Heat Pump shopping

   #1  

MarkV

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The heat and air system in our house is 37 years old so it is time to go shopping. What kind of questions should I be asking as I look at proposals and estimates? I hope some of our HVAC professionals will jump in as well as you that have done research in the past.

The house is all electric and we live in the reasonably mild climate of N. Georgia. Without any type of gas available a Heat Pump is the most likely type of system we will look at. Geothermal is out of our price range unfortunately.

Thanks,
MarkV
 
   #2  

timswi

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I would impagine a heat pumpw would work well in your part of the country..I'd still have some sort of a backup furnace though.

My heat pump does very well down to the mid-low 30's.

Get the highest SEER rating that you can afford.
 
   #3  

Bird

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Our Rheem heat pump is on its eleventh year. I sometimes wonder how long to expect it to last. Of course, we've only been here a bit over 4 years and so far, so good.
 
   #4  

Sigarms

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1. Get at least three quotes. There is a good chance you'd want to stay away from the lowest quote, particularly if it is real low compared to every one else.

2. HVAC contractor should do a heat loss heat gain on your home to determine the proper size unit for your home. He can do this at your home or take the information and do his figures that night.

3. HVAC contractor should get back to you no later than the next day.

4. The HVAC contractor should ASK YOU numerous questions pertaining to any past issues or complaints about the previous system, and give you ideas of how any past problems can be solved.

5. The HVAC contractor should at least give you two options, the "good and better" at least, and expain the difference between the two (probably variable and non variable speed, which could also increase the systems performance/ratings.

6. Due to the age of the duct system (assuming it's as old as the last system) the contractor should NOT offer you anything higher than a 15 SEER unit UNLESS he is also quoting you to replace your existing ductwork as well (sit down for that quote). Chances are you have some duct leakages (which the contractor may want to fix).

7. The more detail the quote, the better. Keep in mind, you can have two quotes that could vary by more than 5 grand, and the one for 5 grand more may be worth every penny depending on what needs to be done. The good contractor IMO explains to why his price is what it is. To replace just a heat pump and air handler will cost substantially less than than replacing the heat pump, upgrading the electric, putting in two more supply and return runs and installing a media air cleaner and replacing the lineset (which is recommended when going from R22 to R410A instead of just flushing).

8. Stay away from any HVAC contractor who "bad mouths" another line of equipment that they don't handle. The fact is, most problems with HVAC systems can usually be traced back to sloppy instals. Some guys like to use the cheapest silver solder available (about a $30 difference), however, on an R410A system, that $30 bucks the contractor just saved could cost you a $2,000 bill five years down the road. Another fact is that there is no manufacturer out there that hasn't had some problems or issues in the past. Name the equipment and in the past somewhere there was a tech tip on something the factory has found. Go with a "higher line" per brand name, and you could be paying a pretty penny after the 10 year parts wrty expires for an OEM part. Go with a "builders grade" line, and even an inexperienced person could see what the differences are in the "build quality".

9 The contractor should at least let you know that you can qualify for the federal tax credit by hitting 15 SEER, 8.5 HSPF, 12.5 EER with the system (usually with variable speed, but some lines will do it with an X-13 motor).

10. Contractor should offer you a labor wrty as well IMO, which I highly suggest you consider, as long as you know it's a reputable contractor. Yes, the compressor may have a 10 year warranty, but have it go bad in the eighth year, and you will still be spending a big buck on labor to replace it.

11. Go with the contractor who has made you felt the most comfortable and has explained everything that you have asked questions on. Personally, I rarely go with the highest quote given to me, nor do I go for the lowest quote (sometimes you need to run if it's so low). You want to ensure that the contactor stands behind his work. Don't be afraid to ask for references.

Our Rheem heat pump is on its eleventh year. I sometimes wonder how long to expect it to last. Of course, we've only been here a bit over 4 years and so far, so good.

