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  1. #1
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    Furnace sizing and Goodman GMH95 questions

    I'm in the process of buying a foreclosed home with a missing furnace and have an affordable quote for a Goodman GMH950703BX, but I have a few questions. Since it's February in Michigan, I'll need to be have the contractor do the furnace install as soon as I get possession. I do not want to pay for central air.

    House is 30x40 ranch, built around 1980, with triple pane vinyl windows, which I assume are nitrogen filled. Insulation is unknown, doors insulated steel. There's a double pane sliding door, but it opens into an unheated 3 season room, so I assume it's no worse than a triple pane slider. Home has no discernible drafts on a windy day. The windows especially seem to be very high quality. It's in lower Michigan, 7000 degree days, can expect five to fifteen days a winter when temps drop below zero at night. -20 might happen every ten years or so.

    In sizing, he used the 50 BTU / square foot rule and rounded up to 70k. I'll have to use propane, so it looks like actual output is 59k. The next size smaller is GMH950453BX, which puts out 39k on LP.

    I've spent some time with a few online heat load calculators and with conservative assumptions like R10 walls and R20 ceiling and one air change per hour, I'm getting around 35-40k, worst number I can recall is 42k BTU at 92 degree temperature differential. I ignored the attached garage and the three season room, which together cover about 30% of the outside wall area, so I really think the heat loss should be less than I calculated.

    Here's my main question:
    Is there anything wrong with asking for the 45k furnace, if it might run 80-100% of the time on a really cold night? The vast majority of the time from October-May I would expect it to be running on the low stage. Seems like using a 70k would defeat the purpose of having a two stage burner.

    With LP around $3 a gallon, I'm thinking that if a 45k furnace that burns 1/2 gallon an hour can't handle the load, I need to vigorously seal and insulate, not step up to the 70k furnace.

    My next question, although the GMH95 is a two stage furnace, it appears you use it with a single stage thermostat.
    And you can set it to run single stage, low stage for five minutes followed by high stage, or auto, which can vary from 1-12 minutes on low stage as needed? Does the furnace itself decide how long to run on low stage when you set it for "auto", and is this going to be the best setting to use?

    Finally, is GoodCare extended warranty worth buying? None of the brochures on Goodman's web site describe it in any detail.

    Edited to add: If I ask for a 20x25x4" media box on the air inlet and use MERV 12 filters to help with allergies, would this harm system performance?
    Last edited by Homeowner314; 02-04-2012 at 09:35 AM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homeowner314 View Post
    I'm in the process of buying a foreclosed home with a missing furnace and have an affordable quote for a Goodman GMH950703BX, but I have a few questions. Since it's February in Michigan, I'll need to be have the contractor do the furnace install as soon as I get possession. I do not want to pay for central air.

    House is 30x40 ranch, built around 1980, with triple pane vinyl windows, which I assume are nitrogen filled. Insulation is unknown, doors insulated steel. There's a double pane sliding door, but it opens into an unheated 3 season room, so I assume it's no worse than a triple pane slider. Home has no discernible drafts on a windy day. The windows especially seem to be very high quality. It's in lower Michigan, 7000 degree days, can expect five to fifteen days a winter when temps drop below zero at night. -20 might happen every ten years or so.

    In sizing, he used the 50 BTU / square foot rule and rounded up to 70k. I'll have to use propane, so it looks like actual output is 59k. The next size smaller is GMH950453BX, which puts out 39k on LP.

    GMH950703BX input rating is actually 69,000BTU and output is 66,400BTU per manufacturer spec. To maintain you would be using about 60% of the 66,400BTU. Propane burns @ 93,000BTU/1gal.

    I've spent some time with a few online heat load calculators and with conservative assumptions like R10 walls and R20 ceiling and one air change per hour, I'm getting around 35-40k, worst number I can recall is 42k BTU at 92 degree temperature differential. I ignored the attached garage and the three season room, which together cover about 30% of the outside wall area, so I really think the heat loss should be less than I calculated.

    Based on your geographical location and a house built in 1980 I calculate approx. 46,800BTU. Now, you also state that you have triple pane sliders. I say your right in stating that they are filled with nitrogen as every window manufacturer I know that offers the triple pane they fill them with nitrogen. Based on that I would be willing to bet that they didn't go cheap with insulation but for conversation sake we will say R-13 as that is the standard for a 2"x4" wall. We cannot ignore the two attached unconditioned spaces as there will be a loss there.

