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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    18

    AO Smith Vertex or Polaris HW & Heat?

    Currently have Lennox Complete Heat system installed 1998 still working knock wood. But, looking for replacement. Was going to go furnace and separate water heater. But, understand AO Smith Vertex and Polaris units can do hot water and forced air heating. So I am looking at these as possible replacment for the Complete Heat unit.

    1) Any comments about either the Vertex or Polaris units from those who have installed them in hot water & heat applications.

    2) Do you think I could use the air handler from the Lenox Complete Heat unit I currently have installed for heat?

    3) Do I need a plumber for the water heater and an HV guy for the heat or is that usually done by the same person/company.

    Appreciate any advice from the pros here before I start calling around.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    southern california
    Posts
    535
    I have worked on plenty of Polaris units. They are great water heaters but very expensive. If your Lennox airhandler is not leaking then there is no reason to replace it. Curious why you are thinking about this way of heating, is it due to a space limitation.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    18
    Well, I've gotten use to the Complete Heat (1998 install) and it has been working well. A few service calls (2 boards), pin hole leak (water tank connection not in the air handler) over the years. But, other than that pretty reliable (especially compared to the previous unit Amana HTM). I am a single home owner (split level ranch 2,000 sq ft, northeast) so I don't use a lot of hot water. But, I do have a 4 x 3 jacuzzi tub that I use on occassion. Space is tight but, not the prime consideration. I like the idea of the "Complete Heat" concept:

    1) Unlimited hot water though I know I probably really don't need it considering my use.

    2) I do like that one unit handles heat and hot water less parts, burners, electronics etc.. (of course I understand it's all the eggs in one basket too).

    3) I also like the efficency aspect.

    After the Amana and Lennox units my main concern is I don't want to end up with a discontinued product again after a few years which is where I am now. I'm open for all ideas but, thinking about the Vertex and Polaris especially if I can still use the air handler from the current Lennox Complete Heat system to heat the house.

    Right now I'm trying to decide the pros and cons between the AO Smith Vertex or the Polaris. If I decide to go this route.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    983
    Quote Originally Posted by qaz View Post
    Well, I've gotten use to the Complete Heat (1998 install) and it has been working well. A few service calls (2 boards), pin hole leak (water tank connection not in the air handler) over the years. But, other than that pretty reliable (especially compared to the previous unit Amana HTM). I am a single home owner (split level ranch 2,000 sq ft, northeast) so I don't use a lot of hot water. But, I do have a 4 x 3 jacuzzi tub that I use on occassion. Space is tight but, not the prime consideration. I like the idea of the "Complete Heat" concept:

    1) Unlimited hot water though I know I probably really don't need it considering my use.

    2) I do like that one unit handles heat and hot water less parts, burners, electronics etc.. (of course I understand it's all the eggs in one basket too).

    3) I also like the efficency aspect.

    After the Amana and Lennox units my main concern is I don't want to end up with a discontinued product again after a few years which is where I am now. I'm open for all ideas but, thinking about the Vertex and Polaris especially if I can still use the air handler from the current Lennox Complete Heat system to heat the house.

    Right now I'm trying to decide the pros and cons between the AO Smith Vertex or the Polaris. If I decide to go this route.

    I know you've posted a similar question in an earlier thread, and I still don't understand why you want to spend this much money for something you'll hardly use. Get a 95%+ furnace and an on demand water heater. If you continue down the same path by using a Polaris or similar, when it goes down, you're down without heat and hot water. For as little as you claim you'll use the water heater, why invest so much money, you'll never see the payback. I think either way, I'd go with a high efficiency furnace and a seperate water heater. Even if you go with a standard water heater, there is a vacation mode on them so they are not constantly maintaining a certain tank temperature. Even though your coil in your air handler hasn't sprung a leak yet, it probably will and they're not cheap. Plus when it leaks, and you're out of town, you're going to come home to a nice mess. I would just seperate the systems and reduce the risk of a major problem.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    18
    Quote Originally Posted by big sky hvac View Post
    I know you've posted a similar question in an earlier thread, and I still don't understand why you want to spend this much money for something you'll hardly use. Get a 95%+ furnace and an on demand water heater. If you continue down the same path by using a Polaris or similar, when it goes down, you're down without heat and hot water. For as little as you claim you'll use the water heater, why invest so much money, you'll never see the payback. I think either way, I'd go with a high efficiency furnace and a seperate water heater. Even if you go with a standard water heater, there is a vacation mode on them so they are not constantly maintaining a certain tank temperature. Even though your coil in your air handler hasn't sprung a leak yet, it probably will and they're not cheap. Plus when it leaks, and you're out of town, you're going to come home to a nice mess. I would just seperate the systems and reduce the risk of a major problem.
    Big Sky:

