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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    54

    Help me decide, please. Do I "upgrade" or keep my old system?

    Hello, all- I'll warn you in advance that this is a little long. Hard to sacrifice accuracy for brevity. I could really use some 2nd opinions from the experts willing to read this!

    Thanks to a wealth of info here I've narrowed down my choices considerably. I would very much welcome a few 2nd opinions before I commit to some big $$. I'd like to make sure I am getting more than just different color equipment should I commit to a 5 figure check! But first, some background:

    My home is a +/- 2800 sf colonial located about an hour N of NYC. It's got 9' ceilings downstairs and an open foyer. I use about 850 gals annually of oil inclusive of a Bock oil fired water heater. I "guesstimate" my HVAC electric usage at about $1400/year. Thus, with oil at $4.75/gal I spend about $5500/year for oil & elec to heat/cool my home.

    Only one dealer, a Carrier one, would do a heat calc. so far. Nobody wants to do them it seems or prefers to guess. He estimates a max heating load of 69000 Btu and 56,000 for cooling. You can see why he feels the Williamson is way too big.

    Current HVAC:

    Williamson WHBO-12A oil burner- forced air. 140K BTU input using a 1 gal per hour nozzle. Per the Mfgr I cannot install a smaller nozzle even though a few contractors suggested such, as all feel the system is oversized. 9 years old

    Lennox HP-29 5 ton heat pump set to "changeover" at 45 degrees. Lennox tells me it can go lower, to about 25 or so. Also 9 years old. 7.2 HSPF, 10.7 SEER with with high/low cops of about 2.9 and 2.18 respectively.

    OPTION ONE:

    Carrier Infinity 25HNA960 A 30 5 ton, 2 stage heat pump. About 14-15 SEER for a 5 ton unit, 9 HSPF and high/low cops of 3.38 and 2.6.
    Carrier 58VMR120-20 oil burning furnace rated at 83% AFUE

    The Carrier dealer estimates I'd use a total of about 450 gals per year in total with this, as he feels my Williamson is very oversized. If he is right, I would use about 400 gals LESS, or 400 in total.

    OPTION TWO:

    The same Carrier Infinity 25HNA960 A 30 5 ton, 2 stage heat pump. About 14-15 SEER for a 5 ton unit, 9 HSPF and high/low cops of 3.38 and 2.6.
    Carrier 58MVC100-20 propane burning furnace. 95% AFUE

    Total estimated propane use: 460 gals including hot water (280 without) even though I don't yet have a propane water heater & would need a propane tank.

    OPTION THREE:

    Lennox XP14 single stage heat pump 15 SEER, 9 HSPF
    Lennox 023V Oil furnace

    I am not impressed with this quote as they say I "don't need a 2 stage HP since the air handler could meter the air. I told him this sounded like running your car flat out at all times & using your brakes alone to vary speed. Didn't seem like a good idea.... Also, this guy didn't think he needed a heat calc & wanted to go by square footage alone.

    OPTION FOUR:

    Do nothing except lower the changeover point on the old Lennox to, say, 25 from 45 and leave the Williamson oversized.

    So, what does the collective wisdom here say or think? Sorry for the length, but for those that do slog through all this BS I am most appreciative. The Carrier guy seems straight, but like the others, light on work and looking for more. They are all hurting, it seems. I don't mind layout out the $$ if I'll see a real payback within, say 5 years or so.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,167
    Seems strange that you have a heating load of 69,000 BTUs, and a cooling load of 56,000 BTUs.

    I didn't think you had such hot weather up that far. I would have thought your winter was more extreme then summer.


    A. Look to see what improvements you can make to your house in the way of insulation, air tightness, maybe better windows.
    B. Average house hold uses about 275 gallons of oil a year for hot water. So that means you currently use about 575 gallons for home heating with your current dual fuel system. A higher efficiency heat pump, might knock 100 gallions off of that. And maybe another 15% reduction on your electric bill.
    C. Propane could cost more then oil. Find out all charges before switching. If you rent the tank, you pay rent per gallon you use.
    D. Setting your current HP lock out temp lower, may save you almost as much as a new high efficiency heat pump on your heating bill.
    E. Setting your HP lock out lower, will prevent some of your current furnaces short cycling that is costing you money with that high lock out temp.

    On the hottest days, does your current HP cycle on and off, or run continuously and not maintain set temp?

