Choosing between HVAC systems

mangogirl3August 8, 2012

After reviewing a lot of quotes, I've narrowed it down to the following:

1. Lennox XC-17-036 single stage a/c with EL296UH090XV60C two stage gas furnace w/variable speed blower

Honeywell VisionPRO 8000 Thermostat

2. Lennox XC-21-036 two stage a/c with EL296UH090XV60C two stage gas furnace w/variable speed blower

Not sure of thermostat -- either Honeywell VisionPRO 8000 or Lennox iComfort

3. Bryant 187BNA036000 two stage a/c with Bryant 986TA60100VZ1 two stage gas furnace with variable speed ECM

Bryant Evolution Thermostat

4. Same Bryant system as #3, but with 80K BTU furnace

Systems 1, 2, and 4 are from Contractor A and system 3 is from Contractor B. The price difference between these 4 is about $1300, so I'm inclined to pay more for the 2-stage a/c if it's really worth it -- would love to hear opinions. I'm in Maryland, house is about 2280sf, cape cod.

No load calculation has been done. One contractor will do a block load calcuation. The other will do a full load calculation for an additional $200 (he already took a better overall look at the house than anyone else, windows and what direction they faced, insulation - including the attic).

I also have bad air flow to the second floor caused by inadequate ductwork. There have been differnent opinions from these guys whether dampers would be of any help. There doesn't seem to be a duct dedicated to the 2nd floor.

Any comments or advice are appreciated - thanks.

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If you have humid summers then you will appreciate the 2-stage AC. In my opinion it is worth the extra money.

I am a fan of Carrier/Bryant and have no experience with Lennox. My choice would be the Bryant system.

The 60K BTU furnace may be cutting it close. Is System No. 3 being proposed by the contractor who will do the load calculation for $200?

I don't see how dampers are going to overcome undersized duct work. I would be suspect of the contractor who suggested this.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 6:19PM
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yes, summers here can be very humid, so I appreciate your opinion on the a/c. I don't want to spend the extra $$$ if it's won't make much difference in comfort.

Maybe I copied something wrong from Bryant quote #3 - I was told this was 100K BTU. Current furnace is 90%, 90K BTU. Lennox furnaces proposed are both 90K BTU. The contractor that proposed Bryant 80K is the one that will do the load calculation for $200 (he proposed 1, 2, and 4). The contractor that proposed #3 also suggested dampers. Two out of the four that came to the house said dampers would be helpful, two said probably not. That if I didn't have the temperature discrepancy before the 2nd floor renovations(there was a temp. difference, but not 10 degrees that it often is now) that the dampers probably won't help. After seeing the ductwork in the attic -- it splits off and covers almost the entire width of the house, and in spite of my lack of knowledge about this stuff -- that seems like the problem to me.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 6:39PM
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I would prefer #4.

You certainly don't need anything higher than an 80 KBTU furnace at 95%+ efficiency.

To close the deal, tell Bryant dealer load calc must be in writing on software letterhead and his dime not yours. I personally think you would be just fine with a sgl stg high eff AC condenser versus the two stage. Weigh the cost difference.

A couple of things.

New lineset included?

What about filter cabinet?


    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 10:48AM
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Thanks Mike and tigerdunes. I don't think I want to bother with moshei's quote ;-)

I have a quote for Bryant single stage a/c 126BNA036000, 3 ton with the 925TA60100E21 furnace (I think this is 100K BTU, but not positive). Is this a good combo?

I'm really looking for B+/A- system, not quite top of the line, but I have some pretty competitive quotes, so would like to get the best I can.

Also have a quote for the Lennox XC-17-036 with the EL195UH090XV48C high efficiency constant torque blower furnace -- any thoughts on this one?

The contractor that gave me quotes 1, 2, and 4 (and the two above) lists the new line set ($400) and air cleaner (3 ranging in price from $300 to $800) as separate items that I can add in. Is it a good idea to spring for the new line set? They've all said that they can flush and re-use if it's OK, but generally they all suggest using new.

Hoping to make a decision today as it's been over a week without a/c and the house is getting a little damp.

thanks again for your input!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 11:47AM
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I would stick with the furnace quoted in #3 except 80 K size and add the sgl stg 186 Evolution series AC condenser.

