Best Central Air Conditioners of 20182018-05-28T13:47:06+00:00

The Best Central Air Conditioners of 2018

Consumers frequently ask us “What’s the best central air conditioner I can buy?” The truth is there is no one-size-fits-all ‘best A/C’. The term ‘best’ is subjective when it comes to central air conditioners and is dependent on a variety of factors, including your home cooling needs and budget.

Our Furnace Prices team has identified the following key categories to compare: energy efficiency, features & technology, noise/decibel ratings, and warranty.

In this article, we review the top central air conditioner manufacturers and present our findings and highlight the top brands in each of these categories.

Then we conclude with our findings for the best A/C brands and models of 2018, revealing the brands which performed well overall.

The best air conditioners of 2018

MOST ENERGY-EFFICIENT CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONER BRANDS

Our experts have taken the liberty of compiling the chart below to showcase the percentage of models that are ENERGY STAR certified and are at least 16 SEER, for the top 11 central air conditioner brands available in Canada.

It’s important to note that the actual SEER rating and ENERGY STAR certification depends on the exact configuration and which indoor unit or coil that the outdoor unit is paired with. It is important to make sure that the company you deal with is not installing a low-end coil, which would lower your system’s actual energy-efficiency. Beware when a company advertises unusually low prices on places like Kijiji.

Ultimately it comes down to which model you choose to purchase, as every brand has some high-efficiency and ENERGY STAR air conditioner models. But the chart below gives a good indication of the overall priority each brand places on energy-efficiency.

Central Air Conditioner BrandPercentage of central air conditioner models
that are ENERGY STAR certified
Percentage of central air conditioner units
that are at least 16 SEER
Goodman46% (17 out of 37 models)46% (17 out of 37 models)
York41% (28 out of 69 models)19% (13 out of 69 models are up to 16.5 SEER)
KeepRite25% (3 out of 12 models)25% (3 out of 12 models)
Amana38% (21 out of 56 models)30% (17 out of 56 models)
American Standard69% (33 out of 48 models)60% (29 out of 48 models)
Rheem100% [UNVERIFIED]*56% (19 out of 34 models)
Trane63% (45 out of 72 models)78% (56 out of 72 models)
Bryant63% (10 out of 16 models)56% (9 out of 16 models)
Napoleon25% ENERGY STAR: Select models of their
16 SEER Central Air Conditioners:
6 out of 24 models (includes sub-models)
16 SEER: 8% (2 out of 24 models)
Carrier58% (7 out of 12 models)58% (7 out of 12 models)
Lennox55% (6 out of 11 models)73% (8 out of 11 models)

*Rheem lists all their consumer central air conditioner models as being ENERGY STAR certified, though strangely none of their A/Cs are listed as ENERGY STAR certified according to the major industry databases we’ve consulted. We reached out to Rheem for clarification but have not yet received any response.

Looking at this chart, you’ll note that when it comes to manufacturing central air conditioners that meet ENERGY STAR standards, the majority of brands are sitting at 40-60%.

Who Does It Best?

Trane and American Standard (which are both made by the same parent company) score well in both areas, with a high percentage of their models being relatively high-efficiency and ENERGY STAR certified.

Top 3 brands for largest percentage of ENERGY STAR certified central air conditioners:

  1. American Standard – 69% (33 out of 48 models)
  2. Trane –  63% (45 out of 72 models)
  3. Bryant – 63% (10 out of 16 models)

Top 3 brands for largest percentage of at least 16 SEER central air conditioners:

  1. Trane – 78% (56 out of 72 models)
  2. Lennox – 73% (8 out of 11 models)
  3. American Standard – 60% (29 out of 48 models)
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BEST A/C FEATURES & TECHNOLOGY

Innovative Technology and Features by Central Air Conditioner Brand:

We’re frequently asked what features are important to look for when it comes to selecting a high-efficiency central air conditioner. Researching central air conditioner features can feel overwhelming. Industry jargon can make it difficult to decipher the meaning and benefits offered.

Our experts have broken down air conditioner features into three major categories: 1) temperature control, 2) noise reduction, and 3) maintenance/service.

Let’s take a look at how the top 11 central air conditioner brands compare when it comes to these features.

