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Locally built, owned and operated by two brothers. Established in 2004.

Saltwater Experiment: Trane and ICP Air Conditioners Year Five

Five years ago, the team at AGL pioneered a saltwater experiment for air conditioning units to see how Trane units compare to those produced by ICP, who builds Carrier, Heil, Payne, and many other competing brands of air conditioners. It is important to note that AGL Air can install both kinds of units, but we wanted to see which one performs the best in our salty Charleston air and, in turn, try to offer our customers the most value for their money. Spoiler alert! We found that Trane is outperforming other brands of HVAC systems.

salt water experiment trane air conditioner

All three of the AC units. From left to right: 4-year Saltwater ICP coil, 5-year Trane, 5-year standard ICP coil

To recap our saltwater experiment, we brought one brand new Trane and one ICP unit to Folly Beach in 2014. In 2015, we brought another ICP air conditioner to the island; this one is known as their “Coastal” unit and is supposed to be treated for saltwater conditions. In each of the units, the casing was excluded so that we could get a better view of the coils.

The main difference between Trane and other brands of air conditioners is the coil design. With the ICP units, the refrigerant enters the coil, moves to a U-joint and turns 180 degrees, moves through the coil again and hits another U-joint, turns 180, and repeats this cycle until it exits the coil. Every U-joint is soldered to the galvanized plate. In contrast, Trane has a rope-like design and no U-joints. This lets the refrigerant flow smoothly without hitting all of those 180 degree turns and there is no need for so many soldering points.

One might think that having the coils soldered in many places would make the unit more secure. However, this is not the case. Rather than securing the unit, every soldered connection is a potential spot for leaks.

Given this information, it’s no surprise that the many joints of the ICP brands were showing serious signs of corrosion at the five-year mark. The original ICP coil had rust around every solder point, the coil fins were beginning to flake off, and the side plate was brittle to the touch. The saltwater ICP unit was not faring much better. There was rust around every U-joint, the side plate was heavily corroded, and the fins were weakening. The coils did look better than those of the original ICP unit, though.

corroded coil hvac saltwater experiment charleston heating and air

5-year ICP coil with corroded side plate and U-joints

corroded plate hvac saltwater experiment charleston heating and air

4-year ICP corroded plate and U-joints

Trane’s HVAC unit, on the other hand, was performing well. Even though this unit was blown over by at least two hurricanes (Matthew, Michael, Florence), the coils had no signs of corrosion. The impact of being blown about did break of the copper connections on the side, but this has no impact on the corrosion experiment. Unlike ICP’s, Trane designs do not have a side plate, so there is no area for heavy corrosion.

hvac copper parts saltwater experiment charleston heating and air

5-year Trane coil. No plates for corrosion, but did suffer some broken copper parts from several hurricanes.

So far in this experiment, Trane has been outperforming the other two units. With its rope-like coil design, Trane systems are designed for the saltwater environment. They also have a ten-year saltwater warranty separate from the ten-year parts warranty, which further sets this brand apart.

AGL Air is committed to doing the best by our customers and anything that we recommend is something that we personally stand by. Due to the fact that Trane consistently outperforms their competitors, we consider Trane at the top of the HVAC system market. If you are in the market for a new air conditioner, contact AGL for more information. If you’re having an HVAC system emergency, we offer 24 hour support.