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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    midwest USA
    Posts
    25
    I am replacing an old split system with a 13 or so SEER Heat Pump and a 80% gas furnace. Having read through Jim Davis' thoughts on variable speed vs two-stage that was a long running thread through 12/16/04, I am pretty confused.

    I live in the Midwest with hot, humid summers and moderate winters. Since the gas furnace will serve as my backup heat, I presume I don't need all the bells and whistles. I am interested in worthwhile features on the heat pump such as two-stage, two speed or variable speed, etc., as long as they don't significantly increase the price. I suspect two-stage/two-speed adds a small price-increase but variable adds a large increase? I anticipate staying in the house for another five years or so, although longer is possible.

    I could use some confirmation that I don't want builder's grade and I don't want the top of the line - I'm presuming middle of the manufacturer's line is the best balance of cost & performance.

    What features need to be matched between the two units, i.e., if the heat pump is two-stage, then does the furnace need to be two-stage, etc.? What features are worth paying extra for, i.e., R410A, two-level scroll compressors, etc.?

    Lastly, probably everybody's favorite topic - which brands do you recommend and which should I stay away from? Lennox & Trane seem widely used in my area. I know Goodman is held in low esteem by some, and a major consumer magazine survey gave them low marks for reliability, but I see that has pushed them into offering a much better warranty than anybody else.

    The survey also shows Lennox and Amana as somewhat worse in reliability than say American Standard & Trane (same manufacturer) and Rheem and Ruud (same manufacturer), but not greatly different. Amana's warranty seems second only to the Goodman (same manufacturer). Although Amana is owned by Goodman, is it considered a much better brand?

    Thank you in advance for your help on this issue.

    Let me add that my natural gas is $8.444/Mcf and electricity is 4.3 cents/kWh winter and 7.36 cents summer. Would an electric strip or the gas make a better heat pump backup? Thanks.

    [Edited by scouts22 on 05-08-2005 at 03:31 PM]

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Posts
    1,877
    rheem is good brand for the money, i personally like the bryant reliant systems or carrier. trane or american standard a good but i like the ease of service you get from
    bryant or carrier. (compressors are easily accessed)
    i do not like lennox more due to having to deal with customer service reps and some of their blowers are hard to get to.

    most important is the installation, if you get a bad installation its not going to matter if you buy a rollsroyce.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    33,884
    Dual fuel is an excellent idea with those rates. You don't need super SEER or 2 speed unless you have plenty of money and want the ultimate. Payback won't be there with low juice rates. Gas backup would be fine. Usually unless you already have all electric, you'd need more juice brought into the house for electric backup, a pricey venture.

    2 stage pumps require variable speed indoor units to get the SEER and comfort they are designed to give.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    1,354
    Go with the duel fuel and get a 90% furnace.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    midwest USA
    Posts
    25
    BaldLoonie,

    Very good point about the extra juice for the all-electric - hadn't thought of that.

    Since I don't have plenty of money and don't need the ultimate (I don't think), are you recommending single stage, single speed heat pump & gas furnace with a SEER of say 12-14?

    I would like the comfort of continuous low airflow with less temperature variations. Currently, on my antique AC/furnace, I get those infrequent, strong blasts of hot or cold air.

    Can I get more comfort to some degree with two-stage/two-speed or do I need two-stage/variable speed? Don't need the ultimate comfort, just better than what I have now.

    Also, a new question. I've had one contractor out for a look-see. He said since their company did the original install 20 years ago, the load calc "must" be correct, so he is just going with the same size equipment as originally installed. My view is that the original calc could have been done by some moron that worked there a week before he was fired.

    This salesman also said that Lennox prices are going up 10% in mid May, therefore.... He also said Trane prices are going up in a similar manner soon. Any truth or is this just high-pressure sales tactics? Their techs who have done my maintenance seem decent. Thanks.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    midwest USA
    Posts
    25
    targetman,

    You suggest 90% furnace. If just used as backup heat for the pump, is it cost effective over the 80%?

    Thanks

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    33,884
    Max 12 SEER to my way of thinking. If you put it with a VS furnace, you'd end up close to 13 anyway. The dual fuel is 2 stage. In mild weather, the pump has low heat output, just enough to keep you plenty comfy. Below the balance point, the gas furnace (don't oversize) takes over.

    I put a 93% furnace and 10 SEER pump next door last fall. Just saw their gas bills. WHAT A DROP! December's bill was under 1/2 the usage (not $$) of a year ago, every other bill was noticably lower, even a period that was colder than the previous year. They were very comfy in all weather.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    1,354
    Originally posted by scouts22
    targetman,

    You suggest 90% furnace. If just used as backup heat for the pump, is it cost effective over the 80%?

    Thanks
    What happens if your heat pump goes breaks down, your gas furnace has just become your primary heat source.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    midwest USA
    Posts
    25
    I'm slightly confused. I'm looking at a two-stage variable speed gas furnace (probably Trane XV80). Does this make sense with a single stage heat pump such as the Trane XR12, XL13i or XL14i (the latter two have 2 speed fans)? Or do I need the XL16i (multi-stage fan) or XL19i (Two-Stage cooling Three-Stage Heating on Heat Pump Two-Speed Fan) to get full benefit of the VS furnace?

    I can't afford the premium heat pumps (16i & 19i) to go with the premium furnace but want the benefits of variable speed. By having the VS furnace with a single stage pump, do I essentially get the same effect as the premium pumps? Do the premium pumps duplicate what the VS furnace provides? Is it overkill? Thanks.

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