13 Air Conditioner Brands to Avoid & 7 Best Brands (2022)

Purchasing and installing an air conditioner is a big decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Air conditioners are expensive investments that add value and comfort to your home, and you must get the best bang for your buck. 

There are three main types of air conditioners: central air conditioners, window air conditioners, and portable air conditioners. Not all air conditioning brands are created equal, and there are certainly some brands that are better than others. If you decide to purchase an air conditioner, here are a few brands to avoid: 

Worst Central AC Brands

  1. Coleman 
  2. York 
  3. Goodman
  4. Luxaire
  5. Concord

Worst Window AC Brands

  1. Hisense
  2. TCL
  3. Keystone
  4. GE
  5. Frigidaire

Worst Portable AC Brands

  1. Friedrich
  2. Black+Decker
  3. Whynter

While some may offer advantages in certain areas, they are overall brands to avoid. 

What to Look for in an Air Conditioner (AC)

Central air conditioning systems work with gas furnaces. They are not a stand-alone system and have ductwork that distributes air throughout the house.

Central air conditioner units and heat pumps are different. A heat pump provides warm and cold air, whereas an AC only provides cold air and relies on the gas furnace to heat the home. Outdoor units will have a reversing valve in a heat pump where an air conditioner unit doesn’t.

When examining central air conditioning brands, we have to assume that the gas furnace and ductwork are also in good shape, which influences performance—also, your home’s energy-efficiency matters.

A window air conditioning unit is a stand-alone unit that sits inside an open window and is plugged into a 240volt wall outlet. Window air conditioners are ductless and have a limited cooling capacity.

A portable air conditioning unit is a stand-alone unit that you can move from room to room. Portable air conditioners are ductless and have a limited cooling capacity.

When deciding on what air conditioner to choose, there are several things you want to take into account. You need to consider more than just the price or efficiency to make the best decision possible. You need to consider the whole picture to make the most informed decision possible. Here’s what to look for: 

  • Efficiency Rating 

An inefficient air conditioner is one of the quickest ways to throw money out the window for air conditioning. Inefficiency is also essential when considering the grand scheme of things. 

An inefficient air conditioner will cause damage to the environment along with your wallet. With advancements in modern technology, many only meet a minimum efficiency rating, but some are still better than others. 

  • Overall Quality

The overall quality of an air conditioner is an essential thing to examine. The overall quality will include all items on this list and give you the best comprehensive option. It could mean that you have to spend a little more money upfront, but it will likely be worth it in the long run. 

  • Longevity

The last thing you want is for your brand new air conditioner to give out after only a few years. While this is possible no matter what brand you purchase, certain manufacturers have better quality control than others. A high-quality central air conditioner can last 15 to 20 years, if not longer. 

  • Warranty Information 

Warranty is something that often gets overlooked in the grand scheme of things. However, when deciding which air conditioner to purchase, you should consider the warranty. No matter how well-made your air conditioner is, it’s always possible for something to go wrong. You want to make sure that it’s not going to cost you an arm and a leg to fix every minor issue. 

  • Price Tag

All too often, people don’t look any further than the price tag. I get it. We all want to save money and be thrifty. However, when it comes to air conditioners, you get what you pay for, and the cost is often reflected in the quality of the product. 

By thoroughly researching each product you’re considering and weighing the pros and cons of each, you will be able to make the best decision possible. You don’t have to buy the most expensive air conditioner to fulfill your needs, but you must pay more than the bare minimum. 

heat pump

Central Air Conditioner Brands to Avoid

1. Coleman Air Conditioners

Coleman is a brand best known for producing campers and camping supplies. They should have kept it that way. Coleman is a sister brand to another member of the naughty list, York. 

  • Reasons to Avoid Coleman 

The main problem with Coleman air conditioners is that they offer a mediocre unit at a high price. There is nothing to distinguish Coleman models from the rest of the competition, but their price doesn’t reflect that. 

The cost to purchase and install a Coleman air conditioner will be anywhere from $2,200 to $4,000 or even a bit steeper with inflation. According to consumer reports, Coleman is one of four air conditioner brands that homeowners disliked. When you purchase your next AC, avoid Coleman if at all possible. 

