When sizing up Carrier vs. Trane, you’re comparing two of the top five brands in the industry. Neither are perfect; both are very reliable. Some would say there’s not a dime’s bit of difference between the two. Is that true? Let’s take a look.
Single Stage HVAC Systems: Carrier vs. Trane
The furnace, AC or heat pump comes on at full capacity – it’s only capacity. The upside is affordability. These are the least expensive units in each brand’s (and every brand’s) lineup. They are sometimes referred to as entry level, contractor grade, base level or just plain cheap. However, since Trane and Carrier are two of the most expensive brands, “cheap” is a relative term. These are also the least efficient models in the lineups.
Carrier gives better warranties on most of its lowest-tier products – 10 years on most parts vs. 5 years from Trane. In part, this is a cost decision. Trane can offer the units at a lower cost if it reduces its back-end warranty risk.
However, it does reflect a qualitative difference too, in our opinion. If you’re considering a Carrier Comfort Series vs. Trane XR or XB Series, we’re going to recommend Carrier.
Two-Stage HVAC Systems: Carrier vs. Trane
These models come on at low capacity which is typically 60% to 65% of full capacity depending on the model. The advantages are longer, quieter cycles that balance temperature more evenly and are more efficient, reducing energy use and bills. When you adjust the thermostat to get more heat or AC, they’ll kick up to full capacity to get the job done quickly.
Most two-stage Carrier models are in the Carrier Performance Series. Trane isn’t so exact. The most common two-stage models are the Trane XL, XV and XC. Warranties are generally equal, with 10 years on parts being the norm, longer on furnace heat exchangers. If you want the best warranties in the industry, Goodman, Amana, Ruud, Rheem, Heil and a few others offer better warranties than either Trane or Carrier.
When comparing the Trane vs. Carrier service record, they are both top five depending on the year.
If you are in the market for two-stage heating and AC, we suggest you get multiple estimates for both and base your decision on the prices you get and the experience of the installer. Choosing a qualified contractor with good experience is as important as which brand you select.
Modulating HVAC Systems: Carrier vs. Trane
A modulating gas valve delivers from 40% to 100% of capacity depending on the precise heat required for optimal climate control, and the valve constantly adjusts in increments as small as .5%. On a modulating heat pump, it is the compressor delivering the heat or AC in very precise increments. Modulating units offer the most comfort, the quietest operation and the best efficiency. They are significantly more costly than two-stage models.
Carrier modulating units are part of the Carrier Infinity Series, though not all Infinity models are modulating. For Trane, modulating units usually have an “m” in the model name.
When considering Carrier vs. Trane reliability, the jury is still out. Modulating units have been on the market since about 2010, and that’s not enough years to have sufficient data on service records.
Carrier beat Trane to the market with modulating units by a couple of years. Does that make them more reliable, since new technology is more prone to error and Carrier has had time to fix issues? We think it does.
For modulating units, the best strategy, in our opinion, is to get multiple estimates and go with the contractor – whether Trane or Carrier – that you believe has the best track record of success. The quality of the installation is a huge, often overlooked, part of the equation that has a big impact on the durability and performance of the system.
All else being equal in terms of cost and contractor experience, we lean slightly toward choosing Carrier over Trane for modulating HVAC systems.