Lennox vs Trane vs Carrier Furnaces: Which brand of gas furnace is best?

Lennox, Trane, and Carrier are probably the 3 most popular brands of new furnaces in British Columbia (with Amana probably being a close 4th). We have made this post to provide homeowners with a quick overview of the furnaces offered by these brands.

First will compare each manufacturer’s published furnace specifications.

Each of these 3 manufacturers offer a similar lineup of furnaces. New furnaces can be divided into 6 categories or “classes”, and each manufacturer makes a model that fits into each one (except Carrier makes 2 similar models in some categories).

Class 1) A high efficiency furnace with a variable speed blower motor and modulating burners (Lennox SLP98 vs Trane XC95m vs Carrier Infinity 98/ Infinity ICS)
Class 2) A high efficiency furnace with a variable speed blower motor and two-stage burners (Lennox EL296V vs Trane XV95 vs Carrier Infinity 96 New Edition/ Performance 96 Two-Stage)
Class 3) A high efficiency furnace with a multi-speed motor and two-stage burners (Lennox G61 vs Trane XL95 vs Carrier Performance 93)
Class 4) A high efficiency furnace with an energy-saving single-stage blower motor and single-stage burners (Lennox EL195E vs Trane XT95 vs Carrier Boost 90). These furnaces are for homeowners who wish to install an air conditioner or heat pump but cannot fit a variable speed furnace into their budget.
Class 5) A high efficiency furnace with a standard multi-speed motor and single-stage burners (Lennox ML195 vs Trane XR95 vs  Carrier Comfort 92)
Class 6) A budget high efficiency furnace with a standard multi-speed motor and single-stage burners (Lennox ML193 vs Trane XB90 vs Carrier Base 90)

Carrier also offers the Performance 96 Single Stage, a furnace with a variable speed blower and a single stage gas valve.

Note: If you want to learn what the terms above mean and the importance of the different features, then visit our furnace info page or watch our 5 minute video on new furnace options.

Class 1 Comparison: Comparing the top-of-the-line systems. Each of these manufacturers makes one model of a high efficiency variable speed modulating furnace (except Carrier makes 2).

Lennox SLP98 Trane XC95m Carrier Infinity 98 / ICS
Efficiency (For 90K or 100K BTU model) 97.5-98% 95-96% 97.3%  for Infinity 98 (96% for Infinity ICS)
Burner modulation From 35% to 100% From 40% to 100% From 40% to 100%
Fan motor Variable speed Variable speed Variable speed
Noise level Quietest furnace available (mfr’s claim)* Does not claim to be quietest available Quietest furnaces available (mfr’s claim)*
Heat exchanger warranty Lifetime limited Lifetime limited Lifetime limited
Warranty on other covered parts 10 years 10 years 10 years

*Both Lennox and Carrier claim their higher-end furnaces are the quietest on the market. This is probably due to their different testing procedures.

It is apparent that Lennox is equal to or better than Trane or Carrier when it comes to the published specifications. But it isn’t by a large margin: The Lennox SPL98 (when looking at the 90-100K models, as this is a common size) is up to 3% more efficient than the comparable Trane and Carrier models, and has a burner which can operate at a slightly wider range of outputs (it can operate at as low as 35% capacity, compared to 40% for the competition).

Class 2 Comparison: High efficiency furnaces with variable speed blower motors and two-stage burners (Lennox EL296V vs Trane XV95 vs Carrier Infinity 96 New Edition / Performance 96 Two-Stage)

These furnaces all offer variable speed blowers and two-stage burners. The efficiency ratings are 96% for the Lennox, 95% for the Trane (for the most common sizes: the 80K and 100K BTU models), and 96.1-96.7% for the Carrier. The Carrier Performance 96 does not offer full variable speed operation like the Infinity 96 does. These models all have lifetime limited heat exchanger warranties and a 10-year warranties on other parts (with system registration) is available in some circumstances.

