Help Evaluating Option

mikes781October 16, 2011

We are in the process of soliciting bids for the replacement of our gas furnace and a/c I was hoping that I could get some assistance evaluating configurations and bids. We are in NJ and have a 2300 square foot home plus about approximately another 500 square feet of finished basement. Our existing equipment appears to be original to the house which is about 25 years old. The furnace is a two stage 120,000/79,000 btu gas furnace. The existing A/C unit doesn't have a label on it, so I'm not sure of the size. It was made by York. We are staying in this house for at least 10 years. Our electric rate is about $0.11 kwh and our gas is $1.04/ therm.

Right now I have three quotes and at least one more coming.

Here is what I have so far:

Contractor 1 - Lennox

Lennox Elite 2-stage furnace, variable speed blower G61MPV-60C-091, 95% AGUE, 88,BTU

Lennox A/C Model X14-048 with CX34-49C Coli, 48,500 btu, 14.2 SEER, 2 stage

Lennox HC10 Pleated Air Cleaner

Lennox Humidifier WB3-17

New thermostat

Replace chimney liner

Price $8,585 before fed and local rebates ($550)

Option to upgrade to Lennox Elite XC21-048, 2 stage 21 seer A/C for $1,750, qualifies for an additional $800 in federal and local rebates

Contractor 2 - Carrier

Infinity ICS Furnace, 3 stage, variable speed blower, 80,000 btu, 95% AFUE

Infinity 21 A/C, 4-ton, 21-seer, 2 stage

Infinity control

Humidifier (no model #)

Filter slot fabricated in the return

Chimney liner (may not be necessary)

Price $12,900 (with liner and $1000 carrier rebate), another $1400 in federal and local rebates available

Option to go with a heat pump for another $1200

Contractor 3 - Bryant

Bryant Plus 95S Furnace with Perfect Sense Humidity Control, model 355CAB, 95%, 3 stage, 120 btu

Bryant Evolution AC model 187B, 16 seer 3.5 ton

Evolution control

Humidifier (no model #)

Chimney liner (may not be necessary)

Price $11,189.66 (including 1100 bryant rebate), another $1400 in federal and local rebates available

This quote did include sales tax, which I didn't think would be collected on a capitol improvement. If the bottom line price is fair I don't necessarily care, but it did throw up a red flag for me. I'll need to ask about it.

I'm going to check with our municipality to see if a chimney liner is going to be required to use our existing hot water heater.

None did a manual J calculation to come up with these estimates. The 3rd quote is sized larger. The first two contracts, especially the second one spent a fair amount of time figuring out how the install would go. The 2nd contractor really just gave me a verbal quote and said it would be refined one the manual j calculation was done. My guess because of that it is on the high side. I'll get a firm quote from him if I decide to go that route.

Both the 1st and 2nd contracts have been around for several decades and all seemed knowledgeable. Haven't seen any negative information on any of them, but don't have experience with them either.

Am I comparing apples to oranges with the 1st quote and the other two? Is it uncommon to try to negotiate the price? Any other thoughts/comments would be greatly appreciated.

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tigerdunes

Mike

A good dealer should be able to tell you the size of existing AC condenser.

Plus all homeowners should make it a point to know the size of their HVAc-both furnace and AC.

I prefer the Carrier and Bryant HVAC over the Lennox.

On the Lennox quote, the XC14 is not a two stg condenser. The Lennox dealer should specify the thermostat he intends to supply. It should be a two stg thermostat.

The Bryant furnace is clearly too large and should be dropped back to
either the 80K or 100K mdl. Evap coil mdl number for both Bryant and Carrier should be specified. I see nothing listed in the Carrier or Bryant quote about a whole house air filter cabinet. I strongly recommend one-at least a 4-5" box filter cabinet.

Have quoting dealers included a new and correctly sized refrigerant lineset?

I assume the issue of the chimney liner is strictly related to the hot water heater and not the venting of the furnace. I would not spend the money on a chimney liner but rather have a nat gas hot water heater placed outside in an Aqua Hut enclosure.

IMO
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 12:35PM
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mikes781

Thanks,

I made a mistake, only the upgraded Lennox A/C is two stage. I'll make sure to ask about the termostats and get additional details on the coils. If I understand correctly they should be running new lines for the A/C. The carrier rep did mention that. The carrier rep also indicated that they would fabricate a slot for the filter on the return and propose a Dynamic Polarize-Media Electronic Air Cleaner.

