New A/C & heating unit for home (1 Viewer)

navychop

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I am considering replacing our home HVAC unit. We have a 3.5 ton R-22 Carrier WeatherMaker 8000, probably a SEER 10, and gas heat. Combined unit is 17 years old. Some corrosion, but works. One minor repair each year for the past two years.

I'm a believer in "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." However, everything has a service life and I'd rather not have a breakdown and be in a situation where there is an urgent need, especially on the air conditioning side. And there are the following considerations:

- Federal tax rebate of $350
- VA tax rebate of $500
- Manufacturer has apparently offered reduced prices ($1300-$1400) due to slower than expected sales
- Ten years worth of service visits included [strike]free[/strike] in the price. Parts and labor.
- Can't really use set back thermometer for current a/c because it seems to take too long to recover more than about 2 degrees.

Just had a guy come out with to look over our unit. He's from a company we have a service contract with, and trust. He proposes a Lennox 3.5 ton 17 SEER single stage, or a 4 ton 18-19 SEER dual stage (about $1200 more) for better humidity control, faster cooling and generally quieter operation. Either way, keep current humidifier. R-410a. 20x25x4 filter, same as today (becoming more common). Comes with germicidal light (not interested in more expensive UV). All pipes would be replaced, and some duct work at the HVAC stack would be redone. 10 year warranty.

The replacement furnace would be 80%, same as existing, unless we wanted to pay about $1500 more to go to 98%. Also, we could go dual fuel, and run the heat pump for heat down to 35 degrees, with gas below that, for an undetermined cost.

My wife wanted a wifi enabled thermostat, which we bought, but I'll return it unopened if we buy a new HVAC unit. The proposal includes a nice Honeywell thermostat with a remote she can use from the bedroom, and can choose the unit to use the bedroom remote temp reading for control, or the temp reading at the wall mounted thermostat. That's all she really wants.

Proposals to come tomorrow, so I don't have a price yet.

So, any opinions on Lennox? On the dual fuel heat pump approach?

I'm open to any comments.
 

StevenD

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I bought the Filtrete Wifi Thermostat for one of my units. I really like it. It comes with an iPhone and Android app.
 

Frank Jr.

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Read that warranty real close. I have a three year old Goodman that quit cooling and required a thing called a contactor. Down here we call my unit a gas pack, Goodman calls it a package unit. The part was free (25 dollars retail) but I had to pay for the labor. (75 dollars) When I checked the warranty, it plainly states 10 years for parts. I told the guy I would replace it. He told me it would void the warranty. I still have my nose out of joint over that one. I recommend the 4 ton if you can afford it. Better to have and not need, than need and not have. Thankfully the houses in Columbia have natural gas provided by my local utility company underground. The house down in the country has a heat pump. When it gets real cold down there and the heat strips come on, the electric meter almost flies off it's top.

As far as a dual fuel heat pump approach, it sounds good, but I never really cared for my a/c compressor providing heat. Just don't sound right to me.

Hope this helps. :)
 
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TheForce

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I had to replace my compressor about a year ago and was quoted a system that was minimum to get the tax breaks. Unfortunately, that air handler was too big by an inch to fit in the air handler closet. So, I had to go with a slightly smaller unit that did not qualify for the tax rebate. As it turns out the unit I have now cost me less than the one including the tax rebate and the annual cost of running it seems tolerable. The only trouble I have had is the new air handler has a safety switch that keeps failing getting stuck and shutting off the AC. Had service on it 3 times in the first year all under warranty. Now I know to take the switch out of the pipe and jiggle it and in 5 minutes it works again for a few months. This switch is on the condensate drain line and if the drain gets plugged, it shuts off the AC. The drain line seems fine and water runs out clean and freely. The mechanic said it isn't the float but inside the switch. It's been replaced twice and still have the problem. Never had one on the older unit so I may just short the switch out and eliminate the failing safety switch.
 

cypherstream

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I wouldn't get too big. If the AC is too big, it will cool so fast and shut off. You'll get no humidity control... it will be cool but humid, uncomfortable air.

