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  1. #1

    real-world difference in 13, 14, 15, etc. SEER

    I am looking for a new split heat pump - and the questions coming up from the contractors are 13 SEER or higher? 410A or 22?

    So, given the many options out there, what are the actual performance comparisons between the higher SEER units (16+), 14-15 and good old 13?

    Of course, the tax savings will come into it, and if the cap-n-trade bill passes the house, I bet the 13 won't be good enough to allow you to sell your house...

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    410a hands down! anyone selling 22 systems is as foolish as person buying!

    is gonna take 14 SEER or better in most lines of equipment to make tax credit. buy as much efficiency as you can afford and payback is within reasonable amount of time, comfort also comes with higher efficiency and two stage cooling equipment.

    most home buyers aren't going to say we don't want this house, it only has 13 SEER. most home buyers aren't savy as too look at the HVAC other than to pay a home inspector that doesn't dig deep enough into the equipment to give actual performance and condition
    If Guns Kill People, Do Pencils Misspell Words?

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by collbill57 View Post
    I am looking for a new split heat pump - and the questions coming up from the contractors are 13 SEER or higher? 410A or 22?

    So, given the many options out there, what are the actual performance comparisons between the higher SEER units (16+), 14-15 and good old 13?

    Of course, the tax savings will come into it, and if the cap-n-trade bill passes the house, I bet the 13 won't be good enough to allow you to sell your house...

    Thanks.
    For a heat pump to qualify for the Fed Tax Credit: 15 SEER and 12.5 EER and 8.5 HSPF. All 3 must be met.

    With that said, a 13 SEER heat pump will have a lower HSPF - Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (some as low as 7.5). The condenser (outdoor unit) will probably be louder than a higher SEER condenser.

    In my opinion (and I've been beat up many times on this site for it), a 14 or 15 SEER usually offers the best combination of purchase price and operating costs.

    Depending on your geographical area, a 2-stage compressor (usually 16 SEER or higher) can help with summer humidity removal.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Jacksonville, Fl
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    219
    Definitely look into a system that at least qualifies for a tax credit.
    Most important, the systems that qualify get you out of a RNC (residential new construction) models. Many A/C guys love selling the low models because they think that's all people can afford. They don't realize that people want to save money over the life of the air conditioning system.

  5. #5

    New system

    That is kinda where I think I'm heading. I'd like to have the performance for tax purposes, and as you say, it will continue to pay back in savings over the life of the unit. Electricity won't be getting cheaper.

    This is a builder-original system (1999) and lots of them have been replaced in this neighborhood. Neighbors have said it really helped their electric bills.

    I want a scroll compressor and variable speed fan. 2-stage compressor would be a nice addition.

    We're in the Atlanta area so it is quite warm, along with humidity. We cool here a lot more than heat, but low temps get to the teens for a couple - 3 weeks.

    Now I gotta start looking at 3T models that meet these specs.

    Thanks!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    107
    Quote Originally Posted by ClassicDave View Post
    Definitely look into a system that at least qualifies for a tax credit.
    Most important, the systems that qualify get you out of a RNC (residential new construction) models. Many A/C guys love selling the low models because they think that's all people can afford. They don't realize that people want to save money over the life of the air conditioning system.
    In most cases, your initial cash outlay negates in cost savings you experience over the life of the air conditioning system. Therefore, you are not actually saving money over the life of the system. Even in Florida, it takes way too long to recoup your initial investment. It even takes longer if you take opportunity costs into account (one could invest the money into an investment that will bring in a positive return).

  7. #7

    Exactly my question -

    Aaah - the crux of the biscuit:

    Say I select a 3T 14SEER unit, and then compare the operating costs to a 15 or 16, at higher initial cost, in my (Atlanta) environment, how much difference will I see? (Ballpark, of course). The efficiencies go up and the incremental operating cost savings go down. But at what rate. My parents just put in am 18SEER unit. I'm interested to see their electric bill compared with the previous month and same month(s) a year ago. Will post them when I do.

    Seems to me the reduction is asymptotic, getting smaller and smaller, but at a slower rate.

    Going from an old 10 SEER or lower (my 1998 system) to 14 will be a nice drop in operating cost, I presume.

    As I said earlier, if initial $ weren't an issue, then I'd go geothermal. Or if I had a spring on the property... ;-). My brother built a home and drilled a water well for his geo unit. Don't think he's recycling the water though.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    www.hvacopcost.com gives a ballpark estimate on operating costs using different SEER systems. Not sure how they derive their numbers, that's why I call it a ballpark figure.

