Thanks to all in advance for offering your thoughts/opinions!
My wife and I are looking to install new HVAC in our house (we currently have electric baseboard heat and no AC). We've got it narrowed down to two contractors. One installs Armstrong, the other Carrier. I'd like to get your opinions (PLEASE!!!) on which would be the better option for our application. Which has more problems, which has a better reputation, which is the better bang for the buck, etc. We're looking at 2-state furnaces in the 93 efficiency range, 80-90k btu, and AC units in the 2 1/2 ton 10 SEER range. We live in WI, so the heating is more important to us than the cooling.
The Carrier 90+ willbe my choise becase Armstrong is the builders line of Lennox. Can you check other brands with life time warenty HX.
Did the contractor do a load calc to get you the right size units? If not, have them do it. 10K BTU is a big difference for comfort and cost, so you want to do it right.
If they won't do a load calc, and show you the results, dont' hire them.
The models aren't as important as the quality of the install. Do the research though. It's important to know what's going on!
see if they will do a variable speed with that 2 stage, and the thermidistat from bryant/carrier. (to work with the VS and 2 stage properly) don't let them tell you the furnace does a better job then the stat for control.
If they balk on Variable speed, don't hire them.
If you have baseboard now, how about a retrofit of hot water baseboard and maybe a central unit for A/C?
Read through these forums (for residential) and you'll see what the pro's recommend before rushing into anything.
And I'm a consumer that loves this site for information!
Given the choice between Armstrong and Carrier, my choice would have to be Carrier.
Load calculation as the others said is very important, especially in a high end heating installation like yours.
I know you figure on minimal a/c usage, but are you aware that 10 SEER is the very bottom of the line in efficiency and warranty?
Armstrong is NOT the builder line of Lennox. It is owned by Lennox but a solid product. Some of the high end A/Cs have more bells & whistles but Armstrong will do just fine.
Lennox 90 has aluminized steel heat exchanger, Armstrong uses stainless. That doesn't sound builder to me, sounds reversed!
The Armstrong 2 stage 90s use proven White-Rodgers controls and 120V silicon nitride ignitors. Carrier uses their own control which has been very good for business over the years, they use the shorter life silicon carbide ignitors. Their 90s are murder to service. We have yet to change one of the SiNi ignitors in an Armstrong or Air-Ease.
You won't find a Copeland scroll in a 10 SEER 2.5 ton Carrier. It will be some kind of recip from one of the big 3. The Armstrong Concept 1000 is 100% Copeland scroll with 10 year warranty. Widely spaced fins on the coil resist plugging up. The coils, in & out, are made by Heatcraft/ADP which has a very positive record. Contrast that with Carrier's Mexican A coils which have a history of leaking.
Of course has to be installed properly to work well regardless of brand.
Your turn, Dwayne
segue: SiNi ignitors
I bought this, and it worked great in my 10 year old trane.
How long has Armstrong been using the Heatcraft/ADP coils?
Originally posted by BaldLoonie
The coils, in & out, are made by Heatcraft/ADP which has a very positive record. Contrast that with Carrier's Mexican A coils which have a history of leaking.
Your turn, Dwayne
Thanks for all the info so far!
Some more background:
My wife and I are expecting our first addition to the family in July, so I've been given a very tight timeline by the boss to get this done! In addition to the HVAC, I have to finish off the basement for the additional room needed for the baby. So, I'm kind of in a time crunch, otherwise I'd do more research and I wouldn't be hiring all of this done...I'd be doing some of it myself. The other issue is, I don't know how long we'll be in the house...we'd like to move in 5-10 years possibly, so I hate to sink a bunch of extra money into more effecient models, etc.
The variable speed seems to be out, as it's quite a big jump in price, from what I've been told. I thought the 2-stage versus single was a good idea though for the money.
As for the 10 SEER unit, I was told be the Carrier guy that the extra expense in jumping to a 11 or 12 SEER model isn't justified by the small amount /year that I'd save in energy costs. If I recall, he stated I'd save $15/year per jump in SEER.
