The Amana ASXC18 is not as efficient as most of our top-rated air conditioners, but sources say it's a good budget pick. It's fairly quiet (though still louder than some) and it's backed by an excellent warranty. On the down side, this air conditioner may not qualify for an Energy Star tax rebate, and Amana's reliability record is less than stellar.
Efficient – to a point. The chief measure of a central air conditioner's efficiency is its seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or (SEER). This is a measure of its cooling output over an entire season divided by its energy use for the same period. Most sources, including the product brochure, say the Amana ASXC18 can reach a SEER of "up to 18." However, depending on how it's configured, the unit's SEER may actually range from 15 to 19. Likewise, the energy efficiency ratio (EER), a measure of its efficiency at a given point in time, can vary from 11.2 to 13.25. So it may not qualify for an Energy Star rating, which requires a SEER of at least 14 and an EER of at least 12.
The noise level also varies (71 to 74 decibels, depending on the unit's cooling power). The editors of FurnaceCompare.com describe this as "particularly quiet." However, we did find other air conditioners in our sources that are quieter.
A budget pick. Since Amana, like other manufacturers of central air conditioners, doesn't make its prices public, we turned to two contractor-run sites for price estimates. QualitySmith.com provides wholesale prices for the ASXC18 ranging from about $2,550 for the 3-ton unit to about $3,300 for the 5-ton version. This is roughly in line with the average prices reported at WebHVAC.com, which range from $2,399 to $3,139.
These prices make the Amana ASXC18 significantly less expensive than most of our favorite central air conditioners. However, because it's less efficient than others, the ASXC18 may not qualify for government and utility company rebates, including a $300 federal tax credit offered through 2013.
Iffy reliability, but great warranty. Amana air conditioners as a whole are not as reliable as many other brands. A survey of more than 40,000 homeowners with central air conditioning systems shows that 17 percent of Amana units needed repairs during a five-year period, compared with 11 to 13 percent for most brands. Reviews at FurnaceCompare.com are split between positive and negative, with complaints mostly based on durability. However, positive reviews often point out that problems with central air conditioning are likely due to poor installation rather than faulty equipment.
One strong point of the ASXC18 is its warranty. In addition to a 10-year limited warranty on parts, which is par for the course, Amana offers a lifetime limited warranty. This means that if the compressor ever fails for the original purchaser, Amana will replace the entire condensing unit free of charge. Owners must register their new air conditioners online within 60 days to validate the warranty.
Home-Tech.com is an appliance-repair company in Southwest Florida. In this article, Home-Tech presents their picks for the best central air conditioners of 2013, based on "price, performance, warranty and durability." The editors say the Amana ASXC18 "provides high-efficiency, outstanding performance and quiet operation," and they praise its "premium" warranty. However, they do not specify exactly how they tested each unit.
Review: Best of Air Conditioning -- 2013 Best AC Systems, Editors of Home-Tech.com, As of June 2013
ConsumerReports.org does not test central air conditioners, but it does evaluate the reliability of different brands, including Amana, based on a survey of its readers. In the latest survey, more than 40,000 readers who bought central air conditioning units between 2005 and mid-2011 reported on whether they had needed repairs. Of the 10 brands listed, most have repair frequencies between 11 and 13 percent. However, three brands perform significantly worse, with repair frequencies of 17 percent or higher.
Review: Central Air Conditioning Reliability, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, May 2012
WebHVAC.com is a site run by a group of former HVAC contractors that "covers just about everything to do with the HVAC equipment in your home, business, or environment." They award the Amana ASXC18 the ninth slot on their list of the 10 best central air conditioners, saying it's "a very good product at very competitive prices" and comes with "the best warranty in the industry." However, it's not clear how they reached this conclusion, as there's no mention of hands-on testing or consumer surveys.
Review: Top Rated Central Air Conditioners 2013, Editors of WebHVAC.com, As of June 2013
FurnaceCompare.com has the largest collection of owner reviews of central air conditioners on the web. The Amana brand as a whole gets better reviews than most, with 40 percent of owners recommending it; however, negative reviews still outnumber positive ones. Most low reviews complain about Amana's reliability, while positive ones argue that breakdowns are most likely due to poor installation rather than faulty equipment. We didn't see any reviews that specifically mentioned the Amana ASXC18 by name.
Review: Consumer Reviews of Amana Central Air Conditioners, Contributors to FurnaceCompare.com, Not dated
QualitySmith.com is a site that helps connect homeowners with reliable contractors. While the site does not review or evaluate air conditioners, it does provide information about pricing. However, the site's editors caution that the prices it lists do not come from the manufacturers; they're only estimates based on what contractors have recently reported paying. QualitySmith.com estimates the price of the Amana ASXC18 at $2,550 to $3,300, depending on size, with installation adding another $1,000 to $4,000. The site also provides some information about the air conditioner's features, specs and warranty.
Review: Amana Air Conditioner Prices: Quotes, Pros, and Cons, Editors of QualitySmith.com, Not dated