Rheem makes 6 central air conditioners with efficiency from 15.5 to 20.5 SEER. It’s one of the first brands to stop making inefficient 13 and 14 SEER models.
Rheem air conditioner cost is $4,995 to $9,695 for installed ACs. Cost factors include the model, size and installation factors.
Note: If you’re just beginning your research into central air conditioners, then our Central AC Prices Guide is the best place to start. It has in-depth information about AC performance, size, efficiency and how these factors allow you to choose the right AC for your climate and indoor comfort preferences.
This Rheem central air conditioner review provides comprehensive research on all Rheem models – their efficiency, performance and cost. It will give you details needed to decide which Rheem model is your best choice – or whether Rheem is the right brand for you.
We’ve completed full reviews of major AC brands Bryant, Carrier, American Standard, Trane, Goodman, Lennox, York and others that allow for quick comparison.
- About Rheem – Is Rheem the Same as Ruud?
- Rheem ACs – What’s Available?
- Rheem Air Conditioner Pros & Cons
- 2020 Rheem Air Conditioner Prices by Model
- 2020 Rheem Air Conditioner Cost by Size
- Rheem Warranties
- Who Installs Rheem?
- Find a Quality Installer – We Can Help
- 2019-2020 Submitted Prices and Reviews
- How to Get the Best Rheem AC Prices?
About Rheem – Is Rheem the Same as Ruud?
Rheem is one of America’s best-selling brands. It makes a full line of HVAC equipment plus water heaters and more.
Today, Rheem and Ruud are sister brands owned by Paloma Industries. The two brands make identical equipment – the same air conditioners with different cabinets and logo badges.
Did you know? The HVAC/central AC industry has consolidated like all others. While there are 30+ brands, they are owned by less than 10 manufacturers. For the most part, those manufacturers make just one lineup of ACs but still sell them under multiple brand names such as Ingersoll-Rand brands Trane and American Standard or UTC brands Carrier and Bryant.
Rheem ACs – What’s Available?
This overview table shows the 6 air conditioner models and a few key details.
|Classic Plus Series - RA20||20.5||Variable-speed||EcoNet||54-76|
|Classic Plus Series - RA17||17||2-stage||EcoNet||72-77|
|Classic Series - RA17||17||2-stage||Any||72-77|
|Classic Series - RA16||16||Single-stage||Any||71-76|
|Classic Series - RA**14 & RA14||16||Single-stage||Any||73-77|
|Classic Series - RA13||15.5||Single-stage||Any||73-79|
As you can see, you have a full-range of options: Single-stage, two-stage, variable capacity.
A few top Rheem AC models stand out.
The Rheem RA17 is made in two versions. The Classic Plus RA17 is communicating – meaning that instead of simply being controlled by the thermostat, the unit sends data back to the thermostat – communicates with the thermostat – to determine which stage to run on, low (67% of capacity) or high (100%), and when the cycle should end.
There’s more on communicating technology below under Comfort Control and whether it’s worth the cost upgrade of about $500.
The RA**14 and RA14 are identical single-stage models with one difference. The RA**14 is available in 1.5 to 3.5 ton units, or 18K to 42K BTUs, not larger sizes up to 5 tons/60,000 BTUs like the RA14. Sound levels are 73-75 decibels.
Also, the RA**14 is meets efficiency requirements for the Southwest region of the US. The larger sizes of the RA14 do not.
Rheem Air Conditioner Pros & Cons
What sets Rheem apart, if anything, from major competitors like Trane, Carrier and Lennox?
Pros – Unique Features
Improved quality and higher efficiencies are the two changes to Rheem in the last 5 years that are most impressive.
Rheem was rated in the lower half of brands for quality for some time. But a re-invigoration of R&D – plus using better third-party parts – has improved overall durability and reliability.
For example, the variable speed Copeland Scroll compressor is used on the RA20. Both versions of the RA17 feature the 2-stage Copeland Scroll UltraTech, which is considered right at the top of the chart for quality along with the Trane/American Standard ClimaTuff compressor.
The Copeland Scroll Variable Speed compressor has been available since about 2016, so long-term reliability isn’t known. So far, so good, as they say.
