If you’re looking to get a new A/C system or upgrade your existing unit, you’ve probably seen Rheem and Lennox brands. These are two of the most popular HVAC manufacturers, and many retailers are authorized dealers. Before you make a huge investment in your new A/C system, be sure you understand the pros and cons of each of these brands so you can make the best decision.
Rheem and Lennox are well-known, trusted brands and they both make high-quality, reliable air conditioners. But if you’re torn between the two, consider Rheem if you want the less expensive option. Go with Lennox if you want something with slightly better performance and more options to choose from, or the most energy efficient.
|Air Conditioner||Average Price Estimate (Equipment Only)|
|Rheem Select Series (budget)||$1,600 – $3,000|
|Rheem Classic or RA line (basic)||$3,300 – $4,950|
|Rheem Classic Plus (better)||$4,000 – $5,600|
|Rheem Prestige (best)||$4,250 – $6,500|
|Lennox Merit Series (basic)||$3,300 – $6,000|
|Lennox Elite Series (better)||$3,900 – $7,400|
|Lennox Signature Collection (best)||$4,500 – $7,800|
Rheem Air Conditioning
Rheem has a long history in the HVAC industry. The company was founded by two brothers in California in 1925. They currently manufacture more than just air conditioners, also producing water heaters, pool and spa heaters, and commercial refrigeration products. Rheem produces a large family of brands including Ruud, Richmond, Eemax, Eco Smart, and Kramer, just to name a few.
The company has demonstrated a commitment to producing innovative, quality products that are relevant to their consumers’ needs. Their equipment is known to last a long time, and they’re typically backed by strong warranties.
For example, Rheem compressors are backed by a five-year warranty and the heat exchanger has a 10-year warranty period. Heating elements, evaporator and condensor coils, draft motors, furnace control boards, blower motors, and other parts are also protected for five years.
On top of that, certain models have a limited lifetime warranty on the heat exchanger, with others backed by a 20-year warranty. The fact that the company provides 10-20 year warranties demonstrates how they stand behind their products.
In addition to the investment Rheem makes in quality products, they’ve also made a commitment to sustainability efforts. As part of their “Designing for Zero Waste” initiative, Rheem has set lofty sustainability goals to improve the world around them for future generations.
Popular Rheem Models
Currently, Rheem offers about 11 different options for residential air conditioning units. Like most other brands, they offer options that are more focused on affordability and others that are more expensive but packed with features and are the most efficient of the lineup.
Here are some of their most popular models:
- Select Series (WA14**W, WA14, WA16)
- Classic Series (RA13, RA14, RA14**W, RA16, RA17)
- Classic Plus Series (RA17)
- Prestige Series (RA20)
Lennox Air Conditioning
Lennox is another long-time player in the HVAC industry. The company has been around for over 125 years and was founded in Iowa in 1895. They’ve manufactured all kinds of things over the years, included aircraft parts and bombs in the early 1940s. Today, Lennox is a global operation with factories, offices, and warehouses all around the world.
The company is focused on ensuring that Lennox dealers are true experts in the industry and are trained to take care of any issue customers may face. Lennox also stands behind their products with a very comprehensive limited warranty.
They provide warranty and coverage options for consumers to choose from with their “Warranty Your Way” program. This program allows customers to add 3-years of labor coverage and other extensions on traditional warranties (availability varies by model).
Lennox is also focused on sustainability efforts. They started by creating the first air conditioner rated at over 20.5 SEER. Presently, they offer the most efficient gas furnace available. Other innovations include low-Nitrogen Oxide emission gas furnaces and PureAir S whole-home air purification systems.
Lennox received the Energy Star Most Efficient award in 2021 and was recognized by Green Builder for sustainability in 2019. The company is Green Seal Certified and helps run a nationwide thermostat collection and recycling program (in the U.S. and Canada).
Popular Lennox Models
Lennox offers 12 different air conditioner models for residential use. They’re organized into three product groupings based on affordability and features.
Merit Series (budget option)
Elite Series (mid-range option)
Dave Lennox Signature Collection (premium option)
Which is Better: Rheem or Lennox?
