So you are in the process of deciding on a new AC or Heating system. You’ve done your homework and received multiple quotes. Now you are asking yourself, which quote and which brand is better?
Lets begin this discussion by talking about the offers before we get into the Brands. Take a look at the offers. Is the company making the offer reputable? What are their reviews on such sites as Angie’s List or Google? I don’t recommend Yelp. The reason is that you have to take into account that Yelp tends to be a place for disgruntled people to slam any business they want to without the business being able to dispute the issue. The reviewer is hidden behind only a first name and is at times difficult to identify by the business who may want to reach out and try to rectify the problem. Google and Angie’s List make it easier for the company to discuss solutions with the customer and the reviews are more reliable because the review is identified. This make it hard for fake reviews which are very common on Yelp.
So you’ve narrowed your selection down to a few good companies. This is important. And the reason you want a good company is because your new system will be warrantied the first year through the installer, not the brand. You don’t want to risk a problem with the installation on someone who might not return your phone calls the day after he installed your unit. Second reason is what if the installer has some sort of problem and cannot continue to work? Maybe a workman’s compensation claim, and accident, a legal violation or some other health issue prevents them from doing any further work? What if they move out of your local area? Established companies are far less likely to have any of these issues affect their ability to provide warranty work.
Now you might be down to 2 or 3 companies. All with excellent reviews and a well established presence in your community or geographic area. The offers look very similar, the prices are close with a few differences. These differences may be due to different company policies or overhead costs. Some companies go the extra distance and replace components that other companies my leave behind. Others put in a few extra safety features or upgrade thermostats, just to name a few differences. It is now time to look at the Brands.
We look at the brands last because the installation problems are 80% due to the installation and 20% on the equipment. Most of the equipment goes through rigorous quality testing at the factories and there is less variability in equipment quality from one unit to the next. The installer has less consistency and their reliability is less easier to measure. With that said, lets look at brands.
Some brands are designed, manufactured and assembled in the US. Others are completely designed and assembled in another country and shipped to the US. But no brand is 100% designed, manufactured and assembled in the US. There are small components that are common to many brands that may be manufactured and shipped to the assembly plant. Here in lies the true quality of the Brands. Most brands share the same compressor manufacture, such as Bristol or Copeland. And all those manufacturers make is the compressors. There are electrical components that are purchased as well, such as circuit boards, relays, gas valves, contactors, and capacitors. The Brands typically keep in-house the coils, heat exchangers, and cabinet designs. In essence they are all almost equal. There is a variety of quality in the components and that can make a huge difference in the system quality. There are brands that will be cheaper due to using lower quality components. There are what I consider the “off-brand” products. I would stay away from those if you plan to stay in your home for any period of time. They may be a good option for a builder or a person selling their home or a landlord. These owners typically are not worried about the maintenance costs.
Of the big name brands, Carrier, Lennox, Rheem, Trane, York, the quality is comparable to each other. Not much help? Then lets look at the warranties. Many of these companies farm out their labor warranties to a third
party warranty company. I hope you are asking why they would do that? I know I do. Most companies force the first year labor warranty back on to the installer. Yes I brought that back. And for a reason. Remember I said 80% of the first year issues is due to the installation and not the equipment. Now that starts to make since. But why do they farm out the extended labor warranty? I always wondered if this meant that they don’t have faith in their own equipment.
Warning, here’s where I pitch the brand I carry. York is the only brand that is designed, manufactured, quality tested and assembled in the USA that the extended 10 year labor warranty is backed by the manufacturer and not through a third part. I truly believe this is because they have faith in their product and are willing to stand behind it for 10 years. I know of no other brand that does that.
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