Whether you have to cope with heat all year round or just during the oppressive summer months, you want an air conditioning system that’s reliable. If you’re working from home or studying online, you’ll need a system you can rely on so you can concentrate on your work. Installing a new central air conditioning unit is expensive, and repairing a faulty system’s also not cheap. This is a device we all need reliability from, but there are so many variables. The way the system’s installed, the construction of the ductwork, and the overall design are just some of the things that need to be considered. To establish which brands will give you the least trouble, we’ve checked out a report from Consumer Reports in which its members provide their feedback on the systems they have and the reliability they’ve experienced.
The survey was very extensive as it covered 23,997 central air conditioning systems installed from 2005 to 2020. The consumers surveyed let Consumer Reports know which parts broke and what they’d spent repairing their units. They were also asked whether they would recommend their system to family and friends. An owner’s satisfaction rating was created using that data. Most users kept their system in place for an average of 15 years, and the median use was five months per year.
Overall, 21 brands were part of the survey. Unfortunately, only one earned the “Excellent” mark on both reliability and satisfaction - Trane. When it comes to reliability, which, let’s face it, is the main consideration for most customers, Trane, Armstrong, and Ducane earned “Excellent” ratings. Seven others earned a “Very Good” rating, and seven more were considered “Good.” That leaves four at the bottom that were less than average. None of the bottom four earned the worst rating of “Poor” as they were all considered “Fair,” but we can’t recommend Coleman, Goodman, Luxaire, or York to those looking for reliability.
As mentioned above, Trane featured in the top rank on both reliability and satisfaction. American Standard, Bryant, Lennox, and Carrier joined them on this list, and all were marked “Excellent” by Consumer Reports. Armstrong, Ducane, Rheem, and Ruud were the next in line as they were all rating “Very Good.” Feedback from owners of the other 12 brands meant they were marked “Good,” which is the average rating. That meant none received the “Fair” or “Poor” ratings.
So, what sorts of issues do customers have? It’s definitely worth keeping track of those so you can see if your current system’s working as well or better or worse than the 21 featured on the survey. For most consumers, the evaporator coil is the part that breaks the most. It affects 5 percent of owners on average. If you own a Coleman, Luxaire, or York system, you might have experienced this issue as the survey suggested their evaporator coils break on 10 percent of all systems sold. The other points to look out for include condenser coils breaking, blowers and compressors, and control units developing faults. Problems with fans and valves are also prevalent.
According to the report, 36 percent of air conditioning units will break or need repairing by the eighth year of ownership. When the average system is kept for 15 years, that’s seven years of fixing and repairing. Repair costs are an average of $250, although most owners have warranty or service contracts. A new system will set you back $5,700, so you’re doing the right thing by checking which air conditioning system is currently the most reliable.
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