Opinions on Armstrong 3-ton a/c system?

hamconsultingSeptember 30, 2012

I know that Armstrong is owned by Lennox, but is this mid-level system considered good?

ARI Ref No = 4806956 (inactive), 14.5 SEER, 12.5 EER

Armstrong 3-ton Condenser 4SCU14LE136P (scroll compressor, 10-year parts warranty, 10-year compressor warranty)

Armstrong 3-ton Evap Coil EM1P36 (10-year limited warranty, aluminum fins, copper tubes)

Armstrong A80UH1E045A12 45K BTU Gas Furnace with 3-ton (1200 CFM) blower, 80% AFUE, high-efficiency motor

I found an active ARI number 5586345 for the same condenser and coil, but uses a larger gas furnace 70K BTU A80UH1E070B12 which is over-sized for me, but I'm okay as long as my a/c system is matched as 14.5 SEER.

I found a small company that installs Armstrong and I'm trying to determine if this Armstrong system is good-enough (meaning not low-end and not-top-end)...something in the middle in terms of quality of the equipment.

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So, I'm really trying to figure out how this 3-ton Armstrong a/c system compares to a similar 3-ton Trane or 3-ton Amana system in terms of equipment quality. See attached picture.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 7:46PM
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Here are two sites that rate equipment:
1. http://www.hvac-for-beginners.com/air-conditioner-ratings.html
2. http://www.furnacecompare.com/ac_ratings.html

I don't know who owns these sites, but it's interesting that Amana has better ratings in both of the aforementioned web sites than the brands recommended here like American Standard, Trane, Carrier, Bryant, Rheem, and Ruud.

From FurnaceCompare.com as of 10/01/2012:
Review Rank Based on Count, Brand, Review Count, Recommendation Rate, Quality Stars
1, Goodman, 594, 26%, **
2, Trane, 342, 37%, ***
3, Lennox, 204, 21%, **
4, Carrier, 143, 32%, **
5, Rheem, 142, 35%, ***
6, Amana, 119, 43%, ***
6, York, 119, 18%, **
8, Ruud, 94, 40%, ***

From the HVAC For Beginners (just to match some of the brands in the above list):
(Base System >= 13 SEER, Premium System >= 15 SEER, Ultimate System >= 20 SEER)

AMANA------------ amana-hac.com -----4*-----5*-------NA---- This brand name is licensed and used by GOODMAN MANUFACTURING. The GSX13 units are a part of their DISTINCTIONS line and have just the basic features. The ASX13 is a basic unit but it has enhanced diagnostic controls and sound isolation features for quieter operation. The ASX16 series units are a premium unit and have Comfort Alert onboard diagnostics, an insulated compressor for sound control, a two stage condenser fan, and a scroll compressor for reliability. The compressor on the ASX16 units has a lifetime unit replacement guarantee.

CARRIER-----residential.carrier.com--4*------2*---------3*--- The BASE SERIES (24ABB3) models have all of the basic features of a 13 seer unit as well as a very good warranty. The PERFORMANCE series (24ACB7) units feature a two stage scroll compressor with their "silencer system" for quiet operation but the warranty is not as good as many brands. The INFINITY series (24ANA1) units control humidity and ventilation systems as well as the ac unit for better indoor air quality. The also have an efficiency rating of up to 21 SEER.

GOODMAN------------goodmanmfg.com----4*-------5*-------NA--- This brand offers 13 seer units in either R-22 or R-410a refrigerant but the units with R-22 are not recommended. The GSX13 units use R-410a and have a reliable scroll compressor. The DSX16 models have a 16 seer efficiency rating and are backed by a lifetime compressor warranty for peace of mind. The units feature a scroll compressor and a sound blanket for quieter operation. They have a two speed condenser fan as well as the two stage compressor for energy savings and they are backed by a very good warranty.

LENNOX-------------lennox.com-------RHEEM--------------rheem.com---------4*--------1*------1*---- The 13AJN model units are basic 13 seer units with a good warranty. The PRESTIGE SERIES 16 seer units (RARL-JEZ) have "comfort control system" onboard diagnostics and two stage compressors for enhanced comfort and energy savings. The units can communicate with an advanced thermostat to maximize comfort and detect developing problems with the unit but the warranty is not as good as many brands in the premium category.

TRANE--------------trane.com---------1*--------3*-------4* This brand is a part of INGERSOLL RAND. The XB14 models are the basic units and the standard warranty is not very good. The XL16i units are two stage units with a variable speed fan for enhanced comfort and energy savings and the warranty is pretty good. The Xl20i units communicate with the other parts of the hvac system to optimize performance.

So, what does all of this mean? It means that there's a lot of confusing and conflicting information out there. Even the mid-level and high-level systems are not rated as good as I thought they would be rated.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:54PM
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The problem you will find with HVAC equipment is that a bad installation will make the best equipment perform poorly. You can't compare reliability data in the same manner as you would for a car. You will also find that people who have problems will tend to want to post about it versus those who have had no problems. This tends to skew the data.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 10:30AM
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I understand that a good installation makes a difference on how the equipment performs. For example, having the wrong amount of refrigerant in the lines leads to lower cooling performance.

However, how can this impact the reliability of the equipment? Why does the equipment break down faster with the wrong amount of refrigerant?

My city requires a permit and the permit checks the refrigerant level and the size of the lineset. This should take care of the wrong install with regards to refrigerant and lineset.

What else can the installer do wrong to affect reliability of the a/c equipment?

If you make sure you have the right amount of refrigerant and correct lineset, why is low-end equipment becomes more reliable with a good installation?

The problems that I've heard about in terms of leaking coolant in the coils of the condenser seem to be a problem with equipment and not install. The evaporator coils going bad is equipment and not install.

Maybe a mini-split system or a packaged-system is better since there's a lot less that can go wrong. They are less dependent on the install than a regular split system.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 11:28PM
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