Lennox quote - is this in the ballpark?

mikehartiganAugust 6, 2011

21 year old home in NE Illinois (Chicagoland) with original Bryant furnace, A/C. I was a bit surprised by the quote and was wondering if this is in the right ballpark.

64K BTU, 95% Lennox Elite series furnace

14ACX 3 ton 14 SEER Lennox Merit series A/C

3 ton coil R410

30 ft line set

new pvc vent (replacing an old 80% unit)

standard misc stuff (evacuate/reclaim, reconnect elec/gas, ductwork transition, etc.)

Total price before rebates, tax credits, Costco cash card, etc. $7,500. ~$6,250 after all of the above are applied.

For another $3,000 ($2,300), I can upgrade to a 70K BTU SLP98 98% AFUE two stage icomfort controlled furnace and a 3 ton XC16 16 SEER two stage Elite series A/C with a 4-5 ton R410 coil.

My existing units work well, so I have time to think it over.

Opinions? Recommendations?

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It would be helpful to know the mdl number of both furnace and evap coil. If this is a two stg furnace, you will require a two stg thermostat.

I would not have the 14ACX condenser. Upgrade to the XC14 condenser. It is a much better condenser. If dealer treats you fairly, upgrade cost should be no more than $200-300.

What are you doing if anything about a whole house filter media cabinet?

Be aware, it is quite typical with Lennox that you don't get the full BTUs on cooling. If you are borderline sized, this could present a problem on extreme high temp days.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 11:14AM
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The less expensive option:
EL195UH070P36B and 14ACX-036-230

The more expensive option:
SLP98UH070V36B and XC16-036-230
The two stage quote includes a Honeywell Digital IAQ center with outside sensor, model YTH9421C1002

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 12:00PM
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I'm planning to use my existing AprilAire filter. I don't recall if it's a 2200 or a 2400. It's the bigger of the two.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 12:03PM
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what is the difference between the xc14 and teh 14acx? is it noise, efficiency, longevity, or what? thanks

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 5:05PM
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the 14acx is the cheaper model if I'm not mistaken. Not nearly as nice cabinet. Not as quiet either.

I don't recommend with 98% furnace. The 2-stage 95% furnace is good enough. Definitely get xc14 over the 14acx.
If you want to get fancy, consider upgrading the XC14 to the heatpump version of this. It could come in handy to have another method of heating in case gas gets expensive.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 10:50AM
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Mike, I carry 3 brands and I can't say you will be unhappy with the 14ACX. Quality is not a concern at any level as I have seen Lennox "base" units running at 25+ years old. The real questions are things like: do you want to be more comfortable than your old system?, do you want higher efficiency?, do you want more wizardry in your thermostat?, do you want a dependable system?, do you want the outdoor unit to be quieter than your old one?, etc.

Now, neither the 14ACX or the XC16 are "quiet" models. That is, they may be quieter than your existing (see link below), but models like the XC14 and XC17 are very quiet. $200-300 to go up to an XC14 is not right. The thing is, if the XC16 is quiet enough for you, get two stage cooling, you will be glad you did.

As far as the furnace is concerned, if you can get your hands on a G61V 2-stage variable furnace instead of the 98v, and match that with a Honeywell Prestige Thermostat. You will be leaps ahead in the reliability department.

I would definitely use Costco, we do their work and I have seen Lennox do amazing things to make members happy that I have never seen a manufacturer do on their own.

FYI - I think the price is good. Did they do a heat loss and cooling load?

Feel free to email me with questions @ barrongreenteam.com

Here is a link that might be useful: Heat Pumps and A/C Running - You Tube

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 11:49AM
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I can't let the previous post go by without a comment.

Pricing can vary from region to region and market to market. Competitive forces or "lack of" play an important part in pricing.

However dealer cost difference between XC14 and 14ACX is relatively narrow in my area. Now what the dealer markup is can be an entirely different matter.

Plain and simple the XC14 is a nicer condenser.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 12:09PM
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I agree with what's been said above (btw Barron -- impressive install photos on your home page).

The 14ACX and XC14 units are similar. The base model doesn't have the compressor sound blanket, and the sound rating is a bit higher. Both have louvered coil protection and a 10 year warranty when registered. I also don't feel there is a quality difference, but for a minimal upgrade cost I certainly agree that the XC14 is worth the upgrade for a nicer cabinet and quieter operation.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 12:57PM
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barrongreenteam, thanks for the reply. The old one stage system is plenty comfortable. After 21 years, I figured it's living on borrowed time, so I decided now might be a good time to replace it, since I have time to shop. I'm definitely interested in higher efficiency, but I'm practical about it. IOW, if there was no payback, I'd be happy with 80% AFUE and 10 SEER. I don't *need* any more wizardry in my thermostat - a $25 7 day programmable model from Home Depot is flexible enough for me. If the furnace and A/C need more features, then that's fine, too. And I'd like a quieter outdoor unit (the rep assured me that the 14ACX will be quieter than my old Bryant). The last time I installed a furnace was about 25 years ago in my previous home in Western NY. I paid $2,000 for a 97% AFUE Tempstar and a coil (I never got around to completing the A/C before I left that house). I've been out of touch with the market since then, so I don't know where the prices should be. I realize there are a lot of variables, but I was simply wondering if the quoted price was in a range that seemed reasonable. I'll ask about upgrading to the XC14, 16, and 17. Without divulging specific pricing information (I understand that), how much of an upcharge for each would be excessive?