2. York Air Conditioners 

The same company that makes Coleman also makes York HVAC systems, and they share similar traits in terms of quality. 

  • Reasons to Avoid York 

I am a former HVAC technician who has replaced hundreds of air conditioners, if not more. It seemed like a quarter of those, if not more, was York air conditioners. York products lack the quality materials it takes to be a good air conditioner. The reason that most of them gave out was due to coil leaks or compressor failure. 

Many of these were less than 15 years old, so if you’re looking for longevity and reliability, York isn’t for you. I even had one homeowner tell me that they didn’t care what AC system I installed in their new house as long as it wasn’t a York. Many customer complaints center around the frequency of mechanical breakdown.

York also has a SEER rating, seasonal energy efficiency rating, 13 on the low end and 18 on the high end. SEER is the gold standard used for rating the efficiency of air conditioners, and this rating puts York on the low end in terms of efficiency. 

3. Goodman Air Conditioners

Again, speaking from experience, Goodman air conditioners should be avoided when making your AC purchase. Goodman HVAC systems typically only last for 10-15 years before you need to replace or upgrade to a different unit. 

  • Reasons to Avoid Goodman

People are often attracted to Goodman ACs because of the reasonable price tag, but there’s a reason for that. Goodman ACs have a preinstalled filter system, which sounds like a good idea, but it isn’t. The filter system is of poor quality, and you can’t get to it for maintenance or repairs. What should be a benefit is just an added risk. 

Additionally, Goodman air conditioners might be cheap to purchase and install initially, but they are relatively inefficient. Their average SEER rating is only 13-18, which is on the low end of modern systems. 

Part of the problem with Goodman HVAC systems is shoddy installations. Goodman doesn’t have any real control over who installs their systems. Many installers are drawn to Goodman because they are inexpensive and have no real oversight. Whereas installers with companies like Trane have to adhere to rigorous standards.

If you’re buying a Goodman system, carefully vet the HVAC installer.

4. Luxaire Air Conditioners 

Johnson Controls, who makes the York and Coleman brand air conditioners, also makes Luxaire ACs. Like its sister brands, Luxaire joins them on the list of air conditioner brands to avoid when you make your next purchase. 

  • Reasons to Avoid Luxaire

One of the most significant issues with Luxaire systems is the coil. They are prone to leaking and are often very expensive to replace or repair. Out of the three brands made by Johnson Controls, Luxaire is the most efficient and probably the best option. However, if you have the opportunity to use another manufacturer, I would recommend doing so. 

5. Concord Air Conditioners

Concord air conditioners are one of the less well-known brands on this list, and as a former worker in the HVAC field, I have seldom encountered them. The same company that makes Lennox also makes Concord units. 

  • Reasons to Avoid Concord

Like York and the other brands on this list, Concord air conditioners are relatively cheap to install, but they lack efficiency. Another thing that you’ll notice about air conditioners made by the same company, but with different brands and prices, is that you’re better off going with the more expensive option. 

4 Best Central Air Conditioner Brands

Now that we know which brands to avoid when purchasing your air conditioner let’s look at some of the best options. 

  1. Trane
  2. American Standard
  3. Carrier
  4. Rheem 

These brands do the best job at combining overall quality while being affordable to the general consumer. Let’s take a more in-depth look at these. 

Trane & American Standard

Trane and American Standard are both made by Ingersoll Rand. They are essentially the same system with similar technology and components. They are both essentially the number one overall brand for air conditioners. With a SEER rating of 14-22, they combine efficiency with affordability and longevity.

Trane and American Standard are slightly more expensive than the average air conditioner, costing between $5,000 to $10,000 to install, depending on what you need. 

The biggest con to Trane units is the size of the air conditioner itself. I installed Trane air conditioners, and they can be pretty bulky. Despite their size, they’re quiet and offer a wide range of options when it comes to ACs and heat pumps. 

With a Trane or American Standard, you’ll have a higher upfront cost, but you’ll recoup that investment over the life of the air conditioner in lower repair and energy bills. You’re not guaranteed that with other air conditioning brands.

