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It’s winter in South Florida…and you know what that means.

It’s hot. And it’s humid. Just like the rest of the year.

Still, it does occasionally dip below 80° F, which means it’s time to break out the wool coats and crank up the heater. But even in the depths of a (ridiculously mild) winter, you know summer’s just around the corner, and the last thing you want is to be without air conditioning.

Don’t sweat it. If you’re looking to replace your AC in the new year, we’ve assembled a guide to the best heating and air systems of 2020.

Choosing the Best HVAC Brands

There are many different heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and deciding which option is best for you can be a little daunting.

It all comes down to what your specific home needs are: what features do you want, how big is your home, what kind of climate are you dealing with. After all, heating and cooling systems will look very different in muggy South Florida as opposed to the dry Southwest.

You have to start with looking at the best features for your needs—don’t focus on the cost right away. Later, when you’ve determined what works best, then you can start narrowing things down by price.

So before we dive into looking at the best central air conditioner brands, let’s take a step back and examine the types of HVACs, and what factors make for the top-rated heating and air conditioning systems.

Types of HVACs

Home air conditioning systems come in four basic types. These boil down to the different systems used for heating and cooling.

  • Split System: this type, as the name suggests, is split between interior and exterior units. The outdoor unit consists of the air conditioning fan and compressor; the interior unit is a furnace, which may even be pre-existing. This is perfect if you already have a gas furnace, and wish to update your home with AC.
  • Hybrid Heat Split System: similar to the regular split system, but the heating element is further divided into an energy-efficient, electric heat pump system, and only switches to the gas furnace on the coldest of days.
  • Ductless Mini-Split System: all the benefits of heating and AC, but without using ducts to spread air through the home. This can be very energy-efficient and cost-effective, but it may require frequent maintenance and parts replacement.
  • Packaged System: perfect for smaller homes, packaged systems house both the heating and AC elements in a single exterior unit. These systems are generally less expensive, but less efficient.

So now let’s consider some of the other factors that go into determining the best heating and air systems.

Home Size

This is one of the most important considerations. You need to determine the size of the space you are trying to cool or heat.

This will also determine what kind of unit is best for you, and how much you will have to spend. You don’t want a unit that’s too big for your home and so spend more than you need to, nor do you want a unit that’s too small, leading to inefficiency and higher bills.

Contact our certified Rheem Pro Partner installation experts today to help you find the best unit for your home.

Advanced Features

Depending on your budget, extra features and upgrades may be important to you.

And there are plenty to choose from:

  • Smart vents and individual zones, which allow users to customize settings for different rooms
  • Programmable thermostats with smartphone-like interfaces
  • App controls, either through one developed by the manufacturer, or through third-party smart home apps like Nest or HomeKit; these allow you to control your HVAC remotely
  • HEPA filters and dehumidifiers

Greater Energy Efficiency

The best HVAC brands can potentially save you hundreds of dollars—and that’s just based on cost savings from their energy efficiency alone.

This is why it’s important to determine the energy efficiency rating of the unit you wish to buy. The best AC units have a high rating, which means higher savings on your utility bill. And that’s something everyone can appreciate.

There are a few terms to keep in mind when determining your unit’s energy efficiency:

  • Season Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER): this determines a unit’s seasonal efficiency. The minimum rating is 13 or 14, but a higher rating may be necessary for warmer climates; the higher the rating, the more efficient the system.
  • Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER): this measures the amount of electricity needed to maintain a constant internal temperature.
  • ENERGY STAR Certification: this government-sponsored program ensures that qualifying air conditioners are “at least 10% more energy-efficient than the minimum federal government standards.”
  • Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE): this measures the energy efficiency of furnaces and boilers. The minimum federal standard for new furnaces is 78%; the highest-efficiency units having ratings of between 90%-98%.
  • Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF): this is designed to gauge the efficiency of heat pumps; the higher the rating, the better. The current highest-rated systems have an HSPF of 13.

The Best Heating and Air Systems in 2020

Rheem offers a wide assortment of affordable and high-quality AC systems. Its units have SEER ratings of 20 or higher, and—for you tech geeks—the company’s EcoNet smart thermostats easily integrate with Amazon Alexa for remote control.