What mdl evap coil was quoted? If you provide that, I will look up the AHRI matching number.

If reusing lineset, it must be sized correctly to the Bryant spec.

And I would add a pleated filter media cabinet for both indoor air quality and good protection of both blower motor and evap coil.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 12:09PM
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My mistake on the Bryant 986TA60100VZ1 furnace. It is a 100K BTU input. The 60 means it has a 5 ton blower. I agree this size is too big. The 80K BTU should be fine, but you still want a load calculation to verify the sizs of the furnace and AC.

What are the prices for the Bryant single and 2-stage AC with the same furnace?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 12:31PM
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I don't have the coil # for a 186B (is that a 1-stage)? the coil for the 126B was CNPVP4324ATA.

This contractor has been very good about trying to match units for best efficiency. Depending on SEER/EER combo, also qualify for rebates from the local electric co.

I will ask about sizing of the line set, thanks. Also plan to add a media filter.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 12:31PM
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Wow - I didn't realize that was a 5-ton blower, thanks for bringing it to my attention.

I have two quotes for the Bryant 2-stage a/c 187B with 986T furnace. The one with the 100K BTU is about $9450, (includes installation of 2 dampers) and qualifies for a $500 electric co. rebate.

The one with the 80K BTU furnace is about $8901, (no dampers/different contractor), also qualifies for the $500 rebate.

I don't have a quote for a single stage a/c with the 986T furnace, but have one for 126B with 925T, 100K BTU, roughly $7100 (w/2 dampers).

All a/c units are 3-ton.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 2:42PM
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One last quote:
Bryant 986TA48080 furnace, 80K BTU, with 186B single stage a/c, 3T, coil CNPV4217, Evolution thermostat. approx. bottom line price after rebates, etc. is $8400.


Thanks so much for all your help -- my head has been swimming with all this!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 4:07PM
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I think it is a fine system..

You want to dbl check the lineset size if you intend to reuse existing.

You do want a media filter cabinet.

I still think dealer should provide a load calculation.

Definitely the latest release Evolution control-no substitute.

If you have any hot/cold spots in home, nowbis thebtie to address this issue.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 4:35PM
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thanks so much. I will be getting the new line set and filter cabinet whichever system I choose.

since my too-hot-in-summer/too-cold-in-winter 2nd floor problem is apparently undersized ductwork, is there really much I can do w/o tearing out walls (which I am not willing to do right now)? A couple of the contractors have suggested a mini-split system (also not in the budget at the moment).

No concerns about the Bryant heat exchangers that were the subject of the lawsuit?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 4:43PM
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The furnace you have selected is a relatively new mdl so not much history on it. If you are concerned, ask dealer about the old workhorse 3 stg Bryant furnace that is still in their product line.I believe it s mdl 355CAV.

Does your supply trunk line have damper control to both first and second floor?

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 4:54PM
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There are no dampers on the supply lines. I don't think there's a dedicated supply to the 2nd floor -- one contractor (the one I'm planning to go with) spent a lot of time looking, too, and that was our conclusion. There seem to be 2 separate ducts going to the 2nd floor, both about 4"x12". One feeds 2 regsiters w/pretty good airflow. The other splits into 3 6" flex lines -- the short one gets decent airflow, but almost nothing out of the other two that run up into the attic.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 5:02PM
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Is there a way to run a new duct up through a closet? How about boxing it in the corner of a room where it is not noticeable? My thinking is adding the two dampers is not going to solve the problem. If you try to force too much air through the 4X12 duct it will become noisy.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 5:33PM
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There's a duct on the first floor that backs to a closet, so that might work -- will have to figure out how just how/where it would come out on the 2nd floor, but it could definitely help. Would also have to find out what it would cost.

Does anyone have any experience or opinions of mini-split systems?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 9:03PM
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I wouldn't do a thing until I received options on improving air flow to second floor short of a major tear out.

Now is the time to address this issue!


    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 8:10AM
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I agree that this would be the best time to do something about the airflow, but the opinions I've gotten are basically find a way to run another duct to the 2nd floor or a mini-split. I really need to get a/c in the house and air moving again regardless of what happens upstairs.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 1:46PM
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