I'm leaning toward carrier at this point. I like the Lennox system and the installer, but have some concerns after reading about parts availability/cost. The Carrier system is also significantly more expensive unless I can get him to move on the price.

I have another guy coming that works with both Lennox and Carrier. That should help to truth the other estimates that I received.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 12:56PM
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mikes781

Thanks,

I made a mistake, only the upgraded Lennox A/C is two stage. I'll make sure to ask about the termostats and get additional details on the coils. If I understand correctly they should be running new lines for the A/C. The carrier rep did mention that. The carrier rep also indicated that they would fabricate a slot for the filter on the return and propose a Dynamic Polarize-Media Electronic Air Cleaner.

I'm leaning toward carrier at this point. I like the Lennox system and the installer, but have some concerns after reading about parts availability/cost. The Carrier system is also significantly more expensive unless I can get him to move on the price.

I have another guy coming that works with both Lennox and Carrier. That should help to truth the other estimates that I received.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 1:02PM
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mike_home

The Infinity 21 (21 SEER) condenser Contractor #2 is proposing is overkill in my opinion . If your electric rate is $0.11, then it is unlikely you will see a return on your investment. Get a quote for the two stage Performance condenser (24APA7). The SEER rating combined with the Infinity furnace will be 16-17 SEER.

Is Contractor #2 including a 4 inch media filter and the Carrier 10 year labor warranty?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 3:26PM
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mikes781

Thanks I'll ask them about it. Would going with a Performance Series 25HCB heat pump be worth looking at? From what I recall it was extra to step up to the labor warranty. He wasn't proposing a 4 inch media filter. Just the slot in the return with the Dynamic air cleaner? What advantage would the media filter offer over what he proposed?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 5:23PM
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mike_home

The 4 inch filter cost more than than the 1 inch version, but it should last 3-4 times longer. The biggest advantage is the larger filter creates less static pressure.

Your electric rates are low enough to consider a heat pump.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 9:53PM
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neohioheatpump

The heatpump is nice to have on the milder days when heat is required. It also gives you flexibility incase gas were to go up. Heat pump heat will typically heat a home more evenly since the heat coming out isn't as hot and needs to run longer.

This morning it was 46 and windy by me. The heatpump was running about 15 minutes per hour to keep the house at 68 inside. In these type of conditions the heatpump is very keeps the house very comfy. A gas furnace could likely short cycle to keep a house warm unless it was 2-stage AND appropriately sized in these type of milder conditions.

Again, if you have very expensize electric it doesn't make as much sense but if your electric is 11 cents per KW total rate I would consider it.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 9:41AM
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veesubotee

Not being a PRO, I won't comment on the equipment, but I will tell you the proposals specify way oversized heating and cooling equipment.

I'm in Camden County. My 2500 SF home, built around '85, with Andersen windows and decent insulation, but average construction, had oversized equipment. Specifically, it had a 125,000 BTU furnace and 4 ton a/c.

Duct system was poorly designed due to layout of home. I did a heat calc (hvaccomputer.com)and results: 59,000 BTU heating and 3.5 tons a/c.

My contractor talked me into a 2 stage 4 ton a/c, which this summer (4th cooling season), staged up to second for the first time. Should have stayed with the SS.

House is now comfortable in winter, with a modulating furnace. Got a 90,000 BTU Mod furnace. Could have done with a 75,000 unit, but needed the 4ton blower size.

V

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 9:49AM
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tigerdunes

Mikes

There is no economic/operating cost advantage with a HP assuming your rates are accurate and all inclusive.

I agree about the suggestion of dropping back from the Infinity 21 to the two stg Performance 17 AC as kong as that does not affect all the rebates/tax credits that are available to you.

IMO

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 9:52AM
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mikes781

Thanks everyone for the good information. The rates that I've mentioned are all inclusive, but the electric is a rate that I have locked for another year. The current rates are just a little higher around 0.12. I have another contractor coming by tonight. I'll see what he suggests.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 12:24PM
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tigerdunes

Mikes

I am not a fan of EACs-electronic air cleaners.

I prefer a good properly sized 4-5" box filter cabinet MERV 10 that requires zero maintenance/cleaning, uses no electricity, and produces no ozone.

If you do elect the EAC, make certain you have a good understanding of the regular cleaning and maintenance that is required.

IMO

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 12:29PM
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