Replacing Heat Pump, advice needed
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    Replacing Heat Pump, advice needed

    Our ancient, rickety heat pump (34 yo inside/17 yo outside) has been in its death throes for a few weeks and needs replacing. We have a 2.5 ton system in a smallish 3-level townhouse in Maryland.

    Contractor A proposed:

    1A- midline system Carrier 25HCC530 2ฝ ton heat pump with FX4DNF031 (this is a 1-speed, right) indoor air handler (at astronomical price)

    2A - (verbally described as "builder grade crap") Carrier 25HBC330 2.5 tons with same indoor air handler ( FX4DNF031) (at still astronomical price).

    Contractor A had our maintenance contract for years. But this year we discovered they replaced our thermostat with a programmable model that cost $ at Amazon for $$ so I think they are horribly overpriced. Their work is acceptable in that it is generally done well but sometimes not; if not they come back and fix it at no extra cost, and they have been responsive to our concerns. This contractor has decent ratings (A/B) with BBB and Angie's list, but is considered overpriced. It is a large company serving a lot of territory.

    Contractor B proposed:

    Lennox 13HPX heat pump with Lennox CBX26UH air handler. This also comes with a Lennox ComfortSense 5000 thermostat (which we don't need because we already have a new thermostat IMO). Price less than first contractor and venturing into something we could actually pay. I assume these are 2.5 tons but the printout here doesn't really say

    This contractor asked if our vents upstairs are on the floor or ceiling; they are on the floor or low wall except for an intake vent in the upper wall on the top level. He said that--and this is where I got confused --that either a variable speed or 2-stage (I FORGET WHICH) fan in the air handler would not work for us because our duct must be "stacked" and not a "spider formation" and the fan will have to work at 100% all the time anyway. Does anyone know what this means?

    Contractor B also has decent (A/B) ratings with BBB & Angie's List and came recommended by a relative. It is a large company serving a lot of territory.

    Contractor C gave four proposals:

    1C. "Base" Payne PH13NA03000G 13 SEER-2.5 Ton heat pump with Payne PF4MNA031T00 air handler (CHEAP like Mad Magazine used to be )

    2C. "Good" Carrier 25HBC330W 13 SEER-2.5 Ton Comfort heat pump with FX4DNF031T00 air handler (this is basically the same as 1A, I think?, but at half the price)

    3C. "Better" Carrier 25HCC530W 15 SEER-2.5 Ton Performance heat pump with FV4CNF002T00 1.5-3.0 Ton Performance variable speed air handler. (similar to 1B, but with variable speed air handler and at half the price).

    4C. A Carrier Infinity which I think is overkill for our house so I'm not really considering it. (25HNB636A 16 SEER-3.0 Ton Infinity heat pump with FE4ANF002T00 1.5-3.0 Ton Infinity 2 stage/variable speed air handler and a new thermostat.
    (This is still less than proposals 1A & 2A)

    This company came recommended by a friend, and has very good (A/A) ratings & reviews at BBB and Angie's list, but since it is a smaller family-run company there are fewer reviews.

    We are probably going to go with Contractor C (unless I've missed some red flags?).

    My questions are:

    * Is the Lennox worth considering? Is it better than the Carrier 25HCC530? (because if we get it, it will cost more than this Carrier model)

    * Is the Carrier 25HBC330 or 25HBC330W really "builder grade crap"? (I assume the Payne definitely is. They only proposed it after I said I wanted to keep costs down while reeling in sticker shock from these other guys).

    * Will we benefit from a variable speed air handler given what Contractor B said about our ductwork?

    * Is the Carrier 25HCC530W better than the 25HBC330W in any other way than increased efficiency? All the contractors agree that our current system is working at a SEER 6 or so, so jumping to SEER 13 is still a big increase in efficiency for us, and price is a serious consideration. But we could still afford the 25HCC530W if it is a better model for us. We are hoping for the same kind of durability our current system had...or as close as is possible

    My thanks to anyone who got this far for reading this tl;dr post and any thoughts or recommendations you might have.
    Last edited by beenthere; 01-24-2013 at 05:55 AM. Reason: prices

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    DC Metro Area (MD)
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    3,368
    The 25HCC5 is a good middle of the road unit. Over the 25HBC3 you get better outdoor coil protection (louvered coil guard vs. wire frame), less sound (compressor sound blanket), and of course greater efficiency. Because it's a heat pump, you still get the high/low pressure switches to protect the compressor in the base grade unit (with Carrier at least).

    While the 25HBC330 and FX4DNF031 is a fine system -- if you can, I would go with the 25HCC530 with FV4 air handler (assuming 2.5 tons is correct -- get a load calculation done). If you plan on living in your home for a while, this will give you quieter operation, better efficiency, and better comfort. You can and should use a thermostat that can adjust the variable speed blower to reduce humidity (Carrier's thermidistat model TP-PRH is one example -- Honeywell's VisionPRO IAQ also works well). While I can't see your ductwork, I do not understand contractor 2's comment about the variable speed blower being a problem. With a single speed outdoor unit, if anything, it would help with airflow as it can provide a constant CFM (airflow) across varying duct conditions whereas airflow starts to drop off considerably with standard motors as pressure increases (dirty filter, poorly designed ductwork, etc.).

