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  1. #1
    I am soliciting quotes to get a complete replacement of our HVAC.

    The home is a 2100 sq. ft ranch on a slab, with an attached 2-car garage.

    - about 15 miles south of Dayton, Ohio
    - electric only, no gas
    - ten windows (4 face west with little/no shade, 2 face south with heavy shade from trees/bushes, and adjacent home, 2 face east with light shade, and two face north with light shade)
    - a regular front door
    - back door is two doors side-by-side, but only one side opens (the other is basically a big door-shaped window), faces west, with moderate tree cover
    - the ceilings seem normal
    - there is a fireplace in our rec room
    - the rec room is at the north end of the home, and has its own return , with two incoming registers on the adjacent and opposite walls
    - air handler smack in the middle of the home, condenser in back

    Priorities (in order)
    - energy efficient
    - keeps us comfortable
    - quiet

    We are committed to getting:
    - variable speed
    - heat pump
    - puron refrigerant

    We plan to stay in this home 10-30 years.

    I have had 5 people come out.

    1) Thorough and seemed knowledgable, recommended Trane variable speed blower (3.5 ton) and XL14i condenser (3 ton). Company is large and experienced and "we use our own contractors...no subcontractors". They have 5 BBB complaints, which have all been resolved.
    2) Seemed experienced, but also uncertain about size/strength/support of company. Discussed Bryant system. Still has not provided written quote. No BBB file.
    3) Thorough and seemed knowledgable, but laid on the sales pitch a little hard; shocked at the 3.5 ton recommendation from #1 (he recommended 3 ton); recommended Lennox variable speed fan with XP15 or XP16 heat pump. Company is small to medium-sized and experienced, but has 7 complaints in last 3 yrs, only 4 resolved, other 3 GFE.
    4) Thorough and seemed knowledgeable. Waiting for him to run calcs (he only stopped by last night). He is initially recommending Lennox Signature CBX31MV/CBX32MV and XP19 heat pump. Age/size of company uncertain, as their BBB file is one month old (they apparently acquired/transferred assets recently and the old company has no listing in the BBB).
    5) Coming out Saturday. Small company, part of a larger company; they have 4 complaints, with 3 resolved and 1 GFE.

    It feels like these recommendations are all over the map, and of the 4 that have BBB files, I don't feel any of them sound bad enough to eliminate them.

    #2 is dropping from contention due to lack of quote (over a wekk now), lack of BBB file, and the impression that he was a one-man operation (and to be brutally honest, I think our HVAC will live longer than him).

    I have not tracked down a pro-Carrier contractor just yet.

    I need help narrowing some specific choices down:

    Tonnage
    - What tonnage should I be getting?
    Does 3.5-tons sound crazy (I can't find that option for Trane anyway)?

    SEER
    - What SEER rating should I really shoot for?
    - Are there significant diminishing returns aobut 15?

    Humidifier - should I consider one? We are thinking no.

    Air cleaning
    - We are suspicious of the efficacy of UV lights, given that we use them in our labs and you really need 30-60 minutes of constant irradiation for good sterilization. Hence, we fear they are just gimmicks, unless we get more information that makes the UV lights in air cleaners work much more effectively.
    - Guy#1 recommended an Aprilaire filter
    - Guy#3...I don't remember actually
    - Guy#4 recommended the PureAir system

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Ft.Worth,Tx
    Posts
    4,584
    Heat Pump
    American Standard-Trane
    TWE049E13FB-Air Handler Variable
    BAYHTR1415A-Heat Strip Kit
    TFM210AOFR1-Pleated 5" Filter
    6H4036A1000A-14.0 S.E.E.R. Heat Pump\
    BayStat-703A Thermostat


    10 Year compressor/10 year coil
    5 year parts/ 1 Labor

    Buy the extended warranty and your safe..

  3. #3
    Originally posted by aircooled53
    TWE049E13FB-Air Handler Variable
    Thanks for the detailed reply!

    One question, I look at Trane's site and see that the model you recommend is their R-22 Freon model. Their 4TEE3F49A model appears to be the Puron analog. Is there any reason not to go with that or is the nomenclature online incorrect?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Ft.Worth,Tx
    Posts
    4,584
    No Ijust like R-22 refrigerant better, and if you don't have a leak in system then why go to R-410A. If you ever get a leak in R-410A system it is alot more detailed and costly to repair.

  5. #5
    Originally posted by aircooled53
    No Ijust like R-22 refrigerant better, and if you don't have a leak in system then why go to R-410A. If you ever get a leak in R-410A system it is alot more detailed and costly to repair.
    But I was under the impression that r-22 was being phased out, so that well before my systems dies, r-22 would be prohibitively expensive. Isn't production of r-22 stopping soon?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,048
    R22 equipment won't be made after 2010 but R22 itself will be made til 2020 and available in recycled form after that. I'd put in an R22 for myself too but have no trouble with R410a if someone wants it. I started a new 4A6H4030 and 4TEE31 air handler last week. WOW what a nice system. I prefer keeping the air handler the same size as the heat pump for better humidity control.

    Who has run a load calc? Indy would be same climate and contruction. 2100 sq ft ranch would be a 3 ton max around here. Assuming your juice rates are reasonable, 12 SEER barely pays you back in energy savings in any decent time frame. Those super SEER stuff like the Lennox 19 never would but if you have the money and like the bells & whistles, go for it.

    I wouldn't worry too much about BBB issues. Get references from friends & neighbors on good dealers.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    1,042
    Originally posted by wearyconsumer

    I need help narrowing some specific choices down:

    Tonnage
    - What tonnage should I be getting?
    Does 3.5-tons sound crazy (I can't find that option for Trane anyway)?

    SEER
    - What SEER rating should I really shoot for?
    - Are there significant diminishing returns aobut 15?

    Humidifier - should I consider one? We are thinking no.

    Air cleaning
    - We are suspicious of the efficacy of UV lights, given that we use them in our labs and you really need 30-60 minutes of constant irradiation for good sterilization. Hence, we fear they are just gimmicks, unless we get more information that makes the UV lights in air cleaners work much more effectively.
    - Guy#1 recommended an Aprilaire filter
    - Guy#3...I don't remember actually
    - Guy#4 recommended the PureAir system
    Tonnage should be determined by doing a Manual J load calculation on the house, period. Ask contractors to do one. It takes a fair amount of work, so don't be surprised if you have to pay someone a bit up front to do it. They are rightfully afraid to use their technical expertise and time before getting the job, for fear that you'll take the results of their calculations and then get the low bidder to do the job. The only thing we can say about tonnage with any certainty, without measuring your house and looking at the construction materials, is that if the old unit had enough cooling capacity to keep you happy (running around the clock in unusually hot weather) then you really shouldn't upsize it. Oversizing is bad for comfort and it's bad for efficiency.

    There are diminishing returns beyond some point with SEER; where exactly that point is depends on your electric rates. Remember that your heating cost is much more than your cooling cost, so the heating efficiency of the heat pump (HSPF) should be more important than SEER as you shop. Also, be aware that the SEER/HSPF ratings you will see on a heat pump as a consumer usually only apply to one size of that heat pump with a specific indoor unit. Any other combination will be less efficient; some combinations and sizes much more so than others. When shopping, make sure to get the actual ARI rating of the exact equipment pairing you're looking at. Contractors can look it up for you (if they can tell you off the top of their head, they either have a photographic memory or are playing fast and loose with the numbers). You can also look them up at ariprimenet.org.

    Humidifier... do you want one? It's strictly a comfort issue. Replacing your heat pump will have no effect on how dry the house gets in the winter. If you had problems with feeling too dry in past winters, consider a humidifier.

    Purification... I am of the opinion that UV lights are generally only needed in very specific cases where the coils have gotten dirty and support microbial growth. If you buy new equipment and you don't let it ever get dirty, I don't see a need. That said, the only practical way I see to keep the coil clean without major upkeep headaches is with a pleated media filter, 4-6" thick, as sold by most of the big name equipment manufacturers and generally always manufactured by Aprilaire, Trion, or Honeywell. 1" filters carry too much tradeoff between quality of filtration and restriction of airflow. 1" filters and electronic filters both just require too much maintenance (on the order of monthly, in many cases).

