Wide disparity in A/C quotes - Why?
We are installing a new central A/C system in our second home, and got four quotes for similar installations. The contractor we were most impressed submitted a proposal 60% higher ($26,500) that the average ($16,265) of the other three. I realize that installation is critical for a successful system, but is there anything that could justify the extreme price differential? What kind of questions should we ask to make an intelligent choice?
It is a two-story 2500 sq.ft house in southeastern Pennsylvania, built in 1985, 3 BR upstairs and master BR on first floor, very tight, very well insulated, and Anderson double-pane windows.
It has oil-fired baseboard heating, so all ducts will be new. The second floor is used only on rare occasions when we have family visiting, and is usually separated from the first floor by closing a pocket door at the top of the stairs. The A/C system will not be used often, so we did not want a deluxe super-high SEER system. However, we do want A/C to be comfortable for the hot days when we ARE able to be there, and also for resale.
All contractors proposed two separate 13 SEER systems, one A/H in the basement, and one in the unconditioned attic. All contractors proposed 1 1/2 ton units for the second floor. Two contractors proposed the same for the first floor, and two (including the expensive one) proposed 2-ton units for the first floor. The mfgrs proposed were Rheem (2), Carrier, and Tappan (the expensive one).