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  1. #1

    Limited Space, Sound and Seer Rating - Unravel my mysteries

    I have a cautious buyer set of questions that I'm hoping to get opinions and options on.

    1) I have a townhouse with a backyard that is only 28' x 29'. To constrain it further, I have a 3' high floating slab deck off the rear that covers all but 3' on each side of the house and protrudes 6' out. With a 4 ton and a 5 ton unit in the backyard, it makes it very difficult to land and hardscape around the units. I've been looking at the Carrier Performance Series Compact Central Air Conditioner. My thinking is that I could put the two units between my deck and fence (3' wide area). Does anyone have any experience with these units that you can share? How compact can the installation area be? Are they dependable? Could the actually be installed underneath the deck if there is enough height? Elevating the units to the roof is not an option.

    2) I know that decible levels are not linear and that 60 decibles is the sound of the inside of a home, 65 is the same as a busy office. Because of my limited area, I want to reduce noise as much as possible. I'm looking for references that put decible levels in relative terms that are understandable and what the impact is if you have two things putting out say 75 decibles. Is the noise doubled? Any references would be greatly appreciated.

    3) SEER rating seems to be a huge marketing gimmic based on the payback period for incrased unit cost. From what I've seen, buying a 13 SEER unit for $ vs. a 16 SEER unit for $, saves me only $.29 a day at $.10 per kilowatt - making the payback period about 14 years to cover the $ difference in price. Of course, all installers push high SEER ratings. Am I correct or am I missing something?
    Last edited by beenthere; 09-05-2012 at 03:42 PM. Reason: prices

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    NC Sandhills
    Posts
    409
    Under really an option even with side blowing condenser units. Decibles are not doubled with 2 units but can be a concern with any condenser unit with the close fence, slab deck and smaller yard. The higher seer units are usually quieter than lower seer although you can get nicer grade (lower decible) 13 seer units it will make the price difference between seer ratings less of an issue. If you build the correct set up you can "stack" these units. Where are your current units located? No prices. As far as mark ups for high seer, the makers put so much of a mark up on equipment it doesnt leave much or any for installer. I am sure some one can give you more specific answers but you may have to put new units where your older one are. There are size differences between some models but higer seer units are usually bigger than lower seer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Pamnyra VA.
    Posts
    710
    Check your local zoning office for issues regarding unit placement alongside your house.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Keokuk, IA
    Posts
    5,520
    No prices per forum rules.

    The Carrier Performance 15 Seer single stage is one of the quietest units on the market and Carrier's quietest unit. Nearly silent against typical outdoor background sound levels. I think York Affinity units are also super quiet. The Carrier compact side discharge is less efficient and noisier.

    Make sure you get your units sized correctly. IT would need to be a HUGE townhouse to require 9 tons of cooling... even in Houston or South Florida, we're talking 4000 sqft+ in most cases. Where do you live?

    To save some money, you can pair the 15 Seer Performance series AC with a Comfort Series Air handler with just a regular PSC motor. It will still get around 14 SEER and will be quiet.

    If the deck is open, you could fit the units up against the fence as long as you meet hte minimum clearnace on the other 3 sides. But 3' of width should be enough as long as the other 3 sides are open. The clearance requirements you can find by searching for (insert model number from Carrier website and add "data sheets" to a google search.

  5. #5
    BTW: The prices that I gave above are only relative to make the point of the payback difference.

    Thanks for the responses. Stacking the units wouldn't be an option. The Carrier units that I'm looking at do blow to the side and are rated at 66 decibles for 15 SEER. Seem like a good option for what I'm trying to accomplish.

    As for zoning, I'm in Houston and not sure why they would need to be a certain distance from the house. If it's for visual reasons, they are in the back yard. I've included a picture of the area if that helps. The two compact units I would envision to be in the space between the deck and the fence. I'll definately talk to a local installer; however, I want to be well versed before I do. So any thoughts are helpful. What I have now is an ugly, misplaced and non functional installation.

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,189
    It is certainly true that high SEER often has no ROI. I've been trying to convince people of that for years. For the premium of a 16 over a 13 in our area, you can get insulation blown in and really save. Or do weatherstripping which likely will pay in a year.

    As long as nothing impedes the airflow on a horizontal unit, they can be moved over. They are as reliable as any A/C. Probably kinda salty in price though.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Keokuk, IA
    Posts
    5,520
    So you want the units to blow warm air across your deck all summer? I don't see why you can't locate them clsoe to the house. 6" to the fence is the minimum clearnace... as long as you have 24" on the service side and 12" on all other sides and 24" between the units accoriding to hte CArrier Data Sheets...at least for the similar 24ANB7 whic hsi what I have handy.

    Looks to me like the best might be 12" from the house, 6" from the fence, then 24" between the units with the service side facing away form the house on both units. Then you can even shrubs 24" away from the 2nd unit. You'd need ot cut back some the the existing shrubs.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Keokuk, IA
    Posts
    5,520
    As a compeltely different option, you could install a single 8 ton VRF unit with 2 indoor air handlers. Very efficient, quiet, vairable speed and excellent dehumidification as well as heating capacity. There are even versions that can heat and cool simultaneously, so you can use AC in the winter during a dinner party, but still heat the upstairs. Or heat the downstairs while still cooling the upstairs if you have guests sleeping overnight. But this way you'd have a single unit.

  9. #9
    Thanks! Do you have an reference sites on an 8 ton VRF unit?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Anderson, South Carolina, United States
    Posts
    7,064

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Anderson, South Carolina, United States
    Posts
    7,064
    Daikan, Samsung, Mitsubishi, Fujitsu also have vrf equipment

  12. #12
    VRF is king of throwing me a curve ball. Just when I thought I understood basic HVAC concepts. Let me see if I have this right. A VRF unit would replace my two outside units and wire directly into the existing plumbing electrical that is in my attic four stories above? Or it would require new wiring/plumging to get up to the attic where the air handlers are. I could use my two existing air handlers for the two thermostat zones that I have in the house.

    Is it worthwhile to replace the air handlers if you replace the outside units?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,189
    VRF is a whole new thing. New piping, wiring, nothing easy and very expensive.

    Yes, if you replace the outdoor units with anything modern you should replace inside too.

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