  • Goodman: ComfortAlert™ Diagnostics and ComfortNet™ Communicating System compatible
  • York: Climate Set™ and their proprietary Wi-Fi Hx™ thermostat
  • KeepRite: Observer® communicating control
  • Amana: ComfortNet™ Compatible
  • American Standard: AccuComfort™ technology that is consistent with a ½ degree in 1/10th of 1% increments.
  • Rheem: EcoNet™ and PlusOne™
  • Bryant: Perfect Humidity® technology, Housewise™ Wi-Fi® thermostat and Bryant® Wi-Fi® Thermostat
  • Carrier: Infinity Touch Control Carrier® humidifier
  • Lennox: iComfort®-enabled technology, XC25 Precise Comfort® technology, XC25 Climate IQ Technology
  • York: QuietDrive™ System
  • Amana: High-density foam compressor sound blanket.
  • American Standard: Spine Fin™ coil and Duration™ compressor
  • Rheem: The Two Stage Copeland Scroll™ UltraTech™ Compressor
  • Trane: Climatuff™ Variable Speed Compressor, All-aluminum Spine Fin™ coil and compressor sound insulators
  • Bryant: AeroQuiet System II™
  • Napoleon: High Efficiency Copeland Scroll Compressor
  • Carrier: Silencer System II™
  • Lennox: SilentComfort™ technology
  • York: Charge Assurance™ is a built-in touch screen instantly displays the system overall condition, including the system pressures and refrigerant charge without the need to attach additional gauges or sensors
  • Amana: Copeland® CoreSense Diagnostics
  • York and Rheem: QR code on unit provides quick access to technical documents and warranty information.

Who Does It Best?

It’s clear that temperature control and noise reduction features are of top importance to central air conditioner manufacturers with 82% competing in those categories for consumer attention. York, Amana and Rheem stood out from the rest offering consumers features across all three categories.

QUIETEST CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONERS

Noise and Decibel Ratings: When the Quietest Central A/C Model Isn’t Best

Noise is one of the top three concerns amongst consumers researching high-efficiency central air conditioners, and we are often asked at Furnace Prices “What’s the quietest central A/C available on the market?” by consumers.

When considering which high-efficiency central air conditioner is best when it comes to noise, it’s important to look at the average central air conditioner noise.

The chart below allows you to compare the top 11 central air conditioner brands based on their quietest and loudest central air conditioners.

We’ve also calculated the average noise level for each manufacturer using their lineup of 13-20 SEER central air conditioner models, which is the recommended efficiency range for Canadian households.

Central Air Conditioner ManufacturerAverage Central A/C Noise level
(13- 20 SEER central A/C models)
Quietest Central A/C Noise levelLoudest Central A/C Noise level
Goodman72.84 decibels70.4/70.9 decibels (DSXC16 – 031AA/B and 0361AC models)77 decibels (GSX13 – 0601B*)
York72.72 decibels67 decibels (Affinity Series – CZF02413 C model)77 decibels (LX Series – YCD – YCD60 B21S)
KeepRite71.66 decibelsAs low as 56 decibels (ProComfort Deluxe Series – CVA9 model) – variable speed compressor up to 19 SEERas low as 76 decibels (Performance Series – NXA6)
– single stage scroll compressor up to 16 SEER
Amana72.75 decibelsAVXC20 – 0241A* min. 59 decibels – high-efficiency, variable speed compressor77 decibels (ASX13 – 0601C and 0611A* models;
ANX13 – 0601A* and 0611A*) – energy-efficient scroll compressor and energy-efficient compressor 13 SEER
American Standard70.79AccuComfort Variable Speed Platinum 20 modelsSilver 13 models
Rheem74.51 decibelslow 54 decibels (Prestige Series: Variable Speed – RA2048 model)77.7 decibels (Classic Series: Single Stage – RA1360 model)
Trane (Climatuff™ Variable Speed Compressor)71.22 decibels55 decibels (XV20i TruComfort Variable Speed – all models)75 decibels (XR13 – all models)
Bryant70.06 decibelsas low as 56 decibels (Evolution Series – 189BNV)76 decibels (Legacy Line – 116B)
NapoleonSound ratings are likely in line with other mid to lower efficiency models on the market (~75 – 78 decibels)Information not availableInformation not available
Carrier68.72 decibelsas low as 56 decibels (Infinity Series – 24VNA9)76 decibels (Comfort Series – 24ABC6)
Lennox72.55 decibelsQuietest: Up to 26 SEER unit is as low as 59 decibels. (variable speed)76 decibels (Merit Series – all models)

Who Does It Best?

