A furnace system is one of the most critical components of your home. Without a good system, you will be cold during the winter, spend way too much on your heating bill, and have poor comfort in your home. Knowing which bad furnace brands to avoid when purchasing a new system is important.
Based on research and personal experience, furnace brands to avoid include Westinghouse, Maytag, Frigidaire, York, Luxaire, and Coleman. Other brands that have low reliability include Goodman, Amana, and Ducane. While these brands may have the occasional good model or unit, they are brands to avoid due to low quality and unreliability.
For any questions about furnace systems and what to look for in a quality one, continue reading. We will examine the good and worst furnace brands and how to distinguish the difference.
Get FREE quotes from licensed HVAC contractors in your area today. Whether you need a new install, service, or basic repair We Can Help! All HVAC contractors are screened, licensed, and insured.
Signs and Symptoms of a Bad Furnace System?
Spotting bad furnace brands isn’t as hard as you might think. You don’t need special training to spot shoddy materials or skyrocket your energy bills. Here are a few surefire signs of the worst furnace brands:
Cheap materials or components
The first thing you’ll notice about a cheap furnace brand is that it will be composed of cheap materials. A furnace should last for at least 10 to 15 years, and its components should last almost as long. If your systems are breaking down and need costly repairs within the first months or years of owning them, you may need to upgrade to a higher-quality brand.
Most cheap furnace brands only have a primary heat exchanger. Higher quality brands back up the primary heat exchanger with a stainless steel secondary heat exchanger that extracts more heat and makes the furnace more efficient.
Cutting corners on the design of the system.
A high-quality furnace system should have features and capabilities that you can alter to suit your individual needs. If your furnace doesn’t have multiple fan speeds or a high-efficiency venting system, then you most likely have a low-quality furnace. A good furnace should have the ability to be installed sideways or upside down, where your HVAC installer can alter its interior components to meet these needs.
Abnormal sounds or noises
You should not hear loud or abnormal sounds upon starting your HVAC system. You may need to upgrade your HVAC system if you hear clicking, clanking, thudding, or strange humming or grinding.
High electrical or gas bills
Energy efficiency is essential when it comes to having a good HVAC system. Your heating bills should be low during the winter, and your cooling bill should be low during the summer. A good furnace and air conditioner will add or subtract humidity to meet your preference. It also shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg in operating costs.
An immediate red flag to be aware of with HVAC brands is if they don’t offer lengthy furnace warranties. A furnace or air conditioner should have at least a 5-10 year extended warranty, and each component should have a 3-5 year warranty. Anything less than this indicates that the manufacturer doesn’t trust their product, which means you shouldn’t.
10-year warranties convey to potential customers that the manufacturer stands behind their product and trusts it will last. Most premium furnace brands offer 10-year warranties, while others provide 6-year warranties or less.
Some brands even feature a lifetime warranty for essential parts like the heat exchanger. All companies have some degree of limited warranties.
Poor indoor climate controls
Indoor climate controls refer to whether or not your furnace has multiple stages and settings. A single-stage furnace is less efficient, outdated, has less ability to control the temperature of your house, and is prone to temperature swings. The reason that some people prefer single-stage furnaces is that they cost less money upfront. Due to their inefficiencies, however, you will likely end up paying much more in the long run.
A two- or three-stage furnace can speed up or slow down as needed. A multiple-stage furnace means that your furnace can run at a slower, more efficient speed when temperatures are moderate outside. If outside temperatures drop, your furnace will automatically speed up to accommodate this need.
Who Manufactures Furnace Brands
The parent company and its brands are listed below:
Ingersoll Rand owns
- American Standard
United Technologies owns
- Day & Night
- International Comfort Products
Lennox International owns
Rheem Manufacturing owns
Johnson Controls owns
Daikin Global owns
Nortek Global HVAC owns
Wolf Street owns
Worst Brands of Furnaces Analyzed
It’s not fair to label an unreliable furnace brand without telling you why so here is a more precise reason you should avoid these brands of furnaces.
