The central air conditioners with the highest SEER rating are:
- Lennox Signature Series XC25 Air Conditioner – 26 SEER
- Daikin DX20VC Air Conditioner – 23 SEER
- Amana AVXC20 Air Conditioner – 23 SEER
- Trane XV20i TruComfort Air Conditioner – 22 SEER
- American Standard Platinum 20 Air Conditioner – 22 SEER
- Carrier Infinity 21 24ANB1 Air Conditioner – 21 SEER
- Bryant Evolution 180C Air Conditioner – 21 SEER
- Lennox XC21 Air Conditioner – 21 SEER
- Rheem Variable Speed RA20 Air Conditioner – 20.5 SEER
- Ruud Ultra Variable Speed RA20 Air Conditioner – 20.5 SEER
- York Affinity YXV Air Conditioner – 20 SEER
- Luxaire Acclimate AL21 Air Conditioner – 20 SEER
- Coleman Echelon AC21 Air Conditioner – 20 SEER
- Champion Momentum AL21 Air Conditioner – 20 SEER
- Fraser-Johnston AL21B Air Conditioner – 20 SEER
- Armstrong Air 4SCU20LX Air Conditioner – 20 SEER
- Air Ease 4SCU20LX Air Conditioner – 20 SEER
- Frigidaire FSA1BG iQ Drive Air Conditioner – 20 SEER
- Maytag PSA1BG iQ Drive Air Conditioner 20 SEER
- Broan FSA1BG iQ Drive Air Conditioner – 20 SEER
- NuTone 20 SEER iQ Drive Air Conditioner – 20 SEER
- Lennox XC 20 Air Conditioner – 20 SEER
These are the 21 central air conditioners with SEER ratings of 20 or higher. All are on the 2019 Energy Star Most Efficient list.
Our Guide to the Most Energy Efficient Air Conditioners for 2019 is slightly different.
In that guide, we list the most efficient air conditioner from each of the nine major manufacturers. If you’re surprised there are only 9 major producers, check out the article. The guide also lists the Pros and Cons of each.
In this post, we list the 21 most efficient central air conditioners of 2019, even if several of them are made by the same manufacturer.
For example, the Daikin DX20VC and the Amana AVXC20 are identical units except for the name tag and cabinet design. Both are made by Daikin Global, which owns both brands plus Goodman.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating.
The higher the rating, the more efficiently the AC uses electricity to capture heat in your home, move it outside and dump it there.
2019 Highest SEER Central Air Conditioners and Reviews
All these units except the Lennox XC21 (2-stage) have variable-capacity compressors. Rather than on/off action, the compressors tend to run most of the time, so there’s no wasted energy at startup or slow-down.
This graph from Carrier shows how variable compressors use less energy and produce more balanced temperatures.
Daikin uses these two images to explain its inverter-type variable capacity compressors.
Variable-Capacity AC Pros and Cons
The variable or modulating performance maximizes comfort and dehumidification too. The downside is the higher cost of the equipment and of repairs, if the compressor needs replacing.
Here are the most efficient air conditioners with a brief overview of each.
Lennox Signature Series XC25, XC21 & XC20 Air Conditioners
Lennox makes the most efficient split system HVAC equipment of any US manufacturer. This AC leads the way with impressive efficiency.
- Good news: You will use 40% to 60% less energy, depending on the unit you choose and the SEER of the AC this replaces – and watching your utility bill drop.
- Bad news: The price tag of these air conditioners is higher than others in their class – plus Lennox has some of the highest repair costs of any brand. Lennox warranties are mediocre.
Daikin DX20VC & Amana AVXC20 Air Conditioners
Daikin Global improved the quality of the HVAC equipment made by Amana and Goodman. This unit isn’t produced in a Goodman model.
- Good news: Daikin is the most trusted name in variable-capacity compressor technology. Daikin and Amana will replace the entire AC unit if the compressor fails in 12 years (Daikin) or during the unit’s lifetime (Amana).
