Opinions on proposals for HP replacement

howaboutmeNovember 3, 2012

Hi all

I'd appreciate any comments or opinions regarding my proposals for replacing my very old heat pump system. I have many quotes but have narrowed it down to these.

I live in Northern VA, life in a TH approx. 1600 SF, 3 levels.

On a moderate budget, I'm looking to get as much as I can from a dependable system. A common factor is all prices include adding return air in the basement, which was neglected when the previous owner's finished it.

In no particular order.

Option 1:

Carrier Performance

2.5 ton 25HCC530 (SEER 15, EER 12.5, HSPF 8.5)

Air handler FV4CNF002 variable speed

TC-PHP stat

Standard manufa warranty

2 year labor

$5762 (including a $200 rebate from my power co)

Option 2:

Rheem Classic

2.5 ton RPQL030JEZ (SEER 15)

Air handler RHKLHM3617JA, variable speed

American standard (i'm confirming if they are compatible) ACONT802 stat

standard manu warranty


Option 3:

American Standard Gold SI

2.5 ton 4A6H5030E1000A (SEER 15)

Air handler AAM7A0B30H21SA, variable speed

ACONT802 stat

standard manuf warranty


Option 4:

Lennox Dave Lennox Signature

2.5 ton XP17-030-230 (SEER 16.2, EER 13.5, HSPF 9)

Air handler CBX32MV-036, variable speed

iComfort Wi-Fi stat

standard manuf warranty

$6449 (including $250 rebate from the power company, $250 discount from the installer and $1000 rebate from Lennox)

As you can see, the price is all over the place. My initially instinct is to think that the Carrier is the better choice while the Lennox is the better value. I do question the Lennox dependability though.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks to everyone in advance.

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All of these are nice systems with my personal fav the American Standard.

Here is my personal checklist.

Obviously correct sizing is important. If you are unsure, then request a load calculation or even perform it yourself for a nominal fee online.

there are three equally important components-quality HVAC, the install by dealer, and probably the most overlooked and disregarded is the ductwork system.

these are my minimum specs for a new HP system. both outside and inside units should be replaced to have a properly matched system.

15 SEER, 12.5+ EER, 9 HSPF
best matching VS air handler
full BTUs in both cooling and heating for your rated size
R-410a refrigerant(same as Puron)
scroll compressor preferred
electronic demand defrost preferred
thermostat with "dehumidify on demand" feature
staged backup heat strips
new and correctly sized refrigerant line set

you want a thorough inspection of your ductwork system. size, overall condition, supply and return lines, insulation qualities, leak test, etc.

any hot/cold spot issues in your home should be addressed.

I would only use authorized dealers for the various brands that provide quotes.
see mfg websites.

I would look at Trane/AmStd,Rheem/Rudd,Carrier/Bryant.

Depending on your location, I would not purchase a new HP system that did not have electronic demand defrost.

While the Carrier does not have demand defrost, it is a nice system. However dealer has not quoted the best choice size on the air handler. It should be the 005 to get the best efficiency numbers. If you are leaning that way, insist on that change. You want to ake certain the thermostat is a thermidistat for best humidity control in AC cooling. And I would also insist on Carrier's prewired 9 KW heat strip that activates in 3 KW increments based on demand.

I really think it's what you are looking for, strong warranty, dealer reputation, and how long you plan to be in TH. I assume you are replacing an existing 2 1/2 ton system. You did not mention the lineset. If reusing, it must be flushed properly and be the correct size to the new condenser. Close does not count.

Just a few thoughts.


    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 11:31AM
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Thanks tiger!

I've toyed w/ EDD and believe that it's not the end all be all for my situation. I'd love to it for it's benefits but for our climate, it's not the end of the world to not have it (as in the Carrier model).

Where can I find info on the air handler you specified? The Carrier website does not go into specifics. What's the difference between the 002 and the 005?

Regarding the heat strip. My heater is 10KW. Does that change things? None of the installers mentioned the words heat strip. Is this standard in the units or and add?

The lineset will be re-used and all installers have mentioned flushing it. The existing size does match any new units quoted.

Thank you!

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 7:26PM
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One of my pet peeves with heat pumps is demand defrost versus time/temp defrost. Don't kid yourself. Demand defrost eliminates/reduces nuisance, unnecessary, and expensive defrost calls.

The differences in the air handler are the physical dimensions and the fact you will get the best overall efficiency numbers. You can see these
numbers online at the AHRI HP Directory. any cost difference between the two models should be inconsequential considering the benefit. Unless you have some type of space issue, it would be a big mistake not going with the 005 selection. The dealer knows this. Why did he quote the 002? Normal answer is he is looking out for himself, not his customer.

I would want the 9 KW prewired staged heat strip as suggested in first post.Heat strips are normally replaced at new installs and rarely reused. Ask dealer about the 9 KW model I recommend.

Don't be susceptible to smoke and mirrors. Get educated.

What are you doing about air filtration? Home has adequate returns on all levels?


