Top 8 Quietest Central Air Conditioner 2019

The quietest central air conditioners allow you to enjoy time in your yard without conversations or your serenity being disturbed by an annoying whir of noise.

Most lists of the quietest air conditioners include only variable capacity units, which are quiet but also very expensive.

Our list is different – and we think it is more helpful.

This list includes variable-speed, two-stage and single-stage models to give you buying options for a quiet central AC in any budget.

The Top 8 2019 quietest central air conditioners

Variable-speed

  • Ruud EcoNet Ultra Series UA20 – 54 decibels
  • Daikin Fit DX17VSS – 55 decibels
  • Heil QuietComfort® Deluxe 19 HVA9 – 56 decibels
  • Carrier Infinity 19VS 24VNA9 – 56 decibels

Two-stage

  • Goodman GSXC18 – 68 decibels
  • Coleman AC19 – 68 decibels

Single-stage

  • Lennox Signature Series SL18XC1 – 65 decibels
  • Heil QuietComfort 16 HSA6 Central Air Conditioner – 69 decibels

We’re going to review each AC on the list shortly, but first a word about the three types of central AC and their noise levels.

Why Sound Control Matters

As decibels increase, sound grows from quiet to annoying to dangerous.

Purdue University’s Chemistry Department released an interest list of sound comparisons using 70db as an arbitrary base:

  • 50 dB (1/4th as loud as 70 dB) – Normal conversation at home
  • 60 dB (1/2 as loud as 70 dB, fairly quiet) – AC unit at 100 ft.
  • 70 dB (upper 70s are annoyingly loud) – Vacuum cleaner, many ACs at 5 ft.
  • 80 dB (twice as loud as 70 dB) – Garbage disposal
  • 90 double-hung (4x as loud as 80dB) – Motorcycle at 25ft.

Central Air Conditioner Noise Level Factors

There are two factors that determine central air conditioner decibel (db) level.

1). How much insulation there is around the compressor. This is often called a “sound blanket,” and it can make a difference of 3-5 decibels. For example, the Trane XL16i in the list has a noise level of 69 decibels. Another single-stage Trane air conditioner runs at 74db. The difference is in the amount of sound-dampening insulation in the XL16i. It costs more, but runs quieter.

2). Compressor speed. Single-stage compressors run at 100% capacity, so they are loud. Two-stage models run at 65% capacity much of the time, so they are quieter on low capacity than single-stage units. Variable compressors run as low as 25% (40% on some models), so obviously they are the quietest when running at lower capacities. As you see from the list, compressor speed makes a difference of 10-15db.

Our comprehensive Central Air Conditioner Prices, Reviews and Buying Guide has a lot more information about these three compressor types (single-stage, two-stage and variable capacity) and how they impact performance. There is a wealth of additional information that provides research for making a very good AC buying decision.

The Quietest Variable Speed Central Air Conditioners Reviews

Is one of these high-performance, super-quiet ACs right for you? Less than 15% of ACs sold are variable capacity models, but they’re growing slowly in popularity.

Pros: Variable-speed air conditioners are the quietest. We’ve established that. They are also the most efficient and do the best job of removing humidity in summer, so your home is cool and comfortable. You’ll never feel temperature fluctuations from cycle to cycle. If indoor climate control is the only consideration, a variable capacity air conditioner is easily the top choice.

Cons: They are the most expensive, and if the compressor fails when not under warranty, are also the costliest to repair. Some manufacturers have started making variable-speed units in just the last 5-7 years, so their track record for reliability hasn’t been proven. Brands that make them offer communicating technology as an option, and we’re not fans of it. If interested, see why here.

Now, let’s look at the quietest ACs available.

#1 Ruud EcoNet Ultra Series UA20

This unit ranking as the quietest central air conditioner was a surprise. Ruud drifted as a brand for more than a decade. It was very middle-of-the-pack or worse. Consumers Report, the prestigious review organization, ranked Ruud and identical sister-brand Rheem as among the least reliable air conditioners in a report done in about 2014.

In the last few years, Ruud and Rheem have overhauled their products, and the improvement in quality and performance has been quite noticeable. This variable-speed Ruud air conditioner is part of the new lineup.

This review will be the longest, since we’re going to use it to explain some of the review points.

Noise range: 54-76 decibels. Remember that these units run at capacities from 25% to 100%, so you’ll find a significant noise range. The good news is that they run at less than 60% capacity most of the time. They only exert enough energy to keep your home at precisely the temperature you want. This keeps them running quietly except when you turn down the thermostat or outside temperatures spike, and the AC needs to work harder to keep up.

Efficiency: Up to 20 SEER / 13 EER. We say “up to” because each model is made in sizes from either 18,000 or 24,000 BTUs up to 60,000 BTUs. The smaller units achieve the highest SEER/EER ratings. The largest might be 1 or 2 SEER points lower. Manufacturers are supposed to include EER ratings too, but not all do.

Likes: It’s the quietest central AC made. That tops the list. Beyond that, it is WiFi connected. The EcoNet is Ruud’s smart home system. You can use a single app to monitor and control all your Ruud and Rheem appliances – HVAC system, water heater and more. Cost is lower than variable-speed ACs with higher efficiency ratings.

