For most purchases we make, you pick the brand first, then go to a dealer or retailer. Here is how the story goes: I see an ad for a Honda Civic, see people driving them around and now I want one. I’ll go to my local Honda Dealer, whichever one will give me the best deal, or one that I have a good relationship with (hopefully both). A Honda Civic is a Honda Civic, right? Yes.
However, A Trane XL19i isn’t a Trane XL19i, just because it has the label. Weird. Let me explain. There are about six HVAC equipment manufacturers in the U.S. today, but they operate under more than 150 brand names. Here are some brands that come off the same manufacturing lines — just different paint, labels, and marketing:
• Lennox, Armstrong and Concord
• Trane and American Standard
• Carrier, Payne, Bryant and Tempstar • York, Lux and Coleman
• Goodman and Amana
You get the idea. Most of the components that make up these brands’ products are made by even fewer companies: Emerson, Johnson Controls and Honeywell. Also, these companies are huge billion-dollar conglomerates. They all utilize very rigid quality processes incorporating multimillion dollar machines that produce nearly mistake-proof products. I’ve personally been to some of these facilities and worked as a quality advisor for one. They’re all pretty good at building HVAC units. So, what’s the difference? Typically, there are small differences on the very top-end products, such as who has the bigger touch-screen thermostat, or is it 98.4 percent or 98.3 percent efficient. But, these are insignificant at the end of the day. So, what’s the big, clear-cut difference? The installing contractor.