    A 10 SEER to 14 SEER should be a 30% to 40% reduction in energy consumption. That's the range I saw when I replaced a 21 year-old heat pump.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Meriden, Kansas
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    435
    If geothermal is not an option, considering only actual monthly cost, we usually end up installing 14 of 15 SEER. But with the tax credit figured in, right now 16 SEER is usually a good option. Based on economics alone we never install over 16 SEER.
    Real world performance is going to depend on proper installation and maintenance more than the SEER numbers or the HSPF. Get a good relationship with a quality contractor and discuss the best options for your situation. In our climate I am more concerned with heating performance than cooling performance.
    In my experience the rated cooling performance of a heat pump is fairly accurate if properly sized and installed. The heating performance of air source heat pumps is always overrated because of the defrost cycle. Theoretically heat pumps with demand defrost should out perform basic timed defrost heat pumps of the same HSPF rating.
    Anything I say here is only my opinion. Even if you understood what I said.... What I said may not even be what I meant.

  10. #10

    As espected...

    Thanks Gary,
    Those are the numbers I was expecting to see. As with all things environmental, it is an estimate between the lab and the actual conditions, but 30 to 40% is a number I can love. Especially when I get the water heater turned off.

    Chuck,
    Our heating season is not nearly as long as yours. I have thought for years that bigger coil area in the condenser - turned into the evaporator during heating mode - would lead to higher heating performance. Then the costs of material, refrigerant, pumping energy, etc. and crunch all those lines and then the bean counters tell you where to put it! Big business. ( I know the fight on ROI for capital systems and products).

    Maintenance and install are key - I agree. When chasing those small numbers it really matters. My Dad says that he notices their 18SEER system kick on in response to cooking or shower - it is only the 2 of them - in response to humidity increase. They are in East TN where it is like a sponge in the summer.

    Thanks a lot,
    Bill

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    SW Wisconsin
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    4,904

    High SEER is Okay, but it's not just about SEER

    I don't know what the Fed weatherization money & credits will amount to, but we should always start with what we can do, that's cost-effective, with the building.

    Correcting excessive Air infiltration rates & ductwork system problems will produce many fold more energy savings than the difference in SEER numbers. I'd incorporate both in my HVAC business.

    If you can drop heat-gain by a ton, a smaller more efficient unit will provide excellent comfort with a much lower utility bill, plus big heating savings.

    It's okay to go to the higher SEER units, but the govt should not outlaw anything below a 16-SEER like they did with the 10 & 12-Seer units.

    You can take a high percentage of homes & upgrade the weatherization factors & the ductwork, install a smaller tonnage unit & get great energy savings.

    Paul42, is an exceptional example of 2-Ton cooling tremendous square footage. Check his posts, click on his stats!
    http://hvac-talk.com/vbb/member.php?u=3467 - Darrell

  12. #12
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    Aug 2006
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    Panama City, FL
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    738
    There are quite a few options to get you into the qualifying tax credit systems, most are using two stage compressors. However, there are several brands that will get you there more economically by using a 14 SEER condenser and an air handler with an ECM motor (not variable speed). Check into these options with YORK in the YHJF series heat pumps and Several lines from ICP (Comfortmaker, Tempstar, etc.). I have found these to be in that "sweet spot" for consumers: getting the tax credit for efficiency and not breaking the bank on the initial installation.
    You can't learn a thing with your mouth open.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    107
    Quote Originally Posted by collbill57 View Post
    Thanks Gary,
    Those are the numbers I was expecting to see. As with all things environmental, it is an estimate between the lab and the actual conditions, but 30 to 40% is a number I can love. Especially when I get the water heater turned off.

    Chuck,
    Our heating season is not nearly as long as yours. I have thought for years that bigger coil area in the condenser - turned into the evaporator during heating mode - would lead to higher heating performance. Then the costs of material, refrigerant, pumping energy, etc. and crunch all those lines and then the bean counters tell you where to put it! Big business. ( I know the fight on ROI for capital systems and products).

    Maintenance and install are key - I agree. When chasing those small numbers it really matters. My Dad says that he notices their 18SEER system kick on in response to cooking or shower - it is only the 2 of them - in response to humidity increase. They are in East TN where it is like a sponge in the summer.

    Thanks a lot,
    Bill
    Please keep in mind the energy savings are for heating/cooling consumption only. A lot of sales people misguide customers into believing they will save that much on their total utility bill. It is also important to see the actual SEER rating with the complete system. Different air handler matches produce different SEER ratings. Also, you should take into account existing problems like Darrell suggested.

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