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When you start shopping for your new system, it would be great if you knew exactly what brand and models you want. Unfortunately, that's very difficult to determine. There are many brands to choose from such as Trane, Lennox, York, Carrier, Rheem, Ruud, Goodman, and many more. In order to work like it's supposed to, all three major components (and the refrigerant lines and duct system) have to be matched exactly to each other. That's not so easy to do.
You could come up with literally dozens of combinations within one brand alone! There are all kinds of different models of furnaces, condensing units and evaporator coils as well as different efficiency levels, capacities and sizes. It's mind-boggling to think of the possibilities. And once you start taking bids, you'll see how many different choices you're given. How can you decide what you need?
Most Hampton Roads air conditioning contractors will give you an estimate on one or maybe two different brands. That's probably what they warehouse and sell and there's nothing wrong with that. Just remember this; it doesn't matter what brand you choose if the system is installed improperly! Of course, the top-quality brands will generally last longer, but nothing impacts the life of your new system like the installation process. Most of the problems that arise after you purchase a system (including shortened equipment life) are caused by the installation and/or improperly sized equipment. I'll tell you more about that later in the report.
If you find a contractor you can trust, it shouldn't make much difference what kind of equipment they install. The brand issue is secondary since the wholesale price to the dealer is not much different between brands, so that shouldn't make much of a difference in the estimate. A lot of the cost differences are installation-related (it costs more to do it right).
If they can do it right, let them use whatever they want. If you have a personal preference, let them know and they can probably get that brand. Unlike car dealerships, HVAC contractors are pretty much free agents. If they can't for some reason, you're better off with their brand properly installed than your brand improperly installed.