselves?

The question shouldn't be, can GrandAires be installed by do-it-yourselfers. It’s a matter of should you install an air conditioner by yourself.

I’m not here to tell you "No."

It's my job to tell you what's wrong with attempting this procedure, and I can see three potential issues.
  1. 1
    Problem 1:
    GrandAire will only cover your AC if it's installed by a licensed professional.
  2. 2
    Problem 2:
    No matter how easy a company designs its installation process, it's still plenty complex. Moreover, GrandAire will not assist you in troubleshooting because it's discontinued.
  3. 3
    Problem 3:
    Under EPA regulations, only a certified HVAC technician can recharge your home's AC system. You should never try to recharge the AC yourself. Refrigerant can be harmful to you and the environment if it's not handled properly. (It’s also illegal to dispose of old refrigerant in a way that’s harmful to the environment.)

TL;DR: While anything can be a DIY project, with central ACs you should be particularly careful. Plus GrandAire only covers the warranty if it is installed by a licensed professional. Improper installation can damage the product, result in subpar cooling, and even void the warranty.


How To Find A Reliable HVAC Professional

I urge you to do your homework about your HVAC contractor. They should be licensed in the state, bonded, and insured.

There are plenty of companies that are not; there's no reason for it except for laziness.

One stipulation that I always add is to make sure the techs are NATE-certified.
ACLAB Note:

The North American Technician Excellence education is the gold standard for HVAC techs. To be NATE-certified is to be up on all of the latest technology and standards.

TL;DR: Find an HVAC contractor that is licensed and insured. Always look for technicians that are NATE-certified.


Homeowner & Buyer Reviews

The reviews for GrandAire AC models online are mostly negative, but that's hardly a true look at their products.

Any HVAC expert, myself included, will tell you that what it really comes down to is product installation.

I install no less than 30-40 Grand Aire systems a year. I have virtually no callbacks or warranty repairs. That said, I am very meticulous about my installs, too, so everything is as close to spec as possible. It honestly comes down the installation of the equipment. I'd get 3 good references of previous work and ask some questions. - A reviewer on Reddit[4]

How Do GrandAire ACs Compare To Top Competitors?

While it’s hard to compare GrandAire to top-of-the-line companies like Carrier or Lennox, here’s how the company measures up to other budget-friendly brands.

Grandaire HVAC on Roof

GrandAire Vs Comfortmaker

These two brands are both ICP (International Comfort Products) brands. Comfortmaker offers a wider variety of air conditioners than GrandAire.

They offer over a dozen models that can satisfy a wide range of price points and comfort desires. Cost ranges from about $3,000 - $5,500.

Their low-end models are similar in terms of energy efficiency and cost. Half of their units are Energy-Star rated.

I like Comfortmaker’s high-end options, which GrandAire doesn’t match.

The SoftSoundⓇ Deluxe Series CVA9 features variable-speed operation, which allows the unit to run at just 56 decibels (about the same as a normal conversation) with a SEER of 24.5.

The higher-end models also feature Wi-Fi capability, enhanced humidity control, and a thermostat that makes tiny adjustments automatically to ensure even comfort.

If you're willing to spend top dollar for an air conditioner and get some high-tech perks, Comfortmaker has a model that will make you happy.

If you want ACs that are more cutting-edge, Comfortmaker is easily the better choice between the two brands.

The brand's sliding-scale warranty includes a No Hassle Replacement condition.

Comfortmaker will replace the entire air conditioner instead of just a failed compressor. (This is in effect for only the top-tier models.)

ComfortMaker and GrandAire's low-end and mid-range models are virtually identical in terms of price, energy efficiency, and durability.

Either brand will satisfy your cooling needs well. GrandAire is the cheaper of the two.

The brand matters less than proper sizing, precise installation, and regular maintenance.

TL;DR: Comfortmaker offers more cutting-edge features and offers better warranty and efficiency for its high end models. GrandAire, however, takes the crown for being the cheaper of the two.

GrandAire Vs Tempstar

Both Tempstar and GrandAire are under the same umbrella organization.

Tempstar has air conditioner models that use innovative features, including compressors and fan speed variations, to better control humidity and temperature levels.

They also have models that assure quiet operation and enhanced comfort.

Tempstar ACs are categorized into two types: premium and economical.

The premium product line, Ion™ System Air Conditioners Series, costs from $5,000 to $7,500 with installation.

The economical product line, the Performance™ series, costs around $3,500 to $4,500.

The lower-end models from each company are about the same; GrandAire wins this match-up based on affordability.

GrandAire can't match Tempstar's premium line. If you want an AC with the latest technology and all of the benefits it brings, I recommend Tempstar.

TL;DR: Tempstar and GrandAire belong to the same organization. The former has a line up of premium models with high end features, whereas, GrandAire still remains true to its budget offerings.


How Can I Tell How Old My Existing GrandAire Is?

There are three ways GrandAire prints its serial numbers.

Style 1: GQB030201629

  • The manufacture year is determined by using the 4th & 5th entries.
  • The manufacture month can be determined by using the 6th & 7th.
  • 03 - Year (2003)
  • 02 - Month (February)

Style 2: GQB0302-01629

  • The manufacture year is determined by using the 4th & 5th entries.
  • The manufacture month is determined by using the 6th & 7th.
  • 03 - Year
  • 02 - Month

Style 3: E072514528

  • The manufacture year is determined by using the 2nd & 3rd entries.
  • The manufacture week is determined by using the 4th & 5th.
  • Year - 07
  • Week - 25

FAQ

Who Is The Manufacturer Of GrandAire Air Conditioners?

GrandAire is made by United Technologies, which also makes Tempstar, Carrier, Bryant, and a few other brands.

You can order their online products through the Baker Distributing Company.

What Does It Mean If A Central Air Conditioner Is ASRI-Rated?

AHRI (Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute) is a trade association that establishes performance standards for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) equipment.[4]

When an air conditioner is AHRI-rated, its efficiency and other performance metrics have been tested and verified according to industry standards.

Summary | So, Are GrandAire ACs Any Good?

 3.6 out of 5 stars (3.6 / 5)


GrandAire focuses on producing low-cost heating and cooling systems.

Their HVAC systems are crafted with good-quality components, focusing on functionality rather than add-on features found in more expensive brands.

GrandAire units are also known for their simple installation features, which should appeal to customers looking for an affordable option.

References: 

  1. https://www.energystar.gov/products/central_air_conditioners
  2. https://www.grandaireac.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/507441138-grandaire-achpfc-g55-01war.pdf
  3. https://www.bakerdist.com/grandaire
  4. https://www.ahrinet.org/
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Josh Mitchell

Founder

Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

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Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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