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Another Home HVAC Replacement Question


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13 replies to this topic

#1 of 14 OFFLINE   Mike O'Connell

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Posted October 15 2008 - 04:56 AM

I am in the process of replacing my 16 year old Rheem Furnace (75% efficiency - 125K BTU) / AC (3.5 ton, original 8.8 SEER rating as installed).

My house is 2604 sqft, plus 700 sq ft finished basement that does not need alot of heat / AC. My opinion is that the original AC was undersized and the original furnace was correctly sized.

Over the 17 years the furnace has needed both fan motors replaced and has developed ignition problems over the last few years (old standing pilot) that will require replacement of the system, not just a new thermocouple or adjustments. I admit, the fan problems may have been due to my failure to initially not pay as much attention to having a clean filter as I should have done. The AC has been a trooper, but has not always kept up on hot days (95+) and we keep the inside temperature at 78 degrees in the summer. No repairs, just annual cleaning and maintenance checks. Although I just had it tested and its effective SEER is now about 4.4 - not good.

I am in the process of getting quotes from three different Contractors - all which I have had very good references from and I believe will do a very good job of the installation.

The three are providing estimates on the following equipment - I do like higher efficiencies and the 2-stage or variable furnaces and possibly a 2-stage AC or heat pump:

Contractor #1: AC/Gas Furnace - Lennox; Heat Pump/Gas Furnace - Airease by Lennox. Recommend 100/110 BTU - 95% eff furnace, and a 5-ton 14+ SEER AC or HP. Did not do an extensive sizing, but has alot of experience in the neighborhood and is familiar with my "cookie cutter" house layout. He did measure ducts to confirm airflow requirements.

Contractor #2 - AC or Heat Pump / Gas Furnace - Lennox. Recommend 100/110 BTU - 95% eff furnace, and a 4-ton 14+ SEER AC or a 5-ton 14+ SEER HP. Seemed to base his findings on the house size, but has recently installed systems on almost identical houses in the neighborhood.

Contractor #3 - AC or Heat Pump / Gas Furnace - Ruud. Waiting on estimate. Is in the process of completing a heat / AC load analysis.

Due to some personal references I am not a big fan or Trane, so that is why I did not get an estimate on that equipment.

I am interested in comments on my process thus far and any experience with the equipment being quoted. What is your opinion on heat pumps versus AC?

Thank you,

Mike

PS - I did find the following information (it may ba a couple of years old - but is interesting):

The following was from the Lennox International Annual Report to Shareholders that discussed their products and what their competition was:

Lennox International: Direct to Dealer Products (Lennox, Armstrong Air, Ducane) Products Through Distributor (Aire-Flo, AirEase, Concord);

United Technologies Corp. (Carrier, Bryant, Tempstar, Comfortmaker, Heil, Areoaire, Keeprite);

Goodman Manufacturing Company, L.P. (Goodman, Janitrol, Amana);

American Standard Companies Inc. (Trane, American Standard);

Paloma Co., Ltd. (Rheem, Ruud);

Johnson Controls, Inc. (York, Weatherking);

Nordyne (Westinghouse, Frigidaire, Tappan, Philco, Kelvinator, Gibson);

HNI Corporation (Heatilator, Heat-n-Glo);

CFM Corporation (Majestic).

#2 of 14 OFFLINE   JoeyR

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Posted October 15 2008 - 10:47 AM

You better go with Ruud(which is the same as your old Rheem). DO NOT and I mean DO NOT purchase a Lennox

#3 of 14 OFFLINE   Todd Hochard

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Posted October 15 2008 - 01:30 PM

I recently had to go through this in May, and I ended up with a Carrier Infinity system.

I went with a 3-stage heat, single stage cool system, with a variable speed fan. The unit is a heat pump (~14 SEER) & gas furnace (80% efficiency), and works like this-

Outside >38°= heat pump provides heat.
Outside <38° to a bit colder= gas furnace on low (60k BTU or so).
Really cold= gas furnace on high (91k BTU, IIRC).

