These 8 best air conditioners for 2018 are reliable and hardworking. The full reviews for each are found below, but here’s a summary list.
2018 Top Rated Central Air Conditioners
- Heil QuietComfort Deluxe 17 HCA7 Central Air Conditioner
- American Standard Gold 17 Central Air Conditioner
- Lennox XC21 Central Air Conditioner
- Carrier Infinity 16 24ANB6 Central Air Conditioner
- Amana ASXC16 Central Air Conditioner
- Trane XL16i Central Air Conditioner
- Luxaire TC4 Central Air Conditioner
- Ruud Achiever RA13 Central Air Conditioner
- Day & Night Constant Comfort 15 Central Air Conditioner
- Bryant Evolution 186B Central Air Conditioner
These are two-stage and single-stage air conditioners. We do not include variable-capacity air conditioners on this list for a simple reason: They have been introduced only in the last 10 years, most of them more recently, so they don’t have the track record to qualify as “top rated.”
If you’d like to see the best variable-capacity air conditioners, also called modulating ACs, see our 2019 Most Efficient Air Conditioner article with a list and reviews.
Best 2-stage Central Air Conditioners for 2018
These models have two capacities. They run at low capacity, which ranges by model from 65% to 70% percent, to maintain indoor comfort. The advantage of low-capacity AC cooling is balanced temperatures and better dehumidification.
Two-stage ACs crank up to 100% capacity when outdoor temperatures rise quickly or you turn down the thermostat to quickly cool your home. There are few performance differences in these units and only moderate reliability differences. Installation makes can make a significant difference. It’s an issue discussed below.
SEER/EER: Manufacturers have begun to release EER ratings in addition to SEER ratings. This allows consumers to compare central air conditioners to mini split ACs. We list those where available.
Capacities: All these models are built in 24K, 36K, 48K and 60K BTUs, or 2-5 tons, sizes.
Here are the best two-stage central air conditioners.
Heil QuietComfort Deluxe 17 HCA7 Central Air Conditioner
The Heil air conditioners are nearly identical to many other brands. Heil is a brand owned by International Comfort Products. Commonly referred to as ICP, the company owns Heil, Day & Night, Comfortmaker, Keeprite, Arcoaire and Tempstar.
In turn, ICP is owned by Carrier’s parent company United Technologies. The differences between Heil products and Carrier / Bryant are more significant than the differences among ICP brands.
Heil QuietComfort Deluxe 17 features:
- Efficiency: 17 SEER / 13 EER, Energy Star
- Warranties: 10-year compressor and parts warranty; 10-year No Hassle replacement warranty that provides an entire new AC (condensing unit) is the compressor or coil fails in the first 10 years.
- Pros: Heil and other ICP brands offer some of the best warranties in the industry.
- Cons: To get full performance from the Heil HCA7 AC, you will need the Heil Observer thermostat at a cost of $300 or more. It’s a WiFi thermostat, but still pricey.
American Standard Gold 17 Central Air Conditioner
This brand is consistently rated among the top two or three by Consumer Reports and other prestigious rating organizations. Our experience concurs.
The failure rate for American Standard is much lower than average for all brands. Trane makes a model that is identical.
American Standard Gold 17 Features:
- Efficiency: 18 SEER, Energy Star
- Warranties: 12-year compressor, 10-year parts and outdoor coil. Slightly better than average.
- Pros: Efficiency is excellent, a good fit for warm and hot climates. The American Standard patented Spine Fin outdoor coil rapidly transfers heat.
- Cons: Among the costlier units on the list. Expect to pay 10% to 30% more than the Heil, Day & Night and Ruud models.
Lennox Signature Series XC21 Central Air Conditioner
Lennox makes the most efficient standard split system air conditioners. This unit is the most efficient 2-stage AC available today. It will reduce operating costs by 25% to more than 50% when the unit it replaces is more than 15 years old.
This unit makes the 2018 Energy Star Most Efficient List — and it's not even Lennox's most efficient model. The XC25 is more efficient. This shows the Lennox commitment to efficiency.
Lennox Signature Series XC21 Features:
- Efficiency: 21 SEER / 15 EER, Energy Star
- Warranties: 10 years on all parts. An average AC warranty.
- Pros: Outstanding efficiency, good durability.
