Who makes the best air conditioning and heating equipment?

There are many air conditioning system manufacturers out there. Who is the best? Which ones will last longer? Is it worth it to buy a high-end system?

I have worked on enough systems to say confidently that the brand is not nearly as critical as the quality of installation and maintenance. If either of those is lacking, it doesn’t matter how fancy the equipment is. On the other hand, if you take a low-end piece of equipment, install it appropriately and perform regular maintenance, chances are good you will have the same type of breakdowns.

Why? Planned obsolescence. Every piece of machinery out there is built with a specific life span in mind. The manufacturers know how long the bearings will last, how long it will take the oil to break down inside the system, how many times the relay points can be switched on and off before failure, and so on ad nauseam. If they made them to last forever it would cost more than we could afford, and they would go out of business. Who then would we get our parts from?

Second point. Nearly every manufacturer uses the same base components such as fan motors, compressors, relays, contactors etc. They bring those components to their facility, put it inside a casing, add a few unique features and put their name on it. Sure, there are slight differences in function, efficiency and overall performance, but at the heart of it, it is almost the same as your neighbors. They all condition the air. Check out our post on efficiency ratings for another major surprise regarding the differences in equipment.

Now here is where you should be wary.

Off brands that few have ever heard of which are being sold at a fraction of the cost. Most of the time these systems are shipped overseas from companies far far out of reach from the end consumer. These companies are likely NOT using the same components as mentioned and what they are selling is low quality junk that won’t last more than a few years. Some of the major differences are;

1) Tubing wall diameter. The tubing inside the coils needs to be able to withstand high pressures as well as being knocked around during transit, installation and service. Thinner walled tubing is much more prone to forming leaks.

2) Wire gauge; {how thick the wire conductors are, and the quality of the insulation that wraps around those conductors}. Low quality wire usually has a thicker layer of insulation, so they can claim it meets the requirements, but this wire is more susceptible to overheating. Wire with the same amp rating which is achieved by thicker conductors costs more and is usually going to have a superior insulation encasing the conductors. See our post on wiring for more info on this.

3) Lack of quality controls during manufacturing with little or no accountability. Every manufacturing facility should have quality standards and testing procedures that are strictly adhered to before a product leaves the facility. If there are issues, then the manufacturer should know who messed up and what improvements need to be made. Problem here is that you often can’t even get in touch with these companies to start a warranty claim. Bottom line, if there is not a local supplier who has parts for the system you are considering, don’t buy that system. Technicians will have a tough time finding parts, you will probably have to wait for parts if and when you find them, and tech support is probably going to be nonexistent.  Buy local, support local.

I am not going to even begin to dissect the possible issues that can arise from inferior designed products and lower quality materials from these unknown manufacturers. If you are still considering buying one of these you have had ample warning.

A few final concepts to keep in mind. High efficiency systems are often more expensive to repair. These systems are more complex and sometimes require special training just to be able to diagnose them. Then, the parts can cost more because they have special functions.

Having said that, the following is a list of well-known manufacturers with a very long history in the business.


American Standard









This is not an exhaustive list and there is always going to be new companies joining the market. Each one of these manufacturers has, or has had, another brand that they manufacture and sell with a different name to reach a different market. Some have been bought and sold several times, but they have maintained their high standing in the marketed place.

If you are considering a system not mentioned here and want us to help you determine if they are a reputable manufacturer feel free to reach out to us.