Need Help on Selecting HVAC System (Bryant & Lennox)

Harold7035March 23, 2014

Hi. I am replacing a 20 year old 90% efficiency Bryant furnace and 12 SEER A/C as the AC is not working well (it can't cool the house below 77 degrees on a hot day when the sun hits the back of our house -western exposure). We have 2 zones so this equipment is for the main floor and the basement. (Heat pump for the top floor was replaced 5 years ago and works great - Carrier Infiniti series).
Main Floor: 1700 sq feet
Basement: 1200 sq feet
Humidity is typically fairly high in summer so I would like to control that and is one of the reasons I want a variable speed furnace.I live in MD so we get fairly cold winters (especially this year) and hot summers.

Which brand is better - Lennox or Bryant?
And which equipment combination is preferred from those below? I suspect I can get the Lennox dealer to lower his quotes a little if the forum thinks Lennox is better than Bryant.

1. Quote #1 - $7833 - Lennox Elite Series EL296V 2 stage variable fan gas furnace 80,000 BTUs
Lennox XC16 2 stage A/C 3 ton (15.5 SEER)
Lennox icomfort Wi-Fi Thermostat
AHRI Info:
Outdoor Unit Model Number: XC16-036-230-05
Indoor Unit Model Number: CX34-43+TDR
Furnace Model Number: EL296UH090XV36C*

2. Quote #2 - $8133 Lennox XC17 single stage A/C 3 ton same furnace (17 SEER)

3. Quote #3 - $7300 - Same furnace with Lennox Merit- Series 14ACX Air Conditioner (single stage) 14 SEER

4. Quote #4 - $7000 - Bryant 126bna036 Preferred series AC. Single Stage 16 SEER
Bryant 986ta48080v17 two stage variable speed gas furnace.
Bryant cnpvp 3717al evaporator coil.
Honeywell 6000 programmable thermostat

Quotes 1-3 have 1 year labor and is from same vendor (I received similar quotes from another vendor). It's from a large company with an OK reputation. Quote 4 is 2 years labor and the installer is a smaller company with a great reputation - owner seems to know what he is talking about.

A couple of vendors prefer single stage AC compressors because they are more reliable, cost less if there are problems, and think that the high stage will run most of the time in the summer anyway. What do you all think of that as well?

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Assuming you are sized correctly, the Bryant is the better choice.

And as I have said many times, you don't pair a nice Bryant Evolution furnace without the Evolution controller. This is a cheap shortcut that cheats a nice system as well as the homeowner. Always brings into question both the ethics and competence of a dealer who would do this. Plus the Evolution controller will give you dehumidify on demand in AC cooling.

I would also consider stepping up to the 127 AC two stage model. It might even reach the Tax credit threshold.

New lineset and filter box cabinet?

I would want to see a load calculation in writing for the lower zone.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 4:00PM
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Thanks. Quick Update - Vendor just called and updated quote #1 to be $7100. Does that change your opinion?

I assume you mean in place of the Honeywell thermostat? If so, I will ask for it - what is a reasonable cost for that over and above the Honeywell?

I sort of get the line set but not sure - all of the local quotes say something like (one below is from the Bryant contractor):
New disconnect switch and unit pad for a/c.
Re pipe outside unit ,to remove kink in line. (the Bryant contractor is the only one to notice we had a kink in the line like a blocked artery for probably 19 years).
All necessary duct work, wiring and piping.
Flush and re use existing refrigeration line set.

I am not 100% on the filter box - I don't think I have seen that term anywhere in the quotes is that where the return ductwork joins the "furnace unit"/supply ducts?

RE: Federal Tax Credits - I was not aware there were any for 2014. I thought I missed the boat on that. I took a quick look and haven';t seen anything for 2014 beyond geothermal heat pumps.

I take it that you don't think a single stage AC is more efficient in the long run or less prone to breakdowns?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 4:56PM
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The filter box is a cabinet that contains a 4-5" pleated media filter. They last longer and do a better job protecting the equipment in terms of catching dust and minimizing airflow restriction (when sized/installed correctly). The replacement filters are more expensive upfront but can last upwards of 6+ months in some scenarios. I second this recommendation. I thought at one point that they were a standard accessory with new Carrier/Bryant furnaces, but they may actually be an add-on item. Something to discuss with the dealer.

This post was edited by ryanhughes on Sun, Mar 23, 14 at 18:27

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 6:15PM
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Thx - I thought that might be it. I have a Spaceguard (now aprilaire I believe) 2200 HEPA filter in there now. Had it since my house was built in 1995.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 6:54PM
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Then there is a great chance the Spaceguard can be reused and relocated if necessary.

I also suspect that for high-efficiency furnaces, all those being proposed to you are somewhat oversized, but this would need to be verified by a load calculation. You will get the greatest advantage from multistage equipment when it is sized properly. They could be sizing based off the old equipment. On the coldest days (especially those we had this winter), did the existing furnace ever have to run constantly to maintain set temp? I know that the 1200 sqft basement is also being conditioned, but generally basements don't add a considerable amount to the heat loss/load.

This post was edited by ryanhughes on Sun, Mar 23, 14 at 20:22

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 7:56PM
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I would certainly expect that would be the case to reuse the space guard. On extra cold days, I would say it ran a fair amount of the time but it was really cold and we have a lot of windows so I don't see it as out of the ordinary. The furnace never "fell behind" in maintaining the temperature (i.e., it was always within 1 degree of what I set it at). I absolutely cannot say the same for the A/C.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 5:35PM
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Insist on load calculation in writing on software letterhead. Should be broken out for main floor and basement.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 6:26PM
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