Copeland is a division of Emerson Climate Technologies, one of the largest manufacturers of HVAC parts and equipment in the world.
The improvement in efficiency has occurred recently too. Apart from a few really efficient ACs from Lennox and Daikin/Amana, Rheem’s RA20 at 20.5 SEER rates alongside the most efficient from Carrier, Heil and Armstrong Air.
Here are four ways to look at Rheem advantages and what is offered.
Like all major brands but Goodman (at this writing), Rheem offers three performance levels – single-stage, two-stage and variable capacity.
Cost rises with each upgrade in performance, but efficiency and the ability of the system to dehumidify the air in summer increases too.
It’s important to match the performance with your climate. A single-stage unit is fine for regions with cool summers. But where your AC gets a real workout, then having a more efficient model with better performance controls energy use and makes indoor climate more comfortable.
The variable speed RA20 is most efficient because the compressor operates like a vehicle’s cruise control. If you want to maintain a speed of 70mph, set the cruise control there. The engine will work harder while going uphill and work easier when going downhill to maintain that speed. It’s an inverter-driven compressor similar to those used in mini split systems.
Variable speed compressors modulate in small increments between about 30% and 100% capacity. They run at the lowest capacity needed to maintain the indoor temperature you prefer.
Cycles are longer – almost continuous on the hottest days. This strategy is more efficient than running at 100% capacity (single-stage unit) and then shutting off – on/off, on/off – or at running at low speed and then kicking into high speed and then back again (two-stage).
As with efficiency, temperature and humidity control improve with better compressor performance.
The thermostat is at the heart of comfort management. They control what stage variable speed and two-stage units run on.
The RA20 with its variable capacity compressor keeps temperatures more precisely balanced and removes more humidity with its long cooling cycles than either two-stage or single-stage models.
If you live where summers are moderate, then a single-stage model might be sufficient to keep you comfortable. It will cost less too.
In warm climates, consider a two-stage model. In the hottest, a variable speed AC might be worth the money.
Now to thermostats.
The Rheem EcoNet thermostat with WiFi and communicating technology can be used with the RA20 variable speed and RA17 two-stage models.
There are two versions. The EcoNet Smart Thermostat works with Alexa, has a 4.3” LCD touchscreen and a motion sensor – so, like the NEST thermostat, its display lights up when you approach.
It’s also available as an EcoNet Control Center that controls both HVAC and a Rheem water heater.
EcoNet is the only thermostat versions Rheem makes. The other Rheem ACs work with most conventional thermostats and smart thermostats like nest, ecobee and Lux. Our 2020 Ultimate Thermostat Buying Guide is a good place to research your options.
Before you choose the EcoNet thermostat and the communicating option, consider reading our FAQ Guide to Communicating vs Non-communicating technology. You’ll pay more for a communicating system – and with it might come more headaches, not just improved efficiency and climate control.
We recommend reading the Comments at the bottom of the page to get communicating AC technology pros and cons from homeowners like you.
If your climate is really humid – the SE or South – then humidity management is important.
The long, low cycles of a variable speed AC move air more consistently over the indoor coil. There, moisture from the air condenses and is drained away. This makes the air drier and more comfortable.
A 2-stage model running on low most of the time does the same thing, though not as effectively, but at lower cost for the equipment.
We don’t recommend a single-stage AC for a humid environment. You’ll have to turn down the thermostat to 68-72 to remove as much humidity as you would at 74 with a two-stage model and 76 with a variable speed AC. Your energy costs will be much higher than necessary.
The modulating Copeland Scroll compressor in the RA20 is one of the quietest in the industry, running as quietly as 54db much of the time. That’s the value of variable capacity or modulating performance – the compressors run at a very low speeds – and lower noise levels too.
Rheem uses similar features as other brands to limit noise – a composite (non-metal) base pan quiets vibration noise, a fan orifice designed to reduce noise while optimizing airflow and compressor sound covers, aka blankets, to dampen noise.
Cons – Problems with Rheem ACs
A few years ago, the poor-performing Rheem 13 SEER and 14 SEER ACs were the biggest “con” with this brand. They’re gone, replaced by better quality and efficiency.
