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Buying a New Air Conditioner

There are a few main things that homeowners will want to take into consideration when deciding which of the best AC units they should install in their home. It really depends what you value the most in a top brand central air conditioner. The major factors for most homeowner will be the total cost to install the best air conditioner brands, lifespan of the AC unit, warranties offered, energy efficiency (SEER ratings), and size of the unit you need for your home’s square footage (TONS) to efficiently cool your home.

Things to Consider:

Quality of AC Unit: Every central air conditioner has a different value depending on how much you are wanting to pay. Most brands offer a quality tier air conditioner and a cheaper budget friendly option for your HVAC replacement needs. Each brand has a different advantage and you will learn about them below. You may also want to look into the best furnace brands if you are needing to replace both your AC unit and your furnace all at once. At the end of the day, you’ll want to know about each air conditioner brand’s reliability, durability, average cost to install, and SEER (or energy efficiency) rating.

Lifespan of Central Air Conditioners: If you do any research on Consumer Reports, it’s easy to realize that a standard HVAC repair can become very costly. This means you will want to pick an air conditioner that has ratings and reviews that bode well for their life expectancy. The average lifespan of a central air conditioning system is 12 to 15 years if it is properly installed and maintained. Top brands will last longer and have less repair issues overtime.

HVAC Warranties: The best central AC brands on average have a general parts warranty up to 10+ years. The best brands will be able to offer warranties that are hard to find anywhere else.

best air conditioner brands

Top 10 Air Conditioner Brands

We break down each of the 10 best central air conditioning brands by comparing the costs of a 14 SEER (standard efficiency) AC unit and then discussing some of the top features of each highly rated central AC unit brand. Here’s a quick roundup of our top 10 best AC brands on the market today:

1. American Standard Air Conditioners

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American Standard air conditioners are one of the best central air conditioning brands in the business. The average cost to install a 14 SEER American Standard AC unit would be around $2,600 to $3,200. The company gets far fewer repair calls for its’ AC systems than most of the other AC units in the business. You can feel good about paying a premium for this AC unit, because you’ll be getting a whole lot of value with the purchase.

American Standard AC Unit

2. Carrier Air Conditioners

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There’s a reason that many people refer to Carrier AC units as a top-of-the-line air conditioner brand. Their HVAC systems are built with strict quality standards in mind.  Installation of a 14 SEER Carrier Comfort Series air conditioner would cost around $4,783 to install. Because this brand offers more options than most manufacturers, you’re sure to find the exact central air unit you need for your home’s heating and cooling needs. Carrier offers up to a 21 SEER rating, which is the highest on the market. Carrier repairs are usually fairly affordable in comparison to the rest of the HVAC industry. Carrier is also known for having highly qualified installers who are trained specifically in how to install a Carrier air conditioner. The company also offers heat pumps, gas furnaces, and other HVAC system types.

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3. Goodman Central Air Conditioners

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Screen Shot 2018-07-27 at 1.12.08 PMGoodman air conditioners are another of the top HVAC AC units on this list that isn’t quite as revered as Trane or Carrier. They are known for being cheaper in price range, but still being a good brand to rely on. If you wanted to install a Goodman GSX 14 SEER AC unit you could expect to pay around $3,475 in total installation costs. The company’s products have a solid build and quality, along with warranty programs you can count on. Best of all, they’re a real value overall for one of the best ac units from this list.

Let Modernize help you find the best Goodman HVAC installers in your area:

Goodman central AC unit


4. Trane Central AC Units

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Trane central air conditioners are known for upholding warranties and offers a standard 10-year warranty that covers both parts and labor. A Trane XR14 that has a 14 SEER rating in energy efficiency would cost anywhere from $4,800 to $6,800 to install. Trane products are often pricier than other HVAC brands, but as the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” Trane is considered a premium brand that offers outstanding air conditioners, heat pumps, and gas furnaces.

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5. Rheem Air Conditioners

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Rheem central AC units are regarded as one of the best HVAC brands in the industry. The company is known for being on the cutting edge side of things, and they produce highly efficient air conditioners with quality warranties. A replacement Rheem air conditioner such as the Rheem Classic RA14 model would cost around $3,450 in total installation. Rheem HVAC units are one of the top brands to consider when trying to find the best central air conditioner. See the link above for prices on Rheem furnaces, heat pumps, and packaged HVAC units.

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6. Lennox HVAC Units

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Out of all the top brands on this list, Lennox air conditioners are the ones known most for efficiency. You can pick up models with remarkably high SEER levels like 23.5. The company can offer equipment with efficiency levels up above 98%. A 14 to 16 SEER rating Lennox air conditioner such as the Lennox 14ACX series model would cost around $3,200 to replace or install in your home.

