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is 96% vs 80% worth it???

Posted by jaansu (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 11, 14 at 16:05

I need to make up my mind about a 80% furnace and a decent AC vs a 96% Carrier Infinity and a good AC system. Difference is ~$7000 vs $10000. For those of you who upgraded to a high efficiency furnace, did you find the savings worth it? It seems to me that I would have ~10 year payback period for the extra 3K.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

What is your location?

I would like to know the complete model numbers of both furnaces. Going apples to apples, a fair upgrade price for an 80% to 95% eff furnace of same series quality should be in a range of $750 to $1250 assuming one has easy access to ext wall for venting.

IMO


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

Read the Furnace Vent Condensation Concerns thread. That may make up your mind for you. I think you want at least a two stage furnace. Make sure sealing the ducts is a part of the bid. $3000 seems to be quite a high spread between the two.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

I did the upgrade from 80 to 96% the year before last (in Jan with a broken furnace) and the difference was only ~$1000. I'd get another quote.

Another advantage to the high effiency furnace was - it allowed me to tear down my brick chimney that would have eventually needed repars.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

jaansu - if you would like a user's perspective, I can share with you this.

I was finding myself with the same question three years ago, as I was considering a Carrier high efficiency (Performance series 95%) versus an Infinity 80%. I opted for the Infinity 80%, and I live in the Chicago area.

Why did I opt for the 80%? A few of reasons.

1) The sales person with whom I was working, and does not live far from me, has the Infinity 80 in his house and was very happy with it.
2) The Infinity offered better comfort controls versus the Performance series
3) With the higher efficient furnaces comes higher costs to replace parts - which can quickly eradicate any savings on fuel / gas bills.

Living in Chicago, and faced with the sub zero we recently had, my 80% Infinity did just fine - never kicked into second stage the entire time. Overall extremely happy with my choice and no issues with the unit. Knock on wood.

Good luck to you with whatever you decide upon.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

Also in Chicago - and very happy with my lower heating bills from the high eff and never having to worry about a chimney repair.

:-)


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

For bpchill

Unless there are installation issues and/or bldg obstacles, an 80% eff furnace even the Infinity series is a dinosaur for Chicago location/winter climate..

IMO


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

thanks for the perspectives. Tigherdunes, the models are:

80% comfort 58STA110-22 (132K BTU) furnace
24ABC660A003 AC, coilCNPVP60 (5 TON 13 seer)
COST $6800

96% Infinity (don't have model #, variable speed, 2 stage gas valve)
15 SEER AC
Infinity thermostat
COST $10160

It sounds like the consensus is that I'm paying too much for the Infinity if $3000 more.

mdin, you mention lower heating bills. Can you guesstimate in % how much lower compared to before?


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

"Living in Chicago, and faced with the sub zero we recently had, my 80% Infinity did just fine - never kicked into second stage the entire time."

This would imply your furnace is over sized.

Parts are not more expensive on a higher efficiency furnace. There are additional parts which may fail, but it still does not justify buying a furnace that uses 20% more energy. Your 80% AFUE Infinity furnace has the same variable speed motor as the 96% AFUE furnace. This is the most expensive part which could need replacing.

A high efficiency furnace qualifies for a $150 federal tax credit. There are often local utility rebates available. These credits help reduce the cost differential.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

jaan

I don't believe you ever answered my question as to your location.

In earlier post, I stated that the $3 K upgrade price was too high if you were within same series level of brand. In fact you were not. You were quoted a bottom end builder grade Comfort series sgl stage 80% eff furnace. The Infinity 96 is top of line two stage var speed 96% efficiency. Big difference.

As a compromise, see what dealer will quote on a Performance 96 model.

BTW, what size is your home, and what size furnace are you replacing?

Post back.

IMO

Here is a link that might be useful: Carrier Furnaces

This post was edited by tigerdunes on Mon, Jan 13, 14 at 9:16


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

sorry, we live in Yardley PA, near Trenton. The house is 3300 sq ft and we are replacing the original Carrier 135K BTU furnace.