The Westinghouse brand is over 100 years old, but the product quality has waned across the board in recent years, including their furnaces. The Westinghouse brand is the worst-rated brand on Consumer Reports in Predicted Reliability and Owner Satisfaction, carrying 2 out 5 stars in both categories.
Online customer reviews show numerous one-star and two-star ratings, citing common complaints of multiple breakdowns and noisy operations. One customer review mentioned the Westinghouse unit failed four times within two years. Other complaints include high carbon monoxide output.
RepairClinic.com has customers’ most common problems, including the igniter and flame sensor. Other notable issues include failures with the draft inducer motor, control board, heat exchangers, gas valve assembly, and flame rollout limit switch.
Much like Westinghouse, Maytag is a brand over 100 years old but has fallen off recently. The Maytag brand is tied with Westinghouse as the worst-rated brand on Consumer Reports in Predicted Reliability and Owner Satisfaction, carrying 2 out 5 stars in both categories.
Maytag, among other manufacturers, has outsourced their manufacturing overseas yet does not have a good network of technicians to handle repairs, leading most HVAC technicians to wait weeks for repair parts.
Some of the most common problems include the igniter and flame sensor. Even with routine cleaning, they tend to fail without notice. Other notable issues include a high failure rate with the heat exchangers, draft inducer motor, control board, gas valve assembly, and flame rollout limit switch.
Frigidaire is a trendy brand for kitchen appliances, but they are an example of when to stay in your lane. Their HVAC systems do not provide even temperatures and are a disappointment in heating and cooling. The company is energy-conscious, which means efficient options but lacks reliability and durability.
The company’s overall reliability and owner satisfaction has suffered as a result. Like Maytag, they outsource manufacturing overseas and lack the network capability to get parts to technicians to make repairs promptly. Owners also report issues of poor customer service with telephone support personnel.
I have been inspecting air conditioners and furnaces for over 15 years. I see the most problems with are York units. These weren’t even old or outdated HVAC systems, simply ones that had prematurely failed earlier than they should have.
Personal testimony aside, York has a reputation for mechanical issues within the first year or two of installation. Most of their products have a decent warranty, but brand surveys and negative customer reviews only give them 2.8 stars out of a possible 5. If you’re looking for reliability and durability in an HVAC system, steer clear of York.
Consumer Reports mirrors this sentiment, giving York a 2-star rating in Product Reliability.
Luxaire is yet another furnace brand that isn’t all bad, but you have to make sure you do research on which model you’re getting. Specific models to avoid under the Luxaire brand include all LX units with MicroChannel coils. These models include the CC7, TW4, TC4, TC3, TCJF, TCHD, and TCHE. Each model features MicroChannel coils and has a much higher chance of leaking than other coils.
A failing coil causes the refrigerant to leak and damage the AC compressor.
The biggest issue with Coleman is that they’re a relatively unknown brand regarding furnaces and air conditioners. They’re better known for producing outdoor products and camping equipment than HVAC systems and are relatively new to the game.
Coleman doesn’t boast a vast variety of products or unique features within those products. They offer fundamental options in terms of capabilities and performance levels. They are a cheap furnace brand I would recommend staying away from until more information comes out about their longevity.
Coleman furnaces are mostly electric furnace units that come pre-installed in manufactured homes. These furnaces are inefficient and tend to fail between years 5 and 10. The failures usually arise from a rusted coil in the furnace.
Goodman furnaces and other HVAC products are owned by Daikin, which focuses on manufacturing middle-level quality systems that are inexpensive. Goodman doesn’t claim to be the Mercedes of HVAC brands. Goodman doesn’t restrict who installs their systems, which affects the quality of the installation.
Goodman furnace models are affordable because they are low-tech compared to some of the premium furnaces on the market.
Amana is a household name much like Maytag. The Amana HVAC brand is owned by Daikin and is essentially the same as a Goodman system with a different nameplate. The systems focus on affordability and lack the bells and whistles of other cheap furnace brands. However, the quality of things like the sheet metal is thin and doesn’t hold up well.
