What you want to do can indeed be done, but it does have its risks.
As already posted, the manufacturer will not provide a warranty for equipment bought over the internet. These internet sites state that they will back the warranty, but I'm not sure if I trust that claim.
There are some contractors that are willing to sell direct to the public. If you can find one, and buy from them, the mfrs warranty will still be valid since it was not an internet purchase. The warranty is parts-only, no labor.
Finding a qualified installer is a whole other issue. The installer would have to provide you a 1 year labor warranty just in case there are initial problems. If the installer is a hack and screws up the install, you may have problems for years to come.
Kinda like buying a mail order bride...
Your local REPUTABLE techs can get equipment at pretty much the same prices you are seeing on the 'net. You are paying for a SYSTEM, not just equipment. Your local tech would appreciate being able to install the equipment he is most familiar with, and deal with the supply chain he has an established reputation with.
I have bought many things off ebay. I would never consider purchasing HVAC equipment from ebay. Too much risk.
The internet purchase can be done, no doubt. There are techs who will put this in for you "on the side" no doubt. The contractors here and elsewhere are mostly honest, legitimate business people who are already beat up enough that if you saw our books and gross/net profit ratios versus many other businesses you would wonder why we do it in the first place. That does not mean that we do not run profitable businesses, but compared to say a pizza joint who sells a pie for fourteen bucks that cost them two fifty to make we are just getting by. Every homeowner out there thinks we are all a bunch of thieves. Now, that being said, consider this: we forge relationships with suplliers over years of doing business, we keep up with technology, we take risks every day and get beat up because someone else can do it "cheaper, faster, better, or stronger". Even in doing this we forge ahead. We accept the risks. When there is a warranty issue or problem, we fix it, even though sometimes we have to bash our heads against the wall with a manufacturer or equipment rep to get the warranty work paid. Why would you chance it???? another point to consider.....I have personnaly seen a side jobber light a house on fire trying to braze in a condenser. He had no insurance. He had no permit. The fire department took great joy in riiping the siding off the house Because there might be "a fire inside the wall". Sidejobber ran off and homeowner get stuck holding the bag. Is it worth the risk??? I think you know that it isnt. Look we all have some degree of cheapness in our minds, that is human nature. Save money by buying store brand cornflakes and lunchmeat. Spend your money wisely on this though you will have it for at least ten years, but more than likely closer to twenty.
Did not get ripped nearly as bad as I had projected…
I agree the risk to reward on this trade is a poor one. I am willing to assume the risk the in the 1st year if something goes wrong I can’t blame the tech who hooked the unit up. You might think that is insane but I see it as a calculated risk.
As for voiding the manufactures warranty, that risk I am not will to take. Some of these warranties are very long and a totally worth having. Clearly, an internet purchase cuts the legs out from under that concept.
As for getting a pro to do the job, until I find an installer that is going to prove to me that he (or she) is going to install what is best from my home, what’s the point? If “part swappers” continue to be the norm in my area of Long Island then I will continue to try to put as much control in my hands as possible. If I were going to sell you financial services I would have a host of questions to ask before I would know what is best for your particular situation. I would not sell you the same thing you already had, or what would result in the lesser amount of work for me. I would also expect that you would have done some of your own research and formed some of your own opinions (right or wrong )...
Needless to say internet purchase idea has been jettisoned. Thanks to all the replied, even the guys with the smart a$$ ones.
The problem is that buying off the internet is just as risky as buying from a local contractor. Read the post http://hvac-talk.com/vbb/showthread.php?t=164388. There are alot of us homeowners not in the business that have to take a leap of faith. I'd bet that if I took the list of AC contractors in my yellow pages and listed each one on a sheet of paper and placed in a bag then I let you pull a name out of the bag- You would have less than 20% chance of finding one like most of the pros on this forum.
That said the manufactures waranty is the missing link. If you hire a contractor who's to say he'll be around in 6 months so I think unless you know you have a good contractor, it's a toss up pending man. waranty issues (which is huge).
As to the poster who mentioned that not all of the math has been done, this is exactly true. The missing element is the cost of service. In this case, the cost of service includes liability.
There are no HVAC equipment wholesalers advertizing or selling HVAC equipment from the Internet. There is no company selling HVAC equipment via the Internet that is authorized to extend any manufacturer's warranty. What these Internet companies are are HVAC contractors who themselves are buying wholesale at a very reduced cost due to their volume of purchases from an actual HVAC wholesaler.
When a person buys HVAC equipment via the Internet, they become the entity responsible for the liability of each and every part of that equipment. The buyer of the equipment also becomes the responsible party for the installation of that equipment. All responsibility of equipment falls on the purchaser of the equipment. HVAC contractors have the support of actual HVAC wholesalers, while a consumer buying from some contractor via the Internet only has that contractor to rely on for support.
Yes, doing the initial math certainly makes buying HVAC equipment direct and having someone install it an attractive way to go. It is however a very one sided gamble in which the buyer should indeed beware. Manufacturer's are addressing these types of sales by eliminating the warranty due to the influx of warranty issues resulting from these types of sales. After all, just how much is a contractor going to pay attention to an install of equipment that they have no liability for and made no commision from?
If you buy a steak and pay someone else to cook it for you and that steak is not cooked to your satisfaction; who is going to wind up eating it?