I'm going to try and attach some images. I'll try to describe the setup. On top of the air handler is a "Y" where two 16" flex ducts are connected. The first split runs a short distance to a ductboard plenum(not sure if that is the right word or not, but it is duct board where all the flex duct feeds to each vent connect). This part of the split supplies air to 50 or 60 percent of my house. The 16" ducts in the picture are the ones that run across my unfinished bonus room and to the far side of the house. This supplies air to the remaining 40 or 50% of the house, and splits into a similar plenum as the one closer to the air handler.
I have a 4" aprilaire filter which I have updated to the most recent slide in filter type. The unit tends to perform well, although on super hot or super cold days, it does struggle to maintain or change the temperature. My electric bills have always been reasonable (I average about $250/month in North Florida in an all electric house with rates about .12/kwh, with a 2850 sqf house). The only room where we ever have a problem is my daughters room on the far side of the house with 3 exposed walls.
I've never had a blower door test done.
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A set of vanes in that return would help a lot.
Beenthere-I'm not sure what that means. If I told my contractor that I would like to have vanes installed, I'm assuming they would know what they are? Also, what benefits do they provide?
I like the turning vane suggestion. Without bottom side or side side and 2 filters you are airflow challenged above 3 ton, and doesn't seem room for return modifications. (maybe uDarrel can confirm this) Unfortunately it feels like 3 ton might be too aggressive given your summary of current operation, unless the house has high leakage rate and/or good insulation opportunity that can bring load down.
4 ton might be the compromise you live with (and is probably what your restricted 5 ton was providing). A mod (vna) means it won't choke but for very hot days and if you ask for recovery. It'll probably exist around 2 ton most of the time.
By the looks of things you can afford good long term decisions, and sounds like thats how you already think. So can you research energy audits in your area? An understanding of leakage and load calc would be really nice, particularly with such tight sounding parameters.
Not sure if anyone else sees poor transition to aprilaire. Not that you really could do any better. And with a 5 ton you would will still struggle with one aprilaire. Even though IMO it is the best performer in the airflow Dept.
Also please describe the ducts that hook to top of return riser and the indoor return grille set and do you run filters inside?
Also a very quick and easy static pressure test between air handler and that aprilaire would tell us a lot.
The ducts on the return are similar to the supply, with a Y at the top feeding to two 16" flex lines. Those flex return lines hook up to 2 separate plenums (one on each side of the house). There is one large return (2'x2' maybe) in the main hall, another return of the same size in the living room, and then small returns (1'x1' perhaps) in each of the 4 bedrooms. I'm guessing the static pressure test between the air handler and the aprilaire is not something I could perform since I wouldn't even know where to begin as a homeowner. There are no other filters in the system outside of the aprilaire.
I would recommend the coil.
Originally Posted by kilobravo3
Turning vanes aid in reducing resistance to air flow. help to guide the air through right angle turns.
Sorry BT, that question appeared while I was composing and I never saw it, or I'd have answered it. Pad's offer convenience but they are slow to compose and type on.
Well, a heat pump has an accumulator & if it has TXV metering devices U could maybe use 330-CFM of airflow per/ton of cooling; or, a possible 1650-CFM with the 5-tons.
The duct airflow velocities & pressure appear way too high with probably a high rate of duct air leakage.
The turning vanes are very important to that design; - with that duct system lowering the tonnage is IMO, critically important; but see what an audit &/or a load calc shows what is needed.
If U live between Jacksonville (94-F;46% RH) & Tallahassee (92-F;48% RH), that normally means a lot of grains of air infiltration moisture & indoor humidity load.
How many square feet (sf) is your home & is it loaded with windows?
Seems to me in that climate U don't want an over sized condenser or evaporator coil; it needs long runtimes & a cold coil.
You really ought to have a Home energy Efficiency Audit so U know what U need to do to make your home & duct system more efficient.
The initial sizing of the unit & duct system appears to be a real problem.
Your situation illustrates why the first install; design, & setup is so important.
You got a lot of good advice from everyone...
I really appreciate all the responses, there is clearly a wealth of information here. I am going to have another contractor out to take a look at things and give me an assessment, but that begs the question, How do I find contractors who actually know the things that you guys are talking about here? It seems like every time I have someone out, they don't have any of this type information. If I start asking questions from things I've learned here in the past, I just get a blank stare and something along the lines of "I just service the system, I don't know anything about making sure the duct work is sized properly" (or something similar). I tried looking here for a professional from this site, but it looks like the closest one is well over an hour away.