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All Things Brands

The Best HVAC brand on the market – Do you want the brutal truth?

Hometown Heroes Heating and Cooling does not think a “best brand” exists. There are too many variables to answer this appropriately, and everything will point back to the installing contractor, never the brand itself. All the brands have the quirks that will expose themselves over time, all the manufacturers are constantly undergoing revision/engineering changes with no heads up to the installation contractors, and truth be told – they all have had some catastrophic issues arise in the last 15 years. Just ask us, and we can tell you who has been under the scrutiny of failed engineering and manufacturing processes. Some are more catastrophic than others.

We believe homeowners will always go right with any brand they choose, but they can go wrong with trusting the project with certain contractors whose installation practices are not up to the level the manufacturers ask for. The longevity of a unit will all be traced back to how up to par the contractor is with how they decide to install their HVAC products. We are constantly underbid by other contractors who don’t consider static pressure and understand the science of moving air plus how the refrigeration cycle is affected by it.

Heating and cooling is an old industry that hasn’t had a lot of changes take place in how the products are designed, but here recently, things are completely changing with the high use of wireless communication systems, inverter-driven appliances with a ton of onboard sensors, much more advanced tools that use Bluetooth and centralized apps/algorithms to assist with commissioning (“starting up”) heating and cooling appliances, etc. Thus, many contractors are starting to fall behind and simply rely on the “old way” when there is a new way and new things that need to be known for the installation of their products.

Then if the brand doesn’t matter, why does the internet show some rank higher than others?

First off, most of these websites that are advertising one brand are better than the next are marketing companies that want to drive homeowners to their website and then get to their contact forms, OR they are a heating and cooling contractor that is receiving funds from their distributor/manufacturer to advertise for them. Go to any websites showing a stack rank of all the brands. I can almost guarantee you that there is a contact form at the bottom that will ask for your contact information to “receive a quote,” to which they sell your information to heating and cooling contractors for them to call you and sell you whatever. Ask us who the marketing companies are, and we can answer that question too.

Additionally, we commonly get the “well Consumer Report puts X as the best brand for X,” to which those can continually be disproven, or they simply don’t make any sense. There are only a handful of manufacturers of HVAC products in the United States, but there are so many brands there is no way to memorize them all, as a “new” one is always released. For example, Payne is currently the “#1 furnace manufacturer,” which we know is just a Carrier, Bryant, or ICP (which ICP has around 9 different brand names). If we know the Carrier is the EXACT SAME, why wouldn’t Consumer Reports rank them all equally? Same parts, engineering, everything. Most of the time, they are manufactured on the same assembly line; they just change the powder-coated cabinet to be a different color. Oh, and they may make the cutouts on the front door of the furnace look different, but who cares?

My neighbor has had his Trane/Lennox/Carrier/Whatever for 20 years, which is still strong. I want that brand!

Ah, old man time appears again, and things are constantly changing. Here is the question we ask people stuck on the idea that one brand is better than another – “Could you tell me what parts appear on a 1996 Chevrolet Silverado that is still in use for their 2023 models?”. They are not even close to the exact truck you fell in love with back in the 90s. Same case with HVAC units.

The age-old saying, “They ain’t making them like they used to,” must be used here. We tell all homeowners not to expect the 25-30 year lifespan out of the models we are installing now(but it might happen. My magic ball quit working to see into the future). Once again, it’s becoming a more complicated game, and the science must be understood, considered, and utilized regardless of the brand.

Additional things to consider about Brands.

Each brand will offer different “styles” – efficiency ratings, compressor or gas value stages, blower motor functionality, inverter vs. contractor, etc. There are also tiers to all these brands – some would be considered more residential builder’s grade units, like a Lennox Merit Series, Meratherm by ICP, Run True by Trane, and the list can continue through all the manufacturers. Or they will have more “high-end” options like an Infinity Series by Carrier, Dave Lennox Series, Gold Series by American Standard, etc. It’s such a complicated network of different brands/tiers that even heating and cooling contractors staring at all these brands daily cannot keep up. Luckily, we consider ourselves a few nerds and keep a solid eye on everything to ensure we put our homeowners in the best place possible. Don’t get caught up on the badge on the front of your appliances; get caught up on the stickers and magnets the contractor leaves behind. He/she will be why you either like your decision or dread it for years. Remember Benjamin Franklin’s famous saying, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

Ok, fine. Then which brand should I go with?

You should go with the contractor (not the brand) that can be goal-focused, not brand focused. Here at Hometown Heroes Heating and Cooling, we can install any forced air heating and cooling product you decide on. But we need to understand your goals for making this decision to ensure we manage your expectations and budget. For those looking to be more economical, or simply put, your house’s square footage would benefit from higher-end systems; we typically offer the Performance Series by ICP. Using this product, we can keep the cost lower (relative to what these projects cost), and we like some of the design features like the open hail guard design for keeping the outdoor unit clean or at least visible for people to see the AC could use a good cleaning. If you want to talk about increased dehumidification, the ability to create more temperate living spaces that are stubborn to condition now, you like higher efficiency; you enjoy intelligent appliances, then, in that case, we typically lean into Amana for our brand of choice. We find these to have dependable compressors (the two-stage air conditioner comes with an Ultra Tech Copeland compressor, WHICH is the same compressor found in Carrier two-stage and Trane/American Standard two-stage units), their onboard technology is more advanced, and they carry incredible warranties. Listen, these are expensive appliances that we know will break and need some love (you didn’t buy that car thinking you wouldn’t have to change oil, tires, and brakes every once in a while, did you?), but rest assured – we have a 10-year parts warranty, 10-year labor warranty, and a lifetime unit replacement warranty associated with these units to make sure you can rest easy knowing that Hometown Heroes Heating and Cooling has got your back and is here to protect you from unforeseen, hefty repair bills.

We have even more brands we have partnered with for different situations, and we are more than happy to explore all of your options while only keeping your goals in mind. We realize these projects are not inexpensive, but we are here to listen, understand, and work with you to ensure you have a complete and total understanding of us and, ultimately, what it is you are purchasing and why.

If you have any questions regarding the topics above, please contact us at (816) 470-3056 or [email protected].

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