For those who recommended the Carrier over the Armstrong, could I ask you why you'd go that route versus the Armstrong? I'm leaning towards the Armstrong, as my immediate family has had several Carrier units in their homes/businesses and have had lots of problems with them - not to say that Armstrong units wouldn't also....
...A couple more interesting tidbits (after just getting off the phone with the Armstrong contractor):
The Armstrong unit, as a single stage unit (which was originally quoted to me as one of my options), was sized at 90k btu. By upgrading to the 2-stage, the unit is now rated at 100kbtu. All of the other quotes I received (including several other options from the same Armstrong contractor - this was the only 90k option) recommended a 80kbtu furnace, and the price difference the Armstrong guy gave me was only $40 more to go from the 80kbtu 2-stage to the 100kbtu 2-stage. Is there any reason to not go with a 100kbtu furnace (if all I actually need is 80k)? In my mind, $40 is negligable, unless it'll cost me a lot more to run the 100k unit.
The Armstrong contractor also sells Luxaire, and said he'd sell me a comporable 2-stage Luxaire for $60 less than the comporable Armstrong. So, my next question is, is the addition $60 worth the upgrade to a Armstrong?
Well, congrats on the new one coming!
July is LONG time away so you do have time.
since you don't have forced air now, what about duct work? how is that going to be done. No biggie if it's ranch, but you have to consider where the pipes are going to be.
seriously consider the VS, the price (don't discuss this here) is a bit more, but comfort is really a biggie for heating and cooling right?
did they do a load calc? a load calc is the most important thing. BIG BIG BIG!!!!!
If you are worried about $60 for a heating system, you are going to balk on the VS, but get the LOAD CALC!!!!!
the pro's here aren't going to be very forthcoming with info if you are debating by brand and $60.00 differences. Get the load calc, have them present what will fit that requirement by requirements (not brand) and start over.
You will be much happier for the TEN years you will be there. and with fuel prices, the more efficient units aren't going cost you much!
I'm just a consumer, and really want you to do the right thing for you. sometimes the front end savings isn't always the right thing. we aren't talking about a $40 Skil drill for occasion use vs a $400 Porter Cable drill for occasional use just to have a Porter cable. It still drills. This is your home comfort and your bills!!!!
Forget about the name brand. First you have to decide what type of budget you have. If you are on a tight budget then the 10 seer whatever brand will work fine..especially if you will be leaving the home in the next few years. Once you decide on a price frame then get bids from at least 3 contractors on the particular seer you have chosen. Then when you decide on the contractor check him out..get references and pictures of his installs. Only go with variable and 2 stage this and that if its in your budget to do so. This business like any other can get to where you add to many bells and whistles and before long you spent way over what you had intended. Remember a fool and his money are soon parted. Get a 10 or 12 seer for your situation with a 90 percent furnace or even an 80 percent furnace and you will be just fine and happy. Make sure your warranty includes labor however. Dont rule out a heat pump if you live in a milder climate as well.
Not sure when Armstrong started using Heatcraft coils. Probably right after Lennox bought them. When I was in the plant, they told me they ship the condensers in from Heatcraft. The A coils are made right in the plant that makes ADP and they look identical. No coil leaks that we've experienced.
The single stage downflow is 90K input, the 2 stage VS downflow is 100K input. Just the way they were designed. I wouldn't lose sleep over 10K! You may be able to go with the 80K 2 stage 95% instead. May have too much blower for the 2.5 ton A/C if you go with the 100K model! If you are looking upflow, they are 50,75 & 100K in single stage and 60, 80, 100% in 2 stage and have a 2 stage non variable speed blower option. Again, the 100K 2 stage upflow blowers are too strong for 2.5 ton A/C.
I would much prefer an Armstrong over Lux/York. Probably not over Carrier though. Just personal preference. I'd rather have a GM over a Ford too
For a time i think armstrong tried using some sorta automated machine to solder jonts in the coils and there was a problem with leaks...however that no longer is the case and they do it the old fashioned way with no problems anymore. Armstrong is a good unit as is most other units.