Advice on new Heat Pump replacement / Central FL

minddealingJune 15, 2012

Greetings!

I am very new to this forum and would appreciate any advice. I live in Orlando in a very modest 1900 sq ft block home built in 1979. 80%of my windows have been replaced with the new energy efficient windows.

My 17 year old Rheem system went low on freon the other day and was successfully recharged, however I realize there is a slow leak and I need to replace the system soon.

I have a Rheem 13 seer heat pump. I paid more (in 1995) to get the best system at the time. Over all, the system has been relatively trouble free. I always thought Rheem was the Hyundai of heat pumps, but by reading the other forums, I see they are a respectable system.

Lately I have been steered toward a carrier or bryant heat pump. Is Rheem in the same category?

I have been getting quotes and am trying to find a unit that I think will be the best for my home so that I can compare apples to apples. I have been focusing on the Carrier, but since I have had such good luck with my Rheem, I may go with them again.

By coincidence, I have three friends with Carrier heat pumps less than 5 years old. Well, all three of them have had their blower fan go out on them in that short of time. This bit of infomation definitely weighs on my mind when I am about to purchase a system.

Ok, back to my wants and needs. I think I want to have installed a 15 or 16 seer heat pump system? Is there a difference between Rheem and Carrier as far as quality?

I have had about 5 companies give me quotes on Carrier. Not much consistency between all of them. Some companies seem to mix match the condenser and air handler, so it is hard to get an accurate quote. I only had one company complete the "Manual J" and they said a 3 ton heat pump is what I need.

None of the other companies even mentioned a manual J.

As I am writing this post, I am starting to lean toward the Rheem, as I have had good luck with them over the years.

Do you have any advice? Once I figure out the condenser and air handler model I need, I can start getting accurate quotes.

A few of the contractors said their installation is the best and that is what really matters. Well looking at what I have, the installation looks pretty easy. The two components (inside and out) , only have two copper lines and some basic wiring.

In a standard home, what is so difficult?

Thank you for any advice!

Cheers!

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tigerdunes

Mind

Here is my personal checklist.

Obviously correct sizing is important. If you are unsure, then request a load calculation or even perform it yourself for a nominal fee online.

there are three equally important components-quality HVAC, the install by
dealer, and probably the most overlooked and disregarded is the ductwork system.

these are my minimum specs for a new HP system. both outside and
inside units should be replaced to have a properly matched system.

15 SEER, 12.5+ EER, 9 HSPF
best matching VS air handler
full BTUs in both cooling and heating for your rated size
R-410a refrigerant(same as Puron)
scroll compressor preferred
electronic demand defrost preferred
thermostat with "dehumidify on demand" feature
staged backup heat strips
new and correctly sized refrigerant line set

you want a thorough inspection of your ductwork system. size, overall
condition, supply and return lines, insulation qualities, leak test, etc.

any hot/cold spot issues in your home should be addressed.

I would only use authorized dealers for the various brands that provide quotes.

see mfg websites.

I would look at Trane/AmStd,Rheem/Rudd, Carrier/Bryant.

I prefer electronic demand defrost but based on your central Florida location, that feature is not a big deal.

Stay away from the low end builder grade models.

What size is existing system?
What size is existing heat strip?

Post back.

IMO

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 5:53AM
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minddealing

Thank you for your reply. The current Rheem I have is I beleive is a 3 tom unit. The Air Handler is RHQA-1310B. Not sure about the heat strips.

How much mark up is there on these systems?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 11:32AM
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minddealing

This is the current outside unit.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 11:33AM
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tigerdunes

Why does the markup matter? Shop around if you are not satisfied about the pricing.

There is a great deal of junk in the HVAC marketplace and especially on HPs. I believe you get what you pay for.

Stay away from builder grade low end systems.

And finally, small independent businesses which most HVAC dealers are have to make a reasonable profit to remain in business. I prefer the small shops where the owner is actively involved in the total operation of the business-new sales, new installs, as well as routine repairs.

IMO

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 12:01PM
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richsd

Hi, if I were you, I'd have the leak in your current system fixed. If that's the only problem, I wouldn't replace it with a new system. My heat pump in Phoenix is almost 20 yo and still going strong (Goodman builder-grade unit).

In Orlando, you probably don't need heat strips or defrost cycle as recommended. I wouldn't bother with a humidifier either. IMO

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 4:10PM
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minddealing

That is a thought, but I won�t be able to sleep knowing the AC could go at any time. I have been doing some reading and am considering replacing it myself. I can buy a complete Rheem online for about $2700. If I install 95% myself, and then have a contractor charge the system, I think I'll save over 1500 bucks. It really doesn't look that complicated for someone handy.

I recently read an article promoting doing it yourself and said everyone in the HVAC business will tell you why you can't do it. However, those same people wouldn't think twice about putting brakes on their car themself and not using a certified mechanic. Interesting parallel, huh?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 9:31PM
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mike_home

Manufacturers generally will not honor the warranty on equipment purchased on line. If you have a problem you will be on your own. Most reputable contractors will not want to install customer purchased equipment.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 10:37PM
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neohioheatpump

You got plenty of years and use out of your current system. If you shop around you should be able to get a new complete system for a good price from an independt contractor. I would get the highest efficiency single stage which is roughly around 15 seer. I would stick with rheem/ruud, american-std/trane, york/coleman/luxaire, carrier/bryant, or comfortmaker brand.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 8:41AM
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minddealing

neohioheatpump -- I've been doing research and don't fully understand the single verses dual stage HP. Can you explain why I should stick with a single stage? Also, I have been looking at the Rheem since I have had pretty good luck with mine over the years. Do you have a model you would recommend? Prestige, Classic, or Value. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 9:56AM
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tigerdunes

RPQL-JEZ with var speed air handler.

Here is a link that might be useful: RPQL JEZ Rheem HP

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 10:44AM
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neohioheatpump

well, actually a dual stage heat-pump has a first and 2nd stage. 1st stage would typically run at 66% capacity and 2nd stage at 100% capacity. The nice part of having the 2 stages is during cooling mainly. You could run on the first stage for longer cycles and dehumidify better and produce a better even cooling effect.

I recommend highest efficiency single stage as its a good bang-for the buck. Plush in an extremely hot area like yours I would imagine you would be running much of the time at the full level 100% and having a 2 stage isn't all the necessary.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:40PM
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