Ducane furnaces and air conditioners are made by the same company that produces Lennox HVAC systems. The list of reasons to avoid Ducane systems is a lengthy one. They have a history of parts shortages due to bad suppliers, which means that if you need a repair, it could be weeks before your part arrives.
They use lower-quality materials because they’re Lennox’s “economy” brand. Cheap furnace materials mean lower initial costs, but Ducane systems won’t last as long as other furnaces and air conditioners.
Apart from these cons against Ducane, they’re also inefficient and have tricky fine print in their warranty section. They advertise a ten-year warranty, but only the first five years are free. You will have to purchase the additional five years for an extra cost. An HVAC brand shouldn’t have to be tricky in selling its products.
What HVAC Brands are Made by Johnson Controls?
You may have noticed that many of the HVAC brands to avoid are made by Johnson Controls. York, Coleman, Luxaire, Champion, Guardian, Fraser-Johnston, and Evcon are all made by Johnson Controls. York, Coleman, and Luxaire are all listed above in the brands to avoid section, and it’s a good idea to take a second look at anything made by Johnson Controls.
While many of their problems stem from installer errors and improper implementation, Johnson Controls can’t blame all of their problems on everyone else. The installation cost of their systems is made with cheaper materials and has such a wide range of performance levels that it’s best to avoid them in general.
What is the Cheapest HVAC Brand?
Every HVAC brand has models of different prices and qualities. Overall, according to HVAC professionals, the cheapest HVAC brand is Goodman, but they aren’t the worst brand by any means.
Goodman gas and electric furnace models are made and designed and have unique features such as built-in AC filters that help cut down install price. Overall, Goodman is a middle-of-the-road brand that offers simple HVAC systems affordable.
What Brand of Furnace is Most Reliable?
While each major brand has specific models that offer reliability and durability, many consider Trane, Lennox, Carrier, and Rheem as the most reliable furnace brands. If you get a furnace in any of these four premium furnaces, you are buying a middle to high-quality furnace no matter what.
Even their lower quality furnaces are better made and designed than most other furnaces. If you don’t want to research your HVAC system extensively, choosing one of these reliable furnace brands is a safe bet. Also, many of these major brands work well with smart thermostats like ecobee and Nest.
1. Trane / Amercian Standard
Trane and American Standard are owned by Ingersoll Rand and are considered premium furnace brands. Their expensive furnace models are comparable to Carrier but have a slightly higher ceiling than Rheem.
While their base models are decently priced and reliable, they have more expensive furnaces and air conditioners with more capabilities than Rheem. No matter what unit you choose, Trane or American Standard, the odds of it being reliable are very high.
Trane and American Standard rank first and second in Consumer Reports for owner satisfaction, with numerous 5-star ratings.
Carrier is widely regarded as the cream of the crop for HVAC systems. They are often pricey, but you get what you pay for with Carrier. One of the reasons Carrier systems are expensive but reliable is that they require installers of their equipment to receive special training to work specifically with Carrier.
While this may be inconvenient when there aren’t any Carrier certified installers near you, it ensures proper installation, significantly increasing reliability.
If you want to ensure that your HVAC system isn’t having problems within the first year or two of installation, Carrier is the way to go. They are more expensive up front, but their high-efficiency ratings and lack of repair needs ensure significant savings down the road.
Carrier is made by United Technologies, which also produces high-rating brands like Bryant and Payne.
What are Other HVAC Brands Similar to Carrier?
As mentioned above, Carrier is an excellent option for HVAC systems. The good news is that Carrier makes sister brands with the same parts and attention to detail but at a discounted price. These brands include Automated Logic, Bryant, Carrier, CIAT, Day and Night, Heil, NORESCO, and Rielo.
Carrier makes high-quality products, but their sister brands use the same materials doesn’t guarantee the same reliability. None of these brands requires their installers to be trained explicitly by their companies, which means a higher risk for error and cheap installation. However, these brands’ products will have high-quality parts, which cuts down on mechanical issues.
Rheem leads many of the popular brands when it comes to reliability. They have several different models and sizes in HVAC systems, but they are all very similar in abilities and efficiency. Their cheapest doesn’t differ significantly from their most expensive model, which makes for very similar systems across the board.
