Heat pump advice, please
Hello All: I'm a newbie to this forum, and was directed to it from another unrelated one. I'm hoping to have some questions answered and advice given from knowledgeable, neutral parties.
The time has come for the 25 year old system (conventional A/C and electric furnace) to be replaced in my home - 1300 square feet, one story. I'm in the panhandle of Florida (known to some as Lower Alabama), have talked to several contractors, and am now looking at the following systems.
1 American Standard Heritage 15 w/ 2/4TEE variable speed air handler. 15.75 SEER 2.5 ton, Installed price $X (not using actual dollars, just for comparison) with an option of 20% extra for the AccuClean air filtration system
2 Amana ASZ18 w/ variable speed air handler. 18 SEER, 3 ton, 2 stage Installed price $1.05X with an option of 14% extra for the air filtration system
3 Lennox 15 SEER 2.5 ton, compressor XP14-030, air handler CBX27UH030 Installed price $0.85X, no quote given on air filtration
4 Carrier 14 SEER 2.5 ton no specifics given on model numbers Installed price $0.8X
Most of them have more or less the same warranty, although the Amana has an unlimited warranty on the compressor as long as I own the house. I understand that an 18 SEER unit will draw less electricity to do the same job as a 14 SEER. I also understand that installation quality and a properly designed system have a huge effect on the ability of a system to do the job properly. I was most impressed by the salesman who produced quotes 1 & 2. He took the time to do a lot more inspection, even crawling around the attic, and to explain quite a bit to me. Some of the folks I called took 10 minutes to look at the inside & outside units and produced a very simple, take it or leave it quote.
My questions are these: Which of these units has the best reputation for quality, especially in humid, salt air environments? Are the whole house air filters worth the price? Do all of these units qualify for the new tax credit? Are there any other questions I should be asking? Thanks in advance.
For the Lennox you'll want to ask for the price of the system with the variable speed air handler to compare with the other systems (maybe not the Carrier--you want to get the Carrier models as well). The XP14-030 will not, however, qualify for the tax credit with the variable speed air handler. The non-variable motor in the CBX27 just gets better ratings, though variable speed is best for hot, humid climates such as your own. Ask these dealers about the Honeywell VisionPRO IAQ thermostat to control humidity best.
I was not aware that Carrier offered a 10-year parts warranty like the A/S and Lennox systems offer when registered online. May want to check this.
Sounds like the A/S dealer is most concerned with the overall performance of the system, as he checked the ductwork and explained everything to you.
On to your questions:
salt-air environment: A/S, same as Trane, generally has the best reputation, with the aluminum condenser coil
air filters: I prefer a 4-5" pleated media filter; less expensive and less maintenance yet still effective
tax credit: 1 and 2 yes, Carrier no
If the Carrier dealer doesn't want to give you more than one option, doesn't want to take the time to explain the quote and address your needs, and just wants to drop the quote off, I'd take them out of the running. That doesn't mean Carrier equipment isn't worth purchasing. An example of a good qualifying match would be the 25HPA530A30 with FV4BNF005T00 air handler, producing 13.5 EER, 16 SEER, 8.5 HSPF and qualifying for the tax credit.
I'm certainly neutral - I'm a customer like you. Don't know about the knowledgeable.
By definition any AC unit less than 16 SEER doesn't qualify for the 2009 tax credit. See Energy Star web site for HVAC:
SEER >= 16
Split system heat pumps are less demanding:
HSPF >= 8.5
EER >= 12.5
SEER >= 15
Better hope the pro's here advise on a 3-ton unit for a 1300 sqft house. Humidity control is probably pretty serious for you. It is here in Northwest Arkansas and you are further south and on water. They probably will ask if you had a manual J load calculation done to support any proposal.
Not sure about the 3 ton for 1300 sqft either, but your other option is 2 ton when you get into 2-stage units. On low stage, the ASZ18 is still about the capacity of the 2.5 ton (little less), so during mild days where humidity is a concern, I don't see you getting huge advantages from the 2-stage unit. Of course, on the hottest days you'd have a little more capacity, if your ductwork can move more airflow, which many ductwork systems can't. If you want 2-stage I would look at the 25HNA636 Carrier for your location. That runs around 1.5-2 tons on low stage with added dehumidification features. 25HNA636A30 with FE4ANB006T00 qualifies for the tax credit.
That is true as long as the 18 SEER unit is running on 1st stage. Once it goes into 2nd stage, the power draw will be similar to the 14 SEER unit.
Originally Posted by pcb_duffer
IMO, Amana because of efficiency numbers, better HSPF numbers and the lifetime warranties. If your compressor fails, they replace the whole outdoor unit, not just the compressor.
Originally Posted by jerryd_2008
Not if the AHRI match come in at 16 SEER/ 13 EER. In some match-ups some "14 SEER" A/C units meet the requirements. While conversely, many of the 16+ SEER sytems fall short in most matches.
Thanks for the clarification, motoguy. That's why pcb_duffer needs to talk to the pros. To clarify, I meant "rated" at 16 SEER per the tax credit AHRI certificate. You can't believe the marketing lead ins that advertise 16-21 SEER units that just don't make those numbers for the actual configuration proposed. I have found that many advertised SEER ratings fail to be true as the unit capacity increases. Got ta use the certification numbers or no tax credit!
Originally Posted by motoguy128