Based on the lowest average decibel ratings, the quietest air conditioners by brand are 1. Carrier (68.72 decibels), 2. Bryant (70.06 decibels), 3. American Standard (70.79 decibels).

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BEST CENTRAL A/C WARRANTIES

4 Types of Coverage to Look for When it Comes to Central Air Conditioner Warranties

When choosing to invest in a high-efficiency central air conditioner it’s important to ensure that your system is backed by a comprehensive warranty plan.

While not all warranty packages are created equal you will notice four common offerings amongst brands:

  1. Limited Unit Replacement Warranty
  2. Limited Compressor Warranty
  3. Limited Parts Warranty
  4. Limited Coil Warranty

Let’s explore each type, and which brands and models come with each type of A/C warranty coverage.

IMPORTANT! Remember that these warranties often must be registered within a certain time frame after the unit is purchased and installed. It is imperative that you check with your HVAC contractor to ensure this is done, as they are often responsible for filing this paperwork.

Limited Unit Replacement Warranty

Amana, Goodman, KeepRite, Rheem all offer limited unit replacement warranties with varying degrees of length from lifetime, 10 year, 5 year and 1 year.

Lifetime:

  • Amana (AVXC20, ASXC18, ASXC16 and ASX16 models)

10 years:

  • Goodman (DSXC18 and DSXC16 models)
  • KeepRite ProComfort Deluxe Series
  • Rheem Prestige Series Variable Speed RA20 and Classic Plus Series Two Stage RA17 models

5 years:

  • KeepRite ProComfort Series (CSA6 model)

1 year:

  • KeepRite ProComfort Series (CSA5 and C4A3 models)

Limited Compressor Warranty

Lifetime:

  • Goodman (DSXC18 and DSXC16 models)
  • York Affinity Series – YXV, CZH, CZF

12 years:

  • American Standard AccuComfort Variable Speed Platinum 20, AccuComfort Variable Speed Platinum 18 and Gold 17 models
  • Trane XV20i TruComfort Variable Speed, XV18 TruComfort Variable Speed, XL18i, XL16i models

10 years:

  • York Affinity Series TCHD, York LX Series – YCG, York LX Series – YCS, YCE,  YCD, YFD, YCJF
  • American Standard Silver 16, Silver 16 Low Profile, Silver 14 and Silver 13 models
  • Trane XR17, XR16 Central Air Systems,  XR16 Central Air Conditioning Systems, XR16 Low Profile, XR14, XR 13
  • Bryant Evolution Series, Preferred Series, Legacy Line models
  • Napoleon 16 SEER, 14 SEER, 13 SEER Central Air Conditioner models
  • Carrier Infinity, Performance and Comfort Series models
  • Dave Lennox Signature Collection models

5 years:

  • Napoleon 13 SEER Side Discharge Central Air Conditioner models

Limited Parts Warranty

10 years:

  • Goodman (DSXC18, DSXC16, GSX16, GSX14 and GSX13)
  • York Affinity Series – YXV, CZH, CZF, TCHD, York LX Series – YCG, YFE,  YCD, YFD, YCJF
  • KeepRite – ProComfort Deluxe, ProComfort and Performance Series
  • Amana (AVXC20, ASXC18, ASXC16 and ASX16, ASX14, ANX14, ASX13, models)
  • American Standard AccuComfort Variable Speed Platinum 20, AccuComfort Variable Speed Platinum 18, Gold 17 models, Silver 16, Silver 16 Low Profile, Silver 14 and Silver 13 models (internal functional parts)
  • Rheem Prestige Series Variable Speed RA20, Classic Plus Series Two Stage RA17, Classic Series Single Stage RA16 and RA14 models.
  • Trane XV20i TruComfort Variable Speed, XV18 TruComfort Variable Speed, XL18i, XL16i models, XR17, XR16 Central Air Systems,  XR16 Central Air Conditioning Systems, XR16 Low Profile, XR14, XR13 models (internal functional parts)
  • Bryant Evolution Series, Preferred Series, Legacy Line models
  • Napoleon 16 SEER, 14 SEER, 13 SEER Central Air Conditioner models
  • Carrier Infinity, Performance and Comfort Series models

