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#425719 - 06/02/17 12:16 PM Same old ...which central AC brands to avoid?
chesseroo Offline
axiomite

Registered: 05/13/02
Posts: 5173
Loc: western canada
Replacing an AC unit.
Done lots of reading. Ya ya, more brands, many made by same parent company (or at least owned by same parent company).
etc. etc.
There are decent brands out there but i'm trying to avoid any lemon brands in the least. Choosing an AC installer is foremost important of course, but some installers are limited in brands they install so i have no choice but to consider one along with the other simultaneously.

I came across a Consumer Reports (old 2012) review of repair rates (something a bit more objective).
http://www.rangerheating.com/wp-content/...Information.pdf

Since i much prefer objective opinion, does anyone know of an updated review of repair rates by chance?
Anyone have a Consumer Reports subscription to add some info?

Much appreciated.
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#425720 - 06/02/17 01:01 PM Re: Same old ...which central AC brands to avoid? [Re: chesseroo]
bridgman Offline
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Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 6072
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
I don't have up-to-date information but last time I looked my impression was that you need to look down to the level of specific models - looking for reliability at a brand level is just going to average out a lot of highs & lows and not help you much.

The anecdotal information that makes it to the internet is the combination of brand/model reliability and how good the local installer is, which adds even more noise.

At the risk of getting too depressing, the heart of modern American business practice seems to be taking well-regarded brands, building them really cheaply (typically outsourcing the mfg), and selling a lot of units at high margins before the public figures out what happened.

Back to (hopefully) useful info, last time I was looking for HVAC equipment I got a lot of useful info from the forums where installers talk to each other, eg:

http://hvac-talk.com/vbb/forumdisplay.php?1122-Tech-to-Tech-Chat-Residential


Edited by bridgman (06/02/17 01:04 PM)
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#425721 - 06/02/17 02:05 PM Re: Same old ...which central AC brands to avoid? [Re: chesseroo]
chesseroo Offline
axiomite

Registered: 05/13/02
Posts: 5173
Loc: western canada
Yep i've looked at forums and blogs and trying to find even a common thread of opinion amongst the pros to see if any brand kept coming up as problematic rather than looking for who thinks which brand is 'best'.

I prefer things like repair rates if such feedback can be gathered in large enough numbers to generate non-industry pseudo data such as is done by Consumer Reports (40,000 feedback is enough to reduce variance such that a most probable true answer is returned).
What i found most interesting from that data (2005-2011) was how most of the major brands had similar repair rates and only three that were significantly higher than others. If the repair issues were solely related to installation, then those brands need to be better in selecting regional reps for sales and installs, but again this is improbable that all the worst installers would happen to all sell those three brands.
The data is now 5 years old.

Of the opinions, this general overall view seems to be what i keep coming back to:
And that, as noted elsewhere in this report, is probably the bottom line: Take the time you need to find an experienced, quality installer, and just about any central air conditioner brand should provide excellent performance. What differentiates them is features, efficiency and, of course, price.
http://www.consumersearch.com/central-air-conditioners/brands-vs-brands

All that being said, I think to avoid the high price of 'premium' brands (Carrier, Lennox which to my understanding cost more; https://www.furnaceprices.ca/posts/central-air-conditioner-prices-canada/), we are going to narrow our brand selection down to parent/sister companies typically listed as mid-level (pretty much same features, less cost):
-Bryant
-Trane (hard to get American Standard here; need to choose something easier for parts in the event of a problem)
-Armstrong

We've already done a ton of searching for local AC installers since our local guy had to bail on us for medical reasons.
We are definitely doing our homework in finding preferably a smaller company, plenty of good reviews, good BBB standing, certifications, etc. And once we have that narrowed down, i'll be peltering them with my usual questions.
We have an older R22 system which will need to be flushed for R410 or the lines replaced. The lines run through some tight spaces in a finished basement so...that's another topic i've had to research (flushing is cheaper than replacing but what is the effectiveness of flushing vs. potential for new compressor failure due to contamination?)

Otherwise most other details are set:
-3 ton unit
-SEER 16 is our preference, 13 is a standard minimum but we're a bit more energy conscious even though we know we probably won't make our money back over time on energy savings; it is just responsible to try and be more green
-75 dB nominal SPL or less

This recent necessity to replace the AC unit may affect a decision to take the LFR plunge.
Not sure yet.



Edited by chesseroo (06/02/17 02:09 PM)
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#425722 - 06/02/17 06:21 PM Re: Same old ...which central AC brands to avoid? [Re: chesseroo]
MatManhasgone Offline
aficionado

Registered: 05/06/14
Posts: 998
Loc: Lost in the great wide yonder
The only problem with this that a perfectly good AC unit installed improperly or sized wrong will give you horrible problems. In the last townhouse that I lived in for 10 years, I had nothing but trouble with the AC unit. I lived in an end unit house, and in the subdivision there were 8 of us with much larger units. And all 8 of us had problems with the AC. The other 132 smaller sized unit had no problems what so ever. The problem was that the builder speced a single sized AC for every unit the same. And the 8 units that were just over the size capability of the AC got screwed, were everyone else was fine.

I moved house rather than taking on the replacement (but mostly because I wanted a better detached house to live in).

I have friends who have replaced AC unit and had problems, and eventually went to a different HVAC tech from whom installed it only to find out it was installed wrong. The AC unit luckly wasn't trashed and re-piping and changing the parts inside the furnace and everything worked fine.


Edited by MatManBobbleHead (06/02/17 06:23 PM)
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#425723 - 06/02/17 07:45 PM Re: Same old ...which central AC brands to avoid? [Re: MatManhasgone]
Rjlitho Offline
buff

Registered: 03/01/17
Posts: 46
Loc: Mississauga, ON
Hi Matt did you receive any of my emails .
Bob M

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#425731 - 06/03/17 11:05 PM Re: Same old ...which central AC brands to avoid? [Re: chesseroo]
JohnK Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10627
Chess, the 2016 Consumer Reports on central units lists American Standard, Lennox, Trane and Bryant as the top four. As I'm sure you've noted, CR doesn't lab-test central units, as they do many items, including room units. These are in fact "consumer reports" of reliability and general satisfaction by users.

From what you say, Trane or Bryant might be a good choice, again with a competent installer.
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#425732 - 06/04/17 12:11 AM Re: Same old ...which central AC brands to avoid? [Re: JohnK]
chesseroo Offline
axiomite

Registered: 05/13/02
Posts: 5173
Loc: western canada
Originally Posted By JohnK
Chess, the 2016 Consumer Reports on central units lists American Standard, Lennox, Trane and Bryant as the top four. As I'm sure you've noted, CR doesn't lab-test central units, as they do many items, including room units. These are in fact "consumer reports" of reliability and general satisfaction by users.

From what you say, Trane or Bryant might be a good choice, again with a competent installer.

Thanks John.

Yes, not tested, but polling tens of thousands of users overcomes alot of typical bias.

We're getting quotes on a Trane, Rheem and Armstrong (owned by Lennox) with leaning to the Trane with Bryant also in our choices (owned by Carrier, but the less expensive version with alot of the same parts).

Found one installer that I think we're good with. We'll see about other quotes next week.

Had to replace the furnace with a high efficiency last fall. Bought a Rheem.
Both these units are replacing contractor grade Carriers which lasted 20+ years.


Edited by chesseroo (06/04/17 12:12 AM)
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