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Best Central Air Conditioners: 2016

Updated: Mar. 31, 2016

FurnaceCompare maintains records on nearly 600 series of central air conditioners. Which of these do homeowners and contractors rate most highly? And, of the most highly rated, which are available for sale in 2016?

The list below represents the top-rated air conditioners available in the US and Canada. These air conditioners vary in efficiency from 13 - 21.2 SEER. They also vary in features and price.

Rank Brand and Series Rating Efficiency (SEER) Average Pricing
10. Trane XR13 3 out of 5 up to 14.5 $2,000
Capable of reaching up to 14.5 SEER with compatible units, Trane's XR13 can offer efficient operation with high cooling power. These air conditioners feature a single-stage Climatuff compressor, an aluminum Spine Fin coil and full louvered panels. Each model features the company’s DuraTuff basepan, specially designed to resist corrosion and prevent warping
9. Ruud Achiever 3.2 out of 5 up to 16 not available
Ruud's Achiever series of single-stage air conditioners use scroll compressors and PSC fan motors. The unit has a composite base pan designed to prevent corrosion while reducing operating sound. The Achiever features PlusOne Expanded Valve Space, which provides a minimum working area of 27 square inches, and PlusOne Triple Service Access, which offers 15-inch wide corner service access for faster repairs and easier reassembly.
8. Goodman DSXC16 3.3 out of 5 up to 16 $1,353
The Goodman DSXC16 air conditioner features a two-stage Copeland UltraTech scroll compressor and built-in diagnostics. The unit is compatible with Goodman’s ComfortNet Communications System, which monitors the system and allows contractors to accurately troubleshoot problems. The unit is designed for quiet performance with an efficient two-speed condenser fan motor, a high-density foam sound blanket, and a wire fan discharge grille.
7. Amana ASX16 3.3 out of 5 up to 16 $1,665
The Amana ASX16 has a Copeland high-efficiency scroll compressor and a premium copper tubing / aluminum fin condensor coil. It features Copeland CoreSense diagnostics, which constantly monitors the system for problems. A high-density sound control blanket and sound control top are designed to reduce noise levels.
6. Lennox XC21 3.4 out of 5 up to 21.20 $6,999 installed
The Lennox XC21 features a two-stage scroll compressor which runs on low up to 80% of the time. It uses SilentComfort technology which provides optimal system performance while keeping operating sound levels low. The unit's SunSource Solar-Ready option allows solar energy to be harnessed and used to lower utility costs.


5. Goodman GSX13 3.6 out of 5 up to 13 $879
The Goodman GSX13 air conditioner uses an energy-efficient compressor which is protected by a factory-installed liquid line filter drier. It features a copper tube / aluminum fin condenser coil and a heavy-gauge galvanized steel cabinet. A three-bladed design combined with a louvered sound control top helps lower operating sound levels. The unit offers maintenance access on both the top and side, as well as easy access to internal controls through one panel.
4. Bryant Preferred 3.7 out of 5 up to 17 $2,166
Bryant's Preferred air conditioner is available with either a single- or two-stage compressor.. Each galvanized steel unit features DuraGuard Plus protection, which increases durability by protecting against the weather. Other features include an copper tube / aluminum fin coil and corrosion-resistant interior parts.
3. Carrier Infinity 21 3.9 out of 5 up to 21 not available
Carrier's Infinity 21 air conditioner has a two-stage scroll compressor with a filter drier system to protect it from contaminants and moisture. The Silencer System II feature, along with a compressor sound blanket and forward swept fan blades, help keep operating sound levels low. The unit's Infinity touch control provides accurate temperature and humidity management, along with other programmable features.
2. Coleman LX 4.2 out of 5 up to 17 not available
The Coleman LX has a MicroChannel coil with all-aluminum construction for superior performance with a smaller footprint. The LX features a space-saving compact design with a corrosion-resistant powder coat paint finish, and a direct-drive fan design helps keep operating sound levels low.
1. Goodman DSXC18 4.8 out of 5 up to 18 $1,733
The Goodman DSXC18 air conditioner features a two-stage Copeland scroll compressor and built-in diagnostics. The unit is compatible with Goodman’s ComfortNet Communications System, which allows contractors to accurately troubleshoot problems. The unit also is manufactured for quiet performance due to an efficient two-speed condenser fan motor, a high-density foam sound blanket to muffle compressor noises and a wire fan discharge grille.

Sound Ratings

The sound ratings are measured in decibels -- the lower the decibels, the quieter the air conditioner. The actual number of decibels produced by an air conditioner is a function of both its capacity (how many BTUs of cooling it generates) and the other components to which it is connected (such as a furnace or air handler used to distribute the cold air). In general, when you see a range, the lowest number of decibels is for the units with the smallest capacity that are paired with quiet components.

Average Pricing

There are two different types of prices shown in the "Average Pricing" column.

  • If you see a simple price, that is the average price that we found on the websites of internet retailers that sell that particular series of air conditioner.
  • If you see a price followed by the note (installed), this means that retailers are under agreement with the manufacturer not to publicly display the price of the units. In these cases, the price is an average of quotes given to different homeowners for fully installing the unit in question.

Note that prices -- even when they are published online -- can vary substantially based on the capacity of the unit in question: 24,000 BTU units are typically cheaper than 60,000 BTU units of the same brand and series.

The "installed" prices can vary even more dramatically. Not only do they cover a range of capacities, but prices also vary geographically and from installer to installer.

Compare our 2016 ratings to the best air conditioners of 2015.

Methodology

Consumers and homeowners have submitted thousands of reviews to this site. In addition to reviewing a particular model of equipment, the reviewer also assigns a rating from 1 ("Very Unsatisfied") to 5 ("Very Satisfied"). The following list ranks the top 10 central air conditioner series from bottom to top, based on the average of those consumer satisfaction ratings.

FurnaceCompare.com has collected reviews on more than 65 different brands and nearly 600 different series of central air conditioners. However, we have only included a series on this list if we have at least 5 reviews of that series, and if the series has not been discontinued. If we only have a few reviews, there is a risk that a single homeowner will skew the average rating too far in one direction or another.

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