5 years:

  • York LX Series – YCS, YCE, YFE
  • Napoleon 13 SEER Side Discharge Central Air Conditioner models

Limited Covered Components Warranty

10 years:

  • Dave Lennox Signature Collection models

5 years:

  • Lennox Elite and Merit Series models

Limited Coil Warranty

10 years:

  • American Standard AccuComfort Variable Speed Platinum 20, AccuComfort Variable Speed Platinum 18, Gold 17 models, Silver 16, Silver 16 Low Profile, Silver 14 and Silver 13 models
  • Trane XV20i TruComfort Variable Speed, XV18 TruComfort Variable Speed, XL18i, XL16i models, XR17, XR16 Central Air Systems,  XR16 Central Air Conditioning Systems, XR16 Low Profile, XR14, XR13 models

Limited Labour Warranty

Another FAQ we often hear at Furnace Prices “Is labour warranty included?”

Labour warranties are not frequently offered by manufacturers as they are not the ones installing your unit. Questions surrounding labour warranties are best addressed by the trusted local distributor who is performing your central air conditioner installation.

York and Carrier both offer consumers a limited labour warranty. Review the specifics with your local distributor prior to purchase.

1 year: York Affinity Series – YXV, York LX Series – YCG, YCS, YCE, YFE, YCD, YFD

Optional: Carrier Infinity, Performance and Comfort Series models

What type of coverage is most common?

Standard warranty coverage seen across the majority of the top 11 central air conditioner brands covered in this article is a 10 year limited compressor and 10 year limited parts protection on economy and mid-range central air conditioner systems.

Who Does It Best?

The top 3 brands offering consumers the best warranty coverage are: 

1. Amana: limited lifetime unit replacement and 10 year limited parts warranty

2. KeepRite: offers limited unit replacement across all of their central air conditioner models (10, 5 and 1 year duration) and 10 year limited parts

3. Trane: 10 year limited coil, 12 year limited compressor and 10 year limited parts warranty

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BEST OVERALL CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONER BRANDS & MODELS

IMPORTANT! One of the most important factors when investing in the best high-efficiency central air conditioner that meets your needs, is dealing with a good company that employs quality installers.

It is crucial to choose an established, licensed HVAC company with good reputation that stands by their work. A properly sized, entry-level efficiency central air conditioner unit installed by a reputable company and technician will fare better than a poorly sized, premium-efficiency central air conditioner installed by a subpar company or unlicensed technician.

When it comes down to it, there are many good options from many different brands & manufacturers, not all of which are listed here. This guide is simply meant to provide some guidance by comparing some of the most popular options in the Canadian A/C marketplace.

If a local company you trust sells a different brand or one that isn’t among our top picks, you shouldn’t feel afraid to buy it!

With that said, let’s take a look at some of the options which scored well in all the areas we looked at above…

So which air conditioner manufacturers are our top picks for 2018?

The brands below provided a good mix of quality, advanced features, a variety of energy-efficient options, and solid overall value and pricing.

Trane

KeepRite

York

Thoughts:

When it comes to price, warranty and noise categories KeepRite, York and Trane stand out from their competition. KeepRite and York fall somewhat on the lower end for central air conditioner pricing which means they offer consumers high-efficient central air conditioner at a price that won’t blow your budget.

Trane tends to be slightly higher end and a bit costlier but still a great value, with more high-efficiency models to choose from than almost any other brand.

Goodman

Best ‘Value Brand’ Air Conditioner Pick:  Goodman is a popular brand offering modestly priced units. They’re not flashy but they tend to get the job done and offer very solid warranty coverage, including lifetime coverage on the compressor, one of the key components of the unit and a very costly one to repair otherwise.

Other Top Options

Rheem

Lennox

American Standard

Amana

What are the best central A/C models?

The absolute best models tend to be the ultra-expensive top of the line models which often aren’t affordable, or even practical or necessary for the average Canadian. These models are typically meant for warm tropical or sub-tropical climates.

So for Canadians, we recommend aiming for a model in the 14 – 18 SEER range in most cases. Exactly which A/C model you should buy depends on your particular budget and needs and the brand you go with.

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