Air Conditioning / furnace quotes --- help please?

joof007February 1, 2013

Our AC hasn't worked in years, and I've decided to do something about it before summer starts again. I've talked to several contractors, and they all have recommended a complete swap-out of both my condenser and furnace (around 25 yrs old, each). 1500 sq ft, 2 story house.

The two most competitive quotes (I think) that I've gotten so far are as follow:

First quote:
Goodman 3 ton 13 SEER condenser, GSX130361
Goodman 3 ton 80% furnace GMH80603
With coil, and all bells and whistles for $4235 installed.

Second quote:
Bryant 3 ton 13 SEER condenser, 113ANA036
Bryant 3 ton 80% furnace 310JAV036070
Coil and everything else for $3250 installed.

Anyone know if there are any red flags with the quotes above? Both estimates seem reasonable (and actually, the second quote is almost suspiciously low). Thanks in advance for any help.

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tigerdunes

What is your location?

Post back.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 8:22PM
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joof007

I'm in Southern California.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:14PM
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tigerdunes

What size is existing furnace and AC condenser?

How is your home's insulation properties?

Give a description of typical winter and summer weather for your location?

I prefer the Bryant HVAC over the Goodman. Like you, a bit concerned over the pricing. The Bryant furnace is strictly bottom end. I would upgrade to a better model.

Post back.

IMO

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 6:20AM
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energy_rater_la

and a higher than mininum SEER.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 6:46PM
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joof007

Tigerdunes,to your questions:

1. The existing furnace and AC are both by Lennox, 3 ton condenser. Not sure of the exact furnace specs.

2. The insulation seems fine, but I'm certainly no expert. Replaced some of the windows in the house recently with energy efficient vinyl windows.

3. I'm about 4 miles from the coast, so the winters are mild (typically lows in the 40s and 50s during winter) and the summers can get pretty hot (hottest month is probably August, with typical highs in the mid to high 80s). Even when our AC did work fine, we didn't usually run it unless it was very hot (i.e., 90s).

I never thought I would complain about getting a low quote, but what I've received was lower than expected. I would be more suspicious, except that both of these contractors come very highly recommended on Yelp (for whatever that's worth).

Thanks again for your help, I appreciate it.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 10:23PM
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tigerdunes

Joof

I would lean toward the Bryant but with a better model furnace. I can make a suggestion if interested.

I see no reason for a different Bryant AC condenser, especially taking into consideration the infrequent use. However, you did not mention the model number of the BRyant evap coil. You want the tin plated or aluminum model. Do not accept a third party brand evap coil.

And I do strongly recommend a load calc be performed at design temperatures for both heating and cooling to determine correct size of furnace and condenser.

IMO

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 7:46AM
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saltidawg

joof007,

You said, "Even when our AC did work fine, we didn't usually run it unless it was very hot (i.e., 90s)."

I'd be interested in how many days each summer do you operate your A/C? Also, how much do you use your heating system? (Number of days or $$$.)

The reason I ask is that when I lived in southern California - Del Cerro (San Diego) we operated the A/C maybe 2-4 days each summer - during a Santa Ana. We used the furnace maybe 25-40 mornings to take the chill off.

This post was edited by saltidawg on Sun, Feb 3, 13 at 10:54

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 9:36AM
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joeplumb

3 ton, 1500 sq feet, high 80's
3 ton seems too high to me
Did either contractor do a whole house cooling load calculation or as I imagine just copy the old installation?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:27AM
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energy_rater_la

probably the latter.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 10:43AM
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joof007

Thanks all for the feedback.

Tigerdunes: would greatly appreciate it if you would recommend a furnace. Is your concern with the one being offered related to its efficiency, reliability, or both?

The evaporator coil offered in the package is actually not a Bryant at all. It is an ADP model C36A142C126. Is this a major issue?

Saltidawg: really, we just use the AC when it gets unreasonably hot. I'd say on average, we'll use the AC maybe 20-25 days of the year, tops. The furnace, we use even less frequently---probably 10-15 days of the year.

Joeplumb: no load calculation by either contractor. The AC/furnace they're replacing is original with the home, so I think they just decided to go with the same specs. But you and the others have got me thinking about whether a load calculation should be done.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 6:34PM
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tigerdunes

2 strongly recommended suggestions

1. I am opposed to third party evap coils for a complete new system. Insist on a Bryant tin plated or aluminum coil, especially since you are relatively close to coast

2. Insist on a load calculation both heating and cooling with correct design temps for your climate both inside and outside. Guard against being oversized.

Other suggestions.

Ductwork evaluation especially if you have any hot/cold spots in your home

How do you filter return air? If you don't already have a whole house air filter cabinet, I would consider adding one.

I really don't care for a btm end furnace. But after reading how limited it would be used, it's probably OK. If my decision though, I would look at Bryant's Preferred 80X furnace model that has quiet and high eff ECM blower motor.

Hope this helps.

Good Luck!
IMO

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:45AM
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joof007

Tigerdunes, thanks again---great information and feedback. I'll take your advice and ask for a load calculation and ductwork analysis. May as well make sure this is done correctly.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 5:30PM
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Joen123

So did you ever decide and buy a unit? I just got a quote on that same Bryant model, but at a higher price so I am curious how things turned out for you.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 1:02AM
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