I'm buying a house that needs the HVAC replaced, so I've been suddenly thrust into this whole process of trying to select what to buy. One of the things I'd be most interested in seeing is a table or chart showing the repair history of all the brands (or at least the major ones), but I haven't had any luck. Is there anywhere I can find this?
I'm in Texas, so I'm mostly concerned with the A/C and am thinking about a fairly high SEER model (probably around a 14, 15, or 16). Good heat is important as well since we do get some 'cold spells', but I'll definitely be sticking with an 80% furnace. Since I have bad allergies, I want to add a whole-house air filter and a variable-speed blower so I can have it circulating all the time.
The brands I'm currently considering are: Bryant, Carrier, Lennox, and Trane.
Any help, suggestions, or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 here comes Roboteq. I gonna get in trouble
nice give the guy a chart that puts lemox at the botton
very imformative i like it
only since amercan standart and trane are the same how is it trane is tree down dont get that one
they are good units though
What part of Texas it makes a difference, let me know where you are and I maybe able to make a recommendation of a good contractor.
Any system you buy is ONLY AS GOOD AS THE INSTALLING CONTRACTOR.
A good contractor can make the cheapest piece of equipment have a long efficient life. A low quality contractor can take the best most expensive equipment and make it inefficient and prone to failure.
When you buy a refrigerator it is a finished product so price is a concern. If you but a Maytag or Amana at Best Buy or Sears they are the same product built on the same assembly line.
If you go to Bubba's A/C and he installs an Amana or Trane unit how long that unit will operate and how efficient it will be depends. What it depends on is did he check the load needs of the house did he address any ductwork issues did he use nitrogen when he brazed the copper lines pull a proper vacuum correctly charge the system.
Realize that being a few ounces over or under charged can greatly effect the longevity of your system and reduce the efficiency as much as 50%. New high efficiency units can hold as much as 15 pounds of refrigerant and being off a few ounces can reduce your efficiency by as much 50%. I state this twice because it is very important especially if you want to purchase very high efficiency equipment.
In regards to purchasing the highest efficiency equipment it really is not worth purchasing equipment rated more than 13 or 14 SEER. Once you get above 12 SEER there is very minimal return on investment and the higher the SEER the quicker the return diminishes.
Now if you want to buy a two-stage system that is great but don't expect it to pay for itself. Two stage systems will provide you with greater comfort buy not significantly greater efficiency.
Some brands have more bells and whistles than other brands but if you want the bells and whistles a knowledgeable and informed contractor can provide anything you want with any brand. They may not be branded products but they accomplish the same thing and are probably manufactured by the same outside manufacturer.
You wanna laugh read the fine print, "differences of less than 5 points are not meaningful" Statistically that means that from Rheem down to Lennox, there is no real difference in repair rates worth a damn comparison table to begin with.
Useless info. Kinda like Gore 52% Bush 48%, +/-4 pts (and we know how that turned out.)
Thanks for the replies thus far. A couple of comments...
* twilli3967 - thanks for the link, but that is for the furnace and I'm more concerned with the A/C - I had already checked consumerreports.org (as I do before any significant purchase) and was disappointed to not find good info on central air conditioners
* classical - I am in Dallas. I fully understand what you are talking about on the quality of the installer - it seems that anywhere you read drives that point home. I won't mention any specific names, but I have talked to a number of friends/co-workers and am only going to request bids from contractors who: 1) have provided good services to others I know, 2) have been in business for quite some time, and 3) have a satisfactory BBB record.
John first the BBB really means nothing nice to have a clean report but it being a member only means you have paid their fee.
Second size of company is of no value there are benefits and draw backs to being any size. Being large and having been around doesn't necessarily mean quality if in fact is more likely to mean lack of quality control.
Talking to and getting referrals from friends is nice but again is just anecdotal as they only go by how they feel not the actual quality of install.
There are a number of contractors here that are from the Dallas area that would be worth your while to contact.
Mike Beiser is one he seems to be exceptionally knowledgeable and is I believe on the board of RSES in Dallas. Others are Ranger, Aircooled53 and several others start a thread looking for Dallas contractors.
[Edited by classical on 04-29-2005 at 01:09 AM]
I am in the middle of having my HVAC replaced (being done today actually). Did a lot of research. I recommend http://www.angieslist.com/ to get feedback on HVAC contractors in your area. It is subscription service but worth the small fee (I've used it for other contractors besides HVAC). At least for the Chicago area, they have a very extensive list of contractors and ratings from homeowners - fairly easy to recognize from the comments in Angieslist which homeowners are disgruntled because they are cheap versus homeowners that have legitimate complaints.
The brands you mention are all solid. My understanding is that Bryant and Carrier are the same and that Carrier bought Bryant and kept the brand because it's so well known. Bryant tended to be a bit cheaper in the bids I received. What I've read on Lennox is that parts may not always be in stock and may cost more. Trane does "seem" to have the best repair record but it's really splitting hairs. After I picked contractor (most important), I chose Bryant because of quality, price, and features - they make a control (Evolution or Thermidistat) that allows manual/auto setting of humidity and manual override of fan speeds (low/med/high) which is imperative for me for extra quiet operation (furnace underneath bedroom). Other fans are only on/off. The Evolution also has many extra features. Carrier calls their version Infinity. Evolution/Infinity control supposedly works with Trane but I wanted to buy something that was meant and tested to work together. Lennox also claims to make the most quiet furnace but here again, I think it's splitting hairs and not something your ear could detect. Most importantly, my contractor prefered and usually sells Bryant so that weighed my decision because why get a system that my contractor is not as familiar installing - might not get done as well.
Evoloution and Infinity won't work with Trane,they require the lastest and greatest GE VS motor,I don't think anyone else is using it yet.
Use the search funtion on this site to read about Infinity,and see what other homeowners think of theirs. Screen name, hugodrax,I think is one that has made several posts.He's in humid Miami,and the Infinity ,VS,with two stage/speed compressor,is making him comfortable.
We sold about 250 of them last year and the customers love them.
[Edited by dash on 04-29-2005 at 03:24 PM]
OP, classical has given you some very good advice. Those of us who are not brand whores will always insist that the contractor is the most important part of your HVAC buying. Once you have found a contractor you trust, then trust the brand that they recommend.
Different brands have different benefits in different areas with different needs. To add to that confusion, a brand that may do very well in one location may not be a good choice in another location with the same needs "IF" the distributor of that brand in that area is not up to snuff. The worst thing that any consumer can do is to buy equipment over the Internet because no contractor is going to have a relationship with that type of equipment seller.
Being in a hot, humid area with less heat need it is best to go for an efficient system that will dehumidify. That means having an efficient outdoor unit installed with the least efficient ARI rated indoor coil along with a variable speed blower. Two stage cooling could also be a great benefit for someone in your area, but cost factors always need to be taken into consideration. Good luck.
Design, installation ,and service after the sale are very important.However homeowners are hardpressed to know if they get a great job,they can however distinguish the features of one system versus another.
As the resident "brand whore"(LOL),I'm here to tell you the Infinity will provide heating and cooling ,combined comfort (Okay,the Mod Furnace is likely better in heating ,in a cold climate),that no other will.
Does it cost more than a cheap one,absolutely,what's higher SEER ,humdity control and comfort worth?It's up to the buyer to decide,if it's worth it to them.
It's the homeowners comfort and Indoor Air Quality at stake ,but I wouldn't advise they decide on price,unless they have no other choice.