A Side by Side Comparison of the Trane and Lennox 16 SEER Single Stage AC Units
Before I get started I need to get the usual disclosure statement out of the way. I own an air conditioning company in Mesa, AZ – Magic Touch Mechanical. My company sells both Trane and Lennox AC & heating systems, along with numerous other HVAC manufacturer brands. I also personally own equipment from both brands. I have no bias towards one or the other. Frankly, I have no preference which brand our clients choose – I just want them to choose Magic Touch Mechanical over the next AC Company in Phoenix!
If you’ve read any of my other air conditioner reviews or comparisons, you already know that some models, I give Trane the top-choice and others Lennox comes out as the best. It really is model specific in my opinion as both brands have proven themselves to be “premium” brands in my 20-years owning Magic Touch Mechanical, Air Conditioning & Heating.
Too often I read new AC unit reviews written by HVAC Contractors that clearly favor the brand they sell. As we sell millions of dollars of each brand annually, so not only do I get to see firsthand the pros and cons of each over the course of time, I have no reason to steer people towards one in particular.
Trane Single-Stage Cooling Unit vs. Lennox Single-Stage Cooling Unit
The other thing we need to get out of the way before we dive in is to make sure you, (our reader) are comparing apples to apples. The Lennox EL16XC1 shouldn’t be confused with the similarly named Lennox Elite XC16 which has a multi-stage compressor. This product comparison is closely matched as both have single-stage aka single speed compressors.
If you’re not sure of the difference, we posted an article in July of 2016 that explains the Difference Between Variable Speed, 2-Stage, and Single Speed Compressors.
16 SEER AC Units and Heat Pumps a Popular Choice Near Phoenix, AZ
There are literally hundreds of “certified matchups” on the market (a matchup is an outdoor condenser, indoor coil, and indoor air handler or furnace). The “certified” portion means the “matchup” has been tested by a third-party laboratory (AHRI or ARI) to produce the efficiency the manufacturer claims.
While many AC companies near Phoenix, AZ have adopted a “good, better, best”, three-option approach when proposing new cooling and heating equipment (often only one or two brands), we do things a little differently. We use an “open book” that shows multiple major manufacturers models, pricing, and specifications side-by-side. Our customers really seem to appreciate this presentation as it’s not uspicking the equipment we want to sell, but more a presentation of many options in an easy-to-understand format so they can choose what’s best for them and their budget. Depending on the tonnage needed for the home, this usually gives people about 18 options instead of three, but formatted in a manner that’s not confusing or overwhelming.
As a result of this presentation, we have found that many people opt for the middle-of-of-road options (and very often it comes down to Trane or Lennox). These systems are typically 16-17 SEER, single-stage cooling condensers, coupled with variable-speed blower motors. In a nut shell, these are usually the matchups that offer the best bang for the buck – not the entry level offering from the brand, but not top-of-the-line offering either.
Now that you know why I chose to do a comparison review of these two particular models, let’s get to it!
Position in Brand Portfolio
The Trane XR16 has three model grades below it, and five model grades above it. Basically, it is their most efficient model with a single stage compressor. All but one of the models above it (Trane XL16i) are either 2-stage or variable speed compressor units.
The Lennox EL16XC1 has five model grades below it, and five model grades above it. It is their second most efficient model with a single stage compressor. All but one of the models above it (Lennox SL18XC1) are either 2-stage or variable speed compressor units.
*Note: The Lennox SL18XC1 was the most efficient single-stage air conditioner on the market from any brand at the time this article was published. June, 2018
SEER and EER Efficiency Ratings
Trane XR16 Efficiency Ratings
- up to 17 SEER (range 15.50 SEER to 17 SEER) *
- up to 14 EER (range 13.00 EER to 14.00 EER) *
Lennox EL16XC1 Efficiency Ratings
- up to 16 SEER (range 15.00 SEER to 16.00 SEER) *
- up to 13 EER (range 12.50 EER to 13.00 EER) *
The higher the number the more efficient the unit is. Similar to miles per gallon in a car, this number doesn’t rate performance, only efficiency. Today’s minimum allowable efficiency is 13-SEER in certain regions of the country and 14-SEER here in Arizona. 16 – 17 SEER is considered high efficiency. 13-14 EER is considered very high efficiency.
*Final rating dependent on capacity (tonnage) and matchup (which coil and air handler it’s matched with).
CATEGORY WINNER: TRANE
Although not by huge margins, the Trane beats the Lennox in both SEER and EER ratings.
Sound Levels (Decibel Ratings)
Trane XR16 Sound Levels
- as low as 72 decibels (range 72 to 74 dB)
Lennox EL16XC1 Sound Levels
- as low as 72 decibels (range 72 to 73 dB)
The lower the rating the quieter the unit is. A normal level conversation is somewhere between 60 – 65dB. There are much quieter models available from both manufacturers, some so quiet you hardly know they’re running. If super-quiet is what you are after, neither of these models are your best choice. However, both are reasonably quiet by most people’s standards. Both Trane and Lennox, have some of the quietest units available on the market today.
