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Central air conditioning reliability

Our latest survey found three brands that you should think twice about

Consumer Reports magazine: May 2012

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Big energy savings over earlier central air conditioners is one more reason to install a new one or replace an old one that broke. But you may want to give the shoulder to the three brands that logged the most repairs in our latest reliability surveys of more than 40,000 readers who bought a central-air-conditioning system. Click on the link at the end of this article to see our reliability data. And for more information on cooling your home, check out our central and room air conditioning buying guide.

Three brands were among the more repair-prone brands of central heat pumps, which exchange hot air for cool air in summer and do the opposite in winter. The added complexity of these systems and the fact that they're used for more of the year may help explain why 20 percent of them needed repair compared with just 13 percent for central air conditioners.

The surveys, from the Consumer Reports National Research Center, also show that fixing any central A/C system can be a real headache. Some 39 percent of subscribers who repaired either type were left without cooling for at least a day. Ten percent reported repeated repairs during the first year after installation, and 18 percent said their system broke down completely. What's more, the roughly 30 percent who had problems shelled out $150 or more for the repair.

Subscriber to ConsumerReports.org to get all the details on our central air surveys.

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