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  1. #1
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    Question Rheem's High End Models

    First, some background... I've always liked Lennox systems. Work great, reliable, no fuss... the one in my childhood home lasted a good 20+ years without much trouble beyond an occasional pilot light going out. Rented a house with a Radiant-Aire model that we hated every minute of, constant trouble.

    So our current house has two 15 year old identical builder grade Lennox Merit series systems. (G40UH/90k BTU furnaces + 10ACC 3 ton condensers). I've been planning to replace and upgrade them, both to maximize efficiency as well as to avoid any major breakdowns due to aging equipment.

    I did my research and had originally been planning on getting the SLP98+XC25 combo earlier this year, but after getting quotes that were, I'll just say way more than the cost of a new electric car.. and having sales reps try to convince me that I really didn't gain much with the efficiencies and my best option would be to just replace them with another 80% furnace and 14 SEER A/C.... I decided to step out of my Lennox comfort zone and try to get my backup option: Rheem.

    So I'd of course be looking at the R98V furnace with RA20 A/C. Features are very similar to the Lennox models, and while still somewhat more expensive than online "installed" estimates would lead you to believe, it seems like a good value for the money. Plus there are some things I really like about the Rheem, such as the thermostat being a bit more open, allowing you to view technical details like the static pressure and fan speeds; an open, published API allowing integration with automation systems and other programming; and the fact that parts are generally easier to get and less expensive than the proprietary issues that many report with Lennox equipment.

    But the problem I see with the Rheem equipment is... there's just not a lot of details out there on these models. I've seen a handful of good post-install pictures, a video or two from installers highlighting a few features they liked, but nothing compared to what I'd expect for models that have been around for a few years now. And hardy anything recent, practically nothing at all mentioning the new thermostat they just came out with that looks like it might dumb down the good points of the previous one.

    So.... for those of you still reading at this point ;-)

    • Have you worked with these models?
    • Any serious drawbacks or things you hate about them?
    • Are they less reliable or more problematic than the models that other pros have lauded as solid and reliable in various threads 10-15 years ago?
    • Other thoughts on current Rheem equipment in general?


    I've liked what I've seen on paper, at least. I just know that some people have complained about quality control and warranty issues, and what I really don't want to have happen is that I go to the expense of putting these in, and start needing frequent service calls and having failures, considering that's one of the key things I'm trying to avoid by upgrading now.

    As luck would have it, one of my condensers died a few nights ago. Based on the symptoms, it's likely a blown capacitor, and I'm guessing the other one may not be far behind. So I'd love to pull the trigger soon rather than try to keep these old units running.

  2. #2
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    The name on the truck is more important then the name on the boxs.

    Choose a great contractor before the equipment!

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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TuxToaster View Post
    Plus there are some things I really like about the Rheem, such as the thermostat being a bit more open, allowing you to view technical details like the static pressure and fan speeds; an open, published API allowing integration with automation systems and other programming.
    You can't base the quality of an installation or the equipment on a fancy thermostat, if so they would be using an iPhone to launch the space shuttle. My guess is most all WiFi stats have the the open API, even my Honeywell WiFi RTH9585WF with voice control. I am little biased here, because I'm a Ruud dealer, same as Rheem, so I would say Rheem is as good as any of them, but even cheapest equipment with the best installation, would be better than the best/most expensive with a bad installation.
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  5. #4
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    You can't base the quality of an installation or the equipment on a fancy thermostat
    That's definitely not my goal here. But ability for me to integrate with the system is an important factor. Honeywell has historically not been terribly developer friendly and had a lot of closed systems, though they aren't really an option here due to the need for communicating therms to see the benefits of the modulating furnace and variable speed condensers. But my point was purely that Rheem's thermostat offering the ability to see technical details on the operation of the system and having a documented API that would make it easier for me to monitor and tie into my existing automation system was simply a check in the plus column for them, not the deciding factor.

    The name on the truck is more important then the name on the boxs.
    So, I didn't mention it mostly because my post was already getting too long... :-) But having been reading posts on here for years, that advice is definitely embedded in my mind.

    I've already narrowed down the installers to a couple solid ones, and both contractors are willing to install either system. So the decision is purely on which of the two systems I want to go with. I'm likely going with Rheem, but just wanted to see what you guys who deal with those models regularly have to say about them. I'm somewhat used to Lennox systems that run for 15-20 years with nothing more than regular cleaning and inspections, so if you're finding that the RA20's variable motor breaks down within the first couple years of operation or there are problems with the exchangers or coils they're currently using, that's what I'd rather find out now than later.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TuxToaster View Post
    That's definitely not my goal here. But ability for me to integrate with the system is an important factor. Honeywell has historically not been terribly developer friendly and had a lot of closed systems, though they aren't really an option here due to the need for communicating therms to see the benefits of the modulating furnace and variable speed condensers. But my point was purely that Rheem's thermostat offering the ability to see technical details on the operation of the system and having a documented API that would make it easier for me to monitor and tie into my existing automation system was simply a check in the plus column for them, not the deciding factor.
    I understand, the Ecobee4 I believe is in a class of it's own, not quite as user friendly, if the wife or kids are able to even touch the thermostat. You are correct you will need the Ecobee4 to do all you need to do. By the way, the Honeywell's are great basic stats, and offer 2 stage cooling and a few more bells and whistles, but paired up with the equipment you're looking at, they would not be good.