CATEGORY WINNER: LENNOX
This was a tough one as in most sizes it’s a tie at 72dB. However, Lennox’s loudest unit measures one dB lower than Trane’s loudest unit.
Compressor Quality / Durability
Although the compressor is only one of many components that make an air conditioner work, the compressor is to the air conditioner, what the heart is to the body – without it nothing works.
The compressor is also one of the most expensive components to replace in the case of a failure, so worth comparing in a product shootout.
Trane XR16 Compressor
The XR16 comes standard with the “industry famous” Climatuff compressor. Trane’s slogan is “Nothing stops a Trane”, and it built that reputation on the back of the Climatuff compressors durability. Even for non-Trane dealers, you’d probably be hard pressed to find an HVAC contractor or technician who would argue Trane’s compressors are some of the hardiest ever made.
Years ago, Trane put one of their compressors under an extreme “stress test”. They nicknamed the compressor “Snowball” as it was completely encased in a thick layer of ice. Snowball lasted twenty-eight years in this condition as it underwent a continuous flood back test in the Trane compressor testing facilities. Snowball finally called it quits and “passed away” in 2000. The test mimicked low indoor airflow conditions and severe refrigerant overcharge – conditions that would’ve ruined a lesser compressor in a mere fraction of that time. Snowball II, is now being put under the same tests and has been running in these extreme conditions for the last 15-years, since 2003.
Lennox EL16XC1 Compressor
The EL16XC1 comes with the second best (in my opinion) single-stage compressor on the market today – the Copeland Scroll. Keep in mind I’ve been working in the HVAC Industry for over thirty years so I’ve replaced A LOT of bad compressors. Aside from Climatuff and Copeland, other well-known AC compressor brands include: Tecumseh, Carlyle, Bristol, Panasonic, and Westinghouse to name a few. From a durability perspective, the Copeland sits at the top of the heap, but most experts would agree is still second to the Climatuff.
CATEGORY WINNER: TRANE
While chances are both compressors will stand the test of time and last the life of the unit, our records indicate higher failure rates with the Copeland than the Climatuff.
Trane XR16 vs Lennox EL16XC1 Price Comparison
I’m going to tread lightly here as there are many variables when it comes to installed prices. For example, an air handler or furnace installed in an attic as opposed to a closet or garage platform can add anywhere between $400 – $600 to the total. Every application is different!
I can’t speak for other companies, or for pricing in other parts of the country, but as far as Magic Touch Mechanicals installed prices of the XR16 vs the EL16XC1 the difference is negligible – between $100 and $150. In some sizes the Trane is a little less and others the Lennox is.
That said, NOT accounting for manufacturer rebates, utility rebates, contractor sales and promotions, etc. Let’s consider an attic installation at the average price of $500 additional labor and materials (deduct $500 if your indoor unit is in a garage or closet) – you can expect to pay in the mid $6,000 range for the smaller tonnages and up to the low to mid $8,000 range for the larger tonnages. AGAIN, that range does not account for manufacturer rebates, contractor sales, or utility rebates – which can account for up to $1,000 off those prices.
To learn more about how much different types and models of air conditioners installed costs check out these two articles
CATEGORY WINNER: TIE
Notaccounting for available manufacturer rebates, contractor promotions, or utility rebates, these units are very close in price.
Overall Summary of Both Units
As I stated at the very beginning of this article, not only have we at Magic Touch Mechanical installed hundreds upon hundreds of both models, I personally own both brands (not these particular models). I do have the Lennox predecessor to this model installed on one section of the Magic Touch offices in Mesa, AZ (a brutally hot climate) and it has proven reliable since first installed 11-years ago.
Both Lennox and Trane are considered “premium” brands, and for good reason in my opinion. We consistently get positive feedback on both models from our own clients, and online reviews for both products suggest most people are satisfied with their performance nationwide.
Both come with 10-year parts and compressor warranties (registration required), hail protection coil guards, and are well engineered and built.
Perhaps the only other thing worth mentioning regarding design is the Trane XR16’s fiberglass base pan (bottom) which will never rust out – a nice touch the Lennox does not include. Here in Phoenix we don’t really deal with a lot of rust issues but for my readers in areas where it snows or rains a lot that could be a plus.
OVERALL COMPARISON WINNER: TRANE
This is a side-by-side comparison article so I have to pick a winner. While it’s not exactly a runaway victory, Trane’s XR16 was the victor in one more category than the Lennox EL16.
Special Offers:On the date of this posting, there are factory rebates on the Lennox, and a $600 off sale on the Trane (Magic Touch exclusive – not factory). If you live here in the valley of the sun and are an SRP customer there are also additional utility rebates when you hire an SRP Certified Contractor like Magic Touch.