  8. #8
    Thanks for the informative comments and advice.
    I probably failed to mention that this is our first home and we moved in a few weeks ago. We don't have solid communication with the previous owners and cooling/heating comfort is no doubt highly subjective, so we have very little data on how good or bad it is.

    The weather here since we moved in has been incredibly mild. The only thing we know is that we want it replaced, as the air handler seems to be in its death throes, the system runs for quite a while to change the temp only a couple of degree from ambient outdoor temps, and we definitely want something better than a 1" filter.

    Yeah, I read up on the calcs last week, and although I got ahold of the methematical model, I could not get ahold of the coefficients from manual J to try it out myself.

    I am most worried about getting the best system in terms of efficiency and reliability, to include the installation and follow-up support.

    Guy #1 says he used a program that uses manual J. In fact he had a laptop with him when he visited and he ran the calcs there. Upon further discussion, he said that the program spit out 3-ton, but he felt that a 3.5-ton air handler would be better given the layout of our home.

    Now, if variable speed really does move the air about and prevent/mitigate hot/cold spots, why wouldn't a 3-ton air handler be adequate?

    Is there no downside to having an air handler that's a little too big?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    4
    Hello!

    I ran across your thread while searching for information about a replacement unit for our house. If you don't mind, I was wondering if I could tell you about my situation and see if you have any helpful information for me.

    My wife and I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina nearly three years ago. Our home has a 15 year-old outdoor, 3-ton Trane HVAC unit – the kind that both heats and cools. We replaced the heat exchanger soon after we moved in, but now the A/C part has gone out. The coils are rusted and Freon escapes, causing it to ice up. Our HVAC guy has told us that replacing the entire unit will probably be the best thing for us to do because the cost to replace the coil (and condenser, which we would do at the same time because it is probably going to go soon, too) would be around 2/3 or more of the cost of a replacement unit.

    We, of course, don’t know anything about this stuff. We don’t know, or know whom to ask, if we should get a heat pump or a combination unit or separate units (an A/C unit and a furnace side by side). We don’t know if we can use a heat pump alone in North Carolina, or whether we would have to supplement it with a furnace. In other words, we don't really know what options we have or who to ask, since the people we know whom we could ask would all want to sell us something. Could either of you comment, perhaps giving advice or steering us to web sites which might be able to give us some impartial reviews and advice? I have looked for them, but I guess I don't know the correct search terms since I cannot find any! (Well - I did find this place!!)

    Thanks - we will appreciate any help or advice you might have!

    Fred



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    North Richland Hills, Texas
    Posts
    14,914
    Originally posted by fredames
    Hello!

    I ran across your thread while searching for information about a replacement unit for our house. If you don't mind, I was wondering if I could tell you about my situation and see if you have any helpful information for me.

    My wife and I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina nearly three years ago. Our home has a 15 year-old outdoor, 3-ton Trane HVAC unit – the kind that both heats and cools. We replaced the heat exchanger soon after we moved in, but now the A/C part has gone out. The coils are rusted and Freon escapes, causing it to ice up. Our HVAC guy has told us that replacing the entire unit will probably be the best thing for us to do because the cost to replace the coil (and condenser, which we would do at the same time because it is probably going to go soon, too) would be around 2/3 or more of the cost of a replacement unit.

    We, of course, don’t know anything about this stuff. We don’t know, or know whom to ask, if we should get a heat pump or a combination unit or separate units (an A/C unit and a furnace side by side). We don’t know if we can use a heat pump alone in North Carolina, or whether we would have to supplement it with a furnace. In other words, we don't really know what options we have or who to ask, since the people we know whom we could ask would all want to sell us something. Could either of you comment, perhaps giving advice or steering us to web sites which might be able to give us some impartial reviews and advice? I have looked for them, but I guess I don't know the correct search terms since I cannot find any! (Well - I did find this place!!)

    Thanks - we will appreciate any help or advice you might have!

    Fred
    Fred, you will get better results if you start a new thread with your question rather than tacking it onto existing threads.
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

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