    Thanks for the reply. I may not go this route and take the route you suggest. I'm just gathering infomation before I start to get estimates for different systems. I'm certainly looking at all the options. I was thinking about going the tankless and furnace route at first. But, as someone posted about the AO Smith Vertex I started to look into it and that lead me to the Polaris as something I want to check out. As I said I do like the "complete heat" concept. Especially since it's working! Even though I don't use a lot of hot water myself. It might be a good selling point if I should decide to sell the house at some point in the future to have unlimited hot water feature. That's why I'm currently trying to get some feedback between the Vertex and Polaris. Like are they reliable? Since I don't see a lot of postings (or comments) about either of them I assume that they don't seem to be that problematic.

    A standard water heater may be a problem as the metal chiminey flue from the original house construction has been removed. I hope the Vertex or Polaris could use the exsisting Lennox PVC flue for exhaust. I do have the horizontal PVC exhaust from the previous Amana HTM install and the vertical PVC exhaust from the current Lennox complete heat availible though. I assume that a high efficency furnace should be able to use one of the exisiting PVC exhaust pipes too if I go that route.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Columbus Ohio
    Posts
    96
    Quote Originally Posted by big sky hvac View Post
    I know you've posted a similar question in an earlier thread, and I still don't understand why you want to spend this much money for something you'll hardly use. Get a 95%+ furnace and an on demand water heater. If you continue down the same path by using a Polaris or similar, when it goes down, you're down without heat and hot water. For as little as you claim you'll use the water heater, why invest so much money, you'll never see the payback. I think either way, I'd go with a high efficiency furnace and a seperate water heater. Even if you go with a standard water heater, there is a vacation mode on them so they are not constantly maintaining a certain tank temperature. Even though your coil in your air handler hasn't sprung a leak yet, it probably will and they're not cheap. Plus when it leaks, and you're out of town, you're going to come home to a nice mess. I would just seperate the systems and reduce the risk of a major problem.
    got to agree (on demand hwt 95% furnace)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    southern california
    Posts
    535
    Have worked on the Polaris for 24 years now and over the years there were some problems with the stainless steel tank welds. American Appliance discovered a flaw in their weld process when they relocated the plant site from Santa Monica, Ca to Johnson City , Tennessee, this was many years ago. They have great warranties, and the most common problem is failure of the ignitor. My parents have one in their home and had the problems with the weld ( most weld problems occurred in 34 gallon model), American replaced it 3 times under warranty, they are on their second purchased tank in 26 years of service. I am a authorized repair company for Polaris. I do not sale too many of them due to the price. (Stainless Steel has become quite expensive). I have not installed any Vertex. Another great product is the Phoenix by Heat Transfer. The other approach is to use a condensing boiler with an indirect storage tank, Heat Transfer make several and then we assist it with a solar thermal system. You can take a 30% tax credit anytime solar is included. Just a thought.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    18
    Quote Originally Posted by wsykes View Post
    got to agree (on demand hwt 95% furnace)
    Thanks for the reply. Any suggestions for furnace (natural gas) makes or models that I should look at for a 2000 sq ft split level ranch in the northeast?

    1) Would like to hear from the pros here on what works well, warrentees and ease of repair for them. I'm not wedded to any particular system at this point. But, would like to narrow it down to a few brands before I start calling around for HVAC contractors for price and install.