Let Modernize help you find the most reliable Lennox HVAC installers in your area:

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7. York AC Units

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York HVAC systems are considered one of the best brands particularly because they are known for their value pricing. The average cost to install a YORK air conditioner with a 16 SEER rating would cost around $3,200 to install. The more efficient models such as the York YXV which boasts a 20 SEER would price out at around $4,420 to install. York AC units are also known for being extremely quiet and are a great option when noise is a real concern.

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8. Ruud Central Air Conditioners

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Ruud air conditioners are an affordable HVAC system that offers a full lineup of heating and cooling products. The Ruud Achiever RA16 which has a 16 SEER energy efficiency would cost anywhere between $3,500 to $3,695 to install. There’s plenty of testing and customer reviews that credit Ruud AC units as being long-lasting. They also have available parts throughout the U.S. so their warranties & replacements are very time efficient. The warranties themselves aren’t always as comprehensive as some of the more expensive brands on the list. However you will pay far less in initial installation costs or outright purchase price of a new AC unit with Ruud.

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9. Amana HVAC Systems

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Amana air conditioners are a solid mid-range HVAC unit offering for the homeowner looking for products in the 13 to 18 SEER range. Amana is known for offering one of the best HVAC warranties in the business, and compressors come with a Limited Lifetime Replacement warranty that’s good for the expected operating life of the AC unit. An Amana AC unit will cost around $4,100 to install if you were wanting a 14 SEER air conditioner installed by them such as the Amana ASX14 model. Amana HVAC also offers replacement furnaces and heat pumps.

Let Modernize help you find the most reliable Amana HVAC installers in your area:

amana hvac unit


10. HEIL Air Conditioners

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HEIL AC units are another one of the best air conditioner brands that doesn’t get as much love as they should. This AC brand’s tech allows different heating and cooling components to send information and synchronize performance, becoming more energy efficient and reliable overall. A HEIL air conditioner installation would cost around $4,270 for their 14 SEER model from their Quiet Comfort series. Heil AC products can achieve up to a 97% efficiency rating and SEER figures of 19. They also come with comprehensive 10 year warranties.

Let Modernize help you find the most reliable HEIL air conditioner installers in your area:

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Bryant Air Conditioning Units

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Bryant air conditioning brand is another great brand that needs to be considered when discussing options for HVAC replacement. Bryant is a well known brand that offers AC units, heat pumps, and gas furnaces. It is reasonably priced and is a sister company to some of the other top brands on our list. Bryant air conditioners are often made with the same quality parts as a Carrier brand HVAC system. If you were wanting to install a mid tier AC replacement with a 14 SEER Bryant Preferred 124ANS air conditioner, it would cost around $2,624 in installation costs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do air conditioner brands really matter?
When installing a new central AC unit, brand and associated costs can be an important decision factor. Brands usually can offer a price point to fit any budget from low cost AC units to top performing units. Some brands offer extensive warranties, boast incredible customer support teams, and offer smart home technology for your new air conditioner.

It really depends on your budget and what you value the most in a new AC unit and the brand of it. Like most things, you get what you pay for and should plan your budget accordingly. We discuss all factors that affect brand and associated costs above to help you make a decision.
What is a good SEER rating for an AC unit?
A SEER rating indicates how energy efficient your new central AC unit will be. Higher SEER ratings can mean a higher initial price for the air conditioner itself and total installation, but you will save in the long run on energy bills.

The minimum SEER rating you can get is a 13 SEER AC unit. Most brand air conditioners will have a SEER rating from 14 to 21. The highest energy efficient air conditioner can go up to a 26 SEER rating offered by high tier brands like Lennox and other best AC brands discussed on this page.
How do you find a reliable local AC contractor fast?
When you're needing to install a new central AC system, it can become an urgent situation if your home’s temperature starts to become extremely cold or unpleasantly warm. Finding a reliable local AC contractor fast is possible.

The best strategy is to ask friends and family for recommendations. It is then smart to vet those contractors by using a service like Modernize to instantly compare multiple quotes from the top contractors.

We provide information on local service professionals along with their current Google business ratings, Better Business Bureau ratings, and even recent reviews from homeowners in your neighborhood who also completed HVAC projects with those same AC contractors that install the top AC brands.
Can you negotiate AC installation costs?
Negotiating the costs of your air conditioner installation with your contractor is definitely possible. You should always have backup resources to justify the local costs in your area for a new AC unit. HVAC installation costs typically range from $3,500 to $7,525.

Homeowners can often reduce costs of the contract estimate and terms by getting multiple installation price quotes in their area. Homeowners can also leverage our HVAC cost calculator to get average local prices to use as a strategic negotiation tactic. We can help you get up to 4 free quotes today from the top AC installers in your area above.
What is the average lifespan of a new AC unit?
A new air conditioner can last anywhere from 12 to 15 years. As your AC unit gets older it is smart to have annual HVAC checkups on your system by a service professional to make sure you get the most out of your new air conditioner.
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