Installing a central AC unit in a home is one of the best ways to cool the home. These units are cheaper to run than installing several different window units inside of one home, are easy to maintain and use, and they can cool down a home quickly. Unfortunately, these systems are one of the more expensive systems to install, but they don’t have to be outta reach of the average consumer. If consumers do their homework and take the time to consider their options, they can find the best central air conditioner for the fraction of a cost of what many heating and cooling companies sell them for. We’re here to help our readers achieve that goal.

Quick Summary of the Best Central Air Conditioners

Editor’s Choice: Goodman 3-Ton 16 SEER AC System

Even though we recommend that all central air conditioner be installed by professional contractors to ensure that they operate properly and adhere to all local codes, there’s no reason why a person can’t buy a system for their home themselves instead of relying on their local heating/cooling company on selling them an overpriced model. That’s the best way for consumers to save money and still get a good value system.

And one of the best central AC units that we’ve seen in the Goodman 16 Seer. This is a 3-ton air conditioner that’s designed to quickly and effectively cool down a home. Let’s look at its specs and see how it stacks up to other air conditioner models.

This is a split-system that’s 38.25-inches and has a BTU cooling rate of 34,800. It’s a 1-phase, 1-speed system that uses R-410A refrigerant and has a 16 SEER rating. It’s also a model that’s ETL-listed and Energy Star Rated as well. This model is made with a high-performance compressor that works hand-in-hand with this model’s high-efficiency coil. Speaking of the coil, it’s made using rifled refrigeration-grade copper tubing and corrugated aluminum fins. This combination creates the maximum amount of surface area possible, which helps to cool down the home efficiently.

Another key feature found on this model is that it has sound-dampening capabilities built right into it. After all, it doesn’t matter how well an air conditioner is capable of cooling down a home if it keeps the consumer up at night. It’s louvered sound-control top and quiet condenser fan system prevents it from impacting the sound levels of the home negatively.

Other features found on this model include a factory-installed liquid-line drier and 5mm Smart-Coil Condenser Coils. It also has an attractive design that fits in well with the architectural design of just about any home. All in all, it’s a great central air conditioner that some consumers are definitely going to want to consider.

What we liked about it
This model cools down a home very well.
It has a cooling capacity of 34800 BTU.

Also Recommended: Goodman 3-Ton 14 SEER Air Conditioner

The Goodman GPC1436H41 is an air conditioner that’s designed to provide the consumer with some peace of mind. Once it’s been properly installed, this unit is designed to meet the cooling needs of the consumer and do it for many years to come. They design this product with the best materials available and put it together in a truly revolutionary design that emphasizes performance. Anyone searching for a high-quality central air conditioner is going to want to give this model a closer look to see if it meets their needs. Let’s examine this model closer and see what makes it tick.

This model starts by combining the compressor, condenser coil and the blower fan all in a single outside unit. It’s a unit that has a galvanized heavy-gauge steel cabinet that’s covered in a UV-resistant powder-coated paint-finish that’s designed to provide the consumer with years of maintenance-free operation. This unit also uses R-410A chlorine-free refrigerant, an EEM blower motor, an aluminum fin coil, and a permanently lubricated compressor fan motor. It also has a noise level of approximately 78-decibels, which is pretty quiet for a central air conditioner unit.

This is a 14 SEER air conditioner with a nominal CFM rate of 1,200 CFM and provides three tones of cooling. Although it is a little more expensive than comparable central air units, it’s not that much more expensive and should fit in the budgets of most people who are searching for a central unit for their home.

It’s a system that provides a quiet horizontal discharge, is a fully-charged system and is ETL-Listed and AHRI-Certified. It also features a full-insulated blower compartment, and it has an aluminum foil-facing internal insulation that’s been reinforced with fiberglass scrim. Now no one has an excuse not to install a high-end central air conditioner in their home. After all, it’s a model that’s sure to provide the consumer with years of faithful service.

What we liked about it
This model cools down a home very nicely.

Also Consider: Goodman 2-Ton 14 SEER Air Conditioner

Every one of the central air conditioners on our list is made by Goodman, and there’s a good reason for that. This company makes wonderfully well-built devices that hold up well to the elements, cool down a home very nicely and are energy-efficient. Although some models are better than others, we think all of them have their pros and cons.

With that thought in mind, we thought that we’d review the Goodman GSX140241, a two-ton air conditioner that’s not as powerful as some of the other systems that we’ve reviewed, but is also not as expensive as many central AC units currently available at the time of this review.

