5 Best Central Air Conditioners for Your Home
Considering a central air conditioner purchase? Here are five brands that are known for excellence.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Types of Central Air Conditioners
Choosing a central air conditioner can be stressful for many homeowners. While there are many products on the market, the key to finding the right model for you boils down to five primary considerations:
- Energy efficiency;
- Length of warranty;
- Noise levels.
We’ll take a look at five brands of central air conditioners that made their reputation targeting these consumer needs.
It’s worth noting that many air conditioner brands are not standalone entities. Heil Air Conditioning, for instance, was owned by Whirlpool until it was sold to International Comfort Products (ICP). Then United Technologies Corporation (UTC) acquired ICP and rolled it into the UTC-owned Carrier line. UTC also owns Bryant and other brands.
However, we’re going to look at them as separate brands, because manufacturers tend to group models with certain traits and technologies together under a brand name.
Best Central Air Conditioner Brand for Budget Buyers
Let’s start with the most common concern for many homeowners: budget. There are several brands known for offering low prices, and Heil and Amana are two good ones. But our pick for best budget brand is Goodman.
Goodman has always offered low prices and strong warranty service. When Japanese manufacturer Daikin purchased Goodman in 2012, the quality noticeably improved. Models like this 16 SEER unit may not be loaded with bells and whistles, but they’re affordable and readily available. (We’ll explain what SEER means in the next slide.)
While Goodman is a great starting point for budget central air conditioner units, it’s far from the only brand that claims to save you money up front. After all, the initial purchase is only the start of an air conditioner’s expenses.
Best Central Air Conditioner Brand for Energy Efficiency
Closely tied to budget, energy efficiency measures how effectively the central air conditioner translates electrical energy into cooling. Energy efficiency is measured by a SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the central air conditioner, and the lower your electric bill.
In brand reputation, Lennox is the clear winner in this category. Their top-tier model (the SL28XCV) has an unmatched SEER rating of 28. It carries the “Most Efficient” badge from Energy Star, and the manufacturer claims it is “the most precise and efficient air conditioner available.”
But before you decide this answers all your questions, ask yourself how much that efficiency will help you. In areas where the average temperature is cooler than, say, Phoenix, it will take much longer to realize the savings. It’s also worth noting the condition of your home’s insulation. If your home is poorly insulated, much of that cool air will seep outside, taking your savings along with it.
So while energy efficiency is a key consideration, it can’t be the only one.
Best Central Air Conditioner Brand for Reliability
There’s a reason the tagline “It’s hard to stop a Trane” has stuck around. Trane hangs its hat on its reputation for dependability. Well-built parts, friendly customer service and a massive marketing campaign helped make Trane the go-to brand for air conditioners that keep working, year-in and year-out.
Of course, all machines eventually break down. Trane’s 12-year compressor and 10-year general parts warranties are solid, although they don’t offer a lifetime warranty. And Trane central air conditioners come at a cost. Like other premium brands, the most affordable model of Trane, the XR14, is significantly pricier than budget brands.
Best Central Air Conditioner Brand for Warranty
It may be hard to stop a Trane, but if your upper-end Amana central air conditioner ever stops, the replacement parts will likely be free.
Amana is an affordable brand that bets big on its manufacturing process. All Amana models rated at 16 SEER or higher have a limited lifetime warranty on the unit and a 10-year warranty on parts. Currently, the ASX16 is the lowest-priced model with the limited lifetime unit warranty.
The full text of the Amana warranties is available online, and worth a review if you’re considering a purchase.
Best Central Air Conditioner Brand for Quiet Operation
A quiet air conditioner may not save you money, but it will definitely help you sleep better! As technology and designs changed, different brands compete for bragging rights as the quietest air conditioner around.
Currently the crown is held by Carrier, whose Infinity 26 Air Conditioner with Silencer System II operates at a shockingly subdued 51 decibels (dB). For comparison, a two-person conversation usually falls between 50 and 60 dB, and most air conditioners are around 70 to 80 dB.