Carrier

Carrier is the cream of the crop when it comes to air conditioners. They have some of the longest-lasting and most efficient units on the market. Carrier also has the stringent quality and installation requirements that are second to none. 

The downside to Carrier AC is that all of its goodness comes with a steep price tag. The average cost of a Carrier unit can be anywhere from $5,000 on the low end to $7,500 on the high end. The high cost is well worth it in the long run if you value efficiency and durability in your air conditioner. 

Rheem 

Rheem is probably the best middle-of-the-line air conditioner if you want a quality unit at an affordable price. Rheem air conditioners will not be as efficient or long-lasting as Carrier units, but the price reflects that fact. 

If you want a reliable, efficient, and acceptably durable air conditioner at a reasonable price, then Rheem is the way to go. They also offer a 10-year limited warranty on most parts and have an excellent customer service team to boot. 

Which AC Brand is Best? 

According to consumer reports, the best overall AC brand is Trane. Trane leads the pack in customer satisfaction and positive customer reviews largely due to its affordable price, reliability, and overall quality. Trane ACs have no weaknesses to speak of and are one of the more affordable options for air conditioners. 

HVAC installers rave that Trane systems are sturdier and easier to repair because of the company’s dedication to customer satisfaction and distribution system.

As with most things, opinions will vary from person to person and appliance to appliance, but when you take warranty, reliability, longevity, efficiency, and price into account, Trane wins. 

Which AC Brand Lasts the Longest?

If adequately cared for and maintained, the longest-lasting air conditioner is Carrier. Carrier air conditioners are made with high-quality materials and are efficient and long-lasting. The average lifespan of a Carrier air conditioner is 18-22 years but much longer if maintained correctly. A higher SEER air conditioner usually lowers electricity bills if your house is airtight.

Answering the question of which AC brand lasts the longest is hard to determine due to the number of factors that are involved. If you don’t take care of your Carrier air conditioner, then it will give out sooner than it should. At the same time, a properly cared for Trane or Rheem unit could last longer than a Carrier with routine service. 

Care and maintenance are a bigger factor in overall longevity than the actual brand is. Air conditioners are like cars; if you take care of them, they will care for you. 

Which Air Conditioner is Most Reliable?

Once again, Carrier wins the award for being the most reliable air conditioner. One of the reasons that Carrier units are so reliable is that their manufacturer requires installers to be specially trained and certified. Requiring this feature ensures that the air conditioner will be installed appropriately, which is half the battle for air conditioners. 

Carrier also has some of the best insulation of any air conditioner, which makes it more reliable and quieter. 

Which Air Conditioner is the Most Efficient? 

The most efficient air conditioner is the AirEase Pro Series 20 L/X. AirEase is a lesser-known brand for air conditioners, but they make two of the most efficient models on the market. The AirEase SHP/BCE series heat pump is the second-most efficient air conditioner. 

The Pro Series 20 has a SEER rating of 20.0 and uses only 1,000 kilowatts per year for its smallest model and 2,500 kilowatts for its largest model. It removes humidity, decreases the temperature, and increases the air quality in the most efficient way possible. 

Do Air Conditioner Brands Really Matter?

Air conditioner brands matter when deciding what unit you’d like to purchase. Different brands use different materials and have various quality control measures. The best brands will have the highest quality materials and the most stringent requirements. 

Worst Window Air Conditioner Brands

1. Hisense

Hisense is a budget air conditioner that is sold through retail stores. The Hisense AW0521CK1W is exclusive to Lowe’s.

  • Hisense AW0521CK1W
  • Hisense AW0621CR1W

The Hisense AW0521CK1W doesn’t have a remote control, electronic controls with a built-in timer, or an automatic fan speed. It also doesn’t have directional control or a dirty filter indicator. You’ll have to adjust the fan speed and direction manually, and there’s no way to tell when the filter needs cleaning without checking it.

It weighs 36 pounds, and you’ll need at least 12 inches of height clearance to install it. It also doesn’t have a slide-out chassis to close the gaps on the sides of the AC unit.

These models are loud, scoring poorly on indoor noise output at low and high speeds.

