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  1. #1

    5 Ton, 5 Ton, 2 Ton - Total Replacment Help

    I am in the market for a total replacement of 3 units (5,5,2) for my house.

    I currently have entry level 10 SEER Rheem units that are a dozen years old and breaking down non-stop. I am looking to replace both the outside units and associated furnaces. Estimated total bill is in the $$$$ to $$$$ range depending on options and models so it is a big job and I want to do it right. House is two stories, faces E/W, is in a hot city, has ceilings from 12-20 feet, 4,400 sq feet total. Media room has the 2 ton unit for it alone. Roughly 250 sq feet of the 4,400 sq feet total.

    I'm in the D/FW area and used a half dozen companies over the years for various service jobs. I never done a full replacement or install.

    I'm in the middle of the bid process and it's really confusing. Most of the companies seem qualified, they say and do the right things when I ask them about my current units versus size of house, etc.

    How do you know who to trust (both install and price)? How much SEER is really needed (value/efficiency apex)? Brands to focus on/avoid? 1 Stage or 2?

    So far the quotes are all over the board. Pretty much my range I noted above. Nobody has recommended the same thing.

    Any thoughts or advice?
    Last edited by beenthere; 02-04-2012 at 06:47 AM. Reason: price range

  2. #2
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    start with weeding out the contractors whom didn't do a load calculation. Then decide on the one whom you feel will do the best job for you. Next step is decide on what features you want and need such as 1 or 2 stage. Being primarily in a cooling area, I would think high SEER would be an advantage to you. Dual fuel may be something to look at. As far as brand goes, it is far less important than picking the right contractor. Once you find your contractor, the rest (hopefully) becomes a lot less intimidating. Try using the contractor locator on this site to find a great contractor. If these guys are on here willing to help off the clock, imagine how well they do when they are on the clock. Good luck

  3. #3
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    Very good advice!
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  4. #4
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    I've attached some .pdf documents to help you through your dilemma. It all comes down to be an educated consumer and then selected the qualified company with which you have the best report or trust. Proper sizing of the equipment to meet the house needs is paramount and if you've got builder's grad equipment, I'll make the quantum leap and assume (bad thing to do, eh?) that the equipment was new with the home. That means it's unlikely anybody ever did a load analysis, that the whole duct system is suspect and that it's time that you do the job properly as you'll likely live with it for some time. Read the docs, follow the plan and you should end up with a very nice, comfortable system.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by NCHeat View Post
    start with weeding out the contractors whom didn't do a load calculation. Then decide on the one whom you feel will do the best job for you. Next step is decide on what features you want and need such as 1 or 2 stage. Being primarily in a cooling area, I would think high SEER would be an advantage to you. Dual fuel may be something to look at. As far as brand goes, it is far less important than picking the right contractor. Once you find your contractor, the rest (hopefully) becomes a lot less intimidating. Try using the contractor locator on this site to find a great contractor. If these guys are on here willing to help off the clock, imagine how well they do when they are on the clock. Good luck
    Thanks for the comments. To give you some more information.

    1. Not one company did a formal load analysis. All did the eyeball test against sq footage and existing units.

    2. I don't know what I need and I've heard both sides of the 1 vs 2 stage option. I'm in a heavy A/C state so does that make me a better candidate? It's about a $ option, but nobody can pinpoint a payback or percentage of energy saved.

    3. How high of a SEER rating does one really need. Mine now is terrible. Rated 10 SEER and a few of the guys bidding said I am in the single digits more than likely. Is 14 enough? 16? 18? I can't really get a straight answer out of anyone about what I really need and where the payback equation stops getting better vs the dollars spent.
    Last edited by beenthere; 02-04-2012 at 06:49 AM. Reason: price

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3Aims View Post

    2. I don't know what I need and I've heard both sides of the 1 vs 2 stage option. I'm in a heavy A/C state so does that make me a better candidate? It's about a $3k option, but nobody can pinpoint a payback or percentage of energy .
    IMHO 2 stage is about comfort, not ROI! Two stage over a high eff single stage will take years to pay back, however I know no one that has experienced multi stage that would switch back to single stage.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3Aims View Post
    Thanks for the comments. To give you some more information.

    1. Not one company did a formal load analysis. All did the eyeball test against sq footage .
    This would also be a good reason to do multi stage because these guys don't have a clue!
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  8. #8
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    First, before you do anything else I'd have a Home Energy Efficiency Rater/Audit performed so you can see what can be done to reduce the heat-gain factors.

    Then I'd do all the retrofit work that is cost-effective; that may allow you to reduce the tonnage of the equipment.

    Reducing the size of equipment nearly always translates into much more efficient performance regarding air flow & runtime efficiencies.

    Always use room thermostats that have a SWING temperature setting so you can control the on-time off-time spreads, that will help improve SEER performance & humidity, especially during lighter load times.

    You are about to invest a lot of money, invest it wisely for the best ROI.

    "Actual Performance" depends on the quality of everything performed prior to, and then especially during the actual condenser installs. 'You' usually have to get well informed and then take control of the situation in order to get it right...
    Last edited by udarrell; 02-03-2012 at 11:13 PM. Reason: FIRST, get well informed...!

