AC Estimates Help

sha0skywalkerJune 7, 2014

I'm looking to replace my AC unit (R-22) which has a bad evaporator coil.

I live in Houston, TX. I got several quotes. I have a two story 2500 sq ft house. Two units. The unit being replaced is the upstairs unit.

Here's the current setup:
Age: 11 years
Brand: Trane
Size: 3.5 Ton
Compressor: XR12
Gas Furnace: XB80
Coil: third party crap coil that's leaking
Freon: R-22

I'm going to move to a R-410a system.
Just wondering if these quotes seems reasonable.

#1. Complete Trane System.
Dealer: Local Dealer 1
Brand: Trane
SEER: 16
Size: 3 ton
Compressor: XR17
Furnace - XV80
Coil - Trane (box coil?)
Free WIFI Thermostat (not sure what model yet)
UV light

Warranty: 2 year labor, 2 year maintenance, 10 year (compressor) 20 year (furnace)
Financing: 60 months no interest
Total: $9375

#2 (Compressor and coil only)
Dealer: Local Dealer 1
Brand: Trane
SEER: 14
Size: 3.5 ton (to match the current setup)
Compressor: XB16
Coil: Trane (box coil?)

Free WIFI thermostat

Warranty: 2 year labor, 2 year maintenance, 10 year (compressor)
Financing: 24 months no interest
Total: $5345

#3 Compressor and coil only
Dealer: Dealer 2 (Sears)
Brand: Kenmore/Carrier
Size: 3 ton
SEER: 14
Compressor: HXA6366KA
Coil: EHD4X36AAT
Warranty: 5 year labor, 5 year maintenance, 10 year parts
Total: $5800

#4 Compressor and Coil only
Dealer: ARS Rescue Rooter
Brand: Lennox
Size: 3.5 Ton
SEER: 14
Compressor: ??
Coil: ??
Financing: 24 Months interest free thru Home Depot
Total: $7700

I'm leaning towards one of the first two quotes especially with the 60 months no interest deal. I'm just wondering if I'm spending way too much money since there isn't a price comparison for all these HVAC installs. My current furnance is running fine, but I do like the idea of a variable speed furnance since when the AC is not running the air feels quite humid and dank.

Also considering that my furnance is still a working furnance, do these guys haul them away to resell the used ones and if they do should I ask for some compensation for that?

Any help or suggestions are appreciated. I hope I've provided enough information.



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First of all, I find the pricing on the high side both options.

You already know you have a low end Trane furnace. If you intend to keep this furnace and just add a new condenser with matching evap coil, then you should stick with a good quality 13 SEER condenser. You would be wasting your money on the XB16 condenser in option #2.

I would not have anything to do with big box stores like Sears and don't care for the Lennox brand.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 9:15AM
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Thanks for the reply.

I did think they were on the high side, but given all the other quotes I've gotten so far, the first two are actually not as high.

The last quote I received was $8000 for a 14 SEER Trane Condenser/Coil only.

The cheapest so far was for a Rheem/Ruud 13 seer, entire system for $6350 cash, but I don't quite trust the guy since he did not do any heat load calculations but kept trying to put me in a 4 ton instead of the 3.5 ton that I had. Only one of the guys did a heat load calculation, that was the Sears guy and I believe from his calculations a 2.5-3 ton was sufficient.

Well it looks like I need to do some more quotes.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 3:26PM
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You are in the busy part of the season so contractors can quote high prices. It is unfortunate but that is the reality of seasonal business.

There is no such thing as no interest loans. The interest charges are built into the price.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 10:14PM
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You say your house is 2500 sq ft total with two systems, presumably one for upstairs and one for downstairs, and presumably roughly equal square footage upstairs and down? The upstairs unit is being replaced. Given that you live in a humid climate, you do not want to oversize the unit. If the upstairs is 1200 sq ft, then 3-4 ton is WAY oversized and will result in a very uncomfortable, cold, clammy environment. A rule of thumb is 1 ton per 600-800sq ft. Did anybody do a REAL (Manual J) heat gain calculation to size the new unit?

This post was edited by sktn77a on Sun, Jun 8, 14 at 22:24

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 10:21PM
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I understand this being a seasonal thing, but seems most of them intimated that they could do the job right away, so it doesn't seem to imply that they're all that busy. I'm just wondering what kind of premium do they charge for service at this time of the season?