These features, plus their affordability, make Rheem AC units a very attractive option. So let’s take a look at some of Rheem’s top-rated heating and air conditioning systems on the market:

1. Prestige Variable Speed RA20

Rheem’s top of the line Prestige RA20 series represents some of the highest quality and most efficient units on the market. They do come at a higher price point, but with SEER ratings of to 20.5 and EcoNet smart air and water control, their increased efficiency more than compensates for upfront costs over the lifetime of the unit.

The Prestige series also comes with a standard 10-year warranty.

  • 20 SEER/13 EER (minimum)
  • EcoNet enabled
  • Energy Star Certified
  • QR code for faster service calls
  • 10-year warranty

2. Classic Plus RA17

The EcoNet-enabled Classic Plus RA17 is an all-electric unit with a SEER rating of 17. This model comes with a two-stage Copeland Scroll Ultra Tech Compressor, which provides lower humidity and precision temperature control for even greater efficiency.

The model also has Rheem’s PlusOne expanded valve space and triple service access, which makes repairing the unit much faster and easier. Overall, with roomier internal spaces and a QR code for on-demand service calls, the Classic Plus RA17 is designed for speedier service.

  • 17 SEER/13 EER
  • EcoNet enabled
  • Two-Stage Scroll Compressor
  • Energy Star Certified
  • QR code for faster service calls
  • 10-year warranty

3. Classic RA17 (Non-Communicating)

This outdoor model, like the Classic Plus, also has a SEER rating of 17 and comes with a two-stage scroll compressor for more efficient performance.

The all-electric Classic series also features a durable powder coat paint finish designed to withstand the elements, as well as rust-resistant screws—a must in South Florida.

  • 17 SEER/13 EER
  • Two-Stage Scroll Compressor
  • Energy Star Certified
  • QR code for faster service
  • 10-year warranty

4. Classic Single Stage RA16

The very affordable RA16 model may be slightly less efficient than the other models, but it also features a number of innovations for quieter operating and increased lifetime.

The RA16 uses fewer moving parts, making it more durable and less liable to malfunctions throughout its lifetime. It also comes with a number of design innovations, ranging from a more modern look to easier access panels. Plus, it has a composite base pan for quieter operation and less overall corrosion.

  • 16 SEER/13 EER
  • Single Stage
  • Energy Star Certified
  • QR code for quicker service
  • 10-year warranty

5. Classic Single Stage RA14**W

This sleek, affordable unit comes with Rheem’s signature modern aesthetics and durability. It boasts the same scroll compressor technology found in all the Classic series, for quiet and efficient running. Its use of a specially designed fan orifice also contributes to its quiet operation and better performance.

  • 16 SEER/13 EER
  • Single Stage
  • Energy Star Certified
  • 10-year warranty

6. Prestige R98V Gas Furnace

Rheem’s R98V gas furnace features a 98.7% AFUE rating and a modulating operation that maintains a more consistent indoor temperature. Plus, it comes with all the perks, like EcoNet integration and the PlusOne ignition and water management system for greater efficiency.

  • 98.7% AFUE rating
  • EcoNet Enabled
  • Energy Star Certified
  • PlusOne diagnostics for better service calls
  • 10-year warranty

7. Prestige R97V Gas Furnace

The R97V gas furnace is extremely efficient, with a 97% AFUE rating. It’s also easier to service and maintain, and the PlusOne water management system even includes a blocked drain sensor to protect against potential water damage.

  • 97% AFUE rating
  • EcoNet enabled
  • Energy Star Certified
  • Modulating Operation
  • 10-year warranty

You Need to Chill

Look, we know that trying to choose the best heating and air systems can be a stressful ordeal. So just cool it, and use this guide to make your life a little easier.

Then, when you’re ready to take the plunge, go ahead and schedule an appointment with one of the friendly, Rheem Pro Partner technicians at Cliffs Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. We’ve been servicing Rheem AC units in the Port Charlotte area since 1978, and we know our stuff.

Don’t settle for poor imitations. We’ve got the skills and training you can trust.