Rheem and Lennox both provide high-quaity air conditioners at a variety of price points. Still, if you’re going to choose one over the other, you’ll want to know how they stack up. To determine which one is better, we’ll look at some of the most important factors such as efficiency, features, performance, lifespan, maintenance, and cost.
Energy efficiency refers to the cooling capabilities based on how much power the unit uses. You can think of it as being like miles per gallon in your car. A more efficient vehicle will travel farther on less gas, and a more efficient air conditioner will have a greater cooling capacity using less power input.
For HVAC systems, efficiency is measured using EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) or SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). In either case, a higher number indicates a more efficient system. The most efficient systems on the market today have SEER ratings over 20 (up to 28).
Rheem and Lennox both offer energy-efficient models, but some are better than others. Here’s a comparison of how they stack up.
|Brand||Series||Efficiency Rating (SEER)||Price Range|
|Rheem||Select||13 – 16||$|
|Rheem||Classic||13 – 17||$$|
|Rheem||Classic Plus||Up to 17||$$$|
|Rheem||Prestige||Up to 20.5||$$$-$$$$|
|Lennox||Merit||13 – 18||$$|
|Lennox||Elite||16 – 22||$$$|
|Lennox||Dave Lennox Signature||21 – 28||$$$-$$$$|
So, in terms of efficiency, Lennox is the clear winner. Even their low-end models score efficiency ratings of up to 18 SEER, with their top-of-the-line models boasting up to 28 SEER.
Rheem, on the other hand, only offers efficiency ratings of up to 20.5 SEER. Their more budget-friendly models rate between 13 and 17 SEER regardless of the line.
Both Rheem and Lennox offer air conditioners packed with features and options, but you’ll have to pay more to get the units with the most innovative technologies. Still, when it comes to features, most consumers are looking for ones that will improve their comfort levels in their homes and also make using their system easier and more convenient.
As such, some of the main features that you can find with both brands include:
- Indoor air quality products
- Quiet compressors
- Energy Star rated offerings
- Single-Stage and Two-Stage offerings
- Smart thermostats
However, Lennox has some features that help set it apart, too. For example, their SunSource equipment offers the option to add solar panels to help power the HVAC system. They also have a PureAir S system that uses innovative technology to kill and remove particles from the air and improve the air quality inside your home.
Rheem, on the other hand, offers a rapid cooling function to help the A/C cool your home even faster. This might be a bonus if you live somewhere that’s particularly hot and you want to be able to quickly cool your house when you get home from work.
Overall, the two brands are pretty evenly matched on features when you consider a side-by-side comparison at each price point. The features that matter most are available from each manufacturer.
Rheem and Lennox are known for high-performing air conditioners that operate efficiently. Each brand offers three different options for compressor types, and each kind varies in performance.
Single-stage compressors are available in those models at the lower price points. These are affordable options, and they only operate at full capacity. There is one speed the compressor operates at, meaning it’s either 100% on or it’s off altogether. So, when these units are running, they’ll turn on full speed until your home reaches the desired temperature, then the unit shuts off.
Two-stage compressors have two speed settings, so the system doesn’t have to work so hard when it’s cooling and maintaining your home’s desired temperature. When it only needs to keep the home at the set temperature, it might not come on at 100%, which saves energy and helps the system work more efficiently.
Variable-speed compressors have many different settings and speed levels to adjust and maintain your home’s comfort level. The units with the highest efficiency ratings (over 20 SEER) are typically variable-speed units. These are considered top of the line air conditioning systems, but you should expect to pay a premium price for one of these.
Rheem only offers one variable-speed option, and it’s the Prestige Series RA20 (20.5 SEER). Lennox has several variable-speed units, available in both the Signature and Elite Series. Their top-rated variable compressor is rated at up to 28 SEER.
In terms of innovation and performance, Lennox has the edge compared to Rheem models.