Class 3 Comparison: High efficiency furnaces with multi-speed blower motors and two-stage burners (Lennox G61 vs Trane XL95 vs Carrier Performance 93)

These furnaces all offer multi-speed blowers and two-stage burners. The Lennox is rated at 94.1-95%, the Trane is rated at 95% for the upflow version and 96% for the downflow version, and the Carrier is rated at 92-93%. All 3 offer a lifetime limited warranty on the heat exchanger and a 10-year warranty on all covered components with system registration and if other criteria are met.

Class 4 Comparison: High efficiency furnaces with energy-saving single-stage blower motors and single-stage burners (Lennox EL195E vs Trane XT95 vs Carrier Boost 90)

These furnaces are designed to be low-cost options that still work well with air conditioners, heat pumps, and air purification systems. The Lennox and Trane are rated at 95% efficiency while the Carrier is rated at 93%. All 3 offer a lifetime limited warranty on the heat exchanger and a 10-year warranty on all covered components with system registration and if other criteria are met.

Class 5 Comparison: High efficiency furnaces with standard multi-speed blower motors and single-stage burners (Lennox ML195 vs Trane XR95 vs  Carrier Comfort 92)

The Lennox and Trane are rated at 95% efficiency, and the Carrier is rated at 92-95.5% (depending on the size).  The Carrier Comfort 92 only offers a single-speed blow motor, unlike the others which offer multi-speed motors. These furnaces offer a lifetime limited warranty on the heat exchanger (except the Lennox offers a 20 year heat exchanger warranty) and a 10-year warranty on all covered components with system registration and if other criteria are met.

Class 6 Comparison: Budget high efficiency furnaces with standard multi-speed blower motors and single-stage burners (Lennox ML193 vs Trane XB90 vs Carrier Base 90)

The Trane and Carrier systems are rated at 91-93%, depending on the size, whereas all sizes of the Lennox ML193 are rated at 93%. These furnaces offer a lifetime limited warranty on the heat exchanger (except the Lennox offers a 20 year heat exchanger warranty) and a 10-year warranty on all covered components with system registration and if other criteria are met.

What about reliability?

In our furnace reviews/ ratings post, we showed the results of the most recent Consumer Report’s reliability survey. Consumer’s Reports concluded that there were no “statistically meaningful differences” in reliability between the brands. Keep in mind, however, that this reliability data was published in 2008 and is based on furnaces that were made up to 12 years ago. It’s also based on a wide variety of models, so it doesn’t likely say much about any given model of furnace on the market today.

Furnace Brand RankingsThe least reliable brand required 23% more repairs than the most reliable brand. But the choice of installer could increase breakdowns by more than 50%!



In fact, installation quality is probably more important than brand selection. Consumer Reports stated that: “The most important steps in selecting a furnace, we think, are to ensure that the unit’s specifications fit your needs, that it is bought from a contractor who installs it well, and that it’s adequately maintained. Our survey results help confirm that view: When we asked about the most common reasons for service calls for furnaces about twice as many contractors we surveyed cited human error—inadequate maintenance, for example, or improper installation—as cited defective equipment.”

Note: We primarily install Amana and Lennox, and find them both to be very reliable.

Installation quality is much more important than furnace model selection

The EPA has stated that, when it comes to heating and air conditioning systems, “more than half of new systems in U.S. homes do not perform to their rated efficiency as a result of improper installation. In fact, improper installation can reduce performance by as much as 30%.”

Importance of quality installation for furnaces & air conditioners

According to the EPA, a poor installation can reduce performance by up to 30%!

As the EPA says: “ A contractor who follows good sizing and installation practices may cost more, but the results can dramatically affect how well your new equipment will deliver comfort and savings.”

Also, in their AC & heat pump reliability tests, Consumer Reports found that heating & air conditioning systems that were installed by general contractors broke down more than 50% more often than systems installed by heating & air conditioning companies.

