Finding the best central air conditioner is no easy task: It has to be efficient and provide comfort while running. Of course, another aspect that might count for some is the unit’s shape, size, and design since space can be an issue at times. However, what most buyers ignore when looking for the best central air conditioners are the durability, warranty period, and extra services the producer might offer.
Before diving into the best central air conditioners of 2016 and their reviews, let’s see which are the most important criteria when judging a cooling system (which are often overlooked by buyers):
Tips for Finding the Best Central Air Conditioner
Efficiency definitely should be a decisive factor. This will influence how the cooling will behave under heavy use and how much it will add to a whole household’s energy bill. Here are the most important variables that create more or less efficient home central air conditioners:
- SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, measures how much cool air a system can create out of a single energy unit. If a few years ago the average SEER was between 5 and 10, 2016’s best central air conditioner systems have SEERs around 20.
- Humidity control is another important feature that any central air conditioner should have since humidity often aggravates the way we perceive heat.
- The type of compressor (standard or multi-stage) is also relevant. Standard compressors can either be turned on or off automatically during functioning, while multi-stage ones operate more often but at different intensities. This creates a pleasant and constant temperature while also preserving energy.
- The type of refrigerant is another important aspect. Most HVAC systems today have chlorine-free refrigerant. However, the R-22 has been linked to damages in the ozone layer and is best to be avoided. The most common and easiest on the environment is the R-410A refrigerant.
As mentioned before, comfort is also important – but many customers forget about this aspect when searching for a cooling system and end up with noisy appliances. It is recommended to acquire a central air conditioner as silent as possible – under 60 dB is a reasonable expectation for a modern apparatus. Fans with noise-reducing blades and multiple speeds are also appreciated since these will also keep the appliance silent and distribute the cool air evenly.
2016’s Best Central Air Conditioner Systems
Now that we know which are the most important things to look for when searching the best central air conditioner, let’s see which are our top picks for 2016:
Note: Every central air conditioner model listed below is Energy Star Qualified and uses chlorine-free refrigerant.
1. Dave Lennox Collection XC25
Dave Lenox is considered the best central air conditioner brand. It has surpassed expectations and performance ratings, proving itself as the most reliable and efficient house cooling system of the year. It has the highest SEER we’ve encountered in an appliance of its kind: An impressive 25 seasonal energy efficiency ratio is bound to keep energy bills to a minimum. But the smartest feature of the Dave Lennox Collection XC25 is its compatibility with solar panels – which can further cut down energy costs. at
The XC25 truly is a technological wonder we can have in our homes: This smartphone compatible, remotely programmable, and highly efficient air conditioner is far ahead its competitors. If this unit has a downside, that would be its size. The unit is somewhat large (47 x 35.5 x 39.5 inches) and might not look as elegant as others. However, its dark color can make it a bit harder to notice at first glance and less pretentious when cleaning it.
2. Trane XV20i
2016’s Trane central air conditioner has the best quality/price ratio given the technological advancements and efficiency behind it. With a SEER of 22, humidity control, a multi-stage compressor that optimizes its activity, and compatibility with smartphones, the XV20i by Trane got the second place in our top. The only feature the Trane lacks when compared to the best central air conditioner, the Dave Lennox, is the ability to run with solar power – which might not be such an inconvenience to most buyers since it is not yet widely available.
However, the Trane XV20i comes with a little something extra when talking about comfort and efficiency: Its base pan is insulated, which protects the unit and reduces noise up to 55 dB.
3. Frigidaire iQ Drive FS4BG
With a sound level of 57 dB, the FS4BG is quiet as a mouse even when working at full speed. We can’t really decide if its design is classic or futuristic – but it definitely is elegant. It is great for maintaining a preset level of humidity, which further increases its perceived effectiveness.
But none of these is why the latest Frigidaire model took the fourth place and surpassed 4 other central air conditioners on this list. What we like the most about this model is the way it uses inverter-rotary technology to adjust its activity. Thus, the Frigidaire iQ Drive FS4BG can function between 40% and 118% of its capacity to be energy-efficient, provide comfort, and a constant temperature no matter the environmental conditions.