    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 5:21AM
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it could be because of space that the installer spec'd the 002. i put in a question regarding that and will see what they say.

i understand EDD versus time/temp. cost is an issue so it's just part of the equation.

none of the bidders mentioned heat strips and i didn't even know what they were until you mentioned it and i searched it. i am asking about that as well.

so you're saying the heat strips are normally not replaced when the entire unit is replaced?

thanks again.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 8:01AM
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No, I am saying heat strips are almost always replaced at time of new HP install. They are sized as far as BTU output in KWs. 1 KW equals 3400 BTUs. Heat strips are required for emergency heat, supplemental heat, and to temper air on defrost calls. That's why I prefer EDD.

Yes, they should be replaced and I do recommend the 9 KW staged model. This way you use what you need. It will save you money in operating costs in winter heating.

Don't cripple what can be a nice system by taking less expensive shortcuts. You want the thermidistat and the staged heat strip. You can't get EDD with Carrier but you know that and it's your decision.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 8:25AM
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Thanks for the response, tiger.

What's your opinion regarding Lennox? As you know, there's a lot of negative comments regarding Lennox. Are the still warranted? The rebates the manufacturer is offering makes a higher end system more affordable and it's compelling.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 8:50PM
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Which models?

There are only two single stage models worth considering, XP17 and XP14 in 2 1/2 ton size.

Might be interesting to see the price on the XP17.

Never have been high on Lennox Pumps.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 6:27AM
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the XP17 model is option 4, see my initial post. As you can tell from the price, thanks to the rebates, it's a compelling option for me.


fyi. i was also quotes for xp14 but not considering it because it's actually a bit more expensive than the xp17 thanks to the rebates. plus, anything less than the higher end lennox comes w/ only 5 years warrant. the 5 years warranty on the lessor models makes me think twice about lennox in general since most of their competitors offer 10 years.

also got a quote for xp16, 3 ton, 2 stage, but again, more expensive than the xp17.

thank you!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 8:23AM
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A vary tempting quote.

AHRI performance numbers are a little light in heating BTUs as is typical for Lennox.

What size heat strip was quoted?

I believe this model has demand defrost. Confirm with dealer.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 9:10AM
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proposal says 10KW back up heat, i assume that's the heat strip, model # ECB-40-10CB

Yes, lennox does have demand defrost...

see the dilemma? the rebates make this tempting but carrier does have the name and reliability to it that's tough to beat.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 9:32AM
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Lennox is also a good manufacturer -- they build quality equipment in my opinion. The XP17 does have demand defrost (while not all Lennox HP's do). I'm quite certain all Lennox products have a limited 10 year warranty on all parts when registered with Lennox following installation. Not uncommon to have to register the equipment with the manufacturer to get the full warranty -- many times the dealer takes care of this.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 3:53PM
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you were right about the 10 years after you register. the installer made that clear. it's good to hear your opinion regarding lennox.

the lennox is a strong choice but a hard one compared to the carrier.

thanks for your comments.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 8:44PM
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While the Lennox is ~$700 more than the Carrier, in my opinion it is the nicer system. The XP17 is a very quiet unit, if that matters to you. From an efficiency standpoint alone, the Lennox has an edge in both cooling/heating efficiency. Also, the communicating iComfort thermostat gives you more control over your indoor comfort (and diagnostic information) compared to the standard thermostat in the Carrier estimate. And, as tiger has mentioned before, electronic demand defrost is certainly a nice feature. Low temps here (MD, just outside of DC and not far from you) have gotten into the mid-30s, and I haven't seen/heard my Trane heat pump need to defrost once yet. Standard heat pumps would have defrosted numerous times by now simply as a function of their operation. Certainly easier on the equipment, more comfortable and more efficient this way.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 9:43PM
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I'll say also that the Carrier 25HCC5/FV4 combo is also a very nice system. Like tiger said, you should ask them about a larger indoor air handler for greater efficiency. The 002 is smaller and easier to install, and many like it for this reason. But if other companies plan to install variable speed air handlers from their product line, space can't be too much of an issue. Whichever air handler they install (002, 003, or 005), the installers can and should adjust the airflow setting to match the outdoor unit size. Very easy to do on Carrier control boards, yet you'd be surprised how many systems are left with default factory airflow settings (often the maximum).

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 9:47PM
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i asked about the larger indoor unit for the carrier (specifically the 005) and was told that my existing duct size prohibits efficient use of anything higher/bigger. it would be choking the duct. the 002 is variable speed, isn't it? although space is not exactly a closet, it is limiting as it's sandwiched between un (easily) movable main return trunk and the main supply shaft going up.

agree w/ all you've said about what's compelling about the Lennox and Carrier.

This is a tough decision. Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 9:53PM
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That is pure unadulterated BS from the Carrier dealer. CFMs for the 005 air handler can be adjusted to match condenser size. The 005 is an AHRI Directory match that gives you substantially better efficiency numbers. If dealer can not provide an adequate explanation for his objection, then dump him overboard and go with the Lennox system.

with the Carrier,you want the following:
005 VS air handler size
9 KW prewired stage heat strip

Then you have a decision to make between Carrier and the more expensive Lennox. Also weigh dealer reputation in your marketplace. I have to say straight out I am very wary of the Carrier dealer based on your last post.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 6:05AM
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if they have to adjust the cfm's for the 005 lower, why would i want it? wouldn't that defeat the purpose? it doesn't make sense to me. unless you're saying that efficient numbers don't get affected by the amount of cfm being blown?

i don't believe the carrier dealer is giving me bs, just their own opinion. seems like if they could sell a slightly more expensive air handler, they would.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 7:54AM
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Sorry but you are just mistaken and unless there is a physical dimension issue on air handler location, then you are getting poor advice. Have you even bothered to look up the numbers in the AHRI HP Directory?