Conclusion

Although brand differences do exist, installation quality is usually the most important factor. Some brands of furnace may be rated at 2 or 3% more efficient that others, but improper installation can reduce performance by up to 30%! According to the Consumer Reports reliability survey, the least reliable brand broke down 23% more often than the least reliable brand. But the choice of installer could result in over 50% more repairs.

To schedule a free quote on a new furnace, call 604 GOOD GUY (604 466 3489) or use our online form.

Learn more about new furnaces on our furnaces page.

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13 Responses to Lennox vs Trane vs Carrier Furnaces: Which brand of gas furnace is best?

  1. Tim says:

    How much would it be to install the trane xv 95. I live in Ontario and just curious about bc price differences.

    • Administrator says:

      BC price about $5000-$6000 from a good contractor (we don’t install Trane but that’s about the market price). Furnaces are usually cheaper in Ontario (BC contractors have a slower summer and thus higher overhead, equipment prices are higher as it’s a smaller market, etc.)

  2. Ernie Francis says:

    What a great website you have! My question is: I can only use oil or propane: does this make a difference (other than the cost of fuel) in any of the above stat’s? Thanx. I live in Northern Ontario.

    • Administrator says:

      Natural gas furnaces can also run on propane, and should basically have the same stats in either case. Oil furnaces are different, and are generally less efficient an noisier than gas furnaces. Check out the manufacturers’ websites for information on their oil furnace models.

  3. Donald Chadbolt says:

    Firstly,thank you for producing and presenting this wonderful video and information.. I has helped me immensely…If I was a BC resident I would contract you in a second… I am in small town ON where the availability of choice is somewhat limited.. I have had a Trane dealer and aLlennox dealer stop by for quotes on the installation in an older home we have heated with wood/electric BB for years.. its time to upgrade due to our age.. I now know which dealer will likely do my install as they were overly insistent on the duct work and how it should be done… thank you for helping me make an informed decision ..I live by the motto ” U only get what you pay for” and I dont mind getting the value for the investment.

  4. Al Wloch says:

    Good review. Two Home Comfort representatives saw our 17 year old natural gas furnace yesterday here in Ottawa. They mentioned a Trane rental program … is that a good idea? Why is it that you do not use Trane? Is Lennox technically a better product?

    • Administrator says:

      Trane is fairly well regarded but we think Lennox is a little better… We’ve found them to be very reliable. As for the rental, you’ll have to compare the monthly rate of the rental to the cost to finance a new one.

  5. Westy says:

    Hello and thanks for your review. Our basement was destroyed by the flooding in southern Alberta, which included both of our furnaces which were Lennox. I was wondering if you could give me a ballpark estimate of what it would cost to replace them both a class 1 or 2 furnace? We are also concerned about air quality and would consider a better air filtration system. Do you have any recommendations? How much money are they? There are a few companies taking advantage of desperate people and I’d rather not be one of those people.

  6. Tariq says:

    I have a 844 sq feet home. I also have my basement finished and I am using that as my living space. Should I go with Lennox single stage 45000 BTU or 2 stage 60,000 btu?
    I live in Winnipeg.

    Thanks

    • Administrator says:

      You should get a reputable Lennox dealer to do a load calculation. It depends on insulation levels, etc.

  7. joe deee says:

    my current unit is a 80000BTU 20 year old York, My lenox dealer has done a manual j and said that 68,000BTU’s are required to do the job. Lenox does not make an 80,000 BTUModulating Varible speed unit. He is recommending a 70000BTU unit, but is willing to put in a 90000BTU unit if i am anxious about the size.
    He says that the 90,000 unit will not cause undo noise or be a problem because of the varible speed operation. Opinion

    • Administrator says:

      If you have confidence in your Lennox dealer and his load calculation, then go with it. It should be sized to heat at -17C (if you’re in BC), so it probably won’t be a problem if he is slightly off.

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