I wanted the flexibility of running heat pump electric heat at least some of the time, because gas prices have been so volatile. If they spike, I'm ahead. If they dip, I can override the Tstat and tell it gas only.

Cooling is single speed compressor, but the air handler fan runs at varying speeds to control indoor humidity as set on the Infinity Tstat.

I didn't go for the higher efficiency ratings, because the payoff was 10+ years. Perhaps that was the way the dealers here were selling them, but I was disappointed that the cost was so high. I also looked into a geothermal heat pump setup, but $28000!! was the *best* quote I got. That's absurd, IMO- it felt like straight-up gouging.

For this summer, my electric bill dropped from a peak of $230 last year to $168 this year. I dropped about 25% usage in kw-hours comparing month-month. For the 4 big cooling months (Jun-Sep), I probably saved around $200 compared to last year.

Personally, I wouldn't upsize the AC too much, as it'll lead to more cycling, which reduces overall efficiency, and leads to poor humidity control because of the short run times. 3.5 ton is what I have for 2400sq ft (plus another 900 in the basement), and it works fine. If 3.5 ton is barely getting it done for you, perhaps a 4.0 would be reasonable, but 5.0 seems excessive.

Carrier and Trane were the two best trusted names around here. I had a Trane, it lasted 14 years and was flat abused by the previous owners of the house, but the Trane dealer had a 3-week lead. The Carrier was also highly rated, and they came out 3 days later. Plus, the Carrier is *really* quiet.
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#4 of 14 OFFLINE   JoeyR

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Posted October 15 2008 - 01:47 PM

Thanks Todd for posting about some things I just skimmed and completely missed.

There is or was a rule of thumb, if your getting your unit changed and a load analysis is not done run the guys off your property.

Not a fan of heat pumps, of course I hate working on them because when you have problems they can be a real pain in the arse but seeing as your further north by a little I cant comment on this.

#5 of 14 OFFLINE   Patrick Young

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Posted October 16 2008 - 02:03 PM

Okay I just bought a Lennox signiture series 14+ seer 2 or 2.5 ton unit two summers ago.

Joey can you please tell me why they are bad and what do I need to look for. We only bought the AC because our Carrier Furnace was just fine and I was leaving out of town for two weeks and it was June and Hot as H@!! and they were the quickest we could get and actually the company we dealt with were highly recommended by my father and an associate of his.

#6 of 14 OFFLINE   JoeyR

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Posted October 16 2008 - 02:32 PM

Lennox and "high quality" just usually dont go together. Dont get me wrong they have made some good units but do a Google search for Lennox Pulse Furnace Deaths. Around here if you have a Lennox and a part goes out its 3 days away from Lennox. They always use special motors, nothing you can cross at a local parts house

#7 of 14 OFFLINE   Patrick Young

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Posted October 16 2008 - 03:52 PM

Well how about there A/C units are they okay?

I still have my 20 year old carrier furnace because they said at the time there was nothing wrong with it and it is a more effiecient design. It has a Induced draft fan and multispeed blower fan and it still works great.

#8 of 14 OFFLINE   JoeyR

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Posted October 17 2008 - 02:54 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Young
Well how about there A/C units are they okay?

I still have my 20 year old carrier furnace because they said at the time there was nothing wrong with it and it is a more effiecient design. It has a Induced draft fan and multispeed blower fan and it still works great.

a 20 year old furnace is not more effiecent than what is out there currently. Lennox is a Lennox, some do ok, some dont but having the option I would stay away from them.

BTW your not getting 14+ seer if you didnt change the furnace

#9 of 14 OFFLINE   Mike O'Connell

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Posted October 17 2008 - 03:55 AM

Here are the bids:

All are providing a programmable thermostat to allow for all functionality of the units and providing a complete installation (including upsizing the drop on the return air for 5-ton units). All have good references and I have personal references with people I know.

I receive quotes on both AC and Heat Pumps. My wife and I have decided to go the heat pump route. All provided various options, etc. For simplification I am providing only one or two combinations from each. Each combination also has the matching coil unit for the system.

Contractor #1: Did not complete a “J” book heat load calculation, based sizing on house size, duct sizes, and experience. Total $9,699.