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 1:22PM
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I appreciate practicality but the real thing is that higher efficiency brings lower costs of operation. Going from an %80 to a %95 furnace should (loosely) save you %15 on your gas bill during a heating season. Going from a 10SEER to a 14SEER AC should save you about %20 (loosely) on your electric bill. You have to decide, with your costs of gas and electicity, how long it will take to make back the cost of the units over the 20-year lifespan of the unit itself.

The better thermostat should allow you to do something like Dehumidify on Demand. If you decided to go the heat pump route (based on the cost of electricity versus gas in your area), the better thermostat would decide when to switch between the HP and the gas furnace based on outside temperatures.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 3:32PM
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The 95% furnace will save me 15% of the gas I use only for heating. Cooking, hot water, pool heater, brewery, etc. are all not trivial contributors to the total. Likewise, the AC will save 20% only on that portion of my electric bill that is attributable to cooling. And that's only for 3 months out of the year *at most*. If it turns out the payback is 40 years (frankly, I doubt that, but I haven't crunched the numbers), it will never pay to buy the good stuff. It's like paying a $6,000 premium for a hybrid car that will save $4,000 in gas over its life. Obviously, YMMV.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 6:36PM
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" I don't *need* any more wizardry in my thermostat - a $25 7 day programmable model from Home Depot is flexible enough for me."

For Mike

I find it very interesting that a homeowner will spend a nice chunk of change on a new HVAC system and then take a shortcut that cripples it's capabilities by using a cheap and incorrect thermostat.

two stage var speed furnaces need a good two stg thermostat.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 8:31AM
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Tigerdunes, I didn't mean to suggest that I would cheap out on the thermostat. Barron asked "do you want more wizardry in your thermostat?". I interpreted that to mean more features for my own personal customization. I qualified my comment with "If the furnace and A/C need more features, then that's fine, too". IOW, If the HVAC system needs it, that's what I'll get. If it doesn't (the single stage system I'm leaning toward doesn't), then what would be the point?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 2:21PM
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I'm willing to say that the lion's share of your gas bill in winter is the furnace, not cooking. In my case, the AC is the lion's share of my electric bill in summer. The water heater, though higher in amps, is only on a few minutes a day and is very small. The only other big user is the dryer, and that's not very often.

But you have to look at your own consumption. For me, making this decision would be easy.

BTW: I'm not suggesting the 98%/16SEER unit. Too much for the upgrade.

The pool pump is a completely different thing.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 7:09PM
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weedmeister, in big ballpark terms (BIG qualification), my gas bills during the 6 month heating season averaged about 3x what they were during the non-heating season before I installed the pool heater (they're pretty near constant year round, now). That's 2/3 share for heating, 1/2 year heating season, and 15% efficiency gain. Loosely speaking, 2/3 * 1/2 * 15% comes out to approx. 5% savings in my gas bill for 80% versus 95%. The overall percentage savings drops to maybe 3% when I include the pool heater. Similarly, my electric bills during exceptionally hot months average roughly 4x what they are otherwise. Closer to 2x during 'normal' hot months. Let's split the difference and call it 3x over the three month cooling season just for grins. That's 2/3 share, 1/4 year cooling season. 2/3 * 1/4 * 20% gives me a bit over 3% savings on my overall electric bill. So going from 80% AFUE/10 SEER to 95%/14 SEER will save me about 3% on my overall gas bill and 3.3% on my overall electric bill. Granted, these are not exact numbers, but they're certainly in the ballpark of the kind of savings I'm likely to see. That's about $10/month savings, or about $2,400 over their 20 year life. And that assumes I stay in this house for 20 years (well beyond retirement age, BTW). Hardly compelling numbers, IMO. And the upgrade to 98%/16 seems almost ludicrous.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 9:28AM
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For mike

What furnace mdl was quoted in the first place?

What is the cost difference between an 80% eff two stg VS mdl to the 95% eff two stg VS model?

An 80% eff furnace is a dinosaur in today's world of HVAC especially for Chicago winters.

Resale of your home is another consideration. Warranty on 80% is only 20 yrs on heat exchanger where it is lifetime on the 95% eff mdls.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 10:35AM
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tigetdunes, as I said, the model number is EL195UH070P36B. I haven't priced an 80% model. The 95% model I'm considering is one stage. My 'savings' post was simply a response to weedmeister's overblown numbers on the savings inherent in a high efficiency furnace. Those numbers are meaningful to the same people who swear by the EPA mileage figures on new cars and who believe that taxing the rich will create jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Sounds great, but it's not real. But I digress. An 80% furnace may be a dinosaur, but, with an average savings of 3% on NG, or $5/month, give or take (see my previous post), the payback on a 95% unit will not be quick, even in Chicago winters. Even if the difference is as small as $600, the payback will be 10 years. As I said, I haven't priced an 80% furnace, but I suspect the difference is more than $600. But you're correct on the resale issue. Hard to quantify, though.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 2:43PM
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Thanks for the responses and the provocative discussion - I learned a bit as a result. We decided to pull the plug on this particular quote until we've done a bit more homework (the existing system works, so there's no urgency). I've got a little better understanding of what I'm looking for and I think I'm better prepared to ask questions of the installer. Unfortunately, this is a once every 20 or 25 year purchase, and it's hard to motivate myself to keep up with the technology in the meantime, so I'm starting from pretty close to ground zero every time I need a new furnace.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 6:32PM
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Mike, I agree that there is a lot to cover with a purchase of a new system. I do free consulting with out of state folks that are floundering a midst all the options. I am also BPI certified, so I understand not only HVAC, but how building science relates as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Contact Me

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 1:31PM
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