Tag Archives: hvac contractors

Should You Buy A Private Label Air Conditioning and Heating System?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Customers are less likely to compare it to the equipment in competing bids
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Who needs A 99-year warranty on their home A/C compressor?

In the monthly HVAC trade journals, I’ve been reading about a 99-Year warranty for AC compressors.  Their main message: buy this and you won’t have to pay for repairing or replacing your compressor until the year 2107.

Thinking there could be grist for the blog mill here, I called a manufacturer advertising the offer and was told the following by their representative:

The actual warranty is not from the manufacturer, “it is from their distributors. The distributor decides the terms and would honor it, not the manufacturer.”
The distributor sells the air conditioning equipment to the contractors, who then install and service the equipment in homes.
However, the rep went on to say that not every distributor who sells this brand of equipment to HVAC contractors is actually authorized to offer a promotion of this type, only certain ones.

Candidly speaking, what I heard did not pass the most basic common sense test.  No matter who offers it, here are some questions you should consider before shelling out for a super long warranty:

– Considering regulatory changes and advances in refrigerants, efficiency, electronics, plus the cost of parts and labor not covered by a 99 year compressor warranty, how likely is it that your whole cooling and heating system will not be functionally or economically obsolete within 15 years? (Think of your home computer: your 12 year old PC running Windows 95 may still boot up, but is it of any practical value?)

– What happens if the distributor gets sold, reorganized, or goes out of business? Who, if anyone, would stand good for your 99-year warranty? How much trouble would it be to find them or convince them you have coverage?

– What happens if you sell your house? Is that warranty transferable to the new owner?

The irony here: for some of the more sophisticated HVAC equipment, an extended warranty from a reliable source is something homeowners should consider. The right extended warranty can more than pay for itself and help you avoid unplanned repair bills. Examples of where they can be a good value: for sophisticated high-efficiency units or some types of indoor air quality equipment such as whole house air cleaners, dehumidifiers, etc.

In summary:  unless facts come in to the contrary, a 99-year air conditioner compressor warranty looks like hype and undermines the concept of extended warranties of more realistic length. Let’s get real.