    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 8:28AM
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yes, there is an issue w/ physical dimension. thought i mentioned it in a previous post.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 8:34AM
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Physical dimension problem also with Lennox system? Humm...

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 9:31AM
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If the CBX32MV-036 and AAM70B30 air handlers will fit dimension wise, then installing the larger Carrier (005) fan coil should not be an issue. It's the larger coil within the 005 air handler that improves efficiency. Airflow is still adjusted for the proper outdoor unit size as detailed in the installation instructions. Often there are multiple air handler matches for a given outdoor unit, so not uncommon (across all brands) to have to adjust the fan speed.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 9:33AM
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got it guys. thank you very much. i appreciate the help. i'll check into it.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 10:42AM
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If I had the choice, I would go for the electronic defrost due to the money savings over the life of the unit.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 3:48PM
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I really do think Lennox makes a good, reliable product if installed properly. There will always be others who disagree when it comes to brand preferences. I think I would personally narrow it down to the American Standard/Trane and Lennox quotes, and it would not be an easy decision -- mostly based on which dealer I felt most comfortable in because all equipment choices being considered will perform well if installed properly. The equipment is one important aspect, with most brands offering comparable products, but installations can vary GREATLY in quality and procedure.

I know you're really considering the Carrier. It is also a nice system, and a couple of neighbors have had the same system installed (3.5 ton size) and they seem to be pleased with it. I would look into the thermidistat as TD mentioned (controls humidity - Carrier Edge Pro model TP-PRH), as well as using the best matching air handler.

Please keep us posted with your decision. Ask any remaining questions you have and consider the responses of the dealer in making your decision.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 4:36PM
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thanks all!

its getting interesting..negotiating w/ the 2 now. the carrier installer went slightly down in price and will add a media filter.

the lennox installer will give me an "up front" rebate (which helps of course).

basic difference is about $850.

is the EDD, higher efficiency worth the price difference compared to the carrier w/ the media filter? keep in mind we plan to stay in the house for another 9 to 10 years...

tough decisions. thoughts?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 5:00PM
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I would not have the Carrier unless he provides the 005 air handler, the Edge thermidistat, and the 9 KW prewired staged heat strip.

The EDD while a great feature becomes less important because of the price difference between Carrier and Lennox systems.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 7:17PM
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i decided to go w/ the lennox xp17 with the icomfort thermostat....the extra few hundred was justification for a better system. i'm excited. getting it installed next week, will update and let everyone know how i like it, especially the stat.

thanks for your responses. i appreciate it.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 8:31PM
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I think you'll be very happy with the improved comfort and efficiency from the Lennox system, especially with the iComfort control. Please do let us know how the installation goes. You did your research and I think you made the right decision, all things considered.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 9:44PM
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I agree with Ryan about your selection. My only complaint is the heating BTUs are about 10% light which is typical for Lennox Pumps and something Lennox should address. But overall a very nice system especially with the control. I would verify the models as they are unloaded on day of install. Should be a one day install. Gather all operating manuals. Make certain warranty is properly registered. Give us your impressions following several days of operation.

Good Luck

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 7:34AM
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Hi all,

Just to follow up on this thread. We got the Lennox unit installed this past Thursday. It was a top notch crew of 4 that came in and did the job in about 4.5 hrs (including adding a new return in the basement). Craftsmanship was excellent and they left the place clean.

I am very happy w/ the Lennox system. The heat pump outside is the quietest I have ever seen. My neighbors on either side of my home have a Trane XL(something) and a Carrier Performance (but the shell that looks like an Infinity series) and both are much louder than the Lennox unit. Similarly, the air handler is ridiculously quiet as well. Coming from an old system where we needed noise to confirm it still works, this is a nice change.

The iComfort stat is elegant and easy to use. While I will always compared it to the Nest, I think this stat will do an excellent job. Knowing that this stat is proprietary and works to communicate w/ the system (similar to Infinity), using a Nest would actually make it a "dumber" stat. The Wi-Fi is a bit tricky as it's been known to disconnect at times but when it is connected, the mobile app and web interface are intuitive and convenient. Plus, it looks nice on the wall.

We've been uncharacteristically cold lately so we've only used the heat. It's done a good job heating the home and doesn't need to run as often as our previous. We also keep the variable speed air handler on "on".

Overall, I'm very pleased. Now comes the real test, longevity.

I want to thank the forum for the help! It's much appreciated.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 2:36PM
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Glad to hear everything went well with the installation and you're happy with the system. Thanks for coming back to give us an update. 4.5 hours is pretty quick for a full system.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 3:08PM
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