The RA20 is fairly new – so is its compressor, the Copeland Scroll Variable Speed compressor. Copeland is a proven brand – but this compressor hasn’t been in use nearly as long as the variable speed compressors from Trane/American Standard and Carrier/Bryant. If you’re committed to a variable speed AC, consider those brands first. For 2-stage performance, the Rheem RA17 is an excellent choice.
The biggest concern now is having an unqualified installer do the installation. There’s more information below under Who Installs Rheem?
2020 Rheem Air Conditioner Prices by Model
Here are the cost ranges for the 6 Rheem AC models. Keep in mind that the RA**14 is available in models from 1.5 tons (18K BTUs) to 3.5 tons (42K BTUs). The others start at 1.5 or 2.0 tons and range to 5.0 tons.
We’ve produced these tables for most other brands including American Standard, Goodman, York and Bryant. They allow you to compare models, specifications and cost head to head.
The System Only column is equipment cost – condensing unit, indoor coil, refrigerant line set and thermostat.
The Installed Cost includes labor costs, supplies needed, installer overhead costs and profit.
|Model||System Only||System Installed|
|RA20||$4,685 - $6,850||$6,000 - $9,695|
|RA17||$4,300 - $6,475||$5,875 - $9,130|
|RA17||$4,115 - $6,200||$5,530 - $8,750|
|RA16||$3,900 - $6,025||$5,350 - $8,490|
|RA**14 (1.5 - 3.5 tons)||$3,725 - $4,850||$5,185 - $7,000|
|RA14||$3,700 - $5,590||$5,100 - $8,175|
|RA13||$3,615 - $5,450||$4,995 - $7,935|
2020 Rheem Air Conditioner Cost by Size
The chart shows the mid-range costs for Rheem ACs – somewhere between the Rheem RA17 two-stage, non-communicating model and the 16 SEER RA16.
|AC Unit Size||Home Size||System Only||System Installed|
|1.5 ton||600-1000 sf||$4,000||$6,250|
|2.0 ton||1001 - 1300 sf||$4,250||$6,600|
|2.5 ton||1301 - 1600 sf||$4,535||$6,995|
|3 ton||1601 - 1900 sf||$4,900||$7,415|
|3.5 ton||1901 - 2200 sf||$5,285||$7,700|
|4.0 ton||2201 - 2600 sf||$5,550||$7,825|
|5.0 ton||2601 - 3200 sf||$6,100||$8,325|
Speaking of size, sizes in the chart are approximate only.
Getting the right size AC is vital to energy efficiency, performance and durability. When you get Rheem air conditioner cost estimates, talk to the dealers about doing a load calculation such as a Manual J.
A load calculation takes 15+ factors into account such as your climate, home size, home layout, insulation, windows and doors, etc.
It’s the best way to know what size air conditioner is right for your home.
Like many brands, Rheem has upgraded its warranty on top models. The RA20 and RA17 are backed by a 10-year Unit Replacement warranty. If the compressor fails in the first decade, Rheem will replace the entire condensing unit, not just the compressor.
This change reflects increased competition with brands like Goodman and Heil that also offer unit replacement warranties on the compressor. Goodman offers a Lifetime compressor warranty on top models.
Rheem backs all units with a 10-year general parts. That’s average for the industry – the same as Carrier, Bryant, Heil, Armstrong and most Lennox models.
Who Installs Rheem?
Any air conditioning and heating company can be a Rheem dealer. No particular certifications, other than a basic HVAC license, is required.
Is that a good thing?
If the dealer is NATE-certified, it might be fine. NATE is the North American Technician Excellence certification that is highly respected throughout the industry. It carries more weight than being certified by a brand.
Your other option for Rheem installation is to choose a Rheem Pro Partner. According to Rheem, these installers are “elite contractors” dedicated to excellence in installing Rheem equipment.” About 20-40% of the companies that install Rheem are Pro Partners. For example, in the Atlanta area, 20 of 58 AC companies that install Rheem are Pro Partners.
Many of them are NATE-certified too.
Find a Quality Installer – We Can Help
Correct installation is vital to the proper functioning and durability of a central air conditioner.
