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Best Central Air Conditioners: 2018

Updated: Mar. 25, 2018

2018 marks the fifth year that we have published a list of the 10 best central air conditioners sold in the US and Canada. The reviewers that consistently give the highest satisfaction ratings to their AC units tend to own high efficiency units. However, a 13 SEER unit (the lowest efficiency sold in the US) also made our top 10 list this year.

This year, Goodman's DSXC18 once again took the top spot, with units by Amana, Bryant, Carrier, Coleman, Ruud and York rounding out the list.

two central air conditioners
Two newly-installed central air conditioners

Table of Contents

The Rankings

Rank Brand and Series Rating Efficiency (SEER) Pricing
#1 Goodman DSXC18 4.5 out of 5 up to 18 $1,967 equipment only
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.
#2 Goodman GSX16 3.73 out of 5 up to 16 $1,621 equipment only
Goodman's GSX16 air conditioner features a high-efficiency scroll compressor and a single-speed fan motor. A factory-installed liquid line filter drier provides protection against moisture and contaminants, and the unit's heavy-gauge galvanized steel cabinet has a powder-paint finish with 500-hour salt spray approval.
#3 Amana ASX14 3.67 out of 5 up to 15 not available
Amana's ASX14 air conditioner has an energy-efficient scroll compressor and a single-speed condensor fan motor, along with a factory-installed inline filter drier to protect against dirt and moisture. It features Copeland CoreSense Diagnostics, which contantly monitor the system and reduce failures.
#4 Goodman GSX13 3.61 out of 5 up to 13 $836 equipment only
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.
#5 Carrier Infinity 21 3.5 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, helps to keep operating sound levels low. The unit's Infinity touch control provides accurate temperature and humidity management, along with other programmable features.
#6 Bryant Preferred 3.4 out of 5 up to 17 $2,259 equipment only
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.
#7 Coleman Echelon 3.4 out of 5 up to 18 not available
The Echelon was named on of Energy Star's most efficient products of 2015. These units feature a scroll compressor (which is backed with a limited lifetime warranty), and numerous features design to reduce sound levels.
#8 Ruud Achiever 3.33 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.
#9 Amana ASXC18 3.2 out of 5 up to 18 $2,860 equipment only
The ASXC18 features a two-stage scroll compressor, a two-speed ECM condenser fan motor, a galvanized steel cabinet and a powder finish with salt-spray approval. Units are Energy Star certified, and have numerous sound-dampening features.
#10 York LX 3.17 out of 5 up to 17 as low as $1,294 equipment only
The LX is a series of compact, single stage air conditioners that vary in efficiency from 13 SEER to 17 SEER. The 17 SEER YCG is Energy Star certified, and most of the LX series offer a 1-year labor warranty. (It is very uncommon for a manufacturer to offer a labor warranty.)

Sound Ratings

Generally speaking the top 10 series in our ratings generate between 65 - 74 decibels of sound under ideal conditions. But, how loud is that?

Several universities and noise control websites suggest that a car driving 65 miles per hour about 25 feet away generates about 70 decibels of sound. Other comparisons include a shower or the sound that a typical dishwasher makes when running.

The sound ratings are measured in decibels (dB) -- 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 volume range, the lowest number of decibels is for the units with the smallest capacity that are paired with quiet components (typically components made by the same brand).

Decibels are a non-linear measurement scale meaning that only half as much sound is generated at 60 dB as at 70 dB.

The quietest split-system air conditioners on the market today generate sound levels between 53 - 59 decibels. These series include:

Why you should trust us

Since 2002 our business model has been simple: to provide unbiased data on heating and cooling equipment to help homeowners and HVAC professionals make purchasing decisions. Our air conditioner ratings are based on data that no one else has: thousands of reviews by consumers and HVAC professionals that actually own and operate their central air conditioners. There are more than 65 brands and more than 600 different series of air conditioners. Accurately choosing the best from that crop requires information on all of them, something most other companies can't offer.

We spend hundreds of hours every year examining reviews to eliminate spam and errors. This gives us a unique dataset from which to identify the units with the highest satisfaction.

We don't sell equipment, so we have no bias towards a particular brand or series. Manufacturers cannot pay to influence our ratings.

How our ratings work

Satisfaction Ratings

Consumers and homeowners have submitted thousands of reviews to this site. Each reviewer rates their unit from 1 ("Very Unsatisfied") to 5 ("Very Satisfied"). After eliminating spam and duplicates we aggregate those ratings, then filter the top results for units that are still being sold in 2018. 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 it has at least 7 reviews. 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.


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

  • If you see a price followed by the note (equipment only), that is the average price 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.

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