    Whats your electric rate. Including all transmition charges, and taxes.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    phoenix az
    Posts
    24

    what to do

    First thing i'd like to say is williamson telling you, you cannot lower the sizing of your oil nozzel in that furnace is BS. with a little adjusting to the size of your blower drive pulley and over the fire draft, you can do almost anything. Another thing I wanna tell ya, is about propane. Propane is absolutely devestating to the burners in any gas furnace. It causes the burners to rust and flake apart about 3-4 times faster than natural gas. When these burners rust and flake apart, there burn pattern is no longer efficient and also causes premature failures to high efficiency secondary heat exchangers. So in other words, I wouldnt recommend the propane. Not seeing the job with my own 2 eye balls, I can't tell you exactly what I think would be best for you, but I will tell you what I recommend as far as equipment thats gonna give you the most money savings along with the most comfort. With a large home in up state new york I can only imagine how brutal the winters must be. Up to this point you have been spoiled from the nice warmth only an oil fired piece of equipment will provide. I recommend a Thermal Pride oil furnace because of its great reliability and performance. Matched with that system, I recommend a 14 SEER Carrier R410-A Puron heat pump. This unit will not require variable speed and you be able to set change over temp for heat pump lower, down to about 35 degrees and get pertinant heat from it unlike r-22 that realistically can't heat your home lower than 40 degrees ambient. I'm only recommending this from my experience due to the fact that, one, I believe the propane will not deliver the comfort your looking for in the winter, and whats the point of higher effeciency equipment if you keep turning it up because your still cold and it runs constantly. Plus this set up is much cheaper than what your looking to spend. KEEP THE OIL, JUST GET NEW PROPERLY SIZED.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    cincinnati ohio
    Posts
    2,024

    OPTION Five

    OPTION Five would be to spend your money on insulating your home first ! Do everything to bring your heating & cooling load down ( You didnt say how old your home is ) Than think about going all ecectric / heat pump ! A well insulated house will save you money and give you more comfort than just doin a heat load and sizing your equipment to a loose house . Bob h
    My avatar is a picture of a Goodman Silencer .....These were commonly used in Goodman country ....Photos by hvac tech ( PaysonHVAC )

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,167
    Quote Originally Posted by hvacguru69 View Post
    I recommend a 14 SEER Carrier R410-A Puron heat pump. This unit will not require variable speed and you be able to set change over temp for heat pump lower, down to about 35 degrees and get pertinant heat from it unlike r-22 that realistically can't heat your home lower than 40 degrees ambient. I'm only recommending this from my experience
    Absolute B.S.

    An R22 HP with an output of 36,000BTUs at 35° will heat the same as an R410A HP with a output of 36,000 BTUs at 35°.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,234
    I'm with been & Bob

    I was suspicious of the "guessed" calcs. For a northern climate, if the loss is only 69K, I'd be very surprised if you need 5 tons of cooling. We probably are in a similar climate, though probably a bit warmer in the summer and milder in the winter. The average 2800 sq ft house that can heat on 69K probably needs no more than 3 ton cooling. So before going on with your plans, somebody needs to accurately calculate these things!!! For $50 you can do it too, click HVAC-Calc on the menu bar at the top.

    I would think the new oil furnace would be similar in efficiency to the WHBO. So buying a new furnace may not gain you in oil savings much. Sure being closer in size would do a little but not that much. An variable speed blower would help on the juice bill and boost the SEER and HSPF by a bit.

    Bob has the best idea. Keep the heat in the house in the winter and the heat out in the summer. If 2800 sq ft in a mild climate really does need 5 ton, you got way too much heat coming in.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,167
    What. When I said it, it wasn't a good idea.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    54
    Thanks for responding and thanks for taking all the time for getting through this. Extremely appreciated. I figure these same issues are affecting many others as well. Allow me to "fill in the blanks":

    Quote Originally Posted by beenthere View Post

    Seems strange that you have a heating load of 69,000 BTUs, and a cooling load of 56,000 BTUs.

    I don't follow this either, but that's what's listed under "equipment load"

    I didn't think you had such hot weather up that far. I would have thought your winter was more extreme then summer.

    Depends. Heat in the mid 80s and even 90s in normal. Add in the humidity and ugh.. Winters stink, too. I am counting the years till I can get the hell out. Cold winters, sticky summers and HUGE taxes are no fun

    A. Look to see what improvements you can make to your house in the way of insulation, air tightness, maybe better windows.

    About all I can do is add insulation to the attic & check for leaks. I have Anderson low E dble insulated windows already.

    B. Average house hold uses about 275 gallons of oil a year for hot water. So that means you currently use about 575 gallons for home heating with your current dual fuel system. A higher efficiency heat pump, might knock 100 gallions off of that. And maybe another 15% reduction on your electric bill.

    Can't tell. The Carrier guy estimates about 116 gallons. We have a very high efficiency front loading washer, only run the dishwasher when full and don't take hours long showers!.

    C. Propane could cost more then oil. Find out all charges before switching. If you rent the tank, you pay rent per gallon you use.

    A real possibility. Still looking into ALL of this. Part of me is just sick of sending $ to the wackos in the middle east.

    D. Setting your current HP lock out temp lower, may save you almost as much as a new high efficiency heat pump on your heating bill.

