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What is the best brand of HVAC equipment?

In my 29 years in the industry I have seen a multitude of equipment manufacturers come and go. It seems that every washing machine manufacturing company on the planet has tried to break into the HVAC market with their “latest and greatest” or “cost effective” models and we find out in short order the consequences of inferior designs and manufacturing. One thing to consider before purchasing an HVAC system is, what are the warranty issues pertaining to a particular brand. You might spend considerably less on a system without the reputation in the industry as “solid” or “dependable” but are you really saving money in the long run? One thing many customers do not understand is the difference between a labor warranty and a manufacturers’ warranty. Most equipment manufacturers will typically offer a 5 year warranty on parts, but keep in mind most HVAC companies only offer a 1 year labor warranty. That being said if you end up going with the cheapest system replacement option, you might end up spending an enormous amount on labor with warranty claims even though the parts are under warranty.

   There are numerous HVAC manufacturing companies with great reputations for durability and longevity. Brands like Trane, Lennox, Carrier, American Standard, Rheem, Bryant and Daikin to name a few. Most customers do not realize that many of these brands are actually the same company and the equipment is identical down to the model number. For example, Trane and American Standard are the same company and most of the models they sell are identical. Next we have Carrier and Bryant and the exact same rule applies to them. I could continue giving examples but find it more productive to get to the bottom line, which company has the best value? I am a Bryant dealer, and the reason I have chosen them is because they have great customer service and minimal warranty issues. You could say that Bryant offers the most “bang for your buck” considering that it’s actually a Carrier without the Carrier price.

   Next I would like to shed some light on HVAC equipment manufacturers you might do well to avoid. My goal here is not to throw anyone “under the bus” but to inform customers about companies that have shoddy manufacturing standards and abhorrent customer service. First off we have Frigidaire, remember my previous statement about washing machine manufacturers? Well let’s include general appliance manufacturers for all intensive purposes here. They came out with a system known as the “IQ Drive” and in all my years in the industry I had never seen so many warranty claims in my life. Worse yet, when you tried to get the manufacturer to warranty a part, they would instantly start throwing around accusations of “improper installation” so that they could deny the claim. The truth of the matter was that the equipment was so unreliable and had so many claims, they were on the verge of bankruptcy. Next, we have Goodman, and while they have made vast improvements to their equipment production over the last decade, I still don’t see the value of having substandard equipment installed, as mentioned earlier, consider the warranty claims when considering which equipment you want in your home. The list of equipment manufacturers with a less than average reputation is interminable, but my top 5(in addition to the 2 aforementioned) to avoid are, Janitrol, Ducane, Arcoaire, Tempstar, and Weatherking.

   Finally, I want to talk about longevity. I hear many customers talking about how their last HVAC system lasted 20+ years, and the first question I always ask is, was that here in central Texas? More often than not, they confirm my suspicion that it was in another part of the country entirely. It makes perfect sense when you think about it that an air conditioning system that is in use 2 to 3 months out of the year in another region is going to last much longer than systems that are in use almost continuously in this area. Also, most HVAC systems in this part of Texas are heat pumps which mean that they can heat or cool depending on the demand, this also contributes to the average lifespan of equipment in this area to being between 8-12 years. I have found that with the higher SEER(seasonal energy efficiency ratio) inverter models, they can tend to last 3-5 years longer than conventional systems, but they are also more expensive to have them installed.

   In conclusion, I want to encourage every consumer to do their own research. Also speak to the professionals in your area about what systems they prefer and why. To simplify the matter, I like to draw the analogy of the automobile here. Do you want to go cross-country in an unreliable, gas guzzling model or would you feel more confident and comfortable in a model with the highest efficiency and dependability in the industry? I like to always show my customers the R.O.I.(return on investment) information as well, when a particular system is saving you 40-60 percent on energy as opposed to your existing system, why not reap the benefits of your new system paying for itself and having the highest level of comfort as well over its lifetime?

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