Do I understand that you feel the 3K higher price might be justified? My main driver is overall cost assuming we stay for 10 years. I must admit I am worried about the higher price to replace parts on the higher end machines.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

Check warranty.

Parts should be covered under warranty first 10 years. Lifetime on heat exchanger. I don't even think that should be a concern at all.

I would think a 100 KBTU size in the 95+% efficiency would be fine for your home.

Again, I would get a price on the Performance 96 furnace for comparison purposes.

Good Luck!
IMO


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

Jaansu,

I live near Princeton, NJ. If you are interested I can send you the contact information of the Carrier dealer I used. They are a located in Mercer County and I think you are within their service area. He will do a load calculation and provide you a spread sheet of various furnace and AC configurations in 80% and 95%+ efficiency ratings. You will have a lot of choices and it will be properly sized.

Send me an email. Don't forget to allow viewing of your email address otherwise I can't reply.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

Excellent...can't beat that kind of help!

TD


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

@ jaansu - would estimate heating bills deceased by ~25%. Enough so that I initially thought there was a billing error. I wasn't really expecting it, so it was a nice surprise.

The major reason I went with the upgrade was so I would not have to repair my aging chimney.

However, the difference in price I was given was only ~$1,000., so it was a much easier decision.

This post was edited by mdln on Mon, Jan 13, 14 at 11:11


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

the first contractor dissed the Performance model as not worth considering, although they admitted they didn't handle it or perhaps didn't want to handle it. I'll see what the other bidders say about it.

I realize now that the price differential between the Comfort and Infinity is probably justified but my decision pt still rests on overall savings. It seems to me I am looking at ~$300/yr saving between the two. Assuming 10 yr tops before the next move, payback seems too long. I will have 3 teenagers in the household soon and I'm wondering if the whining I will experience might suggest I will be paying for more comfort as we go ahead.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

How long is an acceptable pay back period for a more efficient furnace?


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

Mike - I had four (4) different quotes for HVAC work. Kinda strange that you suspect that it is over sized. Each of the four contractors all performed load calcs and everyone of them came up with the same size furnace.

Tiger - no dinosaur here.. I'm burning natural gas not fuel oil
Even at 80% I am still putting money in my pocket versus the ineffcient 23 year old York that I replaced.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

For bpchill

You don't want to believe it.

But yes, your furnace choice is a dinosaur.

No consideration to resale if and when you decide to leave home.

Sorry if the truth hurts a bad decision.

IMO


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

Bpchill,

It was extremely cold in Chicago last week. I have to believe you were much below the design temperature of zero degrees plus you had a terrible wind chill factor. Yet your furnace still did not go into the high stage. The furnace is either not working correctly or it is over sized.

Your old York furnace was probably rated for 78% AFUE. I don't think you see much savings with the new furnace unless the old furnace was constantly short cycling.

Natural gas prices are low right now, so it may look like you are saving money. You need to look at the amount of cubic feet of gas your burned with the old and new furnaces if you want to calculate how much you are saving.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

what is the opinion on the Comfort Carrier 80% furnace? While I would save more money obviously getting the 96% Infinity, is the Comfort still a decent furnace or something made cheaply for those who just don't wish to pay up front or don't know better? I've requested a bid on the two stage Professional furnace but so far I can't justify the extra $3000 on the Infinity if the Comfort is still a quality machine.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

It's a low end builder grade furnace with 10 year warranty on parts, 20 yr on heat exchanger.

More suitable for rental.

I hope you will follow up on Mike's excellent help and suggestion on nearby Carrier dealer he recommends.

IMO

Here is a link that might be useful: Carrier STA58 Carrier Comfort furnace


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

The Comfort line is the lowest level of equipment and is typically used by builders. The furnace is single stage and would probably last past the warranty. The AC is also single stage. This combination is not very good when it comes to humidity control in the summer. The condenser does not have some items to protect the compressor as the better models have. The condenser has the lowest SEER rating allowed by federal law. This equipment will heat and cool your house. I am not sure if it is the best value for someone who plans to live in a house for another 10 years.

