Down to Final 2 Heat Pump Bids - Lennox vs. Bryant/Carrier

dtwintersAugust 18, 2012

Thanks in advance for any and all advice provided by HVAC professionals and homeowners with firsthand knowledge on the proposed Heat Pump packages. I've posted in the past on the kitchen and bathroom forums, but this is the first time on the HVAC forum.

My family and I bought a 1986 built brick/minimal wood siding house in Austin, TX 78746 in Nov 2010. The all electric house was mostly original as far as energy conversation measures. It does have decent doors, insulated windows throughout, and a good number of shade trees blocking direct sunlight on each side and some of the roof. After moving in I took advantage of the tax rebates by quickly jumped on having open cell foam blown in the attic in part to provide additional storage space that didn't reach 120 degrees in the summer.

The two story house has 3,400 square feet and two HVAC zones. The ground floor has 9' ceilings and is 1,900 square feet with a separate one story 8' ceiling bump out for a guest suite. That heat pump was installed in Sept 2010 and is a 3 ton Bryant with a 15.0 SEER and 12.5 EER. It runs well and makes the ground floor plenty comfortable year round.

The second floor (three bedrooms, two baths, and one open area office is a different story. The attic located air handling unit is original (26 years old) and the outdoor 2HP Trane XE 1000 was installed in 1998. The system works but it has a hard time keeping the temperatures comfortable and their is a decent return air vacuum in the master suite when the door is closed. With the wife liking to sleep under a decent weight of covers even in the summer and setting the thermostat to 73 and 72 on occasion, we have power bills that have topped 3,100 KWHs and $310 (top tier summer rate is $0.03615 per KWH and we're bracing for a marked increase within the next year). That price is even with digital thermostats and setbacks. I should add that we have a pool with a single speed 1 1/2 hp pump. I'm going to swap that out for variable speed pump once I get my AC figured out.

I've solicited bids from five different contractors for Carrier, Lennox, Bryant, Amana, Trane, and American Standard equipment. All the companies have good reputations as shown in Angie's List and Yelp. I've narrowed it down to these two bids:

Bid #1 - Cash price of $7,926 after taxes, $1,000 manufacturer rebate, and $600 City of Austin rebate

* Lennox Signature (AHRI 5269230)

* 2 Ton XP21024

* CBX32MV024030IC air handler

* ECB405CB coil

* 25,000 Cooling BTU

* 25,000 Heating BTU

* SEER/EER 18.2/13.0

* HSPF 9

* Evacuate/flush existing 5/8 and 3/8 diameter lineset roughly 35 feet

* Heat Strip - Need to ask

* Healthy Climate - media air cleaner

* iComfort Control - thermostat (color touchscreen and Internet enabled)

* 10 year warranty both parts and labor

* Additional return air run to master suite

* Extra dampers two help balance rooms

* Includes 2 tune ups/cleanings

Bid #2 - Cash price of $7,747 after taxes, $1,000 manufacturer rebate, and $600 City of Austin rebate

* Bryant Evolution (AHRI 5226627)

* 2 Ton 289BNA024

* KFCEH2901N09 air handler

* FE4ANF003T coil

* 24,800 Cooling BTU

* 25,400 Heating BTU

* SEER/EER 18.0/13.5

* HSPF 10

* Evacuate/flush existing 5/8 and 3/8 diameter lineset roughly 35 feet

* Heat Strip - 9K

* Aprilaire with 2 extra media - air cleaner

* Communicating digital - thermostat

* 10 year warranty parts, 1 year warranty labor

* Additional return air run to master suite

* Includes 2 tune ups/cleanings

* Willingness by contractor to go with Carrier equivalents for no extra charge

* EXTRA CHARGE -> $1,090 for 10 year warranty that includes labor

Note that the Lennox contractor was the first bid I got and this Bryant contractor was the last and had an inquisitive sales rep who sweetened his bid more than once after learning generalities of the first bid. The first contractor was incredibly responsive when I submitted online to They returned my call at 10:00 PM on a Sunday. I have not asked them if the given price is their best offer.

