Best Central Air Conditioners of 2019
The definitive guide to the best central air conditioner brands & models in Canada in 2019, including the most efficient, best features & technology, quietest & best warranty.
People always want to know: “What’s the best central air conditioning system that I can get?” However, the truth is there isn’t any one air conditioner that will work best for every home. Choosing the right make and model depends on many factors, such as your home’s specific cooling needs as well as your budget.
We at FurnacePrices.ca want to help you make the best possible decision for your home. We make it easy for you to research and understand your options so you can make an informed decision that you’ll be happy with for years to come. By performing annual evaluations of heating and cooling systems, we breakdown and compare the top models from the leading HVAC companies in Canada using a variety of criteria, including:
- Reliability and warranty coverage
- Energy efficiency
- Features and technology
- Noise/decibel ratings
What This Guide Will Cover
This guide will provide an overview of the best central air conditioners on the market today. The goal here is to highlight various models that do well in the areas mentioned to help point Canadians in the right direction when shopping for a new air conditioning unit. If you would like an in-depth analysis of any of the brands or models mentioned here, take a look at our comprehensive air conditioner brand reviews.
Just remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to air conditioners, because every home is different, every climate has special challenges, and every family has unique needs, budgets, and preferences. Like a car, there is no best unit because each make and model has specific strengths and weaknesses.
Something Else to Consider When Buying a New Air Conditioner
An often overlooked but equally important factor is the company you choose to buy your new air conditioner from, who you choose for installation, and who you select for ongoing support and maintenance.
See why choosing a Certified Local Contractor helps provide you with an additional layer of assurance and peace of mind.
Central air conditioner deals & promotions!
Check out the latest local A/C specials from dealers in your area.
Looking Beyond Brand: How We Evaluate the Best Central Air Conditioners
One of the first things people consider when looking to buy a major home appliance is the brand. However, it’s crucial that Canadian consumers consider a range of other factors when looking to upgrade their home’s cooling system.
Every manufacturer offers a variety of unique features that make their products stand out when compared to the competition. For this reason, we find that it’s more effective to consider individual units rather than the brand as a whole. Below are some key factors that are paramount when looking for a high-efficiency air conditioner.
Key Factors to Consider
- High SEER ratings mean better efficiency and lower monthly bills
- Two-stage or variable-speed air conditioners provide greater comfort and a more consistent indoor temperature, but may not be worth the additional cost given the shorter cooling season in Canada
- Comprehensive warranty coverage, including installation and maintenance
- Find something that’s within your budget but can offer long-term value
- Some special features and technologies can increase efficiency, improve ease of use, make operation more convenient, or reduce noise levels
- Find an air conditioner that’s properly sized for your home’s needs
By consulting a local heating and cooling distributor, you can find a system that’s perfect for your home. The best local dealers often offer many services to ensure that your system operates at its best, such as proper installation, regular servicing, 24/7 customer service, and more.
Why You Can’t Use Online Reviews
While people are often tempted to turn to sources like Consumer Reports or various review aggregators for air conditioner rankings, there are several problems with relying on these alone to determine reliability. Here’s why:
- Reliability depends heavily on proper sizing and the quality of installation
- Ongoing maintenance and individual use also impact reliability
- More popular brands tend to have more complaints due to the sheer number of units sold, even if the overall satisfaction rating is similar to other brands
- Contractors will often have (sometimes biased) opinions about certain brands that they air publicly
Best Air Conditioners by Warranty Coverage
To evaluate and rank air conditioner makes and models, we rely primarily on objective information like warranty coverage. This is because machines do sometimes break down, and even if a particular unit requires repairs above and beyond what’s normal, a good warranty will ensure your investment is protected. Here’s some more information on the basic, better, and best warranties available:
Top-of-the-line coverage includes no hassle unit replacements, and this means the manufacturer will provide a brand new unit free of charge if a major component, like the compressor or coil, fails. Additionally, a handful of manufacturers go the extra mile and offer labour warranties.
