There has been a lot said in the news lately about President-elect Donald Trump saving 1100 or so jobs because the Carrier plant is staying in the United States. Regardless of political views about stopping Carrier from leaving the United States, there is often more to consider about “made in the USA” stories.

Purchasing items made in America sort of tugs at our hearts and makes us feel more patriotic. We somehow know those purchases will help keep other Americans employed and make our nation stronger.

We typically feel the quality of “American-made” products is so much better. The challenge is in knowing what is American-made. If a well-known pickup truck is rated at being 61% American-made but has an engine made in Mexico, and the transmission in Italy, is it an American-made pickup?

Does it sound strange the top two passenger cars credited with being the most American-made today are Japan’s Toyota Camry and Honda Accord? The wheels of globalization have been spinning for a long time and this is where we landed.

Just like vehicles, often components of other larger products are made in foreign countries. That’s true for some manufacturers of heating and air conditioning equipment. Many of the parts such as fan motors are common among various brands, with most being manufactured in Mexico. Final assembly is typically in the United States, where manufacturers mix their patented parts with parts made by others.

Some manufacturers such as Lennox and Trane make the majority of their better products in the U.S. and also assemble them here. Lennox production plants are at Marshalltown, Iowa, and Dallas, Texas. Trane plants are in Tyler, Texas, and Trenton, New Jersey. Both are quality American products.

It’s interesting to see the assembly line process as some parts such as condenser coils are fabricated and immediately installed. The assembled equipment is inspected, packaged, and sent on its way.

It’s at this point where the rest of the story is important because half of the success for HVAC equipment starts when it leaves the factory. It needs to be sized, installed, and serviced by true professionals. The reputation of that equipment is at stake. I take it as a patriotic challenge.

Sadly, not all HVAC contractors are created equal. ½ are at the top of the class and ½ are not. It’s up to you to choose a good HVAC contractor.

The average consumer only makes a few HVAC equipment purchases in their lifetime, so the risks for bad purchases are high. Consumers need to understand how to find a qualified HVAC contractor that will do the job right. One of the first places to check when making this major purchase is the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to get the rating of the HVAC contractors.

It’s also good to check the internet to find consumer reviews about HVAC contractors and gain brand knowledge. If you already know a reputable HVAC contractor it’s time to call them and explain your HVAC needs. If not, it’s OK to call up to three HVAC contractors to get quotes.

The HVAC contractor should arrive on time and be focused on your needs. Preferably they shut off their phone(s) or radio. That sounds like a simple concept, but I was once given a ride by an HVAC contractor that was talking on two phones while he was driving with his elbows!

Quality HVAC contractors always fill out a heat load analysis on the project to make sure the HVAC equipment size matches the heat load demand. Marginal HVAC contractors walk in and out of the home in 15 minutes and then guess at the size of HVAC equipment needed. Sometimes they get that right!

The biggest mistake a consumer can make is going with the low price and not comparing the equipment bid. Some companies only offer what the trade calls builder models, which are typically the cheapest foreign equipment made with little regard for quality. This cheaper unit will be noisier, more expensive to operate, less comfortable, and not last as long.

The bid offered by a highly reputable HVAC contractor will probably be for a Trane or Lennox unit made in the USA. It will be a substantially better unit. Odds are they have quality employees, drug testing, background checks, certified technicians that install the equipment properly, the best warranties, and service equipment so it provides incredible comfort. That’s the rest of a patriotic act made an American story!

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