Most of the professionals that use our Free Local Quotes service are NATE-certified and/or Rheem Pro Partners. They are pre-screened for experience and to be sure they are licensed and insured.
There’s no obligation or cost to use the service. Filling out a short form or making a quick call is all it takes. And you can get your questions answered by the pros that contact you.
We recommend you check out the online reviews of the installers that provide you with free, written estimates. Ask about certification.
This approach is the best way to ensure your Rheem – or any brand – air conditioner is installed properly to give you 15-20+ years of reliable service.
2019-2020 Submitted Prices and Reviews
We will not edit any words from submitted feedback information. We will update this table every 3-6 months and you may not see your submitted review immediately.
Brand & Model & Size
|$2,900||Rheem RA1342AJINA||Chicago, IL||1800 sq ft|
|Rheem makes outstanding products and this is just one of them. I got it to replace an old one I had that broke down a few times and just couldn’t get its old form back. The utility bill has since gone down and I haven’t had any issues with repairs.|
|$3,800||Rheem RGEA16||Rio Rancho||1850 sq ft|
|Works great, better than one I had before. It couldn’t cool the house properly and after a few expensive repairs, I decided it’s time I replaced it. I’ve had the unit for almost a year now and I like it, you can’t go wrong with Rheem.|
|$10,705; $11,890; $14,840||Rheem Classic 15.50, 16 & Prestige 20.5 SEER||Zone 3 (Southeast US)||2600 sq ft|
|The upstairs area that we need a heat pump system installed is ~1,600 sq ft. The estimate we have is for the following:|
Rheem Classic 15.50 SEER, 2-stage. Includes ductwork/drain/overflow pan/dampers for balance/3 new ceiling registers/outdoor pad and install. $10,705
Rheem Classic 16 SEER, 2-stage with dehumidification. Includes ductwork/drain/overflow pan/dampers for balance/3 new ceiling registers/outdoor pad and install. $11,890
Rheem Prestige 20.5 SEER, Variable Speed with wifi; Includes ductwork/drain/overflow pan/dampers for balance/3 new ceiling registers/outdoor pad and install. $14,840
|$4,100 installed||Rheem gas pak 3 ton 80,000btu||Prattville, AL||1350 sq ft|
|I entered bid request late in afternoon and immediately began receiving calls from installers that wanted to submit a bid. I talked to 3 installers and settled on one. I called the installer the next day around 10 am, He was very efficient and installed the unit that afternoon.|
|$2,090 installed||13 SEER 2.5 ton||Fort Stewart, GA||2200 sqft|
|I have had this unit for about 6 months now and I can tell you Goodman have the quality stuff. I haven’t had to deal with any repairs at all, and that’s just amazing. We have a much more comfortable house now because before it would keep getting hot even though the sun was going down. Great job Goodman, I like.|
|$3,290||Rheem Value 2 ton||Aiken, SC||2200 sqft|
|I like Rheem because you can count on their products to serve you well. I recently had my AC unit replaced. I had an old model Rheem that had become slower and couldn’t cool the house like before. I trust Rheem products so naturally, I replaced it with this new unit. It cools the house just like I want it to and it’s cheaper to run it. It’s been two months now since I got it, I hope I don’t come back here to complain about it breaking down.|
|$3,949||14AJM 14 SEER||Birmingham, AL||2800 sqft|
|I don’t like how this is turning out at all. I have had this malfunctioning AC for about a year and am already repairing a Freon leak every few weeks. The unit cannot hold the Freon for more than 4 days and you have to refill constantly.|
How to Get the Best Rheem AC Prices?
- Firstly, keep in mind that installation quality is always the most important thing for air conditioner project. So never sacrifice contractor quality for lower price.
- Secondly, remember to look up the rebates.
- Thirdly, ask for at least 3 bids before you make the decision. You can click here to get 3 free estimates for your local contractor, and this estimate already takes rebates and tax credit into consideration and filter unqualified contractors automatically.
At last, once you chose the right contractor, remember to use the tactics from this guide: homeowners tactics when negotiating with HVAC dealer to get the final best price.
Feel free to ask any question by leaving a comment, we will answer any question with actionable tips.
Other Related Articles: