A CUSTOMER'S VIEW
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA
    Posts
    209
    I have received invaluable assistance from this site in researching the options for a new house I am building (trenching this month). But I wanted to share my experience on searching out options.

    After spending many hours on this site I determined that I wanted to get bids on Trane, Rheem/Ruud, Lennox and Carrier systems. This is not to say there are not other good brands out there, but I only have so much time to solicit and review bids. I also wanted to explore the option of a zoned system and using R-410A.

    My Trane dealer came highly recommended. He has spent the most time and has been willing to find out information for me. He is also very interested in zoned systems. He prefers the XL19 which is R-22. I'm still waiting for some word on the XL16 for a zoned system. He is also the only dealer I have contacted who is willing to perform a Manual J calc.

    Rheem/Ruud - First Ruud dealer (only 2 in town of 500,000) told me last month he doesn't do new residential construction. I called today and the receptionist said "Yes, they do" and she will have the owner call me back.

    I spoke with the 2nd Ruud dealer for about 10 minutes. During the conversation I shared with him some of the information I had picked up from this site. He then tells me he's too busy and couldn't do the job. I'm left to wonder if my "knowledge" (very little) didn't scare him off.

    Lennox - Only one in town and they don't do new residential.

    Carrier - Only one in town besides Sears. I called today and they do new residential. Gave her the house size and my interest in zoning and that the architect has sized the system at 6 tons (perhaps with Rezcheck according to a forum participant). Receptionist to have the owner call me back. Receptionist called me back to tell that the owner wants me to call him after I have trenched and he will give me a bid. The owner also says he doesn't do zoning and he thinks the system is undersized at 6 tons. Says at least 6.5-7.0 tons. I'm curious how he will react to my asking him about a Manual J calc.

    What I have found has been informative to me. I'm self employed so I know that money usually makes the majority of decisions that businessmen make. Ot at least money is a very important factor. So I'm sure most of the dealers I have contacted are making their decisions not to do residential or zoning on good economic factors for their business. Our area is having a real construction boom so I know that everyone is busy (and hopefully making money and doing good work) so I'm sure that also has an impact on the dealer's decisions about what kind of work they want to do.

    Just thought you might find this interesting as well.

    Thanks very much for your continued participation in this very helpful forum.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    3,157
    I'm left to wonder if my "knowledge" (very little) didn't scare him off.

    The owner also says he doesn't do zoning and he thinks the system is undersized at 6 tons. Says at least 6.5-7.0 tons. I'm curious how he will react to my asking him about a Manual J calc.

    How did he determine that you needed a 6.5-7 ton without doing a man J or any other type of load calc?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA
    Posts
    209
    ct2, I'm guessing by some rule of thumb becuase he hasn't even seen the plans.

    My conclusion is that even if I would like to look at various equipment/configuration options based on my research I may not have the opportunity to go with my preferred system because many, if not most, of the local contractors aren't interested.

    I'm going to try doing a Manual J with the software linked to this site. Let's say I come up with 5 tons, and let's say it is correct. My guess is that local Carrier dealer would not be interested because he's already got an opinion on the right rule of thumb size, and he won't want to risk an unhappy customer.

    I've read many, many posts on this site about the prevalence of over sizing equipment. This certainly seems to be the case in my locale.

    I see a correlation to flying. Instrument flight provides a way to safely navigate without being fooled by your senses. Manual J and D(?) seems to offer a reliable, proven method of sizing and duct configuration. Yet most local HVAC contractors (that may not be fair since I haven't spoken to all of them) seem to prefer a rule of thumb approach.

    Thanks again.

    [Edited by nathan9999 on 06-03-2005 at 05:43 PM]

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Richland Hills, Texas
    Posts
    14,914
    Originally posted by nathan9999
    I'm still waiting for some word on the XL16 for a zoned system.
    I just saw my Trane tech rep when I was picking up some parts today and asked him about the XL16i and zoning.
    He said that it is still not recommended for zoning, but his words: "I'm sure you can make it work.", leads me to believe that he doesn't see a problem with someone that knows what they are doing using a 16i system for zoning.

    I really prefere the XL19i for zoning for the reasons I stated in your other thread.

    He is also the only dealer I have contacted who is willing to perform a Manual J calc.
    Run from the rest!
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA
    Posts
    209
    I just spoke with a local Ruud dealer who is building his own house. He is using Carrier. He does not do new residential (except for his own).

