If you are getting bids on having a new AC and heating system installed, you might be offered a private label system. Like other private label products you may be familiar with, instead of having the manufacturer’s name on the equipment, it is branded with the company that is selling and installing it.
The main reasons HVAC contractors will offer a private label system are straightforward:
- Because the quality of the installation matters considerably more than which brand of equipment is being installed, independent HVAC contractors are now putting more emphasis on “selling themselves” rather than the brand of equipment.
- Customers are less likely to compare it to the equipment in competing bids
- Since there is less brand advertising and perhaps less markup between them and the factory, the contractor who installs the equipment likely has room to make more profit margin in their cost on the equipment than on branded units. Or they can lower the price to you and make the same profit as on branded units.
- You (or the next owner) are more likely to call them for maintenance, repairs or replacement.
HVAC Industry insiders often refer to the equipment as “boxes”
The inference here, of course, is that the ac and heating equipment, heat pumps, etc. are a commodity. To the extent that they are made from mechanical parts built by factories (some of them the same ones…) from all over the world, I agree with this assessment.
In some of the industry forums, I often read about confusion over who currently makes the equipment for certain well-known HVAC brands vs. who used to make them or whose parts they used. Brands and factories get relocated overseas, change ownership, or get split up to the point that some industry insiders are not sure who even currently owns some brands.
A private label air conditioner and heater system can be a good buy if:
- You are convinced that the company and their technicians who will install it offer an acceptable overall value. Among other things, this includes: accuracy in sizing the equipment and quality of its installation, efficiency, features, benefits, customer service and more. You can read more about that here on how to buy.
- You get documentation on what company or companies the warranty is through, and are comfortable that they will be around for the life of the equipment, and will make good on any defects or mistakes.
- If a third party is involved in the warranty (someone other than the actual manufacturer, such as Goodman, or the local company who is installing the equipment, then read this blog post before buying.
- You get written verification that your private label equipment qualifies for federal or other rebates. Note: the model number on private label equipment is often the same as for other models made by the factory that builds it.
Let us know if you have any experiences in this area so others can learn.