Have a few companies come in and give you quotes. I had 6 companies come in and hopefully in a month or two I will get moving on my project. Were just waiting on completion of the gas main so that they can run the laterals and install a gas meter to each house. The gas company started installation in our neighborhood in the beginning of September.

I also heard that while Lennox is the cadillac of home HVAC... you really do pay for it. Watch out for the replacement parts. The variable speed ECM blower module can cost as much as $2000 to replace. Would you like a $2000 repair bill out of nowhere? Of course you hope that nothing goes wrong, and that surely can be the case.

I might end up going with a Goodman because of the ease of parts availability, the lower cost, but yet the efficiency is just as good as the big names like Trane, Carrier, Lennox, etc... I'm looking at 95% Eff dual stage furnace with variable speed blower and 16 SEER 2.5 ton AC compressor. This is for a 1694 sqft 4br/1.75 bath bi-level.
I had quotes on Trane XV95 95% eff, Lennox 95% eff, Lennox signature line 98% eff, Goodman 95% eff, Arcoaire 95% eff, Heil 95% eff. Each contractor had different prices from $7800 to $11,500 (also include a power vent gas water heater). Believe it or not, the Heil dealer (gas company actually) was the most expensive at $11,500. Then the Lennox signature dealer came next, just over 10k, then the Lennox 95% GV series, followed closely by the Arcoaire dealer, then the Trane system, than the Goodman system.

My job also entails getting rid of an oil tank and running gas piping from the meter to the mechanical room. I'm looking forward to getting rid of this Oil tank. The oil is over $3.79 a gallon... sheesh. Don't get me started on my electric bill in the summer either. An AC unit from 1978 makes the meter spin like you wouldn't believe.
 

navychop

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Yep. Valid considerations, and all the more reason I'll likely go with dual stage.

I get a ten year parts and labor service contract. I'll have to ask about what parts are and aren't covered.

Goodman has come up in the world and is certainly a contender. But my 4 ton Lennox with 80% furnace and 10 year service contract is coming in below your price range. Lennox has a $1300 or so rebate program going on, plus federal and state rebates.

Now, on the furnace side you're in my business (although we only do commercial/industrial/governmental). I can pretty well guarantee you that you will NEVER get your money back on a 95% or 98% or even 90% furnace, even in PA. What you'll get is a fancy flue and potential for more headaches. The savings per heating month are much less than those percentages would seem to indicate. And one of our top guys used to work for Washington Gas, and he says it isn't even close.

There's a lot of value in getting them to get rid of the oil tank, considering permits, inspections and remediation.
 

navychop

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if you have the extra money look into a geothermal unit

I loved my water source heat pump in NC. But not practical here. Ground coupled heat pumps around here are pretty much the province of guys who guerrilla advertise. i.e.- tiny, fly by nights. Would not consider dealing with them.
 

navychop

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Adding heat pump/dual fuel option adds 6 or 7 hundred. Not worth it. It'd have to be $200, tops, for me to think the math would work out right.
 

navychop

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OK, 'tis done.

I went with the Lennox dual stage 4 ton unit. So it will usually run on low speed, including low speed fan, and run longer, providing better humidity control. SEER 17.7. Furnace is 2 stage also, 80%.

The overlapping warranties cover everything but consumables (filters, refrigerant) for ten years. Well, the thermostat is only covered for five. It's a Honeywell Prestige YTXH9321R5012 with remote control and outside sensors. It will directly control the humidifier, and you can specify the target temperature to be from the reading on the wall mounted thermostat, or from the remote. Wife wants that feature so she can make the bedroom more comfortable.

They come install it next Thursday, which is faster than I expected. Hope we have another hot day before heating season, to test it.

Paying by credit card, for the points.
 

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