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Trane vs Carrier vs Ruud - Which is the best residential ac unit brand?

October 2, 2013 | Blog

Which 14 – 16 SEER residential Carrier, Trane, and Ruud is best? Which is the very best air conditioning brand for my home?

We compare Trane, Carrier and Ruud top-rated AC units with midrange efficiency

Trane vs Ruud vs Carrier 14 SEER ac units

DISCLAIMER: This discussion is on residential gas split HVAC systems. If you are looking for commercial units … sorry. These are the most common ac and heating systems in homes (especially in our market of Houston, TX).

Our equipment focus for this HVAC buyers guide has a minimum efficiency of ~14-16.5 SEER.  This is the lowest efficiency we recommend to our customers unless they specifically request a lower-cost option.  More on that subject another time. Alrighty, enough with the formalities.

When thinking to yourself, Trane or Carrier?  Ruud or Trane?  The idea of “Best” is hard to define.

A more appropriate focus for consumers should be, “what air conditioning brand will I be most happy with?”  Which begs another question, how do we measure HVAC “happiness”?  Can happiness even be defined in the air conditioning and heating world?  Before we launch into that, let’s review an important buying principle.


Sadly, there is no such thing as the perfect air conditioning unit.  Sorry to you brand fanatics out there, but eventually they all break.  Its a fact of life.  Although there are a lot of clever marketing slogans to make you think otherwise.  It may be “hard to stop a Trane” but eventually it will stop.  Chevy… like a rock? Throw enough rocks at one and you’ll get the picture.

Below is a listing of data points to compare these midrange 14-16 SEER models for Carrier, Ruud and Trane residential(4ton) AC units.  Take a look and see what differences you can find.

Chart of Data Compare Trane Ruud and Carrier mid-efficiency models

What did you notice?  The most important factors when comparing brands of HVAC systems should be:

Efficiency, Technology/Comfort, Warranty, History

Yet we are faced with some difficulty.  These units all seem to be nearly the same.  Do we need to reframe the understanding of “Best”?  No, not really.  In actuality, each of these units is a very good, reliable, trustworthy brand.

These companies have 100+ years of experience in manufacturing, and they have each created a consistently solid product. Sure some older technicians could talk at length about specific years where coils tended to be leakier, etc. from certain manufacturers. But don’t fret – technicians, marketers, and salesmen all like to talk about many factors that usually boil down to minutia that does not make much difference for homeowners/customers.

So you are a consumer. What should you do now?

Take note of several things.  Choose a company that can provide a major brand of air conditioning.  One of these three would work, but there are others that work just as well.  These brands even have sister brands, much like the car industry.  Think GMC and Chevy.  Same truck, different logo.  There are some specific brands I would stray from, but we will have to save that conversation for another time.

Ultimately, what matters most here aside from getting a baseline quality of equipment from a major manufacturer is to choose your HVAC contractor wisely.  Manufacturers will even attest to this that the longevity and efficiency of their equipment is largely determined by the workmanship of the company who installs it.

Disclaimer: Yes, Mission Air Conditioning, is a dealer for Trane and Ruud NOT Carrier.  Feel free to call me out if you think I’m being unfair would like to hear your opinion.

Disclaimer #2: If you are comparing the highest levels of efficiency, then brand DOES MATTER quite a bit.  Moreso than with basic 13-16 SEER units.

Click here for the full PDF of Trane vs Carrier vs Ruud Chart


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