Manufacturer: Airease (by Lennox): 95V Furnace and 416LT Heat Pump:

Furnace: 100K BTU, 2 stage gas, variable speed blower, single speed inducer, 95 % Eff. War – 10 parts, 10 labor, Limited Life on Exchanger.
Heat Pump: 5-ton, 2-stage compressor, 15.5 SEER, War – 10 parts, 10 labor, 10 compressor.

Also, no lemon guarantee for 5 years, one-year satisfaction replacement guarantee.

Contractor #2: Did not complete a “J” book heat load calculation, based sizing on house size, duct sizes, and experience. Total $9,996.

Manufacturer: Lennox: G71MPV Furnace and XP19 Heat Pump:

Furnace: 110K BTU, 2 stage gas, variable speed blower, variable speed inducer, 95 % Eff. War – 10 parts, 1 labor, Limited Life on Exchanger.
Heat Pump: 5-ton, 2-stage compressor, 16.5 SEER, War – 10 parts, 1 labor, 10 compressor.

Contractor #3: Did a complete “J” book heat load calculation, based on house size, duct sizes, window numbers and types, roof type, siding type, trees, and house direction. Total $8,425.

Manufacturer: Ruud: UGFD Furnace and UPRL-JEZ Heat Pump:

Furnace: 120K BTU, 2 stage gas, variable speed blower, 2-speed inducer, 93.2 % Eff. War – 5 parts, 5 labor, Limited Life on Exchanger.
Heat Pump: 5-ton, 2-stage compressor, 15.0 SEER, War – 10 parts, 5 labor, 10 compressor.

I can increase all warranties to 10 parts, 10 labor for $500 additional. Also told me that they may have additional incentives coming out Monday, so if I could wait until then he may be able to improve the pricing.

#10 of 14 OFFLINE   Patrick Young

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Posted October 17 2008 - 03:47 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeyR
a 20 year old furnace is not more effiecent than what is out there currently. Lennox is a Lennox, some do ok, some dont but having the option I would stay away from them.

BTW your not getting 14+ seer if you didnt change the furnace

Joey your right I made a mistake in that I meant that my furnace was a fairly efficient for the day.

Yeah that makes sense. They did change out the A coil though with a modern one as that was the main part that went bad on the old one. When they removed it it my wife said it was falling apart in the techs hands.

I also know it must have been really plugged up as my airflow is great now.

#11 of 14 OFFLINE   JoeyR

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Posted October 17 2008 - 04:20 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Young
Joey your right I made a mistake in that I meant that my furnace was a fairly efficient for the day.

Yeah that makes sense. They did change out the A coil though with a modern one as that was the main part that went bad on the old one. When they removed it it my wife said it was falling apart in the techs hands.

I also know it must have been really plugged up as my airflow is great now.


You would be amazed how many times I have seen that, I have also changed peoples furnaces that didnt have maintenance and the exchangers looked like swiss cheese

#12 of 14 OFFLINE   JoeyR

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Posted October 17 2008 - 04:21 PM

Even though the SEER ratings are higher on the Lennox go with the Ruud, once you get into 15, 16, etc. the difference is not that great on your electrical cost.

#13 of 14 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted October 18 2008 - 06:44 AM

Quote:
Manufacturer: Lennox: G71MPV Furnace and XP19 Heat Pump:

I just had this exact configuration installed. So far happy; added in a whole-house humidifier while they were at it for free.. 10 years on all components, so what the hell. The deal was better then I was quoted on other brands. While I get the seeming very negative view of Lennox, so far, nothing negative to report.

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#14 of 14 OFFLINE   JoeyR

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Posted October 18 2008 - 01:58 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattCR
I just had this exact configuration installed. So far happy; added in a whole-house humidifier while they were at it for free.. 10 years on all components, so what the hell. The deal was better then I was quoted on other brands. While I get the seeming very negative view of Lennox, so far, nothing negative to report.


Good to hear everything is going well with the unit, its funny though to read some of yall posts, you rarely, rarely see a humidifier installed in Louisiana Posted Image


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