    Exactly. If I read the print out he gave me, the "new" heat pump wouldn't kick on until it hits an average of 27 degrees, albeit with a high low cop of 3.38 & 2.6 vs 2.9 & 2.18 as the old Lennox has. Might now be enough to justify some big $$ just yet, as Lennox tells me the unit might easily last another 5-10 years. Whether I should keep it that long is a separate issue.

    E. Setting your HP lock out lower, will prevent some of your current furnaces short cycling that is costing you money with that high lock out temp.

    Excellent point. Thanks

    On the hottest days, does your current HP cycle on and off, or run continuously and not maintain set temp?

    Neither that I can see. It did freeze the coil once. Our biggest issue is the humidity. Can't get it below 50%. I suspect lower humidity would allow us t raise the cooling temps from 74-75 to even higher.

    Whats your electric rate. Including all transmition charges, and taxes.

    Good question. AFAIK, and what the utility told me, is to use 15 cents per kwh.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    54

    Thanks and oops- Should have added the home info: It's 9 years old (m)

    Quote Originally Posted by bob hubbard View Post
    OPTION Five would be to spend your money on insulating your home first ! Do everything to bring your heating & cooling load down ( You didnt say how old your home is ) Than think about going all ecectric / heat pump ! A well insulated house will save you money and give you more comfort than just doin a heat load and sizing your equipment to a loose house . Bob h

    The house is 9 years old, w R19 walls, R30 attic (I'll likely add another layer this fall when cooler) and with Anderson low E double paned windows. Can't really add more insulation except to the attic, although we could look harder for leaks, etc. This was the first thing I looked into, but forgot to mention it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    54

    Too true, BaldLonie. Only one guy would do an actual heat calc. Frustrating.

    Thanks for the input. You can see why I am so confused! I'll fill in a few blanks:

    Quote Originally Posted by BaldLoonie View Post
    I'm with been & Bob

    I was suspicious of the "guessed" calcs. For a northern climate, if the loss is only 69K, I'd be very surprised if you need 5 tons of cooling. We probably are in a similar climate, though probably a bit warmer in the summer and milder in the winter. The average 2800 sq ft house that can heat on 69K probably needs no more than 3 ton cooling. So before going on with your plans, somebody needs to accurately calculate these things!!! For $50 you can do it too, click HVAC-Calc on the menu bar at the top.

    I too am suspicious. Only one contractor so far would do actual calculations, and he is one who came up with these figures. Seems like an honest guy. I wouldn't describe my climate as mild, though. Hot, sticky summers (+90 is not uncommon w/ much humidity) and cold winters plus stupid-high taxes make for an unpleasant situation. I pay $10K/year just in damned taxes, hence my need to economize where I can.

    I would think the new oil furnace would be similar in efficiency to the WHBO. So buying a new furnace may not gain you in oil savings much. Sure being closer in size would do a little but not that much. An variable speed blower would help on the juice bill and boost the SEER and HSPF by a bit.

    My thought exactly. The contractor said that "right sizing" the unit would result in a 15-20% savings as I'd stop sending so much up the chimney & have longer run cycles.

    Bob has the best idea. Keep the heat in the house in the winter and the heat out in the summer. If 2800 sq ft in a mild climate really does need 5 ton, you got way too much heat coming in.

    Given the newness of the home and inability to add much more insulation except in the attic I am not sure what to do. I do have 9' ceilings and a large open foyer with large windows.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,167
    At your oil and electric rate.
    Your current heat pump, at its low COP.
    1,000,000 BTUs oil $41.40
    1,000,000 BTUs HP $20.20

    Definitely set the lock out lower if you keep your current system.
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Jefferson, GA
    Posts
    46
    Quote Originally Posted by jws3 View Post
    Thanks for responding and thanks for taking all the time for getting through this. Extremely appreciated. I figure these same issues are affecting many others as well. Allow me to "fill in the blanks":

    Neither that I can see. It did freeze the coil once. Our biggest issue is the humidity. Can't get it below 50%. I suspect lower humidity would allow us t raise the cooling temps from 74-75 to even higher.
    Like others said, you may be oversized for cooling. A properly sized (or slightly undersized) unit will do a better job at removing humidity. I'd recheck the cooling load calculations.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    54

    I will ask him to do just this, but must add such is why he suggested a 2 stage unit.

    Quote Originally Posted by aadam21 View Post
    Like others said, you may be oversized for cooling. A properly sized (or slightly undersized) unit will do a better job at removing humidity. I'd recheck the cooling load calculations.
    What you says makes sense, which is in part why the gentleman suggested a 2 stage unit, which would go into high gear, so to speak, only when needed. Trying to force a 5 ton load into only have the house via one of two zones seems inefficient. I liked this man's suggestion of a 2 stage unit since the lower stage would act as a smaller unit which more suitably fits the most common situation of only 1 zone calling at a time.

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