It’s common for manufacturers to offer basic coverage on entry-level and mid-range air conditioners, while premium-grade units will have the best comprehensive coverage.
Finally, it’s important to note that many manufacturers offer both standard warranty terms and extended terms that are available to owners who register their units after installation. New owners typically have between 60 and 90 days to register a unit to be eligible for the extended terms.
Best Central Air Conditioner Warranties in Canada in 2019
Here’s a highlight of some of the better central air conditioner warranties across different major brands:
✔ Goodman model GSXC18: 10-year unit replacement limited warranty, lifetime limited compressor warranty, and a 10-year limited parts warranty.
✔ Keeprite ProComfort Deluxe Series model CVA9: Limited 10-year No Hassle Replacement warranty and a 10-year limited parts warranty.
✔ York Affinity Series model YXV: Limited lifetime compressor warranty, 10-year limited parts warranty, and a one-year limited labour warranty.
✔ Bryant Evolution Series model 189BNV: 10-year limited compressor warranty and a 10-year limited parts warranty.
✔ Trane model XL18i TruComfort: 12-year limited compressor warranty and a 10-year limited warranty for the outdoor coil and functional parts.
✔ Comfortmaker SoftSound Deluxe Series model CCA7: 10-year limited parts warranty and a 10-year No Hassle Replacement limited warranty.
✔ Ruud Achiever Plus Series model UA17: 10-year parts warranty and a 10-year conditional unit replacement warranty.
✔ Amana model ASXC18: Lifetime unit replacement limited warranty and a 10-year parts limited warranty.
Most Energy-Efficient Central Air Conditioners in Canada in 2019
The efficiency of your air conditioner will ultimately influence how much money you spend over the years to cool your home. Generally speaking, the higher the SEER rating, the more money you’ll save on energy bills. Thanks to environmental initiatives, all manufacturers make air conditioner models that meet and exceed federal efficiency minimums.
Energy Efficiency Air Conditioner Ranges
Entry-level Air Conditioners
Typically, entry-level air conditioners are single-stage and have a SEER rating of 13 or 14. This simple ON/OFF configuration means that the unit is noisy and less efficient when compared to a higher-end system. These air conditioners are more budget-friendly and work great for smaller homes.
Mid-Range Air Conditioners
Mid-range units are available in either single- or two-stage designs. Two-stage operation means the unit’s On setting has a HIGH and LOW stage, and this lowers utility bills, provides quieter operation, and improves temperature consistency. These tend to be in the 15 – 18 SEER range.
Premium Air Conditioners
Premium air conditioners are often either two-stage or variable-speed, which promises the highest level of temperature control, humidity reduction, noise dampening, and overall efficiency. These top-of-the-line-systems often have a SEER rating of 18-plus, feature the best technologies, and provide greater long-term value. Be prepared to pay a premium price for these models.
Note there are ultra-efficient air conditioners on the market that have SEER ratings of 20-plus, but these aren’t often necessary (or even available in Canada without an expensive special order), so we’ve excluded those here.
Best Energy Efficient Central Air Conditioners
The following are some of the more energy efficient central air conditioners available in Canada.
✔ Amana model ASXC18: SEER performance rating up to 19
✔ KeepRite ProComfort Deluxe Series model CVA9: SEER performance rating up to 19
✔ Trane model XV18 TruComfort: SEER performance rating up to 18
✔ Goodman model GSXC18: SEER performance rating up to 19
✔ Lennox Merit Series model ML14XC1: SEER performance rating up to 17
✔ York Affinity Series model YXV: SEER performance rating up to 19.5
✔ Ruud Achiever Series model RA17: SEER performance rating up to 17
Best Central Air Conditioner Features and Technologies in 2019
Many of the top manufacturers load their premium-tier air conditioners with an array of innovative features. These technological add-ons include things such as noise reduction, durability, overall efficiency, self-diagnostics and maintenance, and much more.
By contrast, entry-level units won’t often include many of the more novel features, and will instead focus on streamlining maintenance and improving durability. If you’re looking at a premium-grade air conditioner, then here are some of the top innovative features and technologies that might interest you.