    Edit: Sorry, I meant you would need the Rheem not the Ecobee thermostat to do all you want to do with that Rheem equipment, only on my second cup of coffee.
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    "Skilled Labor Isn't Cheap, Cheap Labor Isn't Skilled" ~ Unknown

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    "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." ~ John Wooden



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  8. #6
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    Yeah I'm pretty much limited to the communicating ones (wish there was more cooperation on standards for that so that Ecobee and others could work with them). But realistically for us the therm is not really used much by the family aside from the occasional tweak on particularly hot/cold days. But being able to have it automatically adjust temp when we arm the security system and leave the house or being notified when the extended family member staying for the weekend just cranked the temperature but also left the back door open.... yeah. I like my data. :-)

    Seeing as you're a Ruud/Rheem dealer, do you install or work on the R98V/RA20s often? Thermostats aside haven't seen a ton of talk about them. Occasional threads mentioning that they're planning an install but not a lot of info one way or the other from people who have them. Guess the lack of info could be good if they just quietly do their job.

  9. #7
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    You're simply asking for trouble with the high end stuff as far as reliability goes - way more expensive moving parts and algorithms to act up. And very few techs are adept at quickly squaring away all the issues that come up. We still don't know how they are going to hold up over the long run. There's no way I would have expensive and sensitive electronics living outside with the elements and creatures.

    If you have a lot of patience and cash (when the typical one year labor warranty and especially when the parts warranty is up), go for it. If not, just get a simple system that has a few more seer points. You will not get the advertised efficiency unless you live in an HVAC testing lab. Or if your just the type that has to have the very latest gadgets and tech...

    I will say they are awesome when they are working correctly. But I do this for a living and would not depend on one for my own comfort at home. There is enough to go wrong these days with the deteriorating quality of even conventional systems.

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  11. #8
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    I've been through the training on the RA20 but we haven't sold any. No payback for much above 13 SEER up our way and cheap homeowners tend not to want high end stuff. We have a bunch of the old modulating furnace, I love them. I would expect the 98 to be just as good and with the new WiFi touch screen Econet stat out, will be nice.

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  13. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by pecmsg View Post
    The name on the truck is more important then the name on the boxs.

    Choose a great contractor before the equipment!
    That is true to some degree. But I say that it is the technician doing the job that makes all the difference.

    I have seen good companies with bad installers/techs.
    Can someone please explain to me -
    Why is there never enough time to do it right the first time, but plenty of time to do it twice?


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  15. #10
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    You're simply asking for trouble with the high end stuff as far as reliability goes...
    See, those are the types of insights I was looking for. I have seen mentions that the variable speed motors and such are more expensive to replace than standard ones, which is why I was wondering how common such issues are.

    For me, the big draw on these is the variable operation. Rather than having condensers that are either off or on and drawing 5kw of power each, I like the idea that it's able to ramp up or down to the needed speed. I know there are two stage units, but they get a lot of the exact same "bells and whistles" and expensive to repair comments in other posts on here, which makes sense because they still have some of the electronics to control the speed that are more complicated than a simple on/off.

    Main reason I'm looking at the very top of the list are a) they're the only ones that have the variable speeds and b) they're the ones that offer the better warranties on the core components like the compressor that are generally the most expensive to replace.

    I've been through the training on the RA20 but we haven't sold any. No payback for much above 13 SEER up our way and cheap homeowners tend not to want high end stuff. We have a bunch of the old modulating furnace, I love them.
    My current ones are 11 SEER so I'll see an improvement with just about anything, but I think that's some of why I haven't seen as much on these is most people just go for the cheapest thing they can get, or maybe a step up from that. Can't say I blame them though, usually people replace stuff out of necessity, I'd probably do the same if I were having this swapped out in the middle of the winter or summer. A bit easier to plan for when doing this preemptively.

  16. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by joemach View Post
    That is true to some degree. But I say that it is the technician doing the job that makes all the difference.

    I have seen good companies with bad installers/techs.
    Agreed
    But a company is only as good as its techs!

  17. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by TuxToaster View Post
    Seeing as you're a Ruud/Rheem dealer, do you install or work on the R98V/RA20s often? Thermostats aside haven't seen a ton of talk about them. Occasional threads mentioning that they're planning an install but not a lot of info one way or the other from people who have them. Guess the lack of info could be good if they just quietly do their job.
    Probably 95% of our sales are RA16 so I don't know anything about the RA20's. If I had the extra cash to just change out my system, I would love to go with an inverter system. I studied them a lot lately, so for the biggest issue I've seen with some of them is the condenser boards, but I like the technology, and I truly believe it's all heading towards this technology soon.
    __________________________________________________ _______________________
    “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards" ~ Vernon Law

    "Skilled Labor Isn't Cheap, Cheap Labor Isn't Skilled" ~ Unknown

    "When the teachers become unteachable we're all in trouble"

    "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." ~ John Wooden



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  19. #13
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    Sticking with the basic or 2 stage unit and throwing the cost difference into added insulation and air sealing will likely save you more money than investing in high tech fancy gadgets that will save you a couple cents per dollar. Just my thought

    'The more you know, the more you realize you don't know'
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