2021 Expert Guide: Choosing the Best AC System for Your House – HVAC Owner Insights

A Comprehensive Guide to the Best AC Systems

One of the most common questions homeowners have when looking for a new air conditioning system is, “Which AC systems are the best?” This article will shed light on the top AC systems available and factors influencing their performance, including installation and maintenance.

Top AC Brands: Trane, Carrier, and Lennox

In the HVAC industry, three companies stand out for their excellent reputation, offering reliable and long-lasting products. These companies are Trane, Carrier, and Lennox. However, American Standard and Bryant brands should also be included as part of this list, as they are manufactured under Trane and Carrier brands.

Trane and American Standard

Trane and American Standard systems are made in the same factories on the same production lines. While there is a slight difference in the shell design of the outdoor unit, both brands share the same high-quality components.

Carrier and Bryant

Similarly, Bryant systems are made in the same factories as Carrier systems. They share the same components, with marginal price differences between the two brands.


Lennox is another top-tier brand, with prices comparable to Trane and Carrier systems.

Effect of Contractor Pricing on System Price

If you receive different price quotes from contractors for the same brand, it’s not because one system is more expensive than another. Contractors’ overhead costs and desired profit margins may influence the total price.

It’s crucial to choose a reliable contractor to install your new system since AC systems come fully assembled and ready to work. Experience and expertise play a significant role in modifying and installing a unit according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes.

Mid-Tier AC Brands

Other reputable brands offer mid-tier HVAC systems, which may require more repairs than the top-tier brands. These mid-tier brands include Rheem, Amana, Day & Night, Heil, and Bosch.

Bottom-Tier AC Brands

Some brands consistently rank at the bottom of the list due to their association with low-cost installations and DIY projects. Among these brands are Goodman, Daikin, Payne, Coleman, Tempstar, RunTru, and York.

It’s essential to consider who installs your equipment, as this matters more than the specific equipment brand. If the installation isn’t done correctly, you may face a lower system lifespan and performance.

Three Levels of Systems Offered by Most Brands

Most brands offer three levels of HVAC systems:

Single-Stage Heating and Cooling Option

An entry-level option with the simplest technology and lowest price. However, it is also the lowest in value. While they are safe and UL Listed, these systems may be more susceptible to breakdowns.

Two-Stage Option

A higher-quality option with better technology and more efficient temperature control. They run at 70% capacity in the first stage and 100% capacity in the second stage, offering more significant energy savings.

Variable Speed Option

These systems offer the highest efficiency and most advanced technology, adjusting their capacity levels between 25% to 100% as needed, maintaining the most precise temperature control. They are the quietest systems, utilizing less energy and producing less noise with less vibration.

While Trane, Carrier, and Lennox are relatively similar in their single-stage and two-stage systems, their variable speed systems showcase the most significant differences. Lennox has taken the lead by offering a 28 SEER variable speed system, the highest efficiency currently available.


When choosing an AC system, it’s crucial to consider not only the brand but also the technology and the contractor who will install and maintain it. Thorough research and consultation with professionals will help you make an informed decision about the right system for your home. Like choosing a vehicle, it’s essential to feel comfortable with your choice and trust that it will provide the best performance for your unique needs. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, read reviews, and consult HVAC professionals before making your final decision.

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