which estimate would you choose?

phrogMarch 13, 2013

Two well-qualified installers gave me their quotes for a new furnace and ductwork system -- the house (2 floors, 1700 sq. ft in northern VT) has never had a furnace before. Will need about 6 ducts.

Would appreciate any advice on choosing between these. As shown, Estimate 1 is about $3,000 more than Estimate 2.

Estimate 1 - a two-person company with good reputation

York YP9C060B12MP 12C modulating furnace $2469
LP kit $88
Horiz vent kit $32
PVC vent material $100
Hanging material $50
Return air filter rack $119
Condensate pump $89
Drain pan with vibration isolators $118
Ductwork and grille allowance $2720
DP511 thermostat $56
Labor $4657

Total for above: $10,436

York YCJF24S4151 condenser, 14.5 SEER $1520
York 2 ton cased coil $389
TXV valve $107
Line set $315
Condenser pad $61
Sight glass $21
Duct wrap $362
Labor $1,261

Total for above: $4,035


Life Breath 155ECM $1523
Weather hood kit $92
Ductwork allowance $200
Labor $1,552

Total for above: $3,666

Grand total, estimate 1: $18,137

ESTIMATE 2 (no line-by-line pricing) - a larger heating company with many service trucks, serves more commercial than residential customers

Furnish and install:
Carrier 59SP5A060E1714
All duct and registers
1.5â fiberglass blanket insulation
Carrier Edge thermostat
Gas piping
Line voltage electrical
Low voltage electrical
40 PVC intake and exhaust piping
40 PVC condensate piping
EXCLUDES cutting and patching where required
Access door shall be installed by others.

Total for above: $8,750

Add A/C

Furnish and install:

One 15.5 SEER Carrier condensing unit model 24ACC630
Refrigeration tubing
Line voltage electrical
Type 410A refrigeration
Condenser pad

Total for above: $3,950


Furnish and install:

Carrier model HRVCCSHB
All necessary duct and grille work
All necessary line voltage electrical
Fiberglas duct wrap
Intake and exhaust hoods to serve HRU

Total for above: $2,450

Grand total, estimate 2: $15,150

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There is a big difference in price ($3000) between these two quotes. Let's look at the strengths and weaknesses of each:

Estimate 1:
The quote contains a York modulating furnace (nice but pricey) with a single stage AC (2 tons). The York is not consider one of the best brands, but still consider good. The sizes seem reasonable for a house your size in Vermont. My concern this is a two person operation. I would not feel comfortable relying on them staying in business and providing service for the next 10 years. I don't see a justification why their quote should be 20% higher than Estimate 2.

Estimate 2:
The equipment is a Carrier Performance single stage furnace and 2.5 ton air conditioner. Carrier is considered one of the best brands, and the Performance furnace is near the top of the model line up. I don't care for a single speed furnace and would recommend it should be upgraded to at least a 2-stage furnace like the 59TP5. I would also ask how it was determined a 2.5 ton size is needed. I imagine you don't use air conditioning very much in Vermont. You may be able to down size a 2 ton unit. You don't want an over sized AC. I usually recommend not using a large HVAC company. They tend to be more expensive and view you as just another customer. I would also be concerned if they do more commercial than residential business. They may give priority to the commercial customer when service calls arrive. I find it surprising they are much cheaper than the small outfit. Perhaps this company is not as large as you think.

In summary I would recommend Estimate 2. This is based on my bias toward Carrier equipment, a company which may be better equipped and be around longer to service the equipment, and a significantly more attractive price.

Does Estimate 2 come from a Carrier Factory Authorized dealer? If the answer is yes, then that would make the decision even easier to go with Estimate 2.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 8:01AM
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I see that estimate 1 contains a LP kit and that thereâÂÂs no mention of LP kit in estimate 2.

Have you considered a heat pump instead of an A/C unit?

I would recommend installing a Carrier Infinity Greenspeed heat pump along with a matching Greenspeed gas furnace. This way you would have complete energy source flexibility whichever way prices go. Additionally you would benefit from a variable speed blower and compressor for comfort and energy efficiency.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 9:51AM
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Is this vacation home or main home?

If staying with propane furnace, then I might consider a HP condenser depending on electric rate.

You want R8 or better on ductwork insulation.

I think there is some very comfortable padding in estimate #1 quote.

Post back.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 10:15AM
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In response to reply #1, I asked the contractor to find out the change in price for the Carrier furnace upgrade and the A/C downsizing.

This is our main home, and furnace is part of a renovation that's supposed to make the house very energy efficient. We are also comfortable in cool temps, which we've achieved by having heat so expensive and the house so poorly insulated. Until now, we've kept the thermostat below 60 in the winter.

In our area, the only heating choices are propane, oil, and electricity. NG isn't piped here, and probably won't be during our lifetimes.

Another point I can answer: the Carrier dealer is definitely authorized, but I don't believe that the York dealer is (in fact, no York dealer listed in a 75 mi. radius of us.)

I've never worked with a contractor before, but it's pretty clear that he likes the York man -- maybe a friend of his? Because they've worked together before and the contractor has never dealt with Avonda, I feel some pressure from him to go with York. But I feel, maybe wrongly, that I should have the final choice if it's my money. (The contractor also told me that almost all customers tell him to just install whatever he thinks is best, but I like to gather the kind of information I get here.)

I'm adding a link to the Carrier dealer's website. The York guy doesn't have one.

Here is a link that might be useful: Carrier dealer

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 12:52PM
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Chances are you may get an inferior installation if you leave the HVAC up to your GC who is just going to sub contract and mark it up anyway. You might consider taking the HVAC off the table from your GC and handling it yourself.

As for Avonda, theyâÂÂve only been in business for 12-years and have done an astonishing 25,000 installations! IâÂÂd be mindful of that too. Check their references and credentials. Make sure your warranty comes from Carrier.

There should also âÂÂSpring Rebatesâ from Carrier right now. Make sure a Manual J and Manual D calculation is performed and that you have a written copy before you sign anything.

I have a good idea where youâÂÂre situated and still think a Carrier Infinity Greenspeed gas (propane) hybrid system would be a good choice. Another possible choice would be the Carrier Infinity Greenspeed with an all-electric fan coil unit and staged backup elements.

I know your energy costs are high in Vermont, which is why I recommend a very high-energy efficient system with a âÂÂSmartâ âÂÂLearningâ âÂÂCommunicatingâ controller.

Have you even considered geothermal? The 2013 Winter Edition of âÂÂVermont Electric CO-OP LIFEâ has a pretty big write up on why geothermal is gaining ground in your state, certainly worth a read.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 3:00PM
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I have to ask them about that 25,000 figure. There are only 66,000 housing units in the county, according to the US Census. I'll look into the other ideas too, while I wait for the new numbers from Avonda.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 4:16PM
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Make certain you have a properly sized return on each floor. I would add a media filter cabinet for the furnace.

And if you have a good electric rate, definitely upgrade to a heat pump over straight AC.

I hate oil and propane due to operating costs.

I definitely think you should look at geothermal or maybe even Carrier Greenspeed HP.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 8:16AM
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OK, one fact I've been waiting for is finally here: Upgrading from the 59SP5 to the 59TP5 would cost an extra $500. Worth it?

We have very expensive electricity here, and I'm told by our efficiency organization that there's very little demand for and experience with heat pumps so far.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 4:48PM
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The Carrier 59TP5 is a 2-stage furnace, while the 59SP5 is a single stage unit. The 2-stage adds more comfort and a little more efficient in operation. It would be worth it in my opinion.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 5:44PM
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