I agree it is hard to justify an extra $3000. This contractor has quoted you the bottom and top of the line equipment so there is big difference in price. He has not told you which Infinity models would be included for the extra $3000. In my opinion you don't have a valid quote.

I also don't think you need a 5 ton condenser. If you do then the contractor had better make sure your duct work can handle the 2000 CFM of air flow, otherwise you will have many long term problems. The furnace size of 110K BTU also seems large. You should ask the contractor how he come up with these sizes.

Do you know your average annual heating and cooling costs? Once you have this information you can make a better informed decision about investing in more efficient equipment. You also have to decide how much you want to spend on being more comfortable.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

The high end bid just lists an Infinity furnace with no model number. On line, I only see one model listed for 96% Infinity: 59TN6. Should he have specified something else besides this model number?

For AC, both bids list the same Comfort AC 24ABC660A003, although the high end bid says 15 SEER instead of 13. If I did get the Infinity furnace, should the AC be Infinity equipment too for better comfort?

He did perform a load calculation and examine the ducts, so I can only assume the 5 ton recommendation is correct. I looked at the existing AC but don't see a ton rating anywhere. Any way to tell? I can ask him how he did the calculation but I doubt I would be able to challenge any numbers.

For the 96% furnace bid, it is a 100K BTU not 110K BTU unit.

A good estimate for heating/cooling bill for 2013 is $1500. It doesn't seem I would recoup the investment but if comfort is a factor, maybe worth paying more.

I did follow up with Mike's contractor but he won't be here until next week.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

There are two high efficiency models currently available. The 59TN6 and the 59MN7. For $3000 I would expect you be getting the 59MN7 plus a better AC condenser.

There are other old Infinity furnaces which may no longer be in production. There are still good furnaces. You want to know in writing exactly what you are buying. There is no excuse not to do this.

You should ask for a copy of the load calculation and have the contractor explain it to you.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

I settled for the Performance 2-stage level. While I'd like some features of the Infinity, in the long run I just wanted an efficient system. It's doing fine.

To go from an 80% Comfort to a 96% Infinity is like going from a base model Chevy, to an Infinity (lol). There are models in between to consider.

My dealer really wanted to sell me the Infinity. I think because he probably had a great profit margin in it and because it makes the repairman's life easier. The thermostat alone was a big increase over a decent 2-stage. I figured I was spending enough at the price point of a 96% performance. But, like cars again, I'm happy with my upgraded Nissan and didn't need the Infinity (but didn't want the Chevy Geo either!)

I would not consider the 80%. We were the only ones in the neighborhood to go 90% when our house was built 18 years ago. Our bills were ALWAYS a good bit lower than our neighbors. It's a bonus for resale when the time comes. I am in South Jersey and I grew up in Lower Makefield, so I know we are dealing with the same weather. You will see a savings. If you're not comfortable with the Inifinity $, split the difference, and find a contractor who will do it. (I think they might get spifs, or incentives from Carrier to push the highest end models....just my suspicion though.)


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

Thanks Cindy, maybe you used to live in my neighborhood - I live in Yardley PA now.
I got a second contractor to visit yesterday and a third will come Monday. Maybe I will get some more answers at that point. It does seem I will pass on the 80% builder model furnace.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

My primary contractor says the Performance furnace system will be $8200. This is versus $6800 for the bare bones Comfort furnace and $10200 for the Infinity. All with the Comfort level 13/15 SEER AC.
I'd like to upgrade the AC but otherwise I'm leaning on taking the Performance package. Any thoughts?


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

Mike, the Hopewell NJ contractor you recommended came by and did a load calculation on the house and left me a stack of bids. Very professional I thought of his methods. His load calc placed on a bit on the high side of 4 ton. The bids are also on the high side of what I have seen but it does leave me with a question of whether it makes sense to go for the two stage AC if I go with the Performance or Infinity furnace with the two stage or variable blower. I like the idea of being able to run the AC on a lower setting for longer to better control humidity. Or go cheaper with the single stage AC?

