Payne air conditioner models and prices: a 2014 update

Though you may not be as familiar with them, Payne air conditioners should be among ones you consider for your next central AC unit

If you and your family are looking to add or upgrade a central air conditioning system in your home, you’re going to be faced with dozens of options. While you may be familiar with some of the larger brand names, it can help expand your search to include some lesser-known brands you may not be familiar with. One that falls into that category is Payne. While not as well known as some competitors with larger national marketing budgets, Payne has been manufacturing reliable HVAC products for a long time. They’re certainly worth consideration when you start comparing central air conditioning systems, especially if you have a fairly tight budget.

A quiet leader

payne ac 20141While you may not have heard of them, Payne has actually been around quite a long time. Payne Heating & Cooling began in 1914 when D.W. Payne and his son began building gravity-type furnaces in a converted barn in Los Angeles. The company first appeared on the national HVAC map when it developed the first floor furnace that could be installed in a home’s conventional crawl space area.

In 1933, Payne introduced the first forced-air, down-discharge furnace. The company was the first to market a forced-air furnace approved for closet installation. In 1950, Payne pioneered perimeter and zone heating. During the 1950’s the company expanded its product offering with the addition of a remote air conditioning product line. In 1962, Payne unveiled the first horizontal forced-air furnace approved for outdoor installation as well as vertical combination heating and cooling units for school rooms, apartments, and other applications.

Since then, the company has continued to sharpen its focus in its selection of residential, central air conditioning systems.

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Payne central air conditioners

Payne offers a wide range of products and services that can assist with your home’s heating and cooling needs. The Payne line of products includes:

  • Heat pumps
  • Gas furnaces
  • Ductless air conditioners and heat pumps
  • Central air conditioners
  • Fan coils
  • Evaporator coils
  • Packaged products (for heating and cooling)

Payne currently manufactures and sells three different residential central air conditioner models:

  • PA13NA
  • PA16NA
  • PA17NA

Each model is essentially defined and designated by its cooling efficiency. Cooling efficiency is measured by an industry standard known as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating. This rating guide measures how much energy a unit consumes in the course of doing its job (namely, cooling a space.) The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the model. The federal government requires that all new residential air conditioners sold in the country meet a minimum SEER rating of 13. Looking at the three models Payne offers, you see that the largest model is the PA17NA, which has a SEER rating of just over 17. The SEER rating of the other models is also found in the model name, ranging from 13 to 16, respectively.

payne ac 20142There is another designation to be aware of when comparing air conditioning units, and that’s size. By size, we don’t mean the physical dimensions of the unit (though you should be aware of whatever space limitations your property has for a unit) but a sometimes-confusing size designation used to measure cooling capacity.

Air conditioning units are measured in tons. Again, this doesn’t mean the unit weighs a ton (or more.) The tonnage designation indicates how much heat-per-hour a unit can “remove” from a house. A one-ton air conditioner can remove 12,000 BTUs of heat from a house in an hour. A 4-ton air conditioner is one that can remove 48,000 BTUs of heat per hour from the house. For most people, though, 4 tons means 8,000 pounds. (A BTU is a British Thermal Unit, approximately the amount of heat you get from burning one kitchen match all the way down.)

Payne AC features and specs

Industry and consumer reviews offer some impressive rankings of Payne units. One consistent thread in testimonials from Payne owners is that these units run smoothly and quietly. That may be in large part due to the rubberized insulation that muffles the sound of the unit.

The PA16 and the PA17 models carry the ENERGY STAR designation. ENERGY STAR is a program started and administered by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that allows manufacturers to voluntarily submit products for evaluation. Products that meet EPA guidelines for energy efficiency and low greenhouse gas emissions earn the ENERGY STAR designation. They also have to perform to levels higher than base industry norms. For example, while a central air conditioner must meet a minimum SEER rating of 13 to be sold in the U.S., a central air conditioning unit must meet a SEER rating of at least 15 in order to earn ENERGY STAR status.

The Payne PA17 model also features a two-stage compressor. A two-stage compressor can deliver more control and efficiency with two general setting options. One stage can maintain a steady and fairly constant temperature setting, leaving the other stage available to kick in should you need to suddenly improve the cooling in your home or select room(s).

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Prices and warranties

payne ac  20143It is always difficult to nail down exact pricing on central air conditioning units. One reason is that most air conditioner manufacturers do not put retail prices on a website. While some manufacturers publish or report prices that may be wholesale or cost-to-contactors prices, this won’t give you the whole story either. Unless you are yourself a licensed and properly certified/registered HVAC contractor, you will need to find and hire one to install your new central air conditioning system. Contractor prices vary from region to region and from contractor to contractor. It’s also not uncommon for a single contractor to offer different prices on installations when comparing different brands of air conditioners. It’s one reason why home improvement experts will tell you it’s a prudent move to solicit competing quotes on any home improvement project, including the purchase and installation of a central air conditioning system. A minimum of three competitive bids from different contractors is a good rule-of-thumb for having enough information to make a good, comparative decision.

Having said all that, we have found a few resources that indicate what the cost-to-contractors prices for these select Payne units can be. Again, these are ranges and they only reflect what catalogs and online resources suggest the contractors working with these units are being charged:

  • Payne PA13NA -- $900 - $1,400
  • Payne PA16NA -- $1,350 - $1,950
  • Payne PA17NA -- $1,650 - $2,600

If these ranges seem broad, one reason is that there are size options within each model (from one and two-ton entry units to five-ton models.) Use these ranges as a guide for what you’re being quoted when you get bids from contractors.

All of these Payne central air conditioners come with a 10-year limited warranty on all moving parts (including compressors) so long as you use a properly licensed and certified contractor to complete the installation and register your products within 90 days of having it fully installed.

Central air conditioning may be a necessity for homeowners in certain communities while for others it’s a luxury. Either way, you’ll want to research to get the best possible deal on the unit that best suits your home and family’s needs. Expanding your research to include brands like Payne can help. So can getting reliable and competitive bids from local contractors. Reply! can help by putting you in touch with licensed, local HVAC contractors who can not only offer you free competitive bids, but do the work (properly!) when the time comes.

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