    I told him I had already spoken with the only Carrier dealer and that he did not do zoning. He said that any dealer can sell and install any brand (or almost any brand). He just really likes Carrier. Apparently the distributor is local and service and parts are more easily available.

    He has encouraged me to have a local mech engineer do the Manual J and duct design. He says the local HVAC dealers just haven't gotten away from using an engineer, and he says very few residential customers ask for the Manual J calc.

    He also likes zoning. He is using a 5 ton Carrier in his new 4400 sq ft home.

    So now I guess I need to decide if I would be willing to have a non authorized dealer install another brand.

    Gee, I thought I had it all figured out.

    Thanks for the information, mark.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    2,633
    With all due respect nathan9999, for all the hours you've spent on this site you still managed to completely miss the boat. Your approach was flawed from the beginning. You don't get bids from a brand! Does Mr. Carrier's grandson come to your house and run ducts? Pfft! Does Mr. Goodman braze linesets? HA! Does Mr. Goodbar pour dark roasted peanuts into delicious milk chocolate? Well... yes. But we're not talking about chocolate bars.

    What you should have done was figure out who the four best contractors were in your area and gotten bids from them. If every last one of them were Trane dealers, so what? Any of the mainstream brands can serve you well. That polyester Chinese crap that gets made by chain gangs and unwilling organ donors in the rice patties of the Heilongjiang Province? Perhaps not. But they're not mainstream in the states... yet.

    You've already seen for yourself that your limiting factor is the contractor. Do yourself a favor and go brand blind. If that means going with a contractor whose brand only goes to 16 SEER instead of 19, so what? That $32.97 in lost energy savings per year won't break the bank. Getting the wrong contractor on the other hand-

    Good luck.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    315
    Originally posted by Irascible
    With all due respect nathan9999, for all the hours you've spent on this site you still managed to completely miss the boat. Your approach was flawed from the beginning. You don't get bids from a brand! Does Mr. Carrier's grandson come to your house and run ducts? Pfft! Does Mr. Goodman braze linesets? HA! Does Mr. Goodbar pour dark roasted peanuts into delicious milk chocolate? Well... yes. But we're not talking about chocolate bars.

    What you should have done was figure out who the four best contractors were in your area and gotten bids from them. If every last one of them were Trane dealers, so what? Any of the mainstream brands can serve you well. That polyester Chinese crap that gets made by chain gangs and unwilling organ donors in the rice patties of the Heilongjiang Province? Perhaps not. But they're not mainstream in the states... yet.

    You've already seen for yourself that your limiting factor is the contractor. Do yourself a favor and go brand blind. If that means going with a contractor whose brand only goes to 16 SEER instead of 19, so what? That $32.97 in lost energy savings per year won't break the bank. Getting the wrong contractor on the other hand-
    well said, its amazing the nickles some people are willing to save,dont sweat the small stuff-go with your gut-doing a job now for zoning a 16seer heatpump, and it works great
    Good luck.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Zelienople, Pa
    Posts
    2,965
    Originally posted by Irascible
    With all due respect nathan9999, for all the hours you've spent on this site you still managed to completely miss the boat. Your approach was flawed from the beginning. You don't get bids from a brand! Does Mr. Carrier's grandson come to your house and run ducts? Pfft! Does Mr. Goodman braze linesets? HA! Does Mr. Goodbar pour dark roasted peanuts into delicious milk chocolate? Well... yes. But we're not talking about chocolate bars.

    What you should have done was figure out who the four best contractors were in your area and gotten bids from them. If every last one of them were Trane dealers, so what? Any of the mainstream brands can serve you well. That polyester Chinese crap that gets made by chain gangs and unwilling organ donors in the rice patties of the Heilongjiang Province? Perhaps not. But they're not mainstream in the states... yet.

    You've already seen for yourself that your limiting factor is the contractor. Do yourself a favor and go brand blind. If that means going with a contractor whose brand only goes to 16 SEER instead of 19, so what? That $32.97 in lost energy savings per year won't break the bank. Getting the wrong contractor on the other hand-

    Good luck.
    How tall are you Private???!!!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    33,832
    Are you the contractor for your own home? Many dealers probably avoid RNC because there is little money in it and little desire from many builders for doing a good job. If you are handling the subs yourself and can assure them that the job done right is most important to you, might get some more attention.

