Question on older central air replacement

canaligatorMarch 3, 2014

I am looking to replace my 25 year old central air conditioning units. I have 2 units. A 2.5 ton for upstairs. A 3 ton for downstairs. I also have air handlers in both the basement and the attic. My current system runs on the old refrigerant (r22) so I am looking to upgrade to the new (410a). Since I plan on moving within the next 10 years, the contractor recommended going with the the Trane XB13, which I understand is one of the lower models Trane makes. According to the contractor, my current air handler has to be changed also, and he noticed that it was a 110 volt system. He says most air handlers run on 220 volts and to avoid costly rewiring he recommended going with an ADP air handler. I guess Trane doesn't make 110 volt air handlers. His price for this work is just under $13,000, which includes everything including replacing my existing outside electrical boxes, old air handlers, and both condensers (2.5 and 3 ton). He also has to run new lines up the side of my house to feed the attic system. My question is, does the scope of this work sound correct and is this a fair price?
Thanks for any help.

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What is location?

Inland or coastal?

How do you heat?

I would not purchase a non matched system of different brands.

I would want another quote.

Post back.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 6:00AM
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Boston ma. Inland. I believe I have a hydro air system. Forced hot air. It seems to me that the only reason they are putting in a mismatched system is to avoid the cost of rewriting to a 220 volt system. They told me almost all air handlers are 220 volts and the ones I have now are 110. I do plan on moving within the next 10 years so cost is a concern. The seer ratings on the air handlers do match up with the Trane units. Will the efficiency be that far off of matching units? I would imagine it has to be better than my 25 year old units.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 7:05AM
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You need another quote. I suggest Carrier and American Standard plus another opinion about the voltage issue and your current home's electric system.

There are transformers.

What is fuel for your hydro system?

What is your electric rate?

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    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 7:53AM
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How big is the first and second floors? You are being quoted 5.5 tons of cooling for a house in the Boston area. I suspect you are being over sized.

Did you get a quote of how much it would cost to run a 220 volt line to the attic? Perhaps the new wire could be bundled with the new line set on the exterior of the house.It could be relatively easy if you have room in your electric panel.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 9:22AM
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I did receive 2 other quotes which were both much higher, but had matching systems, with higher quality units. However, both of these contractor's did not pick up on the voltage issues. My current system is natural gas. I am not sure of my electric rate. The sizing matches the existing units which have been in place since the house was built 25 years ago. My present system upstairs unit NEVER shuts off during the summer. It will run 24 hours a day if I let it. I have had service techs out to check it and they say everything is fine, so I don't think it is over sized. Very old and inefficient, but not over sized.The last contractor who gave me this quote actually measured the house, counted the windows and doors, accounted for which way the sun passes the house, etc. to check proper sizing. He came up with the 2.5 and 3 ton sizing. I would say my downstairs is approximately 1300 square feet. Upstairs approximately 1000 square feet. I did not get quotes for running the 220. But I would have to run new 220 lines to the attic(which wouldn't be easy), and to the unit in the basement, which is about 40-50 feet away from my main electrical panel. The outside condenser units are nowhere near my main electrical panel, so they would likely have to run things up the side of my house in two locations. I just had my house resided and would not be crazy about this, even though they are going to have to run a new line set in the rear of my house. Space in my existing panel may also be an issue. I am close to maxed out right now. I would think the cost would be substantial. Like I said, I do plan on moving within the next 10 years, so I am trying to keep my costs down somewhat.

This post was edited by canaligator on Wed, Mar 5, 14 at 15:00

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 2:58PM
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The size of you house does not match the sizes of the condensers. Did you see the contractor's load calculations? You would have to have many windows and/or very poor insulation to justify the sizes you were quoted.

You are not going to find a lower price of $13,000 for the equipment you have been quoted. Be aware you are getting builder's grade equipment. This is not the choice I would make, but I understand your budget constraints.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 3:26PM
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I do have a lot of windows. Around 25. 5 doors, one that's a double, all glass, quite large. Also 3 skylights. Large cathedral ceiling in master bath, 1 skylight. Large family room on first floor, about 25X22 with very high cathedral ceiling (17' high, with 2 skylights). I'm not sure if all that matters, but he did measure it. I did not see the load calculations. But I am guessing that since this was the original sizing, it's pretty close to what should be there. We had the house built by a developer, so I'm sure he wasn't looking to spend a penny more than he had to at the time. I am glad to hear that you think the price is at least fair. This contractor suggested this option to me only after telling him I was planning on moving within the next 10 years and didn't want to spend a ton of money. So I don't feel that he is trying to sell me builders grade equipment. If I can save 3 or 4 thousand dollars and have a decent system, I will be happy. I can't imagine that I would be able to recoup the difference over the next 8-10 years. Even if I were able to, I would think the numbers would be close. This system has to be more efficient than my current system. One of my condensers was squealing last year and had a hard time getting started. My electric bills in the summer are more than $400 which is high. I just can't believe that finding a matching 110 volt air handler is so hard. I'm still undecided right now. Maybe somebody will come up with another alternative.
Thanks for your help

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 3:46PM
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