need help with heat pump system choice

pamstuart20016August 15, 2014

I own a 3 story plus attic home in Washington, DC. The main a/c and furnace system in the basement is a 4 ton Bryant. After I moved in I installed a 2 ton Bryant a/c system in the attic that services the top floor which is about 1750 sq. feet. I am looking to replace that system with a heat pump system that will provide both heat and a/c to the top floor that does get some air flow from the main system but not enough to do the job The existing attic a/c system to be replaced is a 2 ton Bryant system installed in 1995.

The company that installed the main system (4 Tons) and the one to be replaced and has serviced both systems recommended a Bryant 3 ton puron 16 Seer 2 stage HP #286BNA036 with matching model #FE4ANF003T00 (5KW) fan coil and Evolution control for $10,690 with optional upgrades to a #289BNA036 3 Ton 16 Seer ($12,640) and the Extreme model #280ANV036 3 Ton 20 Seer ($14,390). This company provides a one year labor and parts warranty for its installation and notes that Bryant has a 10 year parts warranty. The same air handler was proposed for all 3 options.

Company #2 sells Carrier equipment which I know is the same as Bryant. It provided the following options and recommended replacing all of the existing 6" ductwork with 26 gauge sheet metal duct work sealed with duct mastic to maximize air flow. It includes a 5 year labor warranty along with 10 year equipment warranty.
Option 1 ("ultra best") would be Carrier 25VNA024 20 Seer Variable Capacity Inverter Technology with Carrier #FE4ANF002 variable speed infinity air handler and a programmable infinity touch screen thermostat for $16,272.69.
Option 2 (almost best) would be a 19 Seer Carrier 25HNB924 17 Seer Infinity Series 2 speed HP with the #FE4ANF002 Variable speed air handler for $14,101.46 (including new duct work) and Infinity touch screen thermostat.
Option 3 would be 16 Seer Carrier #25HNB624 16.5 Seer Infinity Series 2 speed Heat pump plus infinity thermostat and new duct work for $13,186.33.
Option 4 is 15 Seer Carrier 25HCC524 15 Seer Performance Series HP with Carrier #FV4CNF002 variable speed air handler and non programmable digital thermostat for $11,676.00.
Option 5 (entry level) is a 13 Seer #25HBC324 13 Seer Comfort series HP with #FB4CNF024 single speed air handler and non programmable digital thermostat.
all these options include new pad and electrical disconnect.

Company #3 offers 2 Ton Bryant systems as follows:
Option 1 is 17 Seer #286BNA 2 speed compressor outdoor unit with #FE4ANF002 indoor air handler with Bryant Connex WIFI thermostat and all ductwork need3ed to install the new air handler to the existing flexible 6" ductwork with a new supply trunk line and new return vent in the master bedroom ceiling for $8,100.
Option #2 is #289BNA 19 seer 2 speed compressor outdoor unit with #FE4ANF005 indoor air handler and Bryant WIFI thermostat for $8,900 (attic steps must be removed to install this air handler).
Option #3 is the Bryant Evolution Extreme #280BNA 20 Seer 61 speed compressor with a #FE4ANF005 indoor air handler with new Bryant WIFI thermostat for $9700.00.
Attic stairs would have to be removed and replaced by another contractor for options 2 and 3 for this company. It would replace some but not all of the existing flexible duct work. This company provides 10 year factory equipment warranty and five year labor warranty.

Company #2 and Company #3 are both highly rated for quality and price in Washington Consumer Checkbook. Company #1 has been my HVAC company since 1985 and provided its estimate without an on-site inspection and consultation.

I would appreciate any and all comments and advice -- particularly about the sizing of the units and the replacement of ductwork issue. Thanks

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First of all, I suspect a two ton AC is undersized for your upper floor. How many returns do you have for this system?

I think option #1 Company 2 is absurd both equipment and pricing. Unless you just like spending money.

I am surprised that most of the dealers seem stuck on 2 ton size. How did your AC perform as far as both comfort and operation? It would seem to me the first thing to establish and confirm is the correct size for the upper floor. Then your equipment selection.

Do you have an open ended budget for this project?

Going back to your Bryant dealer, request a quote on Preferred Series Model 226 3 ton with FV005L VS air handler, 10 KW heat strip, and Edge Thermidistat.

Also ask your Bryant dealer if your ductwork system can support a 3 ton system. Keep in mind that's a 50% increase in CFMs.

Post back.


This post was edited by tigerdunes on Fri, Aug 15, 14 at 10:53

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 10:10AM
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Thanks for the help! The 2 ton a/c system that is in place performed fine (actually better than fine since it lasted 19 years) with good air flow to the upstairs. This may be due to the fact that the basement a/c system also reaches the upper floor (the original design of the house had just one system but it was inadequate for the upper floor). So, the upper floor system that is placed in the attic is sort of a supplemental system. Three of the bedrooms are cold in the winter so I've opted for a heat pump system this time. The upper floor is 1755 sq. feet with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths. The existing attic system has one large return vent in the hallway between the master BR and the other 3 bedrooms. I plan to stay in the house indefinitely so I'd rather spend the money up front for the highest efficiency system so as to deprive Pepco, our local power company, of as much money as possible. While budget is certainly not unlimited, I want the most efficient system, properly sized and installed. For a long term purchase like this, I do not mind spending more to get the best.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 12:35PM
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Not certain I understand, are you saying there are supply registers to upstairs zone from the downstairs system plus supply registers from the two ton AC system dedicated to the upstairs?

Post back.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 12:58PM
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You are correct. The house originally was built with one system in the basement that was supposed to service the whole house for heat and a/c. There are supply registers to the upstairs zone from the downstairs system. I moved in and removed all of the ceiling fans upstairs since I don't like them. Then I discovered that the a/c from the basement system was inadequate for the upper floor and installed the attic a/c system which solved the problem. However, the heat from the basement system was adequate only for the bedroom at the end of the house that is above the basement system. So, I'm looking to correct that problem by installing a heat pump system as a replacement for the attic-based a/c system that services the upper floor only.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:18PM
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So the only heat now to the upstairs zone comes from the downstairs system? If true no wonder rooms are cold. Is there a cold air return to upstairs from the downstairs system?

Any comment from your quoting dealers about this setup?

Is there a damper on the supply trunk line to upstairs from the downstairs system?

Post back.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:27PM
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There is no damper in the downstairs system that is visible to the homeowner. There is no cold air return to upstairs from the downstairs system that is visible. There is a return on the top floor which goes to the attic..

The dealers who quoted the systems did not comment per se on the setup. I explained that the upstairs system had been installed after I bought the home (I did not know at the time and it was not suggested to me by Company #1 that installed the upstairs system) that I would need supplemental heat in addition to the a/c.

The setup was common in the homes in my subdivision which are all about 4500 square feet. The builder learned its lesson and installed two systems in the newer houses built a few years after mine.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 5:55PM
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