Goodman HVAC - worth upgrading

jwhite4October 3, 2012

Moving into a new house, mid-atlantic area, ~1400 sqft one floor, R19 walls, R30 ceiling, with a full (~1300 sqft) unfinished basement.

Standard equipment is a Goodman single stage system:

- 69k BTU 92% AFUE furnance

- 2.5 tons 13 SEER AC

[This is what they also equip crawlspace-only homes with, ie. no capacity upgrade with the full basement.]

I asked the developer to price out 2 upgrades:

A. Single stage:

- 92k 95% AFUE Dual$aver furnace (single stage thermostat, but internally can run a 60% btu initially, then moves to full heat after a given time). Also adds a 10yr unit warranty.

- 3.0 ton 16 SEER AC - adds lifetime compressor warranty

B. Dual stage

- 92k 95% AFUE variable speed blower (10yr unit warranty)

- 3.0 ton 18 SEER AC (and lifetime compressor warranty)

- 'ComfortNet' protocol with top of the line CTK01 thermostat

Based on internet pricing:

- between std and 'A' seemed to be about $1200; the developer wants $2300.

- between std and 'B' seemed to be I think about $3k; the developer wants $4400.

I was looking to get some incremental upgrades:

- a little more efficiency (lot more on the AC)

- longer warranties

- higher capacity to better handle the basement (assuming at some point some/all might be finished space)

- dual stage (knew that would be more $$)

I'm trying to decide if the costs are justifiable. I don't know how Goodman is on service life. I've heard of Trane, York, Lennox, Carrier before, never Goodman. If it's not the most reliable brand, do I want to be putting "good money after bad". [FYI - no option to get any other vendor's HVAC system installed).

I know moving from 13 to 16 or 18 SEER can save money. But will I save THAT much money to offset the higher up front costs. [As new development, I don't think I have the ability to claim any efficiency rebates, even if ones were available.]

Option (C) I guess would be to just run with this equipment, save my money, and figure when it dies, replace it then with a better system.

I have a couple of days to decide if I want either upgrade. Any replies would be appreciated.

Jeff

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hamconsulting

Are you over sizing equipment and upgrading from builders grade to mid level? Provide model numbers.

It looks like you have good insulation in attic and walls and probably windows, so why oversize on both heating and cooling? Oversized equipment can also lead to higher operating cost due to larger equipment, shorter cycling which can lead to humidity issues and motor stress, and costlier installation due to equipment needs.

By the way, you gain 12% energy savings on cooling on average based on standard charts found on brochures when you go from 13 SEER TO 16 SEER. If your cooling costs are $400 per year, then your savings are $48 per year.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 9:21PM
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ryanhughes

2.5 tons sounds big for 1400 sqft new construction. Basement doesn't add much load. I definitely wouldn't recommend going with a 3 ton 2-stage unit. Given the style of most new construction installations, I wouldn't spend the money on the upgrades. Nominally they're more efficient, but when oversized and installed poorly on undersized duct systems, you won't see much savings. I hope they did a load calculation and will install a properly sized duct system...

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 10:54PM
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david_cary

The basement is a minor issue with loads.

I have a full walkout with 10 windows and 2 doors (one glass) in NC and 10 ft ceilings. It is 1400 sqft finished (about 600 unfinished). I practically disconnected the ductwork this summer. I would say I cut the airflow 80% so there is just a trickle coming out. It is enough to circulate the air and prevents the need for a dehumidifier ... and the basement is still a degree or two colder than upstairs.

Mid-atlantic is a pretty variable area and honestly which states seem to vary who you talk to. But it is always north of NC....

The increase on the heating side is pretty crazy too but certainly there is a heat load on a basement. Mine is probably 8000 btus - certainly not 30k.

So are you talking a walkout with a wall of windows or a true basement? Do you have 10 ft ceilings? Do you have underslab insulation? Do you have foam outside poured concrete walls?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 6:48AM
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jwhite4

House is in Phila Pa. 2 exposed qalls (at 90' angles); 1/2 of one wall is 2 car garage; there is southern exposure on the other sides

First floor has 9' ceilings; basement should have 8' to the underside of the joists. 11 windows throughout the house, all Anderson low-E ones (builder grade, don't think they are top of the line). Basement should be mostly submerged.

std:
GSX130301DB & GKS90703BX

'A':
GMH950904CX & SSX160361

'B':
GMVC950905CX & DSXC180361 & CTK01

If A&B are oversized, it's my fault: I assumed with a full basement, heating an air condition should be increased.

I can't speak to the quality of the construction. There's no option to come in prior to closing to do my own work, ie. get an HVAC crew into properly seal the ducts.

There's also no option at this point to suggest any different configurations. And as a brand new house, I have no idea what fuel costs with the standard configuration are.

If at least the 'A' upgrade had come in lower priced, I probably would have gone with it. I'm thinking now, even if it was better sized, I'm not sure I'd ever see a payback on the extra cost.

Thoughts? And thanks.

Jeff

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 11:31AM
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