Quick Comparison

schroadsFebruary 7, 2012

I have a question about comparing quotes. I have lurked on this forum for some time to figure out the costs, issues and problems with a central AC install. I have a 2 1/2 story, 1920 foursquare, stucco exterior that has radiator heat (water). I had a new triangle tube prestige excellence combi boiler for heat and hot water installed 2 years ago as part of a energy star home performance program. We have no existing duct work.

I have had 6 HVAC contractors out to the house and just received my first two quotes. The disparity in price is crazy, so I wanted to ask about the two units before waiting for other estimates. Specifically, I wanted to know if the disparity is worth it. Please assume that one unit will cool the third floor family room (450 sq. feet) and 4 bedroom second floor (950 sq. feet), while the second unit will cool the first floor (950 sq. feet). Also both estimate have ductwork installation, electrical work, permits and Honeywell programmable thermostats.

Contractor A - Spent 2 1/2 hours at my house with detailed measurements and said he would perform a Manual J, though it was not included in estimate.

2 - Rheem Model # RHLLHM 3821 Air Handlers

2 - RHEEM Model # 14AJM30A0116 2.5 ton AC Condensor (16SEER/13EER)

2 year labor warranty (all machines)

10 year parts warranty (all machines)

10 year compressor warranty


Contractor B - Spent 1 1/2 at my house and perform some measurements. Spent more time looking at the installation of the system. He said he would perform a Manual J, again it was not included in the estimate.

2 - RUUD Model # RHLL 2417 Air Handler

1 - RUUD Model # UAPM018 (ARI # 3487518) 1.5 ton AC Condenser (16 SEER)

1 - RUUD Model # UAPM024 (ARI # 3487572) 2.0 ton AC Condenser (16 SEER)

5 year labor warranty (all machines)

10 year parts warranty (all machines)

Lifetime compressor warranty


I know it is difficult to comment without all the information and the manual J calculation, but I want to simply compare equipment to see if the price difference is justified. I hope future estimate will washout the over pricing or under pricing. I know the installation is more important than equipment, but I want to know if the equipment is significantly better.

Thank you in advance for your help.

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Pls provide your location.

What is your electric rate?

What fuel is used for your boiler? The fuel's cost? The boiler's efficiency?

Rudd and Rheem are sister companies.

Big difference in sizing. Please take notice.

What are the specifics on the new ductwork systems?

I need to review the warranty and efficiencies but in fact the Ruud condenser quoted is nicer than the Rheem condenser quoted.

Post back with info requested.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 3:53PM
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Thanks tigerdunes! I appreciate the comparison between machines (absent further info). Let me answer your questions in bullet style.

1. New Jersey (Southern end - Near Philadelphia).
2. Electric Rate - 10.81 cents per Kwh.
3. Natural Gas Boiler @ 95% AFUE efficiency with approximately 60 cents per therm supply and 37 cents per therm delivery.
4. Ductwork Specifics

Contractor A - 10 supply runs in the second and third floor with 5 return runs. 8 supply runs in the first floor with 4 return runs.

Contractor B - 9 supply runs in the second and third floor with one large return on the second and another on the third. 7 supply runs in the first floor with one large return.

I assume the additional return runs would cost more, though I doubt $13,000 more. I was waiting to see other estimates before I determine that the 1 return line per floor was insufficient.

Again thanks for your advice.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 4:58PM
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What insulation value on ductwork?

This spec is not to be overlooked!

I would want a pleated media cabinet for each system over 1" filters at each return.

I would want to see a written load calculation for each system.

I would cut the Rheem dealer loose and start working closely on details with the Ruud dealer.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 5:23PM
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Thanks tigerdunes! I imagine I will have some additional comments after the other estimates come in, but it's good to know that the actual machines are good...so long as I get the load calculation.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 7:16PM
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