Air Conditioner Reviews, HVAC info and Buyers Guide

Trane Air Conditioners: Initially Expensive, But Usually a Good Buy


Nothing runs like a Trane.” Their slogan captures the primary selling point for Trane air conditioners and HVAC (heating, ventilation& air conditioning) products. If the lifespan of a manufacturing company says anything significant, Trane’s nearly 100 year history is a testament to a combination of reliability and innovation, blending both to become one of the most solid brands in the industry.

Founded in 1913 by the father and son team of James and Reuben Trane, the corporation relied on Reuben’s Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering to move the company from first a plumbing based business into heating (with several patents) and eventually, air conditioning and building ventilation. Reuben remained a principle of the company (President and then Chairman of the Board) until his death in 1954 – a 38 year run. In 1984, Trane was acquired by American Standard Brands, a Fortune 500 company, and became one of three main divisions until American Standard was broken up in 2007.

American Standard sold off the other two divisions – WABCO, which manufactured vehicle control systems; and its kitchen and bath division. American Standard then adopted the name Trane for the remaining manufacturing and servicing of HVAC equipment. The next year (2008) Trane was bought by Ingersoll Rand for a reported 10 billion dollars2.

Trane product line

Trane HVAC products are generally divided in home and commercial units based on volume of air exchanged. Many tie in heating, cooling and ventilation into one complete package. Primarily, this is accomplished by using the existing forced air ventilation system and either providing that with cool air in the summer or heated air in the winter. Systems can also be installed as standalone units with just a single function.

The residential air conditioner line is broken up into four types3 based on efficiency:

  • Standard — XB13, XB14 – marketed as reliable and affordable for home use. SEER of 16. A SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is a number that relates the energy cost to produce a particular cooling output4. Higher is better with the current minimum for new systems set by the federal government at 13 or higher. These are single stage systems.
  • High – XR15, XR13; SEER up to 17, single stage.
  • Super – XL15i; SEER to 16, single stage, quietest of the single stage types.
  • Ultra – XL20i, XL15i. Highest SEER rating available, 20, with two stage system (two compressors).

Each of the types listed comes in a range of models based on how many BTU’s they remove from the interior of the building. The BTUH (British Thermal Units per Hour) determines the price and size of models in each category type. For instance, for the standard efficiency systems, central air conditioning units are available in seven different BTUH outputs, from 18,000 up to 60,000.

The larger the number of BTUH an air conditioner can handle, the quicker it cools a given volume of interior space and the larger the unit must be. Because of this, central air conditioner systems are also ranked by weight, with the large units weighing more. For the example above, the weights range from 1.5 tons (18,000 BTUH) to 5 tons (60,000 BTUH).

Generally, an HVAC technician will measure the interior volume of a structure to determine which size unit will be appropriate. Multiple units can be installed in “split systems” for very large structures.

Costs and warranties

Trane markets reliability and offers a 5-year warranty on parts and the compressor with extended warrantees available up to 10 years – these typically do not include labor. They use a national network of certified HVAC technicians for installation and repairs, usually through their extensive dealer network.

While Trane markets quality, reliability and efficiency, they are not the cheapest upfront. Costs vary depending on model, location, new or old construction and whether ductwork has to be installed. For homes up to 2,000 square feet, a central air system will run from $8,000 to $10,000. According to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America5(ACCA), a non-profit that tracks consumer satisfaction, Trane brands are initially more expensive, but a good buy nevertheless because they offer lower cost operation, a solid warranty and a high resale value (if the home is sold).

Because homeowners are usually bound to get service and repair work done by the dealer who handled the initial installation, some care and investigation is warranted before choosing an installer. While dealers operate under license from Trane, they are independent contractors who may or may not live up to expectations.

Matched system and innovation

Trane offers an interactive matched system utility that combines the best components for both heating and cooling needs based on where a building is located. The utility can be found on their company website: http://www.trane.com/Residential/Getting-Started/Matched-Systems and discusses best solutions depending on local climate.

Trane also continues to push the limits of what traditional environmental conditioning means. Their latest product features a combination thermostat/security system which acts as a central control for the home and allows internet access by authorized users. More information here: http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20110106-903704.html

References:
1) http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/dictionary/index.asp?action=view&term_id=1634&keyword=trane

2) http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2008/07/30/lazard-a-different-kind-of-profit-warning/

3) http://www.trane.com/Residential/Products/Air-Conditioners

4) http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/space_heating_cooling/index.cfm/mytopic=12440

5) http://www.acca.org/

↑ Back to Top

Leave a Reply

Google