When considering longevity, it’s important to think about overall lifespan for the unit and how long it’s expected to run before needing any repairs and maintenance. However, for most people, the total lifespan is the most important factor. Since purchasing a new air conditioner is such a huge investment, you’ll want it to last as long as possible before needing a new one.
Most air conditioners last around 12-18 years on average, depending on the exact make and model and how well it’s cared for. Some may only last around 10 years, while others may continue running for 20 years or more.
Rheem air conditioners tend to fall right into the average, with most units lasting around 12-15 years.
Lennox, on the other hand, may last up to 20 years if you go for one of the top quality units. An A/C from the David Lennox Signature Collection may last the full 20 years (or more) and those from the Elite Series typically last 15-20 years.
Of course, you’ll have to balance the longevity with the investment in the overall cost for the unit. Those premium A/C systems from Lennox tend to be among the most expensive we’ve discussed, so if it’s not in your budget, it doesn’t matter that you might get an extra 5 or more years out of it.
While Lennox air conditioners are known to be high-quality and will typically run for many years without needing repairs, that doesn’t mean they’re immune to problems. On one hand, Lennox is superior to Rheem in that their products are normally sturdier and have less problems over time. On the other hand, when Lennox A/Cs do have an issue, they tend to be more difficult and more expensive to repair.
Lennox is very particular about who can be an authorized dealer and they have very high standards for their dealers and contractors. They also require Lennox brand parts be used when performing maintenance and repairs. That can make the process more challenging and increase the repair bill significantly.
On the other hand, Rheem products have aftermarket products readily available and they’re less exclusive about who can do the work. That means you can easily find a repair person and get the parts you need to get your system up and running again.
Since any air conditioning system may need repairs and maintenance at some point, Rheem is the winner when it comes to affordability and convenience. However, in terms of how often you’ll need repairs and how likely you are to deal with a breakdown, Lennox has a slight advantage.
Price is one of the most important factors to consider for most consumers. It doesn’t matter how nice the air conditioner is or how many features it offers if you can’t afford to buy it and pay for installation.
While Rheem and Lennox are pretty evenly matched within most of the categories we’ve discussed, price is one area where there’s a clear distinction.
You can find a Rheem air conditioner starting at right around $1,000. The installation costs are also normally less because you don’t have to go with a specialized Lennox dealer. Rheem designs products for purchasers at all price points, so if you’re looking for the best deal, Rheem is the way to go.
That’s not to say you can’t find a reasonably priced Lennox air conditioner. You should just be prepared to spend at least several hundred dollars more for a similarly situated unit. Still, the higher price isn’t for no reason. Lennox air conditioners offer more efficiency and more options for two-stage and variable speed compressors if you want to go for a truly superior product.
The Final Verdict
Both Rheem and Lennox offer great products. However, if you’re looking for the best air conditioner on a budget, you should go with Rheem. If you want longevity and more features, go with Lennox. For the most efficient model, go with one of Lennox’s premium options, specifically.
Other Air Conditioner Brands to Consider
Rheem and Lennox are some of the best air conditioner brands available. But if you’re not sold on what they have to offer, there are some other great manufacturers out there. Here are a few others we’d recommend if you’re not going to go with Rheem or Lennox:
- American Standard ($$-$$$): Reliable, easy to maintain, 13-22 SEER
- Carrier ($$$-$$$$): A trusted American brand, comprehensive warranty, great customer service
- Trane ($$-$$$): Great budget options. 14-18.5 SEER
- York ($$-$$$): Offers lifetime warranty, 13-18 SEER
- Amana ($$-$$$): Premium units with limited lifetime warranty, 14-25 SEER
A new A/C is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your home. As such, you’ll want to take the time to choose the best brand for your situation. There’s more to consider than just price and what the dealer has to offer.
You can’t go wrong with a Rheem or Lennox air conditioner, but be sure to consult a professional so you can get the right unit for your size home and one that will fit your cooling and heating needs.
Ruben has a diverse background in the home services industry, with experience running a construction company, a kitchen and bath showroom, and a moving and relocation company. This breadth of experience has provided him with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various areas of home improvement in general and specifically in the heating and plumbing niche.