The Best Air Conditioner Brands for Climate Control in 2021
Knowing the best air conditioner brands is key to picking the right cooling system for your home.
A failing air conditioner in the blistering summer heat isn’t something one can wait to replace. While there are plenty of options to choose from, knowing which brands are the best choices can be a confusing process. Selecting an air conditioner from one of the well-known top AC manufacturers is a great choice for those who can afford it, but not everyone can. That doesn’t mean there aren’t great affordable options out there. This guide will review some of the best air-conditioner brands to purchase, whether it’s a high-end system or a quality budget-priced model.
Known for: Trane is highly regarded for building efficient and durable (though expensive) air conditioning units.
Editors’ Choice: All the technologies that Trane uses to improve durability and efficiency are featured in its Trane XV-20i.
Trane’s slogan, “It’s hard to stop a Trane,” isn’t just a creative use of the pun. The company, which was founded in 1913 and headquartered in Ireland, has a well-established reputation for being one of the most reliable HVAC manufacturers, and that extends to the air conditioning part of its business. Among the durability features of Trane’s products are its WeatherGuard II, a polycarbonate top that protects its air-conditioning units, and its DuraTuff base pan, which is rustproof.
But Trane’s units aren’t just durable; they also feature technologies that make them some of the most efficient air conditioners, including variable speed compressors that minimize energy use and ComfortLink II technology that improves its ability to cool a home evenly. The one downside to Trane’s air conditioners is their premium price tag, which can put them out of reach for some customers.
Known for: Lennox air conditioner units are exceptionally quiet.
Editors’ Choice: With technology that can control the compressor’s output in very small increments, the XC25 demonstrates Lennox’s ability to create highly efficient air conditioners.
Lennox began selling some of the first residential air conditioning systems when the technology was in its infancy back in 1952. Today, the company sells three lines of air conditioners and is known for producing some of the quietest AC units on the market. Even its low-end AC units are fitted with quiet technology.
The Lennox Signature Collection, Lennox’s high-end line of air conditioners, will modify how they cool based on the surrounding climate to be more efficient. The company also uses cutting-edge technology, such as SunSource, which allows its AC units to be powered by solar cells.
Known for: Rheem’s reputation for improving the environment shows in both its manufacturing operations and the energy-saving technology in its air-conditioning units.
Editors’ Choice: The RA 17 is one of numerous Rheem air conditioners that feature its EcoNet energy-saving technology.
Like many HVAC companies that started in the early 20th century, Rheem, founded in 1925, expanded its existing heating business to include cooling by developing its own line of air conditioners to meet the growing residential demand for cool air in the 1950s.
Rheem is one of the most environmentally responsible HVAC companies in the business—the company has a 2025 goal of producing zero landfill waste and reducing greenhouse emissions by 50 percent. In addition to reducing the carbon footprint of its manufacturing operations, Rheem is also known for producing ecologically friendly air conditioners. Its EcoNet technology makes it easy for Rheem AC users to adjust the temperature when not at home, lowering the electric bill while decreasing energy consumption.
Known for: Carrier’s air conditioning units are some of the most efficient on the market.
Editors’ Choice: With a two-stage compressor that allows the air-conditioning unit to operate in a low-power mode to maintain the set temperature on the thermostat, the Infinity 21 central air conditioner exemplifies the efficiency Carrier offers.
Carrier is highly regarded in the air-conditioning industry, and that’s largely due to being the founder of air conditioning, which Willis Carrier invented back in 1902. The company continues to be a force in the air-conditioning market with designs that focus on being as efficient and quiet as possible. Its Infinity 21 series, the company’s top-end line of air conditioners, boasts a 21 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating, thanks to a two-stage compressor design that allows the air conditioner to run in a low power setting most of the time. While its top-end AC units are among the most expensive on the market, Carrier does offer affordable AC units with its Comfort 16 series.
Known for: With recent innovations in technology that extend the life of its air-conditioning units, Goodman has earned a reputation for reliability.
Editors’ Choice: Goodman’s Split System Air Conditioner features the quality construction the company is known for with a filter drying system that extends the life of the unit and a two-stage compressor that adds efficiency.
Although Goodman manufacturing company was founded in 1975, it didn’t begin producing air conditioners until it acquired an HVAC company 7 years later. The company received a boost in 2012 when it was purchased by Daikin Industries, which has since invested heavily in improving the company’s technology.
Much of that focus has been on improving durability by adding such features as guards that protect the AC unit’s vulnerable coils from weather and debris and special filters that keep dirt out of the air conditioner. Those innovations have helped Goodman AC units earn a reputation for reliability and long life.
Known for: In addition to the many famous landmarks it serves, York is also known for producing energy-efficient and quiet residential air conditioners.
