Help choosing new system
Our current HVAC system has finally died. Our outside unit is about 23 years old give or take 2.5 ton Trane. The inside unit is a 3 ton Carrier that was replaced about 15 years ago although not sure of the exact time frame.
I got quotes last year for a new system and they were in the XXXX range for a 3 ton system with heat pump. This year I called different companies out and the highest quote I've gotten so far was $XXXX for a Carrier system and that included changing out some vents in our kitchen that faces the west and gets a lot of sun during the day.
I also got a quote for $XXXX for a Trane system with heat pump or about $XXXX for a Rheem system. I was told the Trane was the best and the Rheem would offer value but wouldn't last long.
Can anyone offer some insight? I'm just starting the search but it seems like there are many options and I honestly have no idea what brand is better over the next. It does appear that Trane and Carrier are the top two in the DFW area.
Last edited by BaldLoonie; 09-20-2011 at 10:52 AM.
Reason: removed prices
Which contractor did you trust the most? Did any of them resize the heat pump unit or did all of them just quote the same size? In 15-23 years lots could change, there may be more shade from tree's, you may have made your house more efficient, your ducts may be leaky and could be sealed saving your energy and allowing a smaller sized unit. Don't look at the price and the brand, what you want is the best value and the best value is not always the lowest price or Brand R, T or C
A properly installed Rheem (or any other brand) will run circles around and last longer than a poorly installed Trane or Carrier. This is not a knock against Trane or Carrier, they are fine products. My point is don't get stuck on the name on the box, installation quality makes up 90%+ of the durability and dependability of any particular system. Go with the pro that put the most effort into identifying your needs and designing solutions around those needs and who you feel most confident is capable and thorough and you will have made a good choice regardless of the name on the unit.
It's not rocket-science...
It's electromechanical thermodynamic engineering
Features, features, features.
I can't offer any technical advice, or even brand specific advice, but as a homeowner who replaced a system just last year, let me share what went through my head as I was considering my alternatives:
Every part of the country is different - but the big five issues that come into play are always:
1. How well insulated is your home? A poorly insulated home means more power needed to heat/cool it, more drafty corners, and more humidity infiltration. If you think you can get some quick-win insulation fixes taken care of, do them first. Ideally, get an energy analysis done. Many local power companies will help fund it for you or give you a rebate for having it done.
2. How many days a year do you need A/C. Effectively, is A/C more important than heat in your equation?
3. How many days a year do you need heat. Again, is heat more important than A/C?
4. How important is humidity control? If you are in Phoenix, or some northern clime where hot weather is infrequent and humidity isn't a problem, then your features requirements will be different.
5. How many days per year does it go below, roughly, 25 degrees at night?
Taking 2 & 3 together helps you figure out if the SEER or HSPF rating of the system you are looking at is more important. Here in northern PA, it is the HSPF rating that was most important to me - how efficiently it produces heat and how low an outdoor temp it can still be efficient. SEER ratings are probably more important to you down in Texas.
Item 4 can influence how important a 2-stage compressor and variable speed air handler are to you. While there are other benefits (quieter, more efficient overall), one of the biggest benefits and worth the money is the fact that it can run longer on low speed pulling moisture out of the air. An old fashioned on-or-off A/C runs a relatively short period of time at full blast and pulls some moisture out of the air, but obviously lets the moisture build up while it is off.
5. 40 degrees used to be the old break-even point for heat pumps, but industry improvements have moved that break-even down to about 25 degree for many systems, and even lower for DC-power based systems. Up here in northern PA my 18 SEER / 10-ish HSPF system can keep the house warm without emergency heat to about 10 degrees outside (very insulated house)
There are also other features to consider - "Smart" defrost that only defrosts when it's really needed, thermostats with expanded humidity control, the list goes on. And of course warranty. Although I might not do it again if I knew then what I know now, I have to say the little bit of extra $$$ to get a factory 20 yr warranty on my Amana / Goodman compressor was part of what swayed me to the brand.