4. Carrier Infinity 24ANB1 Series
The 24ANB1 Series got the fourth place in our top mainly because of its simple and space-saving design. With 31 x 36.5 x 29.75 inches, Carrier Infinity manufactures the best rated central air conditioners that can fit in small spaces. There’s not much to say otherwise about these appliances: They work well, are sturdy and long-lasting, and have basic features like humidity control. However, they do have downsides:
Although the best central air conditioner systems in the Carrier Infinity series feature an insulated compressor and base pan and noise-reducing blades, they still produce significantly more noise than the previous 4 models: 65 dB. The lack of a multi-stage compressor could also be viewed as a disadvantage, but they somehow still managed to achieve a SEER of 21 – which is quite impressive, in our opinion.
5. American Standard Platinum ZV
This series also achieved a SEER of 21 and offers the same basic features like the previous one, even though it only has a two-stage compressor. However, these air conditioners are much quieter: Only 55 dB when running at full capacity. Although a bit smaller than our top pick, an American Standard Platinum ZV AC unit can be considered bulky when looking at its dimensions of 41 x 33.6 x 29.75 inches.
Needless to say, these units cannot be solar powered; But they also cannot be controlled with the help of a smartphone or tablet, which might be a much more striking disadvantage to users.
6. Coleman Echelon Series AC8B
With a SEER of 18, the Coleman Echelon series can be considered of average efficiency. These appliances do not feature variable speed fans but do have insulated base pans which increase durability. However, even with the noise-reduction fan blades and insulated base, the central air conditioners in this series still are loud: With 69 dB at full capacity, they can be as loud as your average vacuum cleaner – but quieter than most dishwashers.
So you might be wondering why even add it to this list. Well, although their SEER is not that impressive, the AC8B series by Coleman Echelon are featured on EPA’s list of most efficient appliances – Energy Star Most Efficient – just like the Dave Lennox Collection. In addition, they are smartphone compatible, which weighs more than humidity control or other features in the eyes of many consumers.
7. Bryant Preferred Series 127A
Although the Bryant Preferred series has the lowest SEER among the best air conditioner systems (only 16.5), it does offer some extra features we cannot find in Coleman Echelon’s series. The most important one, in our opinion, is the humidity control function. The 127A series can be controlled via smartphone.
These central air conditioners feature noise-reduction fan blades and an insulated compressor, but the base pan does not enjoy the same treatment. This leads to the noisiest AC unit on our list, with an average of 72 dB at full capacity.
Some Honorable Mentions
Apart from the 7 best central air conditioner systems for residential use, here are some other best rated central air conditioner brands you can consider if the aforementioned suggestions do not fit your needs or financial expectations. Although they lack in functionality or efficiency, the following suggestions feature lifetime compressor warranty – a trait not many customers can dismiss.
Here are the best central air conditioner brands that guarantee customers the durability of their compressors:
8. Amana AXSC18
Although not the most efficient (SEER of 18) or the quietest (71 dB), Amana central air conditioners are a viable choice for those who only need to use the AC from time to time.
9. Goodman DSXC18
The Goodman DSXC18 central air conditioner has the same seasonal energy efficiency ratio of 18, but is slightly louder: 72 dB can be an issue for some.
Neither of these central air conditioner systems has insulated base pan or noise-reducing fan blades, humidity control, or multi-stage compressors. They are not energy-star qualified but are more reliable than previous models. We personally recommend them to customers in dry climates and who only need an air cooling system from time to time, since regular use would increase the energy bills.
So What is the Best Central Air Conditioner for You?
This is up to your expectations, needs, and financial capabilities. While the 7 best central air conditioner systems are selected to fit the needs of all customers no matter the frequency of use, you can’t go wrong with choosing any one of them. However, the last two models can be the best choice for buyers who only need to use the AC from time to time.