Editors’ Choice: York’s YXT 19 SEER Two-Stage Air Conditioner is a great example of York’s ability to pack efficiency and quiet technology into its central AC units.
York has some pretty impressive credentials. The company, which was founded almost 150 years ago in York, Pennsylvania, cools several major landmarks including the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House, and the U.S. Capitol Building.
On the residential side, York features two product lines. Its Affinity series includes its top-end units with features such as QuietDrive, which makes the units some of the quietest on the market at levels as low as 54 decibels. Though not as quiet, its lower-end LX series is efficient and affordable with SEER ratings as high as 17.
Known for: The design of Ruud’s air conditioners makes them some of the easiest to service and maintain.
Editors’ Choice: Ruud’s Ultra Series air conditioners demonstrate the company’s ability to integrate efficient operation with a unit that’s accessible for maintenance and service.
Like many HVAC companies, Ruud began offering air conditioning units when residential demand for them spiked in the 1950s. Rheem acquired the company in 1959; however, Ruud continues to put out cooling equipment in three product lines. Ultra, its top-of-the-line air conditioner, is valued for its efficiency with SEER ratings as high as 20.5.
The company also puts out value-priced AC units that produce a respectable 16 SEER. The company’s units are somewhat larger than others, but that’s because it provides greater access to its parts with its PlusOne technology, which makes the interior of the units more spacious to accommodate maintenance and repair.
Known for: Amana’s air conditioners are among the highest SEER ratings on the market.
Editors’ Choice: With its 24.5 SEER rating, Amana’s AVXC20 is a great example of the company’s ability to offer excellent energy efficiency in its air-conditioning units.
Amana launched as a refrigerator manufacturer in 1934 in the city of Amana, Iowa. The company was sold to Goodman in 1997, but it continues to put out air conditioners under the Amana name in two product lines. The company’s AC units are known for their high efficiency, offering SEER ratings as high as 24.5.
Amana achieves this efficiency with its variable speed compressors and condenser motor fans, both of which can change speed in small increments to maintain the desired temperature while using a minimal amount of energy. The company’s AC units are also some of the quietest on the market.
Known for: The company produces some of the most energy-efficient air conditioners on the market.
Editors’ Choice: The DX20VC is not just the best whole-home air conditioner Daikin offers, but it’s also one of the most energy efficient on the market.
Japan-based Daikin is well known for inventing a technology that most air conditioners use—Variable Refrigerant Flow. VRF allows an air conditioner to automatically adjust compressor speed to save energy, helping to save homeowners money on their energy bills while extending the life of the air conditioner.
The company has acquired several HVAC companies over the years but continues to put out its own line of single-zone, multi-zone, and whole-house units. It produces some of the most energy-efficient air conditioners on the market with SEER ratings as high as 24.5.
Known for: Heil’s air conditioners feature enhanced controls via Wi-Fi technology.
Editors’ Choice: The Ion HVA9 variable speed air conditioner demonstrates Heil’s ability to produce air conditioners that effectively cool and dehumidify.
Heil, founded in 1929 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, spent many years supplying products to Sears before undergoing a series of acquisitions. Today, the company is owned by Carrier but continues to put out a sizable line of HVAC systems, including air conditioners, which it puts out under its Ion and Performance product lines.
Its Ion line offers variable-speed compressors that improve efficiency up to 19 SEER and has a quiet operation. The enhanced controls work via Wi-Fi. While these units can be fairly pricey, Heil’s Performance series offers affordable central AC units for customers on a budget.
Known for: The company is known as the leader in wall-mounted air-conditioning units.
Editors’ Choice: Mitsubishi’s MSY-GL24NA is a great example of the high-efficiency wall-mount air conditioners that Mitsubishi produces.
Tokyo-based Mitsubishi rules the ductless air conditioning niche in the industry with single and multi-zone units that have SEER ratings as high as 30.5. The company was founded in 1870 and began manufacturing wall-mounted air conditioning systems in 1968.
The company’s technologies feature such innovations as “hot spot” and “cold spot,” which allow the air conditioner to identify the temperature of each room individually to ensure even cooling throughout the home. Its outdoor units are slim and compact, making them ideal for use in densely populated areas.
Known for: Dependability is the hallmark of Maytag’s products.
Editors’ Choice: Maytag’s M120 series of air conditioners exemplify the company’s commitment to dependability.
Maytag, founded in 1893 as a farm tool company, may be better known for its refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers. The company also produces a line of central air conditioners, some of which have SEER ratings that are among the highest in the industry at 25.5 SEER.
The company’s units also have several environmentally friendly features such as iQ drive, which manages the compressor output to keep energy use at a minimum while operating at a lower than average noise level. As with its line of appliances, the company is also known for its dependability with air conditioners, too.