DON'T let money, or even SEER ratings be your only guide. A contractor who brings up all the issues above and helps you evaluate your needs, looks you in the eye when he shakes your hand, can talk about the way he keeps up on coursework and has a good relationship with his distributor, and hopefully has a good Better Business Bureau rating is the way to go. Chances are you won't pay much more than than the low-price guy in the long run, because the "other guy" will end up trying to tack on un-needed services or parts he "forgot" when he made up your bid.
The men with the star (forum police) must be on break...
If they tell me a response like the one above is no longer welcome, that's fine. But I think the real intent of the starred pro response limitation is so that people like me don't try to offer technical advice that could mis-guide people. Or more importantly, I know they want to stick closely to their no DIY rule, and it's the non-star posters who are most likely to respond with specific how-tos that break the rule.
Originally Posted by tigerdunes
But if sharing experience like mine above is no longer appropriate, I'll understand. I run my own automotive based support site, and I know how hard it is to reign in the yahoos and know-it-alls.
Tom your posts have more content than some of the stars. And I am not speaking of the length of them but the quallity of the input. You bring up valid questions and statements.
Agreed, I think all Tiger Dunes was saying is that none of us With the * have answered, except myself and one other when a lot of times you will get 5 to 10 answers.
Originally Posted by second opinion
But Tom, if you can you should apply for professional membership you seem pretty bright and seem knowledgable from the 3 or 4 posts of yours I have seen.
And he likes to type.
Originally Posted by SkyHeating
No can do - To get a pro membership here you need to work in the industry.
Originally Posted by SkyHeating
I'm an IT guy by profession and a Generalist by nature. My special skills involve the ability to innately understand how things work and the ability to translate complex technical information into language the every-man can understand. That comes particularly in handy as a consultant where there's a big need to translate techno-jargon that geeks like to use to impress each other into a language that CEO's and accountants can understand. I do a lot of mediating, project management, and once in a while help some group put together their sales pitch so their board or upper management understands what they want to do.
When I'm not doing consulting I'm working on our vacation rental house here in the Poconos (I love hands-on work) or building and managing websites (which is what really pays the bills).
Sites like HVAC-TALK are simply a fun diversion from real work for me. I don't expect to be here very often - I only popped my head in because I received a notice that my old-old thread had been revived. I do like the fact that Dad changed things in May to try to kick out or at least reign in the nasty folks who used to get such joy at belittling homeowners. It was those kinds of people that kept me from visiting here since I last posted in the Spring.
Thanks for the advice!
Our home has great attic insulation but the one area that really needs improvement is our windows. They are single pane windows that are 30+ years old.
I had a 4th estimate given to me today and this person covered things nobody else did. For example what our average summer temp is and what I can expect cooling wise when its 112 or 115 outside. He also went over the benefits of a heat pump and what I can expect from that in our area.
He quoted me on a Goodman which I really don't know much about but he has worked with the big names in the past when he worked for one of the bigger companies in our area. His enthusiasm about wanting to do the job and his knowledge won me over and I think I'll be going with him. He is just starting his own company after working with one of the bigger companies in the area so he doesn't have a BBB affiliation but a friend that had him do work at her home a few months ago says he did an excellent job.
Since I have a new Goodman as well, I will pass on one final piece of experience. If you have downstairs bedrooms, or even upstairs bedrooms with windows that face the direction you will install the compressor, give thought to its location. Mine is super quiet during the summer in low speed mode (although not so quiet that I'd want it next to the deck) and isn't really audible inside during the summer even when on high. Winter operation isn't much different, except when it goes through its defrost cycle. This is something you don't want happening right outside a bedroom or anywhere else where loud noises would be disruptive.
Originally Posted by JSkyTx
I understand that the Goodman is no worse than other brands in this respect, although if you read through the threads here you may find reference to a few makes and models that are supposedly better than others in this respect. It may not be much of an issue for you in Texas as heat in the winter is not as important as cooling in the summer - but in any case it's worth giving it thought as you work with your contractor for the new system.