advice needed on 2 stage value,sizing, and on automated dampers
Hi. Can you experts give me some quick advice.
I tried to do some homework, including looking through this forum. Yet, I know that some people still will blow smoke up my chimney and it is hard to separate fact from hyperbole.
My main questions:
1. Is a 2 stage heat pump worth it? I live in the mid-Atlantic east coast area.
2. can an automated damper system help solve a big upstairs/downstairs cooling problem when the original ductwork was done as left/right sides of the house?
3. Is Bryant a good system? (seems to be most popular with firms around here)
Original system was York installed 20 years ago. All of the firms I called in this area (mid-Atlantic states) quoted Carrier and Bryant. A couple of them talked about Trane but still said they do almost all Carrier/Bryant.
I haven't been able to get most of them to get specific on capacity except one. The others just assumed to replace my 3.5 ton with a new 3.5 ton and dismissed my request to confirm the necessary capacity.
The house is 2800 sq ft plus unfinished basement. One of the firms said that based on rough calculations of needing 1 ton for every 600-700 sq ft indicate that we were probably undersized.
ZONING AND UPSTAIRS/DOWNSTAIRS PROBLEM:
The house is Colonial style and the ducting was done to go left side and right side instead of up/down. Hence, we have rooms upstairs that get very hot in the summer while the downstairs stays very cold. My wife finds it very uncomfortable.
BELOW ARE THE BASIC OPTIONS I NEED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN. I WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE ANY FURTHER COMMENTS ON THE THINGS I HAVE BEEN TOLD BY THE VARIOUS SALES REPS THAT PRESENTED THESE PROPOSALS AND MADE THESE CLAIMS. I HAVE REMOVED ALL PRICING INFO.
Bryant "Preferred" line model 265. 3.5 ton. FE4BNF005-20 air handler. said to be 15.5 SEER. 10 year compressor. 2 year labor.
Bryant "Legacy" line model 223. FV4BNF005-20 air handler. Said to be 14 SEER. 10 year compressor 2 year labor
The guys for the above options did not recommend any capacity change from the current 3.5 ton system. I asked for confirmation via load calculation. They said if 3.5 tons was OK before, then it'll be Ok in the future. For the air temperature differential between upstairs and downstairs, they also said re-ducting is possible but drastic, and expense.
The second firm that I am leaning towards ran some numbers and said that we were undersized and would probably need at least 4 tons. The rep did not do J calculation but said he could.
With respect to the cooling differential, this second guy strongly recommending an automatic damper system on some smaller feeder lines that go to the main level. He would put separate thermostats to reduce control the dampers separately and restrict airflow to the main level, forcing more cooling upstairs.
On the heat pump, this is the only firm that strongly recommended a 2 stage system. He said it would save us big money because it would allow the system to ramp down to the 2 ton level when it was only cooling upstairs.
He ended up mixing the Bryant Heat Pump and Air Handler lines because he said Bryant's Evolution handler can't be used with the automated damper system he was also proposing.
Combination of Bryant Evolution 4-ton, 2-stage heat pump model 286 and older air handler FV4BNF005 (compatible with the automated damper add-on).
10 years compressor. 5 years parts. 5 years labor
Bryant 4-ton, 2-stage pump Model 286 but with Evolution line air handler model FE4ANF005. No automated damper capability, but the sales rep says I would still reap benefits of 2 stage and he could still put in manual dampers to reduce airflow to main level in the summer time.
Bryant 4-ton, 1-stage pump Model 265 mixed with Evolution air handler FE4ANF005 and Evolution control. SEER 15.
It sounds like you haven't found a dealer worth choosing yet. Some of the answers that you are getting are quite common. "If it was good enough before it will be good enough now". You expressed a comfort issue. The sizing may be correct and it may just be a duct design problem all by itself. The complaint of not enough cooling/heat upstairs is a common problem. and is usually an air flow issue caused by ducts being to small.
You need to have someone do a room by room load calculation to determine if the duct work you have can supply the cfm needed for each room. You may spend thousands on high end equipment and still have the same problem. The problem may be as simple as adjusting dampers or adding manual dampers. Be cautious ading zoning to a duct system that is to small.
Two stage equipment works well anywhere provided it is set up correctly. Where in the Mid Atlantic?
Hi. Thanks for the quick reply.
I am in Maryland near DC.
The guy that talked about the sizing issue also said that manual dampers could probably work, but my wife is not keen on manual because the guy mentioned going into crawl space which immediately turned her off.
we don't need the air flow to be perfect, just improved.
I am at a loss on dealers. One that visited never even submitted a promised proposal. Most of the ones I researched had questionable complaint or customer sat records (BBB and checkbook.org ratings). I thought I was dealing with the best choices available and it is very cold right now.
north, east or south of DC ?
I am in Montgomery County Maryland
Hey, that's where I live! If you want to email me feel free to; my email is in my profile. I can give you advice on firms and equipment. Carrier and Bryant equipment does seem to be popular in our area. The Bryant Preferred heat pump you were quoted is paired with an Evolution air handler (FE4). Do you live in Potomac by any chance? Regards.
You have some good dealers and a lot of bad ones!
Who are the good dealers? I use United Air Temp (www.unitedairtemp.com). They deal mostly Goodman and Amana and some American Standard. Cropp-Metcalfe is another good, well-established one. I'm well aware that there are some bad ones, but isn't that the case in almost any area?
Ryan, have you used Goodman? On a DIY forum, Goodman and Amana are regularly trashed by participants, but some defenders say it is because of the poor installation jobs due to their lack of tight control over the sales channel.
I have a question that may be a little off the subject but was wondering about the efficiency of heat pumps the DC area. My manual J software shows design conditions of 91/12. I live in central Texas and we have some issues with condensor coil icing in high humidity conditions (our design conditions are 97/30). I have received a number of complaints from homeowners with the frequent defrost cycling and really try to avoid using heat pumps for this reason.
what is it the homeowners would actually notice? I have had not made such a complaint, but it may be out of ignorance. I haven't had any of the contractors talk about defrost cycling either.
The main complaint involves high utility bills. After the shock of the first high bill the homeowner gets very attuned to how often the system runs and then gets very concerned that the unit is running but the blower is not.
sorry. i may have had that problem but not noticed because my wife handles the utility bills.