Thanks again for any and all help here. I hope to make a decision on Monday and have the system installed Friday.


Trevor in Austin

P.S. I've included a pic of how nice a 26 year old AHU looks!

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Describe your typical winters for your location/climate.

Has it ever crossed your mind that a 2 ton system might be borderline undersized for upstairs?

Existing lineset if flushed and reused must be the correct size to the manufacturer's spec. Close doesn't count.

What thermostat for the Bryant quote? It should be the Evolution

I like HPs to have electronic demand defrost. You might want to dbl check but I believe the Lennox has that feature, Bryant does not.

I would want the heat strip to be staged. Discuss with dealer.

Prices are very frisky. I would consider a sgl stage model like Trane's XL15i or XR15 HP models.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 6:10AM
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"top tier summer rate is $0.03615 per KWH"

Is this rate correct? If so can I buy some power from you? I pay about $0.18 per KWH!

Did anyone do a load calcualtion? I also think 2 tons is marginal. The extra insulation in the attic is helping, but it's difficult to say if it enough for summers in Austin.

All the prices seem very high. Is this due to a very hot summer?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 8:28AM
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Wow, you gentlemen respond very quickly. Thanks for that. And apparently, I'm not at my sharpest in the middle of the night. That power rate was incorrect. I only provided the fuel charge. Adding all the pieces together comes to $0.11579 (.0782 summer rate, .00144 transmission rate, and .03615 fuel charge).

As for the other questions/comments:

* I did worry about the lineset diameter and confirmed for the length, turns, and elevation change online for the Lennox. It won't even have a 1% drop in efficiency. The Bryant salesman with 17 years experience told me the lineset works. All the contractors told me the lineset works for a 2 ton but not a 3 ton. Additionally, replacing the lineset adds roughly $1,000 to each bid.

* Only one of the contractors specified a 3 ton unit and there expected the unit to always run in the low speed except during extreme circumstances.

* The Bryant does come with the Evolution controller t-stat.

* Demand defrost - I couldn't find any mention of this for the Lennox online, so I will pose the question to the contractor. I did find this text on the Bryan installation instructions -> "The control board accumulates compressor run time. As theaccumulated run time approaches the selected defrost interval time,
the control board monitors the coil temperature sensor for a defrost
demand. If a defrost demand exists, a defrost cycle will be initiated
at the end of the selected time interval. A defrost demand exists
when the coil temperature is at or below 32_F (0_C) for 4 minutes
during the interval."

* I will ask about the staged heat strips. Austin generally only has 24 hours or less below freezing and maybe two months where heating is used.

* Tigerdunes - what do you mean when you say the prices are "very frisky"?

* We certainly are having more and more hot summers. It struck me that at least a couple of the contractors were eager for the business as they were ready to do the work within a day or two. How over priced do you think these prices are for premium equipment?

I am leaning toward the Lennox due to the 10 year warranty for labor and the Internet enabled thermostat that allows me to adjust it from my iPhone when I realize we are out of the house for a while. Additionally, the salesman was more pleasant to my wife and helpful to me without the constant adjustments in what he is selling me.

Thanks again for all the advice. It is invaluable in making sure I get my money's worth.

Trevor in Austin

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 10:25AM
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The single stage HPs come in 1/2 ton increments. That's why I suggested the Trane models and perhaps a 2 1/2 ton size.

Bryant/Carrier HPS do not have demand defrost. I believe the Lennox mdl does. Demand defrost eliminates/reduces nuisance, unnecessary, and expensive defrost calls. Not to mention the wear and tear to the

Then for your winters and if heat strip is not staged, I would stick to a 7 1/2 KW heat strip. No more. Any idea of existing size?

Here is my HP 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

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.

Depending on your location, I would not purchase a new HP system that
did not have electronic demand defrost.

Post back.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 11:08AM
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