2. TCL

  • TCL 5WR1

The TCL 5WR1 doesn’t have a remote control, electronic controls with a built-in timer, or an auto fan speed. It also doesn’t have a dirty filter indicator or directional control. However, it does have a British Thermal Units per hour (BTU/HR) of 5000 and an Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of 11.

It weighs 39 lbs and also doesn’t have a slide-out chassis. The minimum window height is 13 inches, and the minimum window width is 23 inches.

Much like the Hisense models above, this TCL unit is loud, scoring poorly on indoor noise output at low and high speeds. The noise meter scoring was slightly better on the low versus the high setting.

3. Keystone

  • Keystone KSTAW05B

The Keystone KSTAW05B does have a remote control, electronic controls with a built-in timer, and an auto fan speed. It also has a dirty filter indicator and left directional control. It also has a British Thermal Units per hour (BTU/HR) of 5000 and an Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of 11, which is decent for a small AC unit.

It weighs 39.6 lbs and also doesn’t have a slide-out chassis. The minimum window height is 12.625 inches, and the minimum window width is 23 inches.

Unlike the Hisense and TCL models above, the Keystone does take longer to cool a room versus the other models. The Keystone noise meter scores were similar to the TCL model above, scoring slightly better on the low versus the high setting.

4. GE

  • GE Profile PHC08LY
  • GE AHP12LZ

The GE Profile PHC08LY does have a remote control, electronic controls with a built-in timer, and an auto fan speed. It also has a dirty filter indicator but lacks directional control. It also has a British Thermal Units per hour (BTU/HR) of 8100 and an Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of 11.4.

It weighs 60 lbs and also doesn’t have a slide-out chassis. The minimum window height is 13.25 inches, and the minimum window width is 37.5 inches.

The GE models score relatively similar for a larger unit to the above models. The GE models take longer to cool a room than the other models within the same category. The GE models listed are loud, particularly in the high setting. Performance was sluggish in harsh conditions and under low voltage drops.

5. Frigidaire

  • Frigidaire FHWW103WB1
  • Frigidaire FFRE083WAE

The Frigidaire FHWW103WB1 does have a remote control, electronic controls with a built-in timer, and an auto fan speed. It also has a dirty filter indicator but lacks directional control. It also has a British Thermal Units per hour (BTU/HR) of 10,000 and an Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of 12.

It weighs 60 lbs and also doesn’t have a slide-out chassis. The minimum window height is 15 inches, and the minimum window width is 26 inches.

The Frigidaire models were effective at cooling but much louder for a larger unit, especially in the high setting. Performance was sluggish in extreme heat and under low voltage drops.

Best Window Air Conditioner Brands

Midea

  • Midea MAW12V1QWT u-shape
  • Midea U-shaped MAW08V1QWT

The Midea MAW12V1QWT u-shape is the highest-rated window air conditioning system on Consumer Reports. The unit does have a remote control, electronic controls with a built-in timer, and an auto fan speed. It also has a dirty filter indicator and even directional control. It also has a British Thermal Units per hour (BTU/HR) of 12,000 and an Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of 15.

It weighs 59 lbs and doesn’t have a slide-out chassis. The minimum window height is 14 inches, and the minimum window width is 22 inches. It also has an exterior support bracket with leveling capabilities.

The Midea models were effective at cooling and whisper-quiet at low speeds for a larger unit. High speeds were louder but not intolerable. There was no significant drop in performance in extreme heat and under low voltage drops.

  • Frigidaire Gallery GHWQ103WC1
  • Frigidaire Gallery GHWQ083WC1
  • Frigidaire Gallery GHWQ123WC1

Unlike the Frigidaire models listed above, the Frigidaire Gallery models led by GHWQ103WC1 is the second-highest-rated window air conditioning system on Consumer Reports. The unit does have a remote control, electronic controls with a built-in timer, and an auto fan speed. It also has a dirty filter indicator and even directional control. It also has a British Thermal Units per hour (BTU/HR) of 10,000 and an Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of 15.

It weighs 58 lbs and doesn’t have a slide-out chassis. The minimum window height is 14 inches, and the minimum window width is 24 inches. Unlike the Midea, it doesn’t have an exterior support bracket with leveling capabilities.