Note the features and models below are meant to highlight different technologies available, however every brand and model might have a variety of unique or compelling features.
Top Innovative Features and Technologies
✔ Rheem Achiever Series model RA17: The RA17 is equipped with a special two-stage Copeland Scroll Ultra Tech compressor that offers the best efficiency and superior temperature, humidity, and noise control.
✔ Bryant Preferred Series model 127A: Can be equipped with Perfect Humidity technology to keep your home cool and dry all summer long, even on the muggiest days.
✔ Coleman LX Series model CC7: WhisperDrive system that uses a composite base, swept-wing fan blade design, and sound enclosure to ensure quiet operation.
✔ Comfortmaker SoftSound Series model CSA6: Can be controlled using the Wi-Fi enabled Observer communicating wall control that allows you to manage and monitor the system remotely, and gives you access to diagnostics and performance metrics.
✔ Heil QuietComfort Series model HSA5: Additional protective features that increase durability and longevity, such as protective corner posts, tight wire grille panels, corrosion-resistant components, galvanized steel cabinet, and a baked-on powder coat finish.
✔ Amana model ASX16: Comes with an advanced diagnostics system called CoreSense Diagnostics that will monitor the system to locate problems and reduce failures.
✔ Trane model XL16i: Manufactured with a simple two-wire connection that makes installation easier, faster, and consequently cheaper.
✔ Carrier Performance Series model 24ACC6: This model is designed to improve the air quality in your home with the Air Cleaner system, evaporator coil UV lamp, and built-in ventilation.
✔ Lennox Elite Series model XC16: Has iComfort technology that works in conjunction with a smart thermostat to learn your family’s routine and match cooling settings to your needs.
Quietest Central Air Conditioners in Canada in 2019
A telltale sign that an air conditioner is old or underperforming is an unusually high noise level. Modern air conditioners feature technological add-ons that are dedicated to dampening noise so you can enjoy cool comfort with somewhat less of an annoying hum in the background.
Entry-level units with single-stage operation will typically be the noisiest units due to their simple ON/OFF functionality, but there are still some units available that promise quieter operation. More expensive higher-end units with adaptable two-stage and variable-speed compressors can provide quieter operation, though will obviously cost significantly more and some may not be available in Canada.
Entry-level models with good sound ratings
- Keeprite Performance Series model NH4A4: As low as 66 decibels
- Tempstar QuietComfort Series model TSA6: As low as 69 decibels
- Amana model ASX16: As low as 70 decibels
Mid-range models with good sound ratings
- Carrier Infinity Series model 24ANB7: As low as 67 decibels
- Luxaire LX Series model TC17: As low as 67 decibels
- Bryant Evolution Series model 186B: As low as 68 decibels
Premium models with good sound ratings
- Trane model XV18: As low as 55 decibels
- Heil QuietComfort Deluxe Series model HVA9: As low as 56 decibels
- Bryant Evolution Series model 189BNV: As low as 56 decibels
- Lennox Dave Lennox Signature Collection (model SL18XC1)
Importance of Professional Installation and Choosing the Right Contractor
One of the most effective ways to find an air conditioning system that’s perfect for your home is to deal with an experienced expert HVAC contractor. They can help choose the correct size and model for the local climate and specific factors that are unique to your home.
Proper installation is one of the most important considerations when getting a new air conditioning system, because installation can impact the efficiency of the unit in the long run. An incorrectly installed unit will waste energy and money due to its sub-optimal performance. Additionally, an air conditioner that’s improperly sized or hastily installed with poor quality workmanship is much more likely to break down and won’t last nearly as long.
By working with a certified HVAC technician, you’ll be able to choose the unit that’s right for your home and ensure long-term dependability.
Furthermore, the local HVAC contractor you choose is equally important in the years following installation, because you will depend on that person for ongoing support and service in case your unit malfunctions. As such, it’s crucial to choose a dependable company that will be available when needed, and provide top-notch ongoing support and a great post-sale experience.