This blog describes how to cut through the “clutter and noise”, and buy a new furnace and AC system wisely. I first learned this way of thinking while working my way through college in a bicycle shop, and there are some useful, current parallels to the way HVAC equipment and systems are sold.
More Brands Than Factories
Working in the bike shop, I learned that there are a lot more bicycle brands than there are bicycle factories. Same (or very similar) bicycles…different label, marketing and prices. Bicycles have a frame onto which major and minor components, made by other manufacturers around the world, are added. These are combined in a box at the bike frame factory, sold through distributors, and must be assembled by a trained mechanic at a shop to be warranted.
With air conditioners and furnaces, the frame is a box, usually made sheet metal. With a few exceptions, the main components, such as compressors, condensers, fans, coils, heat exchangers, come from factories around the world. As in the bicycle brand example, there are fewer AC and heating component factories than there are brands. Parts do come in differing grades of quality and efficiency, and the cost (and sometimes the complexity) usually goes higher with the efficiency rating.
There are some generalities about HVAC equipment brands that may be worth knowing. However, before thinking about brand there are two more important aspects a buyer needs to focus on:
Needs Local Professional Assembly or Installation
For safety and efficiency, we mechanics often had to true the bike wheels, and adjust the gears & brakes. Then we adjusted parts to the needs of the rider, and added accessories based on the conditions the rider would encounter. If we goofed up, the bike would not ride efficiently or the rider could crash and get hurt.
With AC and heating equipment, the installation is a critical factor. Some types of mistakes are very difficult to correct. First, the local company that installs your equipment should have helped you choose the size and efficiency specifications appropriate for your climate, envelope (the part of your house or building that interacts with the outside air), and budget. Next, the installers have to be skilled in plumbing, electrical, refrigeration and more to connect the wiring, piping and refrigerant to make the equipment run safely and efficiently. Also, if your existing ductwork is used, they must make sure it is in good condition and sealed. Should the wrong size or type of equipment get installed into your home or building, it will be a major hassle making things right.
Assure Quality of Installation First, Then Compare Features For Cost
In summary, here are the action points to make a wise heating and AC system purchase. Each one has links for more details if you need them:
1- Choose a local service company with trained and experienced installers and technicians. Go to this page to get more info on how to make a good choice.
2- Verify that you are getting the correct type and size of equipment for your climate, structure, and circumstances. More info here
3- Use our free cost comparison grid to compare the most important features.
4- After you have done this, you can see how brand fits into the picture.
If you find this useful, please comment so others can learn. If not, send a suggested topic and we’ll consider it.