My impression so far is that it makes more important to have AC of multiple stage operation rather than for the furnace.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

I am happy to hear you got a good response from the contractor. Hopefully he explained all the choices he presented so you can make an informed decision.

The 2-stage AC works great in my house. I can set the thermostat at 78-79 degrees and be at 40% humidity. It feels very comfortable.

The variable speed furnace is also very nice. They are very quiet in the low stage. At the very least you would have to get a multi-speed furnace to work with the 2-stage AC.

Can you wait until March 1st? This is when the spring rebates usually start. Don't forget the federal tax credits and any local utility rebates.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

It seemed to me that you need at least a two stage blower to take best advantage of a 2 stage AC, even if I didn't go to the Infinity grade furnace.

Except that the blower goes continuously, our furnace is perfectly fine. I could wait until March 1. Could you give me an idea of how generous the spring discounts are? I wonder if I could strike a deal with the contractor to give me that discount now rather than waiting?


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

Here is the rebate matrix from Spring 2013. The upcoming rebate should be similar.

Here is a link that might be useful: Carrier Spring 2013 rebate


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

I guess I could wait a month or ask if they would give me that discount now. Does anyone know if heating contractors might work on a monthly quota, sort of like car salesmen? Either for the company or the manufacturer? WIth the end of Jan coming up, I'm wondering if the saleman would become more accommodating.

I'm fairly sure I am going with the Infinity TN6A100V21-22 furnace with a two stage Performance AC 24ACB760A003. This set up requires the Edge t-stat. While I don't think I will ever recover the higher cost over the 80% furnace, it seems the variable speed AC will improve summer comfort.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

Right now, in the Chicago area, I would not be surprised if they charged extra. High temperature tomorrow predicted to be -1 and low -16.


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Carrier rebate program

Mike
Carrier tells me they are almost certain to have another Cool Cash March rebate program, which may save me $1000! Thank you so much for the idea. The contractor admitted as much that it makes no sense to buy now if I can wait.
It sounds like the rebate schedule may not come out until March 1 so I'll probably need to wait that long to see if they will match last year's numbers.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

You would have to get an Infinity furnace with a 2-stage AC in order to get a $1000 rebate.

The details for the Spring rebates should be available by the middle of February.


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Any 2014 Carrier Cool Cash rebates coming up???

I've been monitoring the Carrier website but nothing about a Cool Cash 2014 rebate. My contractor says he knows nothing about any unannounced rebates coming up either besides a $150 rebate. I'm curious if anyone knows anything about a more substantial rebate since I was hoping to save $1000 on the full system.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

Another thing to consider with the condensing furnace is the drain - we have an ongoing problem with the condensate drain freezing every time the weather gets below freezing for more than a day. I can put a heat tape around the drain exit from the house but if the pipe freezes inside the walls, we just have to wait until it thaws out. Luckily, this is our upstairs system and we can just crank up the downstairs system to get some heat to the bedrooms when this occurs (hot air rises, and luckily, the downstairs systen never freezes up). But clearly a major problem if we only had one system. Just an FYI. Oh, and our gas bills didn't go down appreciably when we replaced our old 80% furnaces with the 96% systems.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

I figure the savings are more hype than reality but since I need to replace the system anyway, just trying to see what I can save upfront. Thanks for the warning on the freezing.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

Jaansu,
Are you planning on staying in this house longer than 10 more years?


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

"I figure the savings are more hype than reality"

The furnace has to be sized and installed properly in order to realize the savings. It also has to be connected to a properly sized duct work that does not have major leaks. If you don't follow those simple rules, then the savings will be minimal.

You will not have a freezing problem if your furnace is installed in a conditioned space. A high efficiency furnace installed in an unconditioned attic will be subject to freezing if the contractor did not install it properly. This is why most contractors want to avoid this and use a non-condensing furnace.


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RE: is 96% vs 80% worth it???

You might want to consider the comfort improvement that might be possible with a more sophisticated heating and cooling system.


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