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.