Dislikes: While quite efficient, there are several central ACs with efficiency ratings from 21 to 26 SEER. If cutting energy cost and use as much as possible is the goal, there are better options. Secondly, this unit is just a few years old, so as noted, it does not have a proven record of reliability.

Best for: Homeowners that want to try a variable capacity AC but don’t want to spend top dollar on one like the Lennox XC25 that offers 26 SEER efficiency.

For further research:

Our Ruud Central Air Conditioner Buying Guide

The Ruud Ultra Series UA20 product page

#2 Daikin Fit DX17VSS

Daikin is an interesting story. It’s one of the largest global manufacturers of HVAC equipment. In 2012, Daikin bought Goodman to get into the North American residential HVAC market.

Since then, it has been revamping the Goodman/Amana products.

This unit is fitted with an inverter-type compressor rather than a rotary compressor used in most central air conditioners. That sets it apart from most ACs on this list.

Noise range: 55-74 decibels

Efficiency: Up to 18 SEER

Likes: Daikin has been using inverter technology for decades in its mini split air conditioners. It is proven and very reliable. If we were rating the variable-speed ACs by quality and durability, this would be the top choice. A second benefit is the compact design of this unit. If you have limited space in your yard, it will fit close to the house or under a deck. A WiFi thermostat is available to control this unit. It’s backed by one of the better industry warranties.

The image shows two different sizes.

Dislikes: This is a pricey AC and the SEER rating isn’t among the highest.

Best for: If you plan to live in your current home for 10+ years and don’t want AC repairs, this is a good choice. Again, if space is tight and you want a compact central AC, the Daikin Fit DX17VSS doesn’t need a lot of room.

For further research:

Our Daikin Central AC Buying Guide

The Daikin Fit DX17VSS product page

#3 Heil QuietComfort Deluxe 19 HVA9 Air Conditioner with SmartSense

Heil is part of International Comfort Products (ICP), a company owned by United Technologies, the parent company of Carrier and Bryant.

Why mention that? Because Heil makes equipment that is just about identical to Carrier, so quality is very good, but the cost is lower.

Noise range: 56-75 decibels

Efficiency: Up to 19 SEER / 13 EER

Likes: Decent efficiency. A WiFi thermostat and app are available for easy control from a smart device. Heil will replace the entire unit if the compressor or coil fail in the first 10 years. Value – You get Carrier quality at 15% less.

ICP makes Heil. It also makes Arcoaire, Keeprite, Day & Night, Tempstar and other brands. If you can’t find a Heil dealer near you, an identical AC is available from these other brands.

Dislikes: It’s not the most efficient variable capacity AC. But then, a more efficient unit would only make sense in a very warm/hot climate.

Best for: Climates that are warm and muggy, but not extremely hot. If you like smart home technology, this AC will fit right into your home’s ecosystem.

For further research:

Our Heil Central Air Conditioner Buying Guide

The Heil QuietComfort Deluxe 19 product page

#4 Carrier Infinity 19VS 24VNA9

Carrier was one of the first domestic manufacturers to introduce variable capacity air conditioning and heating. But this is a new generation unit, so like most on this list, has only been in use for a few years.

It’s something of a hybrid variable capacity AC. Rather than changing capacity in tiny increments (1% to 1/10% like others), it varies from 25% to 100% capacity in 5 steps.

What does that mean? It relies on older, more proven multi-stage technology. We think that’s a plus for this unit, even if it won’t keep temperatures as “perfectly” precise as those with 75 to 750 steps.

Noise range: 56-75 decibels

Efficiency: Up to 19 SEER / 12.5 EER

Likes: Carrier products have to be installed by factory-trained HVAC professionals. This ensures the job is done right. There is a saying in the HVAC world that, “An air conditioner’s (or heat pump, furnace, etc.) most important day is the day it is installed.”

Non-partisan experts agree. Correct installation is hugely important to the long-term dependability of heating and cooling equipment.

The bottom line is that Carrier uses quality components and does what it can to make sure the AC is properly installed.

Dislikes: Cost. Factory-trained technicians charge more than others, so the price for installation is higher. Also, Carrier has a huge marketing budget, and that causes higher prices too. Carrier warranties are average for the industry. It would be nice if the most expensive brand had superior warranties, but it doesn’t.

Here’s a tip: As we mentioned, ICP brands Heil, Day & Night, Tempstar and others offer the same equipment at a lower cost. But the installers might not be trained at a Carrier factory. So there’s a risk. Make sure any company you choose has good experience installing these units. Read their online reviews to learn whether the company is reliable and has a good track record.

Best for: Homeowners that are willing to pay more for quality equipment and installation.

For further research:

Our Carrier Central Air Conditioner Buying Guide

The Carrier Infinity 19VS product page

Honorable Mention

Here’s a group of very quiet, efficient models from some of the top brands. There just a little bit louder than the ones above. Search our brand reviews for Trane, American Standard and Daikin to learn more about these models.