- Cons: Lennox replacement parts cost more than most, should this unit need to be repaired. The AC, because it is a Lennox and because it is so efficient, is one of the most expensive 2-stage models on the market.
Carrier Infinity 17 Central Air Conditioner Model 24 ANB7
Carrier has a big budget for advertising, but its popularity is also a result of the brand’s reliability and performance. This is a very solid central AC that should last 17-20 years with standard maintenance and the occasional repair.
Carrier Infinity 17 Features:
- Efficiency: 17 SEER / 13.5 EER, Energy Star
- Warranty: 10 years on everything, an average warranty for the industry.
- Pros: Rock-solid reliability
- Cons: Carrier models cost more than most comparable ACs. Bryant makes a nearly identical model that might cost 10% or more below this model.
Amana ASXC16 Central Air Conditioner
Amana and sister brand Goodman have improved quality and reliability since the brands were purchased by Daikin. And both band continue to have among the best warranties available.
An identical model is available from Goodman and Daikin.
Amana ASXC16 Features:
- Efficiency: 17 SEER / 13 EER, Energy Star
- Warranties: Lifetime unit replacement warranty on the compressor. If it ever fails, Amana will replace the entire condensing unit, which is the outside unit commonly called the air conditioner. This is the industry’s best compressor warranty. A 10-year warranty covers all other parts.
- Pros: The outstanding warranty. Amana offers better warranties than sister brands Daikin and Goodman as part of its marketing strategy.
- Cons: Prices are rising on Amana products, but they are still in the mid-priced range for all brands. The Goodman version of this AC should cost less.
Best Single-stage Air Conditioners for 2018
Single-stage models run at full capacity whenever on. The advantages are lower prices and a simpler design with less potential for mechanical failure. Repair cost less too than repairs to 2-stage and modulating ACs.
The downside is slightly poorer indoor comfort. You might feel minor temperature fluctuations, and single-stage models remove less humidity.
Capacities: Some of these ACs start at 18K BTUs, or 1.5 tons. Most are 24K to 60K, or 2 to 5 tons sizes.
Here are our top 5 air conditioners in the single-stage category:
Trane XL16i Central Air Conditioner
Trane ACs are reliable and efficient, though often priced higher than comparable models from other brands.
This is Trane’s most efficient single-stage unit.
Trane XL16i features:
- Efficiency: 18 SEER, Energy Star
- Warranties: 10 years on all parts
- Pros: Long-term dependability, nationwide network of dealers.
- Cons: Warranties that are only average in length; Potentially higher cost than comparable models from other brands.
Day & Night Constant Comfort 15 Central Air Conditioner
This is an ICP brand like Heil and Tempstar. The models are quite similar to Carrier and Bryant ACs, but prices are usually lower and warranties are better.
Day & Night Constant Comfort 15 features:
- Efficiency: 15 SEER / 12.2 EER
- Warranties: 10 years on all parts plus a 3-year No Hassle replacement warranty. Day & Night will replace the entire unit if the compressor fails in the first 3 years.
- Pros: Good equipment at a lower cost than Carrier.
- Cons: Not available nationally. If you don’t have a Day & Night dealer, there might be a Heil, Tempstar, Arcoaire or other ICP dealer with the same equipment by a different name.
Bryant Evolution 186B Central Air Conditioner
Bryant’s are Carrier clones for the most part. We list this in the Bryant version because it costs less than Carrier’s.
Bryant 186B features:
- Efficiency: 16 SEER / 13 EER, Energy Star
- Warranty: 10 years on all parts.
- Pros: Very good reliability at a lower price than Carrier. WiFi Connex thermostat is available for remote monitoring and control of your heating and air conditioning system.
- Cons: Bryant is still among the costlier brands, yet its warranty is just average for the industry.
Choose your Installer Wisely
- All of these air conditioners will serve you well when properly installed.
- None of these ACs will give you their full potential when not properly installed.
It’s that simple.
We recommend you get estimates from 3 or more dealers in your area on comparable equipment.
Compare the equipment, but also learn about the history of the company. Check BBB, Yelp and Google reviews. Ask about the experience of the technicians that will install, connect and set up your AC.
These are crucial steps, and if done incorrectly, will harm the efficiency and durability of the system.
Choose an AC contractor with an experienced crew and track record of quality customer service. The service we partner will will put you in touch with some of the top-rated AC installers in your area, and there is no cost or obligation to you for using the service.