    2) Also if I do go with seperate heat and hot water (either tankless or tank) should I go with separate install companies. That is HVAC for heating (natural gas) and a plumber for the hot water system? I've gotten hints here that most HVAC guys don't touch plumbing and visa versa.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    18
    Quote Originally Posted by acwizard View Post
    Have worked on the Polaris for 24 years now and over the years there were some problems with the stainless steel tank welds. American Appliance discovered a flaw in their weld process when they relocated the plant site from Santa Monica, Ca to Johnson City , Tennessee, this was many years ago. They have great warranties, and the most common problem is failure of the ignitor. My parents have one in their home and had the problems with the weld ( most weld problems occurred in 34 gallon model), American replaced it 3 times under warranty, they are on their second purchased tank in 26 years of service. I am a authorized repair company for Polaris. I do not sale too many of them due to the price. (Stainless Steel has become quite expensive). I have not installed any Vertex. Another great product is the Phoenix by Heat Transfer. The other approach is to use a condensing boiler with an indirect storage tank, Heat Transfer make several and then we assist it with a solar thermal system. You can take a 30% tax credit anytime solar is included. Just a thought.
    Thanks for the reply. Yes welding stainless can be tricky. But, it solves a lot of corrosion issues. My concern about the Vertex is the steel heat exchanger as opposed to the Polaris. Have you installed any Polaris system that also do forced air heat?. I will check out the Phoenix too thanks for the info.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    southern california
    Posts
    535
    Quite a few, usually in small condominiums where space was the limiting factor. American use to make a unit called the Integra, similar to the Polaris but had the air heater installed on top of the tank. They had all kind of problems so they removed them from production. Lots of companies make air handlers, like First Company, Magic Aire, or Energy Saving Products LTD. If hydronic heating is what you are after , then there are 1000 ways to go about it. I do go along with the 90+% furnaces options, you couldn't go wrong with that approach. The biggest difference in the two options is the range in which you could control the heat output to your space. Hydronic heating can not be beat, but to take full advantage of it one should consider eliminating the air side of the equation. Cooling is the other deciding factor, it is far less expensive to put in a furnace with an a/c coil and condensing unit.I have kind of gotten off track, air handlers with hot water coil plus a/c coil will work great. The aspect one must look into is the duct design. When there is a hot water coil and cooling coil installed in the air handler a large pressure drop occurs across both coils and airflow may become a problem.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    18
    Quote Originally Posted by acwizard View Post
    Quite a few, usually in small condominiums where space was the limiting factor. American use to make a unit called the Integra, similar to the Polaris but had the air heater installed on top of the tank. They had all kind of problems so they removed them from production. Lots of companies make air handlers, like First Company, Magic Aire, or Energy Saving Products LTD. If hydronic heating is what you are after , then there are 1000 ways to go about it. I do go along with the 90+% furnaces options, you couldn't go wrong with that approach. The biggest difference in the two options is the range in which you could control the heat output to your space. Hydronic heating can not be beat, but to take full advantage of it one should consider eliminating the air side of the equation. Cooling is the other deciding factor, it is far less expensive to put in a furnace with an a/c coil and condensing unit.I have kind of gotten off track, air handlers with hot water coil plus a/c coil will work great. The aspect one must look into is the duct design. When there is a hot water coil and cooling coil installed in the air handler a large pressure drop occurs across both coils and airflow may become a problem.
    Thanks for all the replies everyone. I have no need for air conditioning so it's just heat and hot water I need. I started to look at the online prices for some of the 95% furnaces and tankless heaters . In the end I agree it looks like it will be the more economical way to go for my needs compared to the hydronic hot water/ heat system. Now I just need to start calling around for some estimates. I appreciate the advice from all the pros here.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Concord, Ca.
    Posts
    69
    Where are you located? What are your heating loads and heating degree days?
    I put in combined hydronic units with the Vertex hot water heaters and with standard efficiency hot water heaters often. I am in California and need to either use them because of the low heat loads out here. They work great for me. The Vertex is nice too. It isn't a stainless tank so it won't last as long but it is 96% thermally efficient. I normally use First Company air handler HBQB and VHBQB units and get great comfort and energy results. I would highly recommend these units as they are more adjustable, versitile, quiet and efficient. As always, it depends on your conditions as to what is the best option for you.
    I also wouldn't ever use them with an on demand hot water heater.


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