Quotes for a new A/C system

PayamFMarch 24, 2014

Hello. I'm hoping to get a sanity check on some quotes I have gotten for replacing my heating and air conditioning.
I live in a Los Angeles suburb, and currently have a 1970's era 5 ton Lennox heating and air.
I've gotten quotes from a few dealers which include the furnace, condenser, coils, and also replacement for the old ducting and new return. Basically a whole new 4 ton setup including moving the furnace into the attic with any electrical and plumbing work needed.

Lennox XC14, Lennox SL280V, not sure about the coils, HC10 filtering system Honeywell prestige thermostat. $13850 ($3000 of which is the new ducts and registers)

Second one is
Carrier Gas Furnace Model 58PHX090116
Carrier Two Speed Outdoor A/C Unit Model 24ACB748A003
ADP Horizontal Cooling Coil Model C48H210D576
T1800 Venstar

Last one is American Standard
16-SEER/ 13-EER system 1-stage condenser, coil, 2-stage Variable speed furnace.

Honeywell 6000 Wi-Fi thermostat

Comparing these with some of the other quotes I see on this web site is very hard. These quotes are much much larger than the ones I see here, but at the same time I think there is less work involved when compared to my quote.

I would appreciate any advice that could steer me to a better decision.

Thank you,

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Those prices do seem a little high, although I'm not that familiar with the Los Angeles HVAC market. The equipment specified is good quality but not the best. While you probably don't need a 95+% furnace, at those prices you should be doing better than 15-16 SEER on the AC (they appear to be biasing the equipment to more expensive 80% furnaces at the expense of A/C - did you ask them to do that)?

Get a few more quotes, try a Rheem Prestige system also.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 10:24AM
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Thanks sktn77a for sharing your opinion.
To answer your question, no I did not specify anything other than I would want 15 SEER or above. So I have quotes for 15, 16, 17 and one 18 SEER from each contractor. I eliminated the 15 SEER since due to rebates there's practically no price difference between 15 and 16. The 17 and 18 are between $1500 and $2000 higher and I don't think have enough payoff.

One of the contractors (recommending the carrier performance boost) mentioned that the furnace can wring up to 1.5 SEER out of a lower efficiency air conditioner. I did not relay that info to other contractors. They might be thinking the same thing though.

I do have one more contractor coming in tomorrow and I will ask him if he can specify Rheem.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 1:59PM
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I got a Rheem/Rudd quote
Rudd RGPE10NBRMR 80% variable speed
Ruud CE60D4421 16seer cooling coil
Rudd 14AJM49A01 14seer condensing unit

I'm a bit confused about the 14seer condenser + 16 seer coil. I've emailed the contractor. Seems to me you want those to match. Following a trend that ktn77a pointed to this one also seems to match a higher end furnace with a low end condenser.
The price is $11300. The interesting part with this one is that this one includes and new refrigerant line set, instead of flushing that all the other contractors specified. Looking online there is not consensus as to a line change is needed, but most lean towards a flush being adequate, if the sizing of the line does not warrant a change.

Again, I would love to get any opinions on the set of quotes and the line change vs the flush.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 2:01AM
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The SEER rating is for a matched system of a furnace, condenser, and coil. A SEER rating for just the coil is meaningless.

I am not familiar with the Rudd model numbers. But I could not find the coil model number you listed. I did find some other matches with various Rudd coils with the furnace and condenser. The SEER rating ranged from 15.1 to 16.0. I am not sure what this contractor is proposing to you. His quote raises some flags for me.

As a general rule you should change the line set when going from R22 to R410 refrigerant. Flushing is done when the line set is difficult to change and it is the correct size for the new equipment. Then you have to rely on the contractor flushing it out correctly. There are various opinions on how well a line set needs to be flushed. You are better off replacing it and not have to worry about it.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 8:20AM
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If the lineset is accessible, it's common to change it because not all contractors do a good job flushing the old one. On the Ruud equipment, that AC condenser is bottom of the line, not the Prestige series. That's a very high price for bottom of the line equipment! You should be able to get a 16 SEER 2 stage Prestige series AC condenser with a 2 stage furnace for that price (and that's taking into account the $3000 for new ductwork).

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 9:16PM
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Guys, truly appreciate your input.

I asked one of the contractors about changing the line set instead of flush. He said it would be $600, but he has had no issues with flushing. I'm wondering whether this changeover from R22 to R410 has been long enough to show issues if the flushing has not been done properly. For peace of mind I'm leaning towards having it changed regardless of the promise of doing the job correctly.

Regarding the low end AC, I'm starting to wonder if he is just putting things together from a catalog, rather than truly knowing the model numbers and matching them correctly. For what it's worth he did come recommended by a family member who he did a good job for. But then again, the contractor mentioned that he has stepped away from residential for a while and has been doing commercial installs.

