Carrier vs York Heat Pump
Recently an old friend reached out to me asking for my opinion of Carrier vs York air conditioners. His fiancé owns a home in Mexico which currently has a York packaged heat pump that’s not working properly. The air conditioning contractor told them there was a 2-month backorder for the part needed to complete repairs. He quoted them a price to replace the whole unit with either another York or a Carrier packaged heat pump. They’re now pondering their options to either wait two months for repair, or replace with a new Carrier or York.
I wish I could do more to help with their current predicament. Unfortunately, this home is in Mexico and Magic Touch Mechanical is in Arizona – close, but not close enough. All I can do to help is give him advice and hope the contractor he’s working with is doing the right thing. However, if you follow my blog, you know many of my article topics come from questions people ask me. I figured he’s probably not the last person who’s trying to compare Carrier vs York so hopefully this helps you too!
Carrier vs York Packaged Heat Pump
A packaged heat pump a.k.a. package heat pump is also sometimes referred to as a rooftop unit or ground unit. The “packaged” term simply means all the components are together in one unit – as opposed to one indoor, one outdoor. A condenser (outdoors) coupled with an air handler (indoors) together make one complete “system,” commonly called a split heat pump. In the Phoenix, AZ area, both packaged heat pumps and split heat pumps are common, some homes even have both.
All packaged unit manufacturers utilize virtually the same major components; compressor, 2 fan motors, 2 coils, and a reversing valve. As well as minor components; contactor, capacitors, terminal blocks, etc. The only exception on the market is the Bosch Package Heat Pump, the only inverter driven variable speed packaged unit on the market. The Bosch IDP (Inverter Ducted Package) is in a league of its own. I say that because it’s only variable speed package unit available for purchase today.
When comparing Carrier vs York packaged heat pumps, we’re talking almost apples to apples technology and frankly, the same components. When I say, same components, I mean even down to the brand as neither Carrier or York build these components. For example, most of the units being sold in the U.S. today use the same brand (Copeland) compressors.
Carrier vs York Parts & Components
In my 3+ decades working for, or being an air conditioning contractor, I’ve visited almost every brand’s manufacturing plant. Including; Carrier, York, Trane / American Standard (same factory), Lennox, Goodman / Daikin (same factory), Nortek (many brands), and others. While some factories are more technologically advanced than others, they’re all very similar – the main difference being the sign outside.
When talking Carrier vs York manufacturing plants, neither are the exception and here’s why …
Carrier and York buy the majority of the parts inside their units from the same 3rd party manufacturing companies. Again, I’m talking most parts; compressors, contactor, capacitors, relays, solenoids, terminal blocks, circuit boards, even wire. This is the case not just with Carrier and York, but most manufacturers, including well-known brands like Trane & Lennox.
In fact, it’s only when you start comparing HVAC equipment manufacturers upper-end, variable speed systems that you see any differences. When comparing single-stage, 14-SEER units, you could almost change the sticker on the cabinet from one to the other they’re so similar. This is the case when comparing Carrier vs York, Goodman vs Trane, etc., etc.
For that reason, the ‘manufacturers’ are actually more like ‘assemblers’ as they’re taking parts built by others and installing them in their machine. Again, the differences in the different brands don’t really start to appear until you start comparing higher-end models. Both Carrier and York produce high-end “variable speed inverters,” but neither produce a variable speed packaged heat pump. In other words, when comparing Carrier vs. York in this ‘class’ of machine, there’s not much different between the two.
What Do HVAC Manufacturers Build Themselves?
There are two major components that almost every manufacturer builds in their own factory – the evaporative coil and the condenser coil. Additionally, each engineers their own cabinet design and builds their own cabinets in house.
That said, I cannot disregard the importance of the coils, the cabinets, or the engineering design of the unit itself. These critical components all play a critical role in the reliability, longevity, and durability of the entire machine. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Regarding Carrier vs York; quality of design, cabinets, and coils on their entry-level package units – I’d say it’s pretty even. In my 30+ years in HVAC (25 with Magic Touch), I’ve installed, repaired, and maintained thousands of each. Both Carrier and York have produced long-lasting models over the years, and both have had their share of lackluster models.
In my opinion on Carrier vs York cabinets & coils – I give them a tie.
Carrier vs York – Which One is Better?
So far, we’ve discussed that the majority of parts or components in both packaged heat pumps are practically the same. Perhaps even identical depending on the model. We also discussed that the parts they do build themselves are fairly comparable in quality and design. So, which one is better? My answer is probably not what you might expect – that really depends on where you live which I explain below. It also depends largely on the heat pump installer themselves.
Why Where You Live Matters
Spoiler alert: Whether you’re debating Carrier vs York, Trane, Lennox, Bosch, Gree or other brands – all mechanical equipment can break. Even the best of the best, most expensive models on the market can suffer a minor, or even major failure. If and when they do break, what matters to you the homeowner most is – how quickly can it be fixed?
The reason why where you live matters boils down to the local distributor / supplier and their customer service. For example, there are some distributors in Phoenix we just won’t do business with because their customer service is below par. That same distributor in say New Jersey or Washington may be the best in the area.
The opposite is true as well. We have suppliers here in Phoenix that give us 5-Star service day in/day out – and have for decades. Yet speaking with other contractors in other areas, they curse the very mention of the same company. Just like any large chain restaurant the local management and employees make the difference between great service and poor service.