Rheem is in the middle of the road in terms of efficiency, pricing, warranties, and almost every other category. They’re a safe and reliable bet, and you know what you’re getting when you purchase a Rheem HVAC system.
The Lennox furnace brand making this list might seem surprising. Consumer Reports rates Lennox third in overall owner satisfaction. Yet, they rate Lennox sixth overall in predicted reliability, indicating they think the brand is declining.
While the entire Lennox brand isn’t premier, they are still one of the major brands. Their shorter warranties and reduced efficiency make for higher energy bills and don’t instill confidence in their product long-term.
However, Lennox is still a market leader among affordable furnace brands. Lennox is the flagship brand of Lennox International and would be preferred over models from Goodman. Other Lennox brands like Ducane and Armstrong have similar internal components but aren’t fair well because they use cheaper materials that don’t last as long.
Furnace Buying Guide: What to Look for When Buying a Furnace
Today’s modern furnaces pollute less and provide more consistent heat than older models. Gas is the most common heating fuel, with natural gas and propane furnace models.
When it is time to repair or replace your furnace, most people call a qualified HVAC contractor for advice. Depending on the technician evaluating the system, you can get various opinions. It’s important to ask meaningful questions and obtain multiple quotes from different companies.
Many companies use certain brands exclusively. There’s nothing wrong with that; however, it can also tell you a lot.
Is Your Furnace Sized Correctly
The furnace needs to be correctly sized, or it won’t be able to keep your house warm when you need it most. An undersized furnace consumes more fuel as it runs longer than necessary to heat your home.
Most technicians will oversize the furnace to ensure it works during freezing temperatures. A bigger furnace will cycle on and off more frequently, putting additional wear on its component’s energy waste and potentially causing temperatures to fluctuate uncomfortably.
You may also require larger ducts if the ductwork isn’t big enough. Airflow can be noisy if ducts aren’t large enough.
Choose a contractor who will take the time to compute your heating requirements according to an industry standard like the Manual J HVAC residential load calculation from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.
How Efficient is the Furnace (and House)
Most modern central gas furnaces utilize natural gas or propane as the primary heat source. Older oil furnaces are far less efficient and becoming harder to service. A furnace’s annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating reflects how effectively it converts gas into heat output.
The higher the number, the more heat a gas furnace can produce. Environmental factors may also influence your decision as energy-efficient furnaces produce fewer pollutants.
For comparison, a 1970s gas furnace has an AFUE rating of around 65 percent. Today’s central gas furnaces have a minimum energy efficiency rating of 78 percent, with some recent models achieving 97 percent efficiency.
The more efficient a furnace is, the more it will cost; however, you’ll likely recoup this initial cost over the unit’s lifespan in lower energy costs.
However, suppose your home is not air-tight and well-insulated. In that case, you’re likely better off putting the extra funds into making your house more efficient by adding more insulation, sealing gaps, and installing energy-efficient doors and windows.
Get Multiple Quotes From Reputable Contractors
As the videos above referenced, professional installation matters as much as the furnace brand you choose. When contacting HVAC contractors, ask the following questions:
- How long have you been in business?
- What brands do you represent?
- What type of furnace are you recommending?
- What type of warranty do you offer on workmanship?
- What type of warranty does the manufacturer offer on the system you recommend?
- How did you calculate the size system you’re recommending?
You can also look the contractor up on Facebook or Google local search to read customer reviews.
HVAC systems are expensive and essential investments to your home. You don’t want to go broke installing a new system, but you also don’t want a furnace that will need expensive repairs and maintenance. Finding a middle ground is difficult and takes time and research.
Avoiding the bad furnace brands and focusing on the more reliable brands will save you lots of time and headache when making your final decision. Spending a little extra money upfront will save you a cheap installation that costs more money down the road in energy savings and expensive repair bills.
Get FREE quotes from licensed HVAC contractors in your area today. Whether you need a new install, service, or basic repair We Can Help! All HVAC contractors are screened, licensed, and insured.