comments and suggestions sought


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Old 11-29-07, 11:13 AM
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comments and suggestions sought

Hi. I am in the process of replacing a failed HP system. I am seeking advice and comments from this sage crowd on this website. I am not terribly savvy on this stuff but I tried to do some homework, including looking through this forum. Yet, I know that some people still will blow smoke up my chimney and it is hard to separate fact from hyperbole.

Original system was York installed 20 years ago. The blower motor crashed and burned and from what my wife was told of the expense, I decided enough was enough (we've done other increasingly expensive maintenance for the last couple years).

Nearly everyone in this area (mid-Atlantic states) has been quoting Carrier and Bryant. A couple of them talked about Trane but still said they do almost all Carrier/Bryant.

Contrary to the advice I read on Checkbook.org, I haven't been able to get most of them to get specific on capacity except one. The others just assumed to replace my 3.5 ton with an new 3.5 ton.

The house is 2800 sqft plus unfinished basement. One of the firms said that based on rough calculations of a needing 1 ton for every 600-700 sq ft indicate that we were probably undersized.

The house is Colonial style and the ducting was done to go left side and right side instead of up/down. Hence, we have rooms upstairs that get pretty hot in the summer while the downstairs stays cold.

HERE ARE THE BASIC OPTIONS I NEED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN. I am still waiting for some quotes for Carrier brand, but that guy is so slow with a proposal, I'm not comfortable with responsiveness.

Option 1) $7100
Bryant "Preferred" line model 265. 3.5 ton. FE4BNF005-20 air handler. said to be 15.5 SEER. 10 year compressor. 2 year labor.

Option 2) $5900
Bryant "Legacy" line model 223. FV4BNF005-20 air handler. Said to be 14 SEER. 10 year compressor 2 year labor

The guys for the above options did not recommend any size changes (I asked if they were going to do a load calculation) and said if it was OK before, then it'll be Ok in the future. They also only referenced re-ducting as a drastic, too expensive option for mitigating the air differential between up/down.

I then received some more options from another rep who also threw in some twists. First of all, he ran some numbers and said that we were undersized. With respect to the cooling differential, this guy said he could put in either manual or automatic damper system on some smaller feeder lines that go to the main level, with separate thermostats to reduce airflow to the main level, and force more cooling upstairs. On the heat pump, he also strongly recommended a 2 stage system that would allow the system to ramp down to the 2 ton level when it was only cooling upstairs. His claim was that we would save much more energy since the downstairs has always been cooled so easily in the summer.

He ended up mixing the Bryant Heat Pump and Air Handler lines because he said Bryant's Evolution handler can't be used with the automated damper system he was also proposing.

Automated Damper System add-on: $2000
or Manual Damper System add-on: $400


Option 3) $7900
Combination of Bryant Evolution 4-ton, 2-stage heat pump model 286 and older air handler FV4BNF005 (compatible with the automated damper add-on).

10 years compressor. 5 years parts. 5 years labor

Option 4) $7760
Bryant 4-ton, 2-stage pump Model 286 but with Evolution line air handler model FE4ANF005. No automated damper capability, but the sales rep says I would still reap benefits of 2 stage and he could still put in manual dampers to reduce airflow to main level in the summer time.

Option 5) $7900
Bryant 4-ton, 1-stage pump Model 265 mixed with Evolution air handler FE4ANF005 and Evolution control. SEER 15.
 
  #2  
Old 11-29-07, 07:35 PM
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sizing

Interesting. With respectto my sizing question, I found this site http://www.acdirect.com/systemsize.php. According to this, my 2800 sq ft house probably needs at least 4 tons or even more. Most of the contractors dismissed my sizing question and didn't challenge the original installation. I even asked about doing a load study but I guess they didn't want to give me the bad news about cost if I said past performance was bearable.
 
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Old 11-29-07, 09:48 PM
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If the dealers are not going to do a Manual-J, then download yourown Manual-J, and get the $50 homeowner's verison.

DO NOT go by that site that is linked here, or "rule of thumb".

In my home, the link site said I'd needed a 3 ton A/C, 80,000 heating.

The Manual J says I need 1.5 on A/C and 60,000 on heating....

When you do find a dealer who does a manual j or will go by what you come by, then go with them.. A good install will make any equipment work well.
 
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Old 11-30-07, 06:57 AM
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thanks

Thanks Jay. good advice.
 
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Old 12-01-07, 10:10 PM
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Wink

For sure you want some one to run a heat load and AC loss on the home . Next you want 3 bids or more for the job and what the guy sells that have been there the longes is the one to go with.
The house is Colonial style and the ducting was done to go left side and right side instead of up/down. Hence, we have rooms upstairs that get pretty hot in the summer while the downstairs stays cold.
Now no way go for a 2 zone set up on this. I know it will cost more for 2 units one for down and one for up. But we find that it sure pays you back to have 2 unit one for up and one for down. Also you do want units with a SEER of 15 or over and with a HSPFon the heat pump side. Also a V/S blower in them pays. With Trane you can get a 10 year warranty on it all. Dont forget till the end of the year you can get a tax credit from the IRS on units over a seer of 15.
 
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Old 12-01-07, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed Imeduc View Post

Now no way go for a 2 zone set up on this. I know it will cost more for 2 units one for down and one for up. But we find that it sure pays you back to have 2 unit one for up and one for down. .
Hi Ed. Yes, I am having the study done. I did get 3 bids (4 visits but one never submitted). No one even pushed for Trane.