How does good or poor service from the supplier impact you the homeowner? Well, consider the difference between a part being in stock, or a part being on a 2-month backorder. If you consider the part that is factory specific (like one of the coils), there is no ‘buying it elsewhere’. So how do you the homeowner know if Carrier or York is better in your area? Ask your contractor outright!
I recommend finding a contractor that installs several to many brands (not any brand – they should have standards). The reason I recommend that is, it demonstrates the contractor is not trying to sell ‘his or her’ brand – even if it’s not right for you the homeowner. This way if they sell Carrier and York … and Lennox, Trane, & Goodman (for example), they can honestly answer who is “better” in your area.
Why the Heat Pump Installer You Choose Matters
Fair or not, there is a pecking order. If a larger, well-established air conditioning company and a one-man show need the same part and there’s only one in town – it may not boil down to 1st come 1st served. 25 years ago, when I founded Magic Touch, I was a one man show operating out of my house. Today we’re a medium-large contractor who purchases millions of dollars in equipment & parts annually. I can tell you 1st hand, our size and buying power makes a big difference in the service we receive. In turn, we can provide better, faster service to our customers now than we could 25 years ago.
The quality of the installation matters more than the brand you choose be it Carrier vs York or any brand! Let me say that again for the people in the back. The quality of the installation matters more than the brand you choose, be it Carrier vs York, or any brand!
I’ve given the following advice hundreds of times in the course of my career and it will always be true: You’re far better off having the cheapest equipment installed properly than the best equipment installed poorly.
In other words, instead of trying to determine which is better Carrier vs York – determine who is better, Contractor A vs Contractor B. After determining which contractor will do a better installation (this requires research and due diligence) go with the brand they recommend for your home, goals, needs, and budget.
Carrier vs York in the Phoenix, AZ Area
I realize I can’t complete this article without putting myself on the spot! Carrier vs York in my own service area – which one do I recommend? I’ll preface my answer by sharing that we install over a half dozen brands. We’ve installed hundreds upon hundreds of units from both York and Carrier over the years. We currently sell products from the same companies manufactured under different brand names. We do not sell either York or Carrier under those specific brand names – but we do sell identical products with a different label from the same company.
Both Carrier and York produce equipment under many different brand names, the only difference being the distributor.
Remember, the distributor matters a lot. A great example would be Trane vs. American Standard. Magic Touch has sold one or the other over the last ¼ century and switched back and forth along the way. Even though they’re exactly the same machines, the level of service from the distributor matters enough to pivot when necessary. Again, the better service we receive from our distributors, the better the experience we can deliver to our customers who own those brands.
That said, let’s answer the question of Carrier vs. York in Phoenix, AZ – our service area. I’ll start with the specific model / type my friend is debating.
Single-Stage Packaged Heat Pump – Carrier vs York
Frankly, there are 5 brands I’d choose first here in Phoenix, when it comes to packaged heat pumps. Bosch, Lennox, Goodman, Amana (Franklin), or possibly Rheem (in that order). Gree would make the list if we were talking about split heat pumps but they don’t make a packaged system.
For the record, I practice what I preach. Our offices are in Mesa, AZ and our building is conditioned by a mix of split, packaged, & mini splits. We have two single-stage packaged heat pumps on our building which we installed years ago – both are Lennox LRP14HP’s. When we replace them, I will be installing Bosch variable speed packaged heat pumps in their place.
My wife and I purchased our current home in 2019. We replaced two ‘working’ York split systems with variable speed Lennox systems. We considered Bosch split systems as well but the Lennox units were the better choice for our specific application.
Split AC & Heating System in Phoenix, AZ – Carrier vs. York
I can’t emphasize enough how much choosing the right installer matters much more than the heat pump brand installed. I also need to reiterate that when comparing single-stage units they’re all very similar. That said, if a single-stage unit is best for our client’s application, budget & wish list – I’m still thinking neither. Again, Bosch, Gree, Lennox, Amana, Goodman, and a few others are (in my opinion) better choices at the moment. However, that is always subject to change.
Why Distribution Changes Matter to a Homeowner
The York air conditioning brand is a perfect case study in the Phoenix area to demonstrate one of my points discussed in this article. Why distribution matters not only to the HVAC contractor, but to the homeowner as well.
Many years ago, York was one of the more popular brands with our clients (tied with Trane at the time). This was before two-stage and variable speed units were even available. We purchased our York equipment from a great distributor who provided excellent service. Technical support was excellent and they did a great job of keeping replacement parts in stock locally. After many years of success, for reasons unknown to me, York switched to another local distributor.
Unfortunately, after the shift, the level of service, support, and sometimes even parts availability began to decline. While we were still pleased with the York brand itself, the distribution change impacted the level of service negatively. As the level of service we receive reflects the service our clients receive, we discontinued the brand.
Distribution channels are always subject to change so the day may come when the tides turn on any brand. This is also why I recommend listening to your trusted contractor as the opposite may be true in your region. In fact, I know several contractors that to this day are very pleased with the York distributor in their state.
Consider Value vs Price
One final note when it comes to Brand A vs Brand B…
There are several brands producing variable speed inverter heat pumps today that are competitively priced to other brands 1-stage units. My two favorites in that category at the moment are Gree and Bosch. If you find yourself in the position of having to replace you heat pump system – consider these options as well.
You may find you’ll get a lot more, for a lot less by comparing multiple brands when shopping around. Lastly, again I practice what I preach… I just installed one of these brands in my own mother’s house!
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