This system’s design starts with its cabinet. It has a cabinet that’s made out of heavy-gauge galvanized steel, a steel louver coil guard, and a louvered sound-control top design. It also features a powder-coat paint finish that’s designed to hold up to the elements and has a 500-hour salt-spray approval rating. This cabinet also features side and top maintenance access, a single panel to access controls, and it’s designed according to the 2010 Florida Building Code integrity requirements for hurricane-type winds. That makes it an exceptionally sturdy system that’s designed to provide years of use to the home.

Now let’s look at what makes this system work well. This system uses a factory-installed filter drier, an energy-efficient scroll compressor, a ground lug connection, and copper tubes with an aluminum fin coil. It’s a 2-ton 14 SEER air conditioner that uses R-410A refrigerant and comes with a 10-year warranty. And because this model uses a single-speed condenser fan motor, it’s quieter than some other air conditioner brands. Taking all of this into consideration, we feel that this central air conditioner is suitable for consumers who don’t need a lot of cooling power and don’t want to spend a ton of money on a new system.

What we liked about it
It’s an inexpensive air conditioner model.
It’s designed for durability.

A Guide To Central Air Conditioners

Central air conditioners are simple devices that consist of a condenser unit, an evaporator coil, and an air handling unit. It uses the ductwork in a home to exchange out the home’s air with the chilled air created by the unit. On most systems, the condenser sits on a pad outdoors and the air handler is located somewhere in the home, although there is the self-contained unit as well. Regardless, the system uses refrigeration tech to cool the home down. These systems are simple in operation, but the consumer still needs to do their homework to be sure they buy the best central air conditioner possible. Fortunately, this guide was designed to address that problem, so all of our readers can purchase a model that works for them. 

Choose The Correct Size

The first step to choosing the right central air conditioner is for the consumer to figure out what size unit they need. These units are rated according to their tonnage. Each ton of cooling is capable of cooling off 12,000 BTUs of energy per hour. Therefore, a two-ton air conditioner is capable of cooling off 24,000 BTUs in an hour, and a three-ton is capable of cooling off 36,000 BTUs in an hour. 

Now that we understand the terminology used by central air conditioner manufacturers, it’s time for the consumer to think about how big of a unit they need. And this is where things get tricky. That’s because the consumer not only needs to determine how much space they need to cool, but they also need to consider how well their home is insulated as well as where their home is located. All of these factors can have a significant impact on how well a unit cools off the home. 

Although the best thing for consumers to do is to hire a heating/cooling professional to do a thermal assessment of their home to determine what size model they need, that’s not only feasible, so we decided to do a general overview of some of the things that can affect a central air conditioner’s cooling capacity. 

As a general rule, the consumer is going to need one-ton of cooling capacity for every 600 square-feet of home. Of course, that assumes that the home is moderately insulated, so the consumer may need to adjust that estimate upwards or downwards according to whether their home is less insulated or more insulated. 

Where the home is located is also an important consideration for the consumer to think about. A 2-ton air conditioner in Climate Zone One might be capable of cooling a home anywhere from 900-1201 square feet, but in Climate Zone Four it might cool a home anywhere from 1,051-1,350 square feet in size. 

Consider The SEER Rating

It’s also a good idea for the consumer to think about the SEER rating of the air conditioner. The SEER rating measures the air conditioner’s cooling efficiency. This is calculated by the cooling output of a typical cooling season and then dividing that by the total electrical energy input during that time frame. The most efficient SEER rating for air conditioners is 21 SEER, but the chart starts at 8 SEER. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient that the air conditioner will be. It’s recommended that most consumers get at least a 14 SEER model for their home. 

Other Features To Consider

It’s also a good idea to think about some of the other features that can be found on the air conditioner. Although the scope and size of this guide prevent us from going into depth about every feature found on the air conditioner, we can cover list some of the more basic features that consumers should consider so they can find the model that works for them. Having said that, let’s take a quick look at some of the features to consider before we move on. 

  • A Fan-Only Switch For Night Ventilation
  • A Filter Check Light
  • A Thermal Expansion Valve
  • A Variable Speed Air Handler
  • An Automatic Delay Fan Switch

Think About The Unit’s Noise Level

An often overlooked feature on most central air conditioners is the noise level of the unit. Although few people think about their AC unit’s noise level, it is something important to consider. And anyone who has ever had to deal with a noisy AC unit knows exactly what we’re talking about. Therefore, the consumer needs to find an air conditioner that’s under 80-decibels. To give our readers an idea of how loud 80-decibels or less is, we’ve decided to list some more common household items with their associated decibel levels. 

Decibel Levels Of Common Household Items

  • 80-Decibels: Alarm Clock
  • 70-Decibels: Washing Machine
  • 60-Decibels: Electric Toothbrush
  • 50-Decibels: Refridgerator