    Where in MD are you located? I may be able to recommend a company or two if you are pursuing further estimates.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2013
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    We are in Montgomery County.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joykins View Post
    We are in Montgomery County.
    My email address is in my profile -- if you want to send me an email, I can make some recommendations. There are a couple on this site that service Mont. Co. also if you check the "Contractor Locator Map."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    The South
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    Joykins

    I like 3C as well, Mdl 25HCC530 but with the FV4CNF005 air handler that gets you to 9 HSPF heating efficiency and over 15 SEER.

    I also would suggest the 9 KW prewired staged heat strip that operates in 3 KW increments.

    Agree about the Carrier thermidistat for superior dehumidification in AC cooling.

    And if you don't already have one, I would install a media filter cabinet.

    Lineset to be replaced or flushed? It must be the correct size.

    IMO

  6. #6
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    Jan 2013
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    Contractors proposed flushing the line (we currently have a Carrier indoor system).

    The emergency heat strips proposed are FC-0901N10 for all the models in 3. Contractor 1 proposed " manufacturer’s optional 10kw electric heat package" which I suppose is the same thing?

    Our current thermostat is a Honeywell TH6220 FocusPro 6000 5-1-1 Programmable Heat Pump Thermostat. Will this work properly with the variable speed fan, or will we not be able to take advantage of it with this thermostat?

  7. #7
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    Lineset should be the correct size to manufacturer specs for new system. Verify.

    The heat strip I recommended is not the same. You want the 9 KW staged model. It will pay for itself.

    Get the 005 VS air handler for best efficiency numbers.

    And if dehumidification is important to you in AC cooling, then get the Carrier thermidistat.

    Also media filter cabinet.

    Don't shortchange the potential for a very nice system.

    IMO

  8. #8
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    Jan 2013
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    I love the way these system upgrades are all going to pay for themselves. I'm looking at payback period and the fact that Good Lord, I hope to be out of this house in 10 years anyway.

    I was told to move to a 13 SEER would probably save me 30% of my current heating/cooling bill. Given that--

    The base ("good") Carrier 13 SEER will "pay for itself" in (rough and probably low estimate) 11 years at Contractor 3 prices (22 years at Contractor 1 prices. Ha ha.).

    The Lennox 13 SEER will pay for itself in 16 years.

    How much additional bang for my buck does 15 SEER buy me? (And I'm making a big assumption that the heating efficiency improvement parallels the AC improvement). Will I save 40% or 50% off my current bill? Or some other number. Keep in mind that I have a smallish, old, internal-unit townhouse where we line our walls with bookcases and our current electric bill is very low compared to what we hear from others.

    If so-- at 40%

    15 SEER pays for itself in 11 years . There is like maybe a one month difference in this at Contractor 3 prices between the 15 and 13 SEER.

    --at 50% 15 SEER pays for itself in 9 years. This is the only scenario where the thing "pays for itself" because IMO nothing pays for itself unless it starts paying during the warranty period.

    But what amount of savings can I expect in terms of percentage going from a system estimated at a 6 SEER to 13 vs going to a 15?

  9. #9
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    Joykins

    Here is a more basic system with the Carrier's Comfort 13. I would go no lower.

    Has pretty good numbers. 12 EER, 8.5 HSPF, 14.5 SEER
    full BTUs both cooling and Heating for rated size

    AHRI #3685040

    Mdl #25HCB330 condenser
    Mdl #FX4DN(B,F)037 air handler

    Ask dealer for a price. Still a big improvement over what you have.

    You could use old stat.

    I still would recommend the 9 KW prewired staged heat strip.

    IMO

  10. #10
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    I would take tigers advise.

    also, almost any move you make is going to drop your elec $-$$, you'll be happy. IMO, simpler systems last longer and are easier to mts.
    Sic semper tyrannis

    ‚——’ฏฏ‘;====ฑ—- * * * * * *
    !‚–’ฏฏƒนถ

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Integrity Aire View Post
    I would take tigers advise.

    also, almost any move you make is going to drop your elec $-$$, you'll be happy. IMO, simpler systems last longer and are easier to mts.
    That is what I'm thinking. We have a "base model" house. I don't want to be someone that puts, you know, a jacked suspension kit on a Carter-era compact Toyota pickup...also I know I seem obsessed with price but we're coming out of a period of unemployment and have a lot of debt and not so much savings.

    Do any of you have a model # for the 9-kw staged heat strip?

  12. #12
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    @RyanHughes, I cannot access your profile. I appear to have "insufficient privileges"

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joykins View Post
    That is what I'm thinking. We have a "base model" house. I don't want to be someone that puts, you know, a jacked suspension kit on a Carter-era compact Toyota pickup...also I know I seem obsessed with price but we're coming out of a period of unemployment and have a lot of debt and not so much savings.

    Do any of you have a model # for the 9-kw staged heat strip?
    A good Carrier dealer will know or can very easily find out.

    IMO

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