    Here's my main question:
    Is there anything wrong with asking for the 45k furnace, if it might run 80-100% of the time on a really cold night? The vast majority of the time from October-May I would expect it to be running on the low stage. Seems like using a 70k would defeat the purpose of having a two stage burner.


    Nothing wrong with asking, although remember you are hiring a professional in your geographical area. Personally I would go with his recommendation if it were my home.

    With LP around $3 a gallon, I'm thinking that if a 45k furnace that burns 1/2 gallon an hour can't handle the load, I need to vigorously seal and insulate, not step up to the 70k furnace.

    My next question, although the GMH95 is a two stage furnace, it appears you use it with a single stage thermostat.
    And you can set it to run single stage, low stage for five minutes followed by high stage, or auto, which can vary from 1-12 minutes on low stage as needed? Does the furnace itself decide how long to run on low stage when you set it for "auto", and is this going to be the best setting to use?

    You can use single or two stage stats. This will be set up by the contractor. It should be setup to offer you the full benefit of the furnace you are installing.

    Although others believe differently, I feel your better off with a 2-stage. The "controlled" studies by engineers show that aside from the comfort you truly have an energy savings. Some techs believe that a single stage is better because your using full resources instead of 60% to maintain temp. Personally and in my professional opinion I agree with the "controled" studies.

    Finally, is GoodCare extended warranty worth buying? None of the brochures on Goodman's web site describe it in any detail.

    This will extend your parts/labor to 10years and pays for all the labor, unless there is a call that you just needed to replace the batteries in stat, to include the call charge as well as the parts. However you need to keep up on your yearly PM's.

    Edited to add: If I ask for a 20x25x4" media box on the air inlet and use MERV 12 filters to help with allergies, would this harm system performance?

    I say no.

  3. #3
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    Better off with the GMVC. It can use a thermostat to control staging, and provide you with the comfort you will be paying for.

    Remember, your house is not a controlled lab/study. When set up with a combustion analyzer, its easy to tell that first stage burns less efficient then second stage.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonesHVAC-R View Post
    GMH950703BX input rating is actually 69,000BTU and output is 66,400BTU per manufacturer spec.
    From the spec sheet I downloaded, it's 66,400 on NG and 58,995 on LP. If you're saying play it safe and go with the 70k, the lower output on LP would sway the decision towards the bigger unit.

    This will extend your parts/labor to 10years and pays for all the labor, unless there is a call that you just needed to replace the batteries in stat, to include the call charge as well as the parts. However you need to keep up on your yearly PM's.
    My yearly maintenance would be out of pocket, not covered by GoodCare, right?

    Based on your geographical location and a house built in 1980 I calculate approx. 46,800BTU. Now, you also state that you have triple pane sliders. I say your right in stating that they are filled with nitrogen as every window manufacturer I know that offers the triple pane they fill them with nitrogen. Based on that I would be willing to bet that they didn't go cheap with insulation but for conversation sake we will say R-13 as that is the standard for a 2"x4" wall. We cannot ignore the two attached unconditioned spaces as there will be a loss there.
    A couple of points of confusion.
    1. I've got double hung triple pane throughout, except for a 6x7 double pane patio door which opens into unconditioned enclosed space. Windows appear to be clear/uncoated and I'm 99% sure there's no argon/krypton in them.

    I guessed that I could throw the 42 square feet of patio door in with the triple pane windows at R-2 because it had enclosed space on the other side. Maybe I should separate it from the other window area and call it R-1.5?

    2. When I said I ignored the unconditioned spaces, I meant that I treated the walls with unconditioned space on the other side as if they had the great outdoors on the other side of them.

    3. I forgot to mention that I really didn't know what to do with 1200 sq feet of subfloor and carpet over a basement, so I could be quite a few BTU off in my calculations. Your 46k might very well be more accurate than my 38k. I really should break into the attic and at least figure out the correct R-value up there before he orders the unit.


    Beenthere, you think it's worth an extra $ for a basic two stage thermostat and the GMV furnace? I should mention that this is a $25k house that's taking up most all the money I've got, I'm not keeping it for more than 2-3 years, and when I'm done rehabbing it I'll probably get no more than 70k for it. I can't pay $ for the proper Goodman communicating thermostat, I paid less than that for the computer I'm typing this message on.
    Last edited by beenthere; 02-04-2012 at 11:58 AM. Reason: price

  5. #5
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    Prices for equipment service or installs isn't permitted.

    Yes, its worth it.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
    Yes, its worth it.
    From another thread, I see that the GMH is 'the only 2 stage that can't use a 2 stage thermostat' and 'as the house heats up, the 2nd stage kicks in on time delay and blasts you out'.

