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Help me refine what I need (so or for the length)

Posted by kailuamom (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 22, 14 at 14:16

Hi all - first let me say, thanks so much for being here. The knowledge I have been able to glean from perusing this forum, has been super helpful in letting me know how little I know.

Here's where I am now....

Am in mid bidding process on my 1961 home with 11 ft ceilings, lots of windows (west facing) and minimal/unknown insulation. We have HOT summers with daily temps in excess of 100, little humidity (pleasant - not too dry). Winters are mild, can dip into the 20s, maybe 2 weeks per year, at the very coldest. No snow.

We are in a rural area in California, so getting people out here can be a challenge, but so far have three reputable companies bidding.

My first issue is I like to ensure I'm bidding the same level job, and I really don't know if I am.

To start, I didn't realize that Bryant and carrier were basically the same, so I have one guy (Bryant local, mom and pop operation) and then another large union shop quoting carrier. Completely different, large operation quoting Lennox.

Let me tell you that I'm biased in favor of the mom and pop shop. That said, he's no sales guy which is both good and bad. Good because he's not just looking at commission, he's looking at how he would do the job, but bad because he's not a particularly great communicator.

So, please tell me what I need to be requiring in order to ensure the bids are comparable, here's what matters to me...

1: Cooling, efficiency and quiet operation. When at this house, we really live outdoors., so looks and sound matter (not full time yet - will be once it's all fixed up). It's expensive electric.

2: heating - we supplement with our woodstove, it's propane, not as worried about quiet or aesthetics.

I would love to be able to change the system setting and program the thermostat remotely.

Oh.... We have no real existing ductwork for the existing 1961 heater. Only one vent on either side of the furnace closet... Nothing to any of the bedrooms. We are considering exposed ductwork OR running it under the house (raised foundation). It is a tongue and grove ceiling with no attic, so no chance there.

We have a rental house in Hawaii with ductless Mitsubishi mini splits and like them, as we only heat or cool the rooms being used (since it's hawaii, cooling only). So far, all folks bidding have told us that will cost double what central would cost. I know people in this area all have ducted systems.... So maybe it's just ignorance, but I wouldn't want that same ignorance to impact resale down the road. Any thoughts on this?

So far it looks like people are saying either 3 or 3.5 ton AC.

Thanks for all of your help - I love the forums!

Thanks...


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Help me refine what I need (so or for the length)

Size of home?

How are you heating and cooling home now?

Size, brand, efficiency,age of existing equipment?

Insulation and building qualities of your home?

Do you have a budget in mind?

"2: heating - we supplement with our woodstove, it's propane, not as worried about quiet or aesthetics"

Could you explain above statement?

Post back.

IMO


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RE: Help me refine what I need (so or for the length)

Sorry - I blathered on so long that I missed key facts or buried them....

Heating with space heaters in the bedrooms, wood stove in common area with a bit of current furnace.

NO COOLING! Actually, I bought one of those portable AC units so we can sleep..

1500 sq ft, ranch, we think minimal wall insulation, ceiling is tongue and groove, so just a little layer of dense foam panel under roofing material.

1961 forced air heater... No idea size or brand, only ducts to adjoining room. Can't base anything on this except placement (since it has a spot!). It sounds like a jet engine when it starts, and warms up the two rooms quickly.

Budget.... This project retirement house needs everything. So, we would like to spend as little as we can, while getting what we need. Don't need a Rolls Royce system, a nice new ford with some of the new bells and whistles would be great.

What I meant about the heat..... We just don't need the very most efficient or quiet unit because our needs are much more related to the hot season than the cold. Compared to AC, where I think we might need something more efficient and quiet. Additionally, the AC noise will bother the folks who are outside in the heat, not feeling the cool... I hate having my gardening time all noisy so my kids can play video games in the cool.... (I know parenting issues).

Thanks!


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RE: Help me refine what I need (so or for the length)

You have failed to answer my question about current system. What exactly is it and its fuel source?

Do I understand that AC is more important to you than heating?

Electric space heaters are the worst source of heat as far as operating costs.

Again I don't understand the this statement specifically your mention of propane.

"2: heating - we supplement with our woodstove, it's propane, not as worried about quiet or aesthetics".