  • Trane XV18 TruComfort: 57-75 decibels
  • American Standard AccuComfort Variable Speed Platinum 18: 57-75 decibels
  • Daikin DX20VC: 57-75 decibels

The Quietest Two-stage Central Air Conditioners Reviews

Other lists ignore two-stage and single-stage air conditioners.

We include them because we know that many homeowners don’t want to spend variable-speed money on their AC. It doesn’t make sense to spend 30% more on a variable-speed unit unless you:

  • Live in a hot climate where the higher efficiency will pay for itself in lower energy costs
  • Are very committed to ecofriendly cooling
  • Are willing to pay for superior indoor climate comfort

Two-stage air conditioners run at low capacity almost all the time. Low capacity is 65% for most brands. It is quiet and efficient. It does a better job than single-stage ACs in removing humidity and keeping temperatures within a few degrees of the thermostat setpoint.

Here are the quietest air conditioners in the two-stage category.

#5 Goodman GSXC18

Goodman’s reputation is being the low-cost brand with the best warranties. That’s an odd mix.

Since Daikin bought Goodman in 2012, quality has improved, cost has gone up a bit and the warranties aren’t quite as attractive. On balance, consumers get better value now with Goodman, since reliability is improved.

This unit is a dependable two-stage central air conditioner that should give you 15+ years of service.

Noise range: 68-74

Efficiency: Up to 18 SEER / 14 EER

Likes: Goodman still costs less than most brands. And the quality is decent. That makes for pretty good value. This unit features the Copeland Two-stage Ultratech compressor, the most popular and reliable brand in the industry.

The ECM fan motor uses less energy than standard PSC motors.

Goodman backs this unit with a lifetime compressor warranty – the best warranty available. If the compressor fails in the first decade, Goodman will replace the entire AC, not just the part.

Dislikes: Frankly, there is very little to dislike about the unit. It’s quiet, efficient and built with quality components.

Installation is a different matter. Goodman has no restrictions on who installs its ACs or other equipment. As a result, a lot of poorly installed air conditioners fail before they should. Make sure that the installer you choose – for whatever brand you buy – is licensed and experienced.  

Best for: Homeowners that like the protection a strong warranty provides.

For further research:

Our Goodman Air Conditioner Buying Guide

The Goodman DSXC18 product page

This unit is available as the Daikin DX18TC and Amana ASXC18. Cost might be higher.

#6 Coleman AC19

Coleman is owned by Johnson Controls, which also makes York, Luxaire and a few other identical brands. So if you can’t find a Coleman dealer, you can get this model in York, Luxaire, etc. versions.

Noise range: 68-74 decibels

Efficiency: Up to 19 SEER / 15.5 EER

Likes: Efficiency is excellent. Two-stage cooling improves climate control. It has an energy-saving ECM motor and a composite rust-free pan.

The warranty is very good: Lifetime compressor and 10-year general parts warranties.

Dislikes: Cost might be higher than average. Part of this is because Johnson Controls has improved quality in recent years and backed its products with longer warranties. Be sure to get multiple estimates before choosing a brand and unit!

Best for: Very warm to hot climates where higher efficiency will soon pay for the extra cost through reduced utility costs.

For further research:

Our Coleman Air Conditioner Buying Guide

The Coleman AC19 product page

The Quietest Single-stage Central Air Conditioners Reviews

Here are the two quietest single-stage air conditioners.

Pros: Single-stage units are the most affordable.

Cons: They don’t control humidity or temperature fluctuations as well as two-stage and variable capacity air conditioners.

#7 Lennox Signature Series SL18XC1

This AC is remarkably quiet.

Noise range: 65-74 decibels

Efficiency: Up to 18.5 SEER / 15 EER

Likes: Quiet operation, excellent efficiency.

Dislikes: Lennox units are high-priced, and parts delays happen more often with Lennox than with most brands.

Best for: Those that have had good experience with Lennox and want to optimize quiet operation and high efficiency in a single-stage model.

For further research:

Our Lennox Air Conditioner Buying Guide

The Lennox SL18XC1 product page

#8 Heil QuietComfort 16 HSA6

This AC lives up to its name. It is quiet and well built.

Noise range: 69-72 decibels

Efficiency: Up to 16 SEER / 12.2 EER

Likes: The 72 decibels is the lowest of any for the “high-end” reading. That means that the largest unit, the 5-ton model, runs at 72db when operating at full capacity.

Quality is about the same as the similar Carrier and Bryant models.

Remember that Heil is identical to Day & Night, Tempstar, Comfortmaker, Keeprite and Arcoaire. That means you should be able to find a local dealer for at least one of those brands.

A WiFi thermostat is available.

Dislikes: The warranty is about average – 10 years on parts. There is a 5-year unit replacement warranty on the compressor and coil, so that’s a plus.

Best for: Climates that are warm but not terribly hot.

For further research:

Our Heil Air Conditioner Buying Guide

The Heil QuietComfort 16 product page

If you want to get pricing information on any of these units, use our Free Local Quotes offers. There is no obligation or cost for using the service. It’s a great way to get written estimates without having to commit to any brand or HVAC installer.

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