I just am not sure what you meant about the 2 zones. Are you saying do NOT go for 2 zones but 2 separate units? The explanation I received of dampers for the different zones with a 2 stage pump seemed like it would accomplish the same objective as 2 separate units.

Was I misled?

Thank you so much.
 
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Old 12-01-07, 11:03 PM
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Whoa Nellie! Lock up the wallet and get the shotgun!

Sounds like lots of smoke going up your chimney.

First off most builders sub contracted a/c guys use rule of thumb 600 sqft equals 1 ton of a/c. Which would be ok in a perfect world but ours is not.

You need to have a load done. don't even talk to a contractor that dosn't come in with a laptop to do a load calc.

Heck, I'm typing on my work computer that has my load calc program on it.

As far as the upstairs and down stairs temps go is there a return upstairs? Makes a big differance.

Zoning? You could do that. But, if the system is properly sized and installed this may not be an issue.

I think you are still in search of a company that knows what they are doing.

This is a major purchace dot all the I's and cross all T's before you shell out the cash.
 
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Old 12-01-07, 11:04 PM
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Wink

[QUOTEI just am not sure what you meant about the 2 zones. Are you saying do NOT go for 2 zones but 2 separate units? The explanation I received of dampers for the different zones with a 2 stage pump seemed like it would accomplish the same objective as 2 separate units.
][/QUOTE]

When you have a very large set up then yes zone control works . But we find on homes it dont do to well. Have had time to test some set ups out. They all cost much more to run that 2 units in the home. Now if I put a unit in your home it has a CFM for it all . If I only need half and I close one duct off then I need a bypass in the duct so half of the air just goes round and round in the unit. its a waste of fuel and power. Also if you can Id stay with R22 over the R410A It will be here till 2030 +. Also Id stay with the XL15 i or If you want to go all the way then go with the XL19i it has two compressors in it, not just a two speed compressor.
Just My .02 cents of what we sell and install all the time
 
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Old 12-02-07, 12:22 PM
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THanks Ed. I'll look at the Tranes. At least this contractor offered to do the load analysis to confirm whether the "rule of thumb" is close or not. He was the only one of the guys I checked.

Another question. I was reading a page by a contractor who talked about only doing the outside pump and re-using the air handler. At 20 years, should I assume replacing both just because of age? My common sense that maintenance cost on both will just continue escalating.
 
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Old 12-02-07, 03:38 PM
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Replace the air handler as well, that way you have a matching system..

Look into the variable speed system.. It will be well worth the money! A quiet system, and better comfort!
 
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Old 12-03-07, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Jay11J View Post
Replace the air handler as well, that way you have a matching system..

Look into the variable speed system.. It will be well worth the money! A quiet system, and better comfort!
the good news is that this guy offered to do the load study, strongly suggested variable speed as one of the biggest factors and acknowledged that as the efficiency gets higher the additional savings get smaller.

I am still not sure about the 2 stage vs. 1 stage. He offered a 1 stage option, but because of rebates the 2 stage is about the same price for the same efficiency range the way he mixed it. But both SEER 15s are $1500-$2000 higher than the SEER 14 (or was it a 13? I forget).
 
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Old 12-03-07, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by kirkholmes View Post
the good news is that this guy offered to do the load study, strongly suggested variable speed as one of the biggest factors and acknowledged that as the efficiency gets higher the additional savings get smaller.
Glad to hear that. Sounds like a good dealer there.

I am still not sure about the 2 stage vs. 1 stage. He offered a 1 stage option, but because of rebates the 2 stage is about the same price for the same efficiency range the way he mixed it. But both SEER 15s are $1500-$2000 higher than the SEER 14 (or was it a 13? I forget).
Where are you out of? If your weather temps are extream, then 2 stage is worth the extra money.. Also with two stage, you will get a much quieter system when it runs in first stage, also with longer run time in 1st stage you get a better comfort in your home.
 
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Old 12-03-07, 01:24 PM
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Jay, I am in Maryland, which can have it's very hot and very cold spells, but is not usually extreme. I know what you mean by extreme, since I grew up in Rochester New York and lived in both Boston and Chicago for spells, but my family is more sensitive than I am. My wife can't stand it when the downstairs is cold while upstairs is warm, which is why she is pushing to add the zoning using automated dampers and is compelled by the story about the 2 stage.
 
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Old 12-27-07, 09:45 AM
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follow-up

I now have a Bryant 2-stage, 4 ton unit in my home. They turned over the Manual J calculations. We were having some severe cold spells in the area so my family couldn't wait for me to find more dealers who focused more on Trane than Bryant. But, so far, we are happy with the service of the dealer we used and with the unit they sold us. I am eager to see the electric bills to compare to before.

As expected, the unit is quiet and clean. I paid about $7K for the all-Evolution line, which is much more than the legacy units that I could have gotten. But we opted for the benefits of the newer technology (self-diagnostics, thermostat, and just plain newer). We also decided to take our chances that the 2 stage would be a better unit for us in the long run.

We spent a couple hundred dollars extra to put in manual dampers in the lines feeding the downstairs in the expectation that we will be able to sufficiently balance the summertime cooling. We'll see.

Thanks to all for your advice.
 
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Old 12-27-07, 12:28 PM
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Glad to hear that the system is working out well for you.

Thanks for the update!

Also, did you get the Parts and Labor Warranty?
 
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Old 12-27-07, 01:26 PM
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warranty

Yes Jay. 5 years parts and contractor labor. 10 years on the compressor. All the other dealers only quoted 3 years labor.
 
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Old 12-27-07, 05:06 PM
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See if you can up the warranity to 10 years for labor.
 
 

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