The other quote he gave me which I had not included was for an American Standard
4 ton platinum SV furnace AUD2C080ACV42A
4 ton gold XI conditioner 4A7A6048H1000A
XADDH1360 16seer Coil

This is the same price ($11600) as another A-S quote (above) except that one is a 5 ton gold SV AUD2C100B9V5VB and this one includes the new line set.

Setting aside contractor competency (which I'm not discounting at all), which one of these works better as a system (and possibly has better value for the money)
A) American Standard
4 ton platinum SV furnace AUD2C080ACV42A
4 ton gold XI conditioner 4A7A6048H1000A

B) American Standard
5 ton gold SV furnace AUD2C100B9V5VB
4 ton gold XI conditioner 4A7A6048H1000A

C) Rheem/Rudd prestige

Lastly, on the Rheem, there is RGPE10N and RGPE10E differentiated by Heating Input Designation, electric ignition vs Nox model. What is the difference there?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 2:31AM
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I'm in the same boat as OP, sanity check on my quote which seems really really high!

For me it's a brand spanking new install as right now we only have a single Wall Furnace. That means I need everything from ducting to electrical, etc.

House: 1050 sqft
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Quote Details:
Lennox SL280V Furnace
Lennox XC14 Condenser
ActiveTek INDUCT 2000 "Air Scrubber Plus" Indoor Air Quality module
MERV10 5" Filter
7 New Ducts and Registers

The quoted price is ~$16.5k which came in at almost double the other quote our friends got from a different contractor for a lower end Amana install. Is the equipment price really that different? I have my own thermostat (NEST) as well.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 11:34PM
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@adhesiv: I can tell you a bit about my experience. Before I forget, in my humble opinion you might want to think twice about Amana. For what it's worth Amana, Goodman, and York come at the bottom of Consumer Report's customer survey regarding reliability. American Standard (which I'm going with)/Trane and Rheem/Ruud, Carrier/Bryant, and Lennox are tightly grouped at the top.
Here is another thing I came across. This being capitalism, the contractors can ask for whatever the market bears. When I asked for a quote from a contractor who was based out of an expensive neighborhood, I got a quote many thousands more than the same equipment from another reputable contractor. When I mentioned this to him, he immediately dropped his price by $2500 dollars (he was still overpriced).
I kept looking, getting more information, and found a contractor which gave me a better price for better equipment. Now, pretty much everybody says try to avoid the least expensive contractor. They are cheap for a reason. For me, I did my due diligence on a couple of contractors that came within my budget, and everything else being equal, I picked the less expensive one which also turned out to be the least expensive.

My install starts in 2 days, so I'll see whether I picked a winner. I can refer you to him once I feel comfortable that he did as good a job as I expect.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 12:12AM
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Thanks for the update, i'm just shocked at the wide variance and really wish this was so less shady of a negotiation than I'm experiencing so far. Seems that none of the contractors are willing to share their hourly labor rate with me and mention that it's all bundled in the price...convenient.

I had already discounted the Amana due to those very factors but i can't see the Lennox costing almost $6K more.

What was the final system/quote you ended up accepting? I'd like to look up the specs of that AS setup.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 12:32AM
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Here is the final quote I got:
Gold XI Air Conditioner American Standard 15 SEER, 4-ton Mod# : 4A7A6049H1000AA

American Standard Gold ZM Gas Furnace 80,000 BTU, 4-ton furnace 96.5% Efficiency Mod# : AUH2B080A9V4VBA

American Standard evaporator coils 15 SEER 4-ton Horizontal.
Mod# : 4TXCC008CC3HCBA

New line set, Honeywell Wifi Thermostat (I believe 6000 Wifi)
All new ductwork and grills (8).

This is oversized for your square footage (well, depending on insulation and a bunch of other factors. You should make sure what you're being quoted is proper for your house). What tonnage are they quoting you? You might even want to be below 3Ton, but do not take my word for it. You should be able to get a 3 ton system, excluding the air quality equipment below $10K.

I just looked at your quote. It is way higher than my Lennox quote.

As far as pricing goes, I cannot bring myself to call it shady. I have easily called one of the quotes I got insane, but hey, if the guy can get that much, good for him. He just won't get it from me.

If I were a middle easterner (I am by birth, but not by temperament) I would bargain the hell out of each quote, like I've seen some of my relatives do unashamedly. I generally move on, or just ask if they can do better. I don't think there is anything wrong with them asking whatever they want, and you offering whatever you think you're willing to pay. Don't ever worry about them losing money, they won't. They know what least price they can offer and still do well.

Lastly, again in my humble opinion, the indoor air quality equipment you are looking at might not be worth your money. Read this article:

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 1:30AM
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