    So, there's a reason why the GMH comes factory set for single stage operation?

    And I should either size it small and run it as a single stage or get a full fledged 2 stage with variable blower, and the latter is a much better way to go?

    It's looking like the GMH70 would not be as comfortable as a GMH46 or a GMVC70.

    The cheapskate in me is still thinking of going with the GMH46 and planning on improving the house if I need more heat. But since it'll be late February or early March before the system is running, I won't know until next winter if it works.

    BTW, I just found some place on the net that gave +1F as the heating design temp for Lansing, Michigan. Is it really that high?

  7. #7
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    Don't know what your design temp is. Could be that high.

    Get the smallest GMVC, and let the thermostat control staging. make improvements to your home as time and money allow.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
    Get the smallest GMVC, and let the thermostat control staging. make improvements to your home as time and money allow.

    Sounds like a plan, as long as I don't need ComfortNet. Those t-stats would be nice at 1/2 or 1/3 the price I was quoted.

    Do you have a specific suggestion for a 2-stage t-stat, or just buy whatever looks good and has the features I like?

    BTW, I visited the house today. Still don't know what's in the walls and attic, but I found out the large center part of the living room is only double pane, and all the windows are 1994 manufacture.

    I previously assumed that the rest of the house was equal to the windows. Now that I know somebody replaced all the windows in a 15-20 year old house, I'm thinking the previous owner was having trouble with heating costs.

    The vinyl siding might be the same vintage as the windows, so maybe they would have upgraded the insulation while the siding was off. If not, I suppose I could take off the siding and add an inch of foam and a tyvek wrap.

  9. #9
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    Michigan
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    Now I have a duct question.

    Now I'm wondering about my ducts.
    I'm assuming the rectangular trunk lines are adequate to supply the small round branches. The trunks look huge compared to the branches.

    I have the following branches, all 13-15' long, straight runs with a round to rectangular 90 elbow connecting to the floor grids.

    2 x 5" diameter
    4 x 6" diameter
    1 x 7" diameter

    If I assume 75cfm per 5", 100cfm per 6", and 150cfm per 7", that's 800cfm, right? Are my assumptions too conservative?

    The smallest GMH and GMVC furnaces come with 1200cfm blowers.

    The trunk ducts have rectangular grids in them for basement heating, but I was thinking of blocking those off and not heating the basement.

    Are my ducts adequate, or do I need to replace the entire system? Baseboard electric and 200A service is beginning to look better all the time. I can install that myself.

  10. #10
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    You might get that much air from them.

    Electric baseboard while cheaper to install. Would cost a lot more to heat the house with.

    TH5220D or TH6220D if you want programmable.
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  11. #11
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    Thank you for all your help.

    When you say 'might move that much', are you talking about my 800 cfm guess or Goodman's 1200 cfm blower rating?

    Electric used to be much more than LP, but 100% electric at 0.12/kWh is very comparable to 95% efficient LP at $3/gallon, and last I knew it was about $3.20 per gallon. OTOH, it might just be that my propane price isn't regulated, so it goes up weekly, and it takes a year or more to raise my electric rate. Next year's electric might be much worse than this year's propane.

  12. #12
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    Is that 12 cents with all additional fees included?
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
    Is that 12 cents with all additional fees included?
    All the per kWh fees add up to about 12 cents on winter rates. Summer rates are 12 cents for the first 600 kWh and about double for anything over 600. I didn't count the fixed monthly costs, because those are the same unless I go completely off grid.

    Then there's taxes on top of the entire bill. But there's 4% sales tax on the LP that isn't included in the price either.

    My LP is $2.399+tax on a forward contract. A friend paid $2.699 for his contract with another supplier. Last fill I got, they told me it would have been 3.199 if I hadn't prepaid last summer. Last fill my friend got, they 'forgot' he was on a contract and charged him 3.399. This year was the first time my contract was over $2, and I fear for next year's contract.

    I can knock .20 off the propane price if I buy my own tank, but even a used tank costs more than putting 200A electric to the house.

    If I were keeping the house long term, I'd put in baseboard for now and a heat pump later. I just don't think I could add the value of a heat pump install to the price of this place when I sell it. I bet I can't get the value of the variable speed blower back either, seems like an existing furnace is valued by its efficiency rating and its age. Maybe they'll look at the 46k furnace and think 'hey, this house doesn't need much heat', but probably they'll just want to see a year's worth of propane bills. Which reminds me, maybe I should call the propane suppliers and find out who delivered to my house and how much they delivered.

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