Newbie Question about quotes and heat pumps
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  1. #1
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    Oct 2008
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    Newbie Question about quotes and heat pumps

    First of all, let me start by saying I'm new here and have been reading some very valuable information on the site so far. I really look forward to some informed replies, and thank you all in advance for taking the time to share your thoughts and opinions with me.

    Alright, I live in a 30 year old house that has original units. We are going through the processes of getting these replaced here shortly. The house, as I said, is 30 years old. The windows aren't the best, and the insulation isn't the best. They aren't poor, but could stand some improvements in the near future, which we are planning. The house is tri-level with 1900 sq. feet on heated/cooled living space.

    Currently, we have Rheem units in the house. The furnace is a 125,000 BTU unit, and the existing heat pump is a 2 1/2 ton unit. Again, it's a heat pump, but the heat pump function is either no longer working or not built into the current thermostat.

    We have had some quotes done on replacement units. Two through Rheem contractors (I'm a brand loyalist, so when I see the previous units lasting 30 years, they get a few points in the beginning) and one through a Carrier contractor. The quotes came back in a wide range of prices. If you request, I can break them down further with more specific details, but for now, I'll touch on the general areas of the quotes we are considering with a few follow up questions.

    We are pretty much considering two quotes. The first is from one of the Rheem contractors, and that is for a 90,000 BTU, 90+%, modulating furnace with a 13 SEER 2 1/2 ton heat pump. The second is for a 75,000 BTU, 90+% 2-stage furnace with a 13 SEER 2 1/2 ton heat pump.

    I guess first of all, any thoughts or comments on those? Secondly, some specific questions:

    1) Should I still look at a heat pump, or go straight A/C? We live in north central Illinois, where the summers can get to 95+ degrees for 3-4 weeks at a time, and the winters can get to -10 to 0 degrees for 6-8 weeks at a time.

    2) Is a 2-stage furnace a little bit of a waste without getting a variable speed blower? And what other advantages does a variable speed blower bring?

    3) If going with a heat pump that will use electricity up until temps drop to around 35 degrees, is the extra cost of the modulating or 2-stage furnaces a little bit wasted?

    I'll start with that, and I'm sure more will follow, and I'll continue to check up on replies. Again, thanks for any and all information that you provide.
    Last edited by grdn2; 10-23-2008 at 10:19 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    You have already and went and broke the golden rule please remove your pricing.

  3. #3
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    First. Edit out the prices. They are not allowed on this site. Thank you.

    Second. How are they determining whant size equipment you need, have any of them done a load calc.

    3. Heat pump save you money in the milder temp periods of the heating season. Few places go right from 80 to 20. So you should be able to realize some savings.

    4. Two stage furnaces aren't over kill on dual fuel systems. You'll be switching to the furnace, when its first stage is still able to handle the load.
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  4. #4
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    Oct 2008
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    1) Done.

    2) No, no load calcs have been run by any of the three contractors bidding.

  5. #5
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    Ask them to do one.

    If they tell you they don't need to, because they can tell from their years of experience.

    That means they just guess on what they think will be the high side of teh heat loss to be on the safe side.
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  6. #6
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    Oct 2008
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    Central Oregon
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    Quote Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
    Ask them to do one.

    If they tell you they don't need to, because they can tell from their years of experience.

    That means they just guess on what they think will be the high side of teh heat loss to be on the safe side.
    But I can feel cold air coming out of the registers . . . .

    I'm not a load calc guy, but I know that what they do is essential for both comfort and reliability.

    A variable speed blower is more efficient, adaptable to different situations, and more reliable (although more expensive to replace if that becomes necessary). It can somewhat make up for other faults/variables in the system.

    Installation done right is worth a heck of a lot--go with a reputable company.

    The filtering system is often a second thought. It should be a first. It not only affects IAQ; it also affects system reliability. More air flow is better, and at the same time you want it to be filtering well not only for your indoor air, but also for the components in the furnace/AHU, and the compressor. Get a filter with a lot of surface area, which requires a bigger place to put it in.

  7. #7
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    Over sizing a furnace or HP is not essential for comfort.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
    Over sizing a furnace or HP is not essential for comfort.
    Right on. I was saying it can make it less comfortable. If it makes too much heat, your indoor temp will vary more, and that's not comfy. It will also cause the system to cycle more, which adds a bit of wear. It's also less efficient. I agree 100% with the load calc. I'm not a load calc guy, but I depend on those in my company who do it, to determine the best system for the customer.

  9. #9
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    Oct 2008
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    My biggest question/issue about the whole process so far is losing the extra cost put into the modulation or 2-stage furnace if I decide to go with a heat pump that doesn't utilize these features unless the temperature is less than 35 degrees, give or take. Would it be worth the monetary savings to get an air conditioner instead of a heat pump to utilize the modulation or 2-stage features of the furnace at all times?!

    Again, thanks in advance for all the help, and sorry about the boo-boo in the original post, I've just been reading others as opposed to the forum guidelines. My apologies.

  10. #10
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    Where I live, I'd choose a 2-stage high efficiency gas furnace with a single stage A/C and variable speed blower in the furnace. Plus a big filter. I don't know what gas and electricity cost where you are.

    Here, even after the hottest days, we get cool nights. Our RH is almost always low. Good insulation can make A/C less necessary.

    If I didn't know how to service my own equipment, I'd pay for an annual maintenance.

    Sorry if that didn't help much. My best advice is find a local company you have reason to trust--and a load calc is one big reason to trust.

  11. #11
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    A 2 stage furnace with VS blower would not be a waste.
    A VS blower adds enhancements to single stage HPs in the cooling mode. And can provide you with a warmer heat pump discharge air temp.

    You will still get the long run times from the furnaces first stage when it switches over to gas heat.
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  12. #12
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    What ever model you go with be sure you get one that has a ECM blower for electrical savings, lower blower speeds for when you run the fan in continuous mode, will help you save on the heating bills by giving you more even temps thru out the home. Since no has yet to suggest to you about home improements I will, You mentioned your windows and insulation isn't the best which leads me to believe there's room for improvement and it would be wise on your behalf to make those improvements prior to having any load calc's done to size your equipment for the simple fact that if you were to get the new equipment installed now based on the load calc they were to gie you and then 6 months later you decide to make some major improvments with your windows, insulation, maybe replace siding and caulk the leaks in your home it would be a real possibillity that the new equipment would then be oversized resulting in higher operating cost to you for the life of the equipment and there would be only you the blame. So if these improvements are going to be adding in with the new equipment you should do them first then get estimates for the furnace and AC after all other improvments are done or let the estimater or person who is doing the load calc know of your intentions for the improvements so they can be calculated for the proper size equipment. Call me bias but I like the Carrier Infinity 3 stage mod furnace Might be cause I have one

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