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.