# Thread: 16 SEER for fed Tax Credit

1. Professional Member
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Dec 2008
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## 16 SEER for fed Tax Credit

I can't believe I just lost the link but I will try to find it. Here is the jist:

A retired HVAC guy teaches for free at a university. A study was funded to evaluate various manufacturer's equipment. He said that 16 SEER was achievable in an ideal lab setting but next to impossible to obtain in real life. He said that if the refrigerant charge was slightly high or low SEER would "drop like a rock". He said most HVAC companies do not have the equipment or trained personnel required to get the precise refrigerant charges to obtain 16 SEER. Is this guy full of baloney?

He also said that most homeowners would never get a payback on the high capital cost of 16+ SEER units. He said "If you want to save energy buy 16 SEER. If you want to save money buy 13 SEER."

This is important to me because I need 16 SEER to get the fed Tax Credit, but 16 SEER may cost more than I get in the tax credit.

2. Obviously the instructor was a tech who sold price, not efficiency or comfort. So his goal is continue to justify his low ball pricing by bad mouthing high SEER. But let's suppose for an example that he's 100% correct. The very definition of SEER (applies to AC units that only run in one season, hence Seasonal Energy Efficiciency Ratio) means that whatever the number is, 13, 14, 20, 27, if it's the SEER number, then that's the number of Btu's of heat energy your machine gets to use for each Watt of electricity purchased. So now let's assume for our example that the unit is a 13-SEER and is 10% under charged. That would mean that you're not getting 13-Btu's but something less. Let's agree on a 3-Btu loss, dropping the unit to 10-SEER actual. Now let's take his 16-SEER example and under it 10%. If you lose the same 3-Btu's, you're down to 13-SEER, right? Which is still 30% more energy efficient than 10-SEER, no matter how you figure it.

Our company does Energy Star work. We do QIV (quality installation verification) and our numbers for charge and airflow are verified by a third party. The homeowner receives a certificate in the mail from the third party that their AC system is properly charged. I don't know how to get it any better than that. We have to go through annual, recurrent training and at each recurrent training our test instruments, both gauges and thermometers, have to be within tolerance or we have to purchase new ones before we can be re-certified. He's correct that most units aren't properly charged but that is no reason to bad mouth higher SEER. What he should be teaching are the proper charging techniques and equipment maintenance techniques so more units get properly charged and higher efficiency equipment will actuall approach its ratings. Many techs are not properly charging due to a lack of knowledge and/or poor equipment. But even so, higher SEER saves energy. However, IMO, it's the comfort that makes the difference. 2-Stage, high efficiency units are so much more comfortable when they stage up/down/up or down/up/down as the load on the house changes, sapping the humidity away by the bucketfull that efficiency is a secondary consideration in my book. And I have an 18-SEER, 2-stage heat pump as my basic heating/cooling machine that I use 12-months a year to help defray the costs of oil heat. And yes, it's properly charged and my electric bill dropped 27% when I moved up from a 10-SEER to AC only to an 18-SEER HP that now heats my house whenever the OAT is 35F or above. That's worth it from where I sit.

3. Think of it this way.

If the charge is off a little on a 13 SEER, you won't get 13 SEER either.

The charge is not as critical as many make it seem.

4. I saw this statistic: if the charge is low by 10%, your capacity is reduced 20%. Don't know if it is right or not.

I've seen just a few ounces of charge make quite a difference in temp drop so it may be fairly close.

5. Originally Posted by BaldLoonie
I saw this statistic: if the charge is low by 10%, your capacity is reduced 20%. Don't know if it is right or not.

I've seen just a few ounces of charge make quite a difference in temp drop so it may be fairly close.

Seen that too. But the amp draw also drops. So your not losing capacity and still using the same amount of wattage.

I won't say it drops wattage by the same percentage.

6. Professional Member
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Mar 2003
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unless everything is perfect, seer wont be either, after all its just math. you get x performance for your system for every watt used. dirty condenser uses more energy. wrong piping can use more energy. changing ambients effect efficiency, etc. so what, bottom line is selling the whole deal, energy efficiency and comfort. which is more important? clearly a well installed sixteen seer will perform better than a well installed thirteen seer on both fronts right? i wouldnt want that guy working for me selling lesser systems with his negative attitude. sell comfort and energy efficiency, not price.

7. flange
sell comfort and energy efficiency, not price.
+++1

Selling low price always leads to a race to low to no profitability.

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