The person from Sears did do a heat load calculation as he told me. I believe he calculated it out to be around 2.5 tons. Though he decided to use a 3 ton so that it would be closer to the current furnace that's installed. The upstairs is probably closer to 1500-1600 sq ft.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 11:17PM
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I have gotten a couple more quotes. I think these are bit better than the previous. These are from the same dealer.

Size: 3 ton
Compressor: XL18i
Furnace: XV80
Thermostat: Trane 802
Warranty: 10 parts/2 labor
Total: $9250 (48 months no interest or -$850 if paid with cash)

Size: 3 ton
Compressor: XR17
Furnance: XV80
Thermostat: Trane 802
Warranty: 10 parts/ 1 labor
Total: $8650 (with 48 months no interest or -$400 if paid in cash)

Is there anything worthwhile to go from a XR17 to a XR18i?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 5:45PM
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Im so glad I ran across your post. Im in Houston (Sugar Land) and dealing with a very similar situation. Our house is a little bigger (3700 sf) and older (35 yrs),we have 2 units; a 4 ton, and a 3.5 ton. Both systems are ancient, the 4 ton just went out. I have received one bid from a trusted contractor for a complete 16 SEER American Standard system. It looks good considering what you have been seeing, I think Im going to do a little more digging on correct sizing with this contractor and then pull the trigger.

We are updating our home by making it more energy efficient, windows and insulation. Im thinking our current systems are oversized. Any one out there differ or have any other words of wisdom?

sha0skywalker, If you are interested I'll give you my contractor name. The system quote for the 3.5 ton system is $ 7785.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 7:24PM
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Thanks for the info. I would like to know your contractor's name. As it seems, American Standard and Trane are manufactured by the same comapny.

For your 3.5 ton system, Is it a 2 stage system?

I think I can squeeze out a 2 ton unit for the upstairs if I do some investment on the insulation part, but will probably need a better manual J and assessment before I do so.

I'm also intrigued with the variable load systems from Trane like the XV18/XV20 along with the proper furnaces I think the XC series, but the price premium's over a typical 2 stage seems to be almost 25%.

It's too bad I can't send a direct message to you.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 5:37AM
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I think I answered my own question. Anyway the 3.5 ton that you're quoted is a single stage 16 seer which actually isn't too far off from the last dealer I got quotes from.

I was quoted $7800 for a 3 ton 16 SEER single stage unit. I just hadn't bothered to look since I was more interested in a two-stage condensor unit.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 12:07PM
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I generally avoid anything important from HOME DEPOT like the plague. Reason is that most of their appliances, and I bet that A/C is included in this, are made to a lower standard with cheaper grade materials. They may bear the same "famous brand name" you've come to love and respect, but under the hood, they're all garbage. I know this is true of their lawn care machines and kitchen appliances. Examples: #1: a guy who bought a big Toro lawnmower had a problem with the engine. Brought it into the local Toro authorized dealer whom I know for service and learned that the engine was made in China and could not be repaired. #2: Another friend bought a Maytag dishwasher at HomeDepot. It failed a month after the one year warranty ended. Dishwashers should last longer than that! A repairman, after inspecting her unit, showed her the serial number; it began with HD (Home Depot). Told her that's just typical of Home Depot appliances. #3: A local contractor who I know had a client who wanted his bathroom remodeled. Client insisted on buying his own toilet at Home Depot. Contractor went through FOUR toilets before getting one that wasn't defective, and charged client labor for each one of them! So his savings went right down the toilet! Why chance such problems with your A/C or any expensive purchase? Stick with an authorized local dealer!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 7:15PM
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I am in agreement you should stay away from Home Depot when buying an HVAC system, but not for the reasons you stated.

Buying a furnace or AC condenser is not the same as buying an appliance. An HVAC system needs to be sized and installed correctly. If it is not then it will never work properly. Their are always exceptions, but getting an good installation through a big box store is less likely then dealing with authorized dealer of a manufacturer. Home Depot also has to make money on the job. Since they do not sell any of the equipment and very little of the supplies, they have to take a percentage cut of the deal. The customer either has to pay more, or the installer has to cut corners to maintain his profit margin.

There are appliances made specifically for the big box stores. That is why it is important to get the exact model number of any equipment you buy.

Two years ago I bought a top of the line Kitchenaid dishwasher from a small local appliance dealer that has been in business many years. After 14 months the slide on the top rack broke. It was no surprise since the assembly is a flimsy piece of plastic. All appliance are being made from cheaper materials in order to hit price points. I don't necessarily think it is a Home Depot issue.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 2:25PM
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