  9. #9
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    OP, might want to contact forum member "classical". While I don't believe your in his service area, he may know of some good contractors in your area. If you can't find any of our members on our contractor locator map that are local to you.

    2 stage will generally only have a ROI if it allows you to set your thermostat set temp higher them you normally would with a single stage.
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  10. #10
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    One thing i find is that very few 5 ton hvac systems move 5 tons of air , i would ask them to perform a static pressure test on the duct system to verify airflow .also the energy audit is good advice

  11. #11
    OK, I am done with all of the quotes. I invited two more companies to give me a quote, for a total of five quotes. Two companies did not have the greatest references when I asked around so I am down to three companies.

    Anything jump out at you? I'm somewhat torn between Company 1 and 2. Company 3 was the cheapest and most confusing, but had some interesting points about return air problems the first two did not mention.

    Company 1 (Carrier Dealer): No load analysis. Just an eyeball test. Two options offered: (i) just replace what I have now (5,5,2 tons) with either 1 stage (16 seer Comfort line) or 2 stage (17 seer Performance line) Carrier units. Both options included new 2 stage furnaces. He said return and duct work looked good. The two stage option was a low 4 figure upgrade. Solid references, decent sized metroplex dealer, and been in business for 50 years. Highest bid by a slight amount.

    Company 2 (American Standard dealer): Did a "manual j load analysis". Determined upstairs only needs a 4 ton unit versus current 5 ton unit. Two options offered: (i) Replace what I have now (5,5,2 tons) with 5,4,2 either 1 stage (15 seer Gold XI) or 2 stage (16 seer Platinum XM) American Standard units. Both options included new 2 stage furnaces. The two stage option was a low 4 figure upgrade. He said duct work looked good. Local, smaller comopany that we've used for service calls. Solid references on service, somewhat limited on new installs. Roughly same bid range as first company. Slightly less.

    Company 3 (Reps numerous lines): Did a "manual j load analysis". Also determined upstairs only needs a 4 ton unit versus current 5 ton unit. However, was the only one that said I have major return duckwork bottlenecks/restirctions. For example, upstars can return 1,050cfm and 5 ton unit is rated 2,000cfm. Same in media room. Return duct can handle 400cfm but unit does 800cfm. He wants to fix all of this with more return grills. His quote is confusing with lots of a la carte options, but basically, two options offered: (i) Replace what I have now (5,5,2 tons) with 5,4,2 either 1 stage (14 seer) or 2 stage (15 seer) units. He would not share the brands which bothered me a bit. Both options included new 2 stage furnaces. The two stage option was a low four figure upgrade. Local, smaller comopany that we've used for service calls. Does a fair amount of home warranty work as their base business. Decent references on service (we've used them), somewhat limited on new installs. Cheapest by mid four figures depending on option choosen.

  12. #12
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    Company 3 (Reps numerous lines): Did a "manual j load analysis". Also determined upstairs only needs a 4 ton unit versus current 5 ton unit. However, was the only one that said I have major return ductwork bottlenecks/restrictions. For example, upstairs can return 1,050cfm and 5 ton unit is rated 2,000cfm. Same in media room. Return duct can handle 400cfm but unit does 800cfm. He wants to fix all of this with more return grills. His quote is confusing with lots of a la carte options, but basically, two options offered: (i) Replace what I have now (5,5,2 tons) with 5,4,2 either 1 stage (14 seer) or 2 stage (15 seer) units. He would not share the brands which bothered me a bit. Both options included new 2 stage furnaces. The two stage option was a low four figure upgrade. Local, smaller company that we've used for service calls. Does a fair amount of home warranty work as their base business. Decent references on service (we've used them), somewhat limited on new installs. Cheapest by mid four figures depending on option chosen.
    Number 3 is my pick... That duct analysis is extremely important; those duct restriction conditions must be fixed!

    He should absolutely provide every detail concerning the equipment, so you know what you are buying.

    These new higher SEER Rated units have much larger coils & require a lot more refrigerant; my advice is to ask for the equipment with the new microchannel smaller tubing coils, they are more efficient coils that require less physical area (reducing the footprint by as much as 40%) & have colder evaporator coils.

    Goodman & other companies have these new microchannel coils...an important improvement in my opinion; in hot humid or just humid & mild climates matched with a variable speed blower they are excellent for controlling & reducing humidity levels in the home.

    Also, IMO, you would want a Scroll compressor & a TXV metering device on the indoor coil.


    The load-calc should have told you where you could make improvements in your home's energy efficiency, whereby you might possibly reduce equipment sizing to better match the duct & return air filter sizing. Whenever possible, increase the RA filter sizing & use at least 2 filtering areas.

    Never oversize equipment; 11 Tons (well, 9-Tons without the media room) is a lot for that home in a relatively low humidity climate!
    I'd try to reduce the heat-gain of your home & thus reduce the required tonnage.

  13. #13
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    This thread is a bit on the O L D side

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