    I went through a 1/2 finished Homearama couple months ago. The finished show starts next week. They opened so people could see 1/2 done homes. Great chance to see the HVAC work in progress. And pretty sorry stuff at that. No high end equipment. Some 90s, once in a while 12 SEER units. Mostly builder grade. Poor workmanship. Since they are big 500-1M homes, most are 2 systems. Saw no zoning. That's the typical of new construction. Builder cares about kitchen counters, not HVAC. But if you don't mind spending the bucks for a job done right, you may find some wanting to do it for you.

    The guy doing his own home is a start. Maybe if he knows there's some money to be made doing it right, he might be interested in yours. If he likes Carrier and they do have a nice zoning system, maybe that's what you should be looking at. If Trane says don't zone the 16, I would listen to them, they have their reasons.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA
    Posts
    209
    I appreciate all the replies. My comments/responses follow in no particular order.

    I must admit that perhaps I did forget the primary rule - forget the brand and go with the highest quality installation.

    I am building the home myself with a site supervisor. With the exception of the HVAC system I do not care too much about the design or features of the new home (my wife does, however!). This forum has been a really interesting way for me to get a little knowledge before I spoke with dealers.

    I first spoke with a dealer because my brother-in-law builder was using him (happens to be a Trane dealer). I was very happy with his attitude and willingness to consider a zoned system (two of only 6 dealers contacted who were, and the other one does no new residential).

    The only reason I spoke to anyone else is that the proposed system from the Trane dealer did not include some features that I had some interest in (scroll compressors, R-410A). Not I'm the first to admit that I can't even be 100% sure that these features are really critical. I didn't even know about these features until I found this site.

    Let's discuss R-410A. I have read several posts here on the subject and I realize there is a fair amount of disagreement on the issue. I have, however, been impressed by the depth and fairness of Doc Holiday's posts. Based on all the posts (but primarily Doc's) I determined that I would prefer an R-410A system. Now I can't argue the point with an experienced contractor with an opposing view, but that's okay. My Trane dealer is not crazy about R-410A and would prefer to stick with R-22. That is why I spoke to anyone else at all.

    My previous post was just an observation that in some areas of the country (my area experienced residential home prices >35% last year and currently going up about 3% a month) with super heated construction activity), it can be difficult to get a recommended dealer to consider anything other than what they are doing. I understand it's a money thing. Why consider a zoned, R-410A system when you're just trying to keep up with all the tracts going up?

    As to my attitiude about the cost of the system. My budgeted amount for HVAC that I submitted to the bank was about 90% higher than the original builder's grade that i was quoted. I only offer this point to indicate that I am not solely driven by money. I don't have an unlimited budget but I am willing to pay more for a better system.

    One last question: Let's say I settle on the best installer. I now have been told that any dealer can pretty much sell any brand. What is the view of the professionals here about dealer "A" installing a brand that he is not an authorized dealer for?

    Thanks gain for all the honest opinions and observations. I do have one firmly held conviction: I'm going to end up with a better system because of this site.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA
    Posts
    209
    Irascible, thanks for the link (on the scroll versus recip post) to your site that presents important issues for HVAC. The 14 page print out provides a valuable consumer resource.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    2,633
    You're welcome. The amazing thing is that a truly comprehensive essay on the ins and outs of installation would be 4 times as long.

    Doc is one smart mofo. But I'm sure he'd be the first to agree that good contractor plus R-22 and reciprocating is the far superior choice to bad contractor plus R-410A and scroll. In other words those two issues are not terribly important in the grand scheme.

    I'd say that all things being equal then scroll is the better choice by a nose length. But on the refrigerant side I'm completely ambivalent. The ONLY thing I like about 410A over 22 is that in some cases its higher density will allow you to run smaller refrigerant lines. And it’s also true that 410A is more finicky about installation procedure. In other words it’s easier to muck up a 410A install than it is a 22 install. But ultimately they're the same to me. Either one does the job well. Neither one has a totally compelling case going for it over the other in my opinion.

    Most contractors can sell most brands. But in some cases a wholesaler will reserve their most innovative equipment for their authorized dealers. I don't know if it's still true. But last year my local Carrier wholesaler reserved the high end Infinity product solely for their official dealers.

    The main reason why you should stick with a contractor's authorized brand(s) is because the contractor will have an established relationship with that brand's wholesaler. I'm a Trane dealer. I buy enough equipment that I'm at least familiar to them. I've known the Trane tech advisor for years. He's done quite a few favors and pulled some strings for me over the years. So it stands to reason that I'm going to get better service from them than I am from another wholesaler that I buy from once every five years. Better customer service to the contractor will often translate to better customer service for that contractor's customer.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA
    Posts
    209
    Thanks, Irascible for the helpful perspective.

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