There are a few websites featuring consumer reviews of furnace brands and air conditioners. However are these reviews reliable? Let’s look at the flaws in consumer reviews of heating & cooling systems, and why we think there is a better way.
Everyone loves online reviews, and the modern consumer typically relies on these reviews to guide just about every purchasing decision, from smartphones to teeth whitening toothpaste.
Although this is good in theory and works for many products, here are 5 factors that make online consumer reviews a less-than-ideal way to evaluate products like furnace brands and ACs.
For our latest rankings of the best furnaces and air conditioners, see:
1. People don’t buy furnaces and air conditioners very often
The average consumer may never have even purchased one before so consumers tend to be inexperienced at evaluating them.
Furnaces and air conditioners typically only get replaced every 15 – 20 years or more, and so even longtime homeowners may not have had to research and purchase one before, or if they did, it may have been over a decade since.
Compared to more common consumer goods like a smartphone, laptop, or bicycle, large consumer appliances just aren’t replaced as often. And therefore, most Canadian consumers have less practice evaluating them.
2. You generally don’t interact directly with your furnace or air conditioner
For this reason it can be harder to form a good opinion (compared to say a laptop or smartphone). And let’s face it, a furnace or A/C is a confusing amalgamation of conduits, circuits and wiring, and whirring and clicking moving parts… who the heck really knows what a good or bad one looks like?
Due to its fairly technical nature, evaluating a furnace or air conditioner is not the same as evaluating most consumer goods that we have more direct experience and knowledge of.
As a homeowner you are likely to judge the quality of a heating & cooling system by how comfortable your home is for instance, but there are many other factors at play like the configuration of your house, the level of insulation, among other things.
For this reason, many HVAC system reviews tend to be haphazard and all over the map…
So our goal is to devise a better, more reliable, and more helpful system!
3. People tend not to think about these systems at all until there’s something wrong
Either the unit breaks down or it’s not doing a good job of heating or cooling the home effectively, or there’s some other issue like making too much noise and that’s when people go leave a review.
This means that the reviews you find online tend to be heavily skewed towards people who have just had a problem with their unit.
How often has the average consumer, with a smoothly running furnace that’s been in their basement humming away for the last 8 years suddenly dropped what they were doing and thought, “hmm, I should go online and share how my furnace has been quietly doing its job”.
4. Larger furnace brands may appear to have more complaints
More widely-sold furnace brands will have far more of these (often negative) reviews because there are simply more of them being sold. This doesn’t mean they necessarily have more frequent issues, but due to the sheer volume of units being sold, there are simply going to be more opportunities for people to have an issue with their unit than less widely-sold brands… even if the actual rate of problems is the same.
When you consider that many people will own their furnace for up to 15 years or longer, most people will require servicing on their heating & cooling system at some point.
5. The installation matters
What many people don’t realize is that the reliability and effectiveness of a heating and cooling system can depend a lot on proper sizing, good workmanship and installation, and regular maintenance. This adds variables which are very difficult to account for, as every technician, HVAC company, and home and homeowner is different.
Unlike typical home appliances, furnaces and air conditioners also include an element of contracting work, which means that online consumer reviews don’t tell the whole story.
For more on this, see: The TRUTH About Furnace (and A/C) Reliability
This is why up until this point, we’ve refrained from allowing consumer reviews on FurnacePrices.ca. We prefer to evaluate units independently, compare them empirically, focus on quantifiable data (like the quality of warranty offered by the manufacturer), and partnering with established and reliable local partners that we’ve vetted through our extensive certification process.
We believe this offers consumers the best chance at getting a quality, reliable heating system at a fair price.
Does this mean that there will never be any issues? Of course not. Like any mechanical system, there is always a chance repairs will be needed. But by choosing a system with good warranty coverage and buying from a dependable company that will be there when you need them, you give yourself the best chance at getting a reliable heating & cooling solution.