Do I understand you have an old propane fueled forced air furnace?

If you are going to have a forced air system. I would gut current ductwork system and replace all new.

Probably with high eff heat pump system and let wood stove be your backup on cold days.

And get rid of the space heaters. They are not only expensive to operate but also dangerous.

Your home is built over crawlspace?

IMO


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RE: Help me refine what I need (so or for the length)

Propane, forced air - minimal ductwork don't know the brand or size.

We are going to replace with new propane forced air heat.

There is no cooling now - it's pretty much un sleep able between late may- October.

We are going to install ductwork - considering exposed ductwork or under the house (crawl space).

It's our intention to get rid of the space heaters.... What I'm saying is it's much easier to get this house warm than cool... So my financial focus will be on the cool - while still investing in he warm.... I just don't want to necessarily get as high end of a heater as I would AC.

We need and will purchase both, were getting the ducting.


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RE: Help me refine what I need (so or for the length)

What is electric rate?

What is cost of propane/gal?

Depending on electric rate, I would ditch propane.

Quality outside condensers with sound blankets are non invasive as far as sound. Look for db lower than 75...

IMO


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RE: Help me refine what I need (so or for the length)

If I had to choose between mini splits and outdoor ducts, I'd be trying to get more estimates from experienced mini split installers.


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RE: Help me refine what I need (so or for the length)

Thanks for your help - electricity ranges between .13230 - .36377 per kWh based on usage, since we aren't here full time, I can't gauge what our usage will be. I think we pay about $4 per gal in propane. No one does electric heat here though gotta be a reason for that.


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RE: Help me refine what I need (so or for the length)

Here's the existing carrier system.


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Here's a look at the common area

Here's a picture of the ceiling/ common area - we were thinking of running the ducts, exposed along the hall at the ceiling.


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RE: Help me refine what I need (so or for the length)

If you don't have natural gas, you may want to consider a heatpump. Many people in the Central Valley use them. Certainly, propane is the most expensive fuel and is a pain to keep getting refilled (especially if you are "far from civilization", as you put it).

Consider a heatpump with a completely new crawlspace duct system to every room. The California sealing and insulation requirements for forced air installations are pretty rigorous. I don't recall if there are any restrictions on crawlspace ducting - I don't think so. I would only put in minisplits if a ducted system is not feasible.


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RE: Help me refine what I need (so or for the length)

How many rooms do you have? The cost differential with mini splits goes up as the number of rooms does. Have you considered some of the small air handlers that work with the mini split outdoor units? They blur the line between central and mini split. You might be able to use these were ducts can be run easily between two or three rooms and use high wall units, that you are probably used to, elsewhere.

That looks like a pretty home. At first, I warmed to the idea of exposed ducts in a mod-looking house. On second look, I am not sure I'd like it. From one pic, it is hard to tell how to handle it. Is that soffit space near the ceiling to the right in that hallway picture? If it is, couldn't duct go in there? You might be able to hide a small AHU above that closet (or is that a laundry?). Another option might be to widen that support beam with a hollow addition on the side for duct space inside. Make it look like the whole thing is a beam. I would not be afraid to partially hide the ducts either. I've seen that done in buildings that are not homes. A partially-open ceiling can be treated to make the ducts much less noticeable, but keeps the ceilings more open-feeling. What I mean is to cosmetically extend the exposed rafters in the hallway downward and run the ducts through openings cut in the cosmetic extensions. If you can figure out how to make the extensions structural, you could cut through the rafters near the ceiling, but don't ask me now that might be done.


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RE: Help me refine what I need (so or for the length)

Thanks for the feedback... I'm veering more and more to having the ductwork in the crawlspace. There are no soffits, and nowhere I'd want them. I don't think we want to mess with the main beam, might be hard to see on the photo, but the look of the single piece of wood is really stunning in real life.

Since were in the country, I think about all of the extra cobwebs that would gather around the exposed ductwork, and that doesn't sound too great to me.

There are four bedrooms, two baths, open / combined family, dining and kitchen. We will likely combine two of the bedrooms into one. As a matter of fact, we may combine the four into two and a laundry room. I don't love laundry in the kitchen.

Did I mention this is a project house?


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