The Frigidaire Gallery models were very similar to the Midea models and even scored better on the noise levels under high speeds for a larger unit. There was no significant drop in performance in extreme heat and under low voltage drops.

The big drawback to the Frigidaire models was the lackluster customer satisfaction scores indicating that performance and longevity diminish over time.

LG

  • LG LW1217ERSM
  • LG LW1216ER

Rounding out our list is the LG LW1217ERSM. The unit does have remote control and electronic controls with a built-in timer. It lacks the auto fan speed featured in other models. It also has a dirty filter indicator and directional control. It also has a British Thermal Units per hour (BTU/HR) of 12,000 and an Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of 12.1.

It weighs a hefty 85 lbs but does offer a slide-out chassis and exterior support bracket with leveling capabilities. The minimum window height is 17 inches, and the minimum window width is 28 inches, making this unit more cumbersome, adding to installation costs.

The LG models had higher noise levels at both low and high speeds for a larger unit than the Midea and Frigidaire Gallery models. There was no significant drop in performance in extreme heat and under low voltage drops.

Worst Portable Air Conditioner Brands

1. Friedrich

  • Friedrich ZHP14DB

The Friedrich ZHP14DB has a dismal rating of 30 by Consumer Reports. The unit does have remote control and electronic controls with a built-in timer. It lacks auto fan speed and a dirty filter indicator. It also has a British Thermal Units per hour (BTU/HR) of 11000 and weighs 69 lbs.

For the almost $850 price tag, the Friedrich ZHP14DB was subpar at best. The unit lacks cooling output and is generally loud to operate in low and high settings. Performance struggled further in extreme heat and under low voltage drops.

2. Black+Decker

  • Black+Decker BPACT14WT

The Black+Decker BPACT14WT has an overall better rating than the Friedrich ZHP14DB, but the performance was similar, if not worse. The unit does have a remote control, electronic controls with a built-in timer, and an auto fan speed. It does lack a dirty filter indicator so, you’d need to check it regularly depending on use. It also has a British Thermal Units per hour (BTU/HR) of 14000 and weighs 68.3 lbs.

However, this model is more affordable for about $350 to $450. The unit scored poor ratings for cooling output and is generally loud to operate in both low and high settings. However, in extreme heat and low voltage drops, performance did not diminish significantly.

3. Whynter

  • Whynter ARC-102CS 60

The Whynter ARC-102CS is very similar to the Black+Decker BPACT14WT in many ways. The unit does have remote control and electronic controls with a built-in timer. It lacks an auto fan speed. It also lacks a dirty filter indicator so, you’d need to check it regularly depending on use. It also has a British Thermal Units per hour (BTU/HR) of 10000 and only weighs 53 lbs.

This model is affordable for about $350 to $450, but it scored poor ratings for cooling output and is generally loud to operate in both low and high settings. Performance did not diminish significantly in extreme heat and under low voltage drops.

Best Portable Air Conditioner Brands

  • Frigidaire Gallery GHPC132AB1

The Frigidaire Gallery GHPC132AB1 is the top-rated portable air conditioner on Consumer Reports. The unit does have a remote control, electronic controls with a built-in timer, auto fan speed, and a dirty filter indicator. It also has a British Thermal Units per hour (BTU/HR) of 13000 and weighs 79 lbs.

While this unit is not perfect, for about $580 to $685, it’s affordable and scores well for cooling output and noise levels in low and high settings. Performance did not diminish significantly in extreme heat and under low voltage drops.

Final Thoughts 

Purchasing an air conditioner is an important decision that you shouldn’t take lightly. Doing your research and making an informed decision is critical for anything regarding your house. It’s where you live, and you want to be comfortable without breaking the bank. 

You now know which air conditioner brands to stay away from and which brands are best. By taking things into account like efficiency, longevity, reliability, warranty, and price, you will choose the right air conditioner. 

For more, see our Best Heat Pump Systems: A Complete Buying Guide.

Sources 

ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2021— Central Air Conditioners and Air Source Heat Pumps | Products | ENERGY STAR

Most Reliable Central Air Conditioning Systems – Consumer Reports

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
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