- Bad news: Daikin is a premium brand at a premium price. Amana costs a bit less – and has a better compressor warranty. Amana is a good value.
Trane XV20i TruComfort & American Standard Platinum 20 Air Conditioners
These Ingersoll-Rand brands are identical and priced about the same. The reason many manufacturers have several brands, besides the business of consolidation, is to offer them at differing prices to attract buyers across the spectrum. Not so with Trane and AS.
- Good news: American Standard and Trane have dependability records that are among the best in the industry.
- Bad news: As a result of their quality and because they required factory-trained installers to do the work, cost is higher than average. We’ve said that about most brands so far, but there are lower-priced brands below.
Carrier Infinity 21 24ANB1 Air Conditioner &Bryant Evolution 180C Air Conditioners
Carrier was the first major brand to introduce variable-capacity compressors, but the brand hasn’t furthered the technology much in the last decade.
- Good news: Proven reliability since these compressors have been in use the longest.
- Bad news: Warranties are only average for the industry – 10 years on all parts. Cost is higher than average for Carrier because the unit must be installed by a Factory Authorized Dealer.
Rheem Variable Speed RA20 & Ruud Ultra Variable Speed RA20 Air Conditioners
These Paloma Industries brands have increased efficiency and offered better warranties in the last few years.
- Good news: Excellent efficiency plus a warranty that offers complete AC replacement if the compressor fails in the first 10 years. Good quality at a fair price = good value.
- Bad news: Rheem and Ruud have had lower reliability ratings in the past, but the brands have made efforts to correct issues with leaking coils.
York, Luxaire, Coleman, Champion and Fraser-Johnson Air 20 SEER Conditioners
These Johnson Controls brands are identical.
- Good news: Competitive costs.
- Bad news: Some of the brands are regional, but you should find one of them in your area. Johnson Controls also had leak issues, but the brand has made a concerted effort to change the design. Time will tell if the new coils are durable.
Armstrong Air 4SCU20LX & Air Ease 4SCU20LX Air Conditioners
These Allied Air brands are owned by Lennox but are not the same design as Lennox models.
- Good news: Good quality at a lower cost than Lennox ACs.
- Bad news: Nothing major. Average warranties and average cost.
Frigidaire, Maytag, Broan & NuTone 20 SEER Air Conditioners
These are Nortek Global brands. Nortek Global was called Nordyne until recently.
- Good news: The brands have very good reliability ratings and are backed by 10-year compressor warranties that provide a complete AC if the compressor fails during the warranty period.
- Bad news: The dealer network is smaller for each, so you might not have a choice of dealers or brands in your area. There should be a dealer for at least one of the brands in your area.
Our 2019 Central Air Conditioner Buying Guide
If you want to research your options more thoroughly, our 2019 split system AC buyers guide will help. It includes detailed information about efficiency, performance and pricing.
There are recommendations for choosing the right efficiency for your climate, how to size a central AC and more.
Quality Installation is Important Too
The adage in the industry is that the day your AC is installed is the most important day in its life.
The reason is that a poorly installed unit is susceptible to many issues – leaking refrigerant, lower-than-expected efficiency and early mechanical failure.
This is why it is important to find an experienced HVAC company with a track record of superior workmanship.
Here are proven steps to finding an expert installer.
- Get estimates from 3 or more local air conditioner contractors
- Ask about the company history and installer’s experience
- Ask about a labor/workmanship warranty
- Ask about the right air conditioner model for your climate and home
- Make sure the installer knows how to choose the right size heat pump using Manual J or similar load calculation
- Check reviews online at Google, Yelp, the BBB and Angie’s List
This process can take several weeks or longer.
Expedite the process using our Free Estimates partner service. The contractors that use the service are pre-screened to make sure they are licensed, insured and certified for proper installation.
There is no cost to you, and you are not obligated to take any of the estimates. It’s a great way to find a quality installer that understands you are seeking competitive bids.