Example on past issues. Rheem had MAJOR issues due to leaks on their indoor coils some time ago. Such a problem, that some guys swore off Rheem/Ruud (same equipment, different logo). Just a little while ago they had an issue with some X-13 motors in package units. One manufacturer currently has some major reversing valve issues (keep in mind, most of these parts are not made "in house" and are actually made by another company). Two others recently had a bad rash of TXV's. The list can go on and on.

As I tell people, it's not the equipment, but the people who stand behind it:D

Put it to you this way, there isn't a piece of equipment made today that shouldn't work if installed properly. Keep in mind however, that some equipment is louder than others. This could be a problem if the outdoor unit is right outside your bedroom window.
 
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   #5  

dex3361

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The heat and air system in our house is 37 years old so it is time to go shopping. What kind of questions should I be asking as I look at proposals and estimates? I hope some of our HVAC professionals will jump in as well as you that have done research in the past.

The house is all electric and we live in the reasonably mild climate of N. Georgia. Without any type of gas available a Heat Pump is the most likely type of system we will look at. Geothermal is out of our price range unfortunately.

Thanks,
MarkV

Be aware that you will need to get a unit with a seer rating of at least 14 to get the 30%/$1500 max rebate on energy efficient home improvements. I had a rheem(8 seer) that I just replaced this summer that was 22 years old. It was still working fine it was just time to replace it on my terms. I chose a Goodman(14 seer) 3 ton unit. Most heat pumps are set up to have back up resistance heat and that is the way I went. I live in WV and I am satisfied with the performance of the heat pump.
 
   #6  

windy acers

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CARRIER USES THERE OWN FREON CALLED PRUEON. IT WILL WORK WITH COLDER OUTDOOR TEMPS. MAYBE OTHER BRANDS NOW USE SOMETHING SIMULAR. MINE IS NOT CARRIER WILL NOT GO BELOW 35 DEGREES.THIS IS THE 6TH SEASON. TEMPSTAR 1400 SQ FEET WELL INSULATED 2TON. FEELS BEST ABOVE 40 DEGREES.
 
   #7  

Sigarms

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Be aware that you will need to get a unit with a seer rating of at least 14 to get the 30%/$1500 max rebate on energy efficient home improvements.

Correction, on heat pumps, it is a 15 SEER, 8.5 HSPF and 12.5 EER rating.

It is 30% up to $5,000. So, if you put in a ductless mini split that may run you 3.5 grand, your tax credit would be $1050.

I'm guessing you had a SSZ14 Goodman outdoor unit with an AEPF variable speed air handler with TXV if you qualified for the tax credit (using R410A).

Please keep in mind, the "rating" on the outdoor unit really does't mean that much. For example, just because you have an 18 SEER outdoor unit, there is a good chance you are only getting 16.5 SEER out of it due to the indoor air handler/coil even with an ECM motor (variable speed).

And yes, I know *&*%$ homeowners who will argue that they paid for a 14 SEER unit and since it says "13 SEER" on the outdoor unit, they "demand" that it says "14 SEER" on the unit.

That is why they have AHRI matchups.

CARRIER USES THERE OWN FREON CALLED PRUEON.

"Puron" is nothing more than R410A.

Been out since the mid 90's.

Since it is now illegal for the manufacturers to build residential 208/230 single phase equipment using R22, EVERYONE has equipment with R410A.

It is however still legal to sell exisitng R22 systems.

However, guess whats going to happen with the price of R22 compared to R410A? :D

I chose a Goodman(14 seer) 3 ton unit.

Well, since I busted on Rheem... Goodman is probably the loudest unit out there with a single stage compressor(14 SEER does use a sound compressor blanket unlike the 13 SEER). Outdoor units seem to rust quicker than some others, screws strip really easy, and currently they are having some issues with their fuseable links in their strip heaters (made by somone else).

My only point is that there is no "perfect" piece of equipment.

You can get some real high end stuff that is nice (such as Carrier/Bryant's infinity system or Nordynes IQ drive), but you'll pay dearly for it, and when the wrty goes out, hang on for those parts bills.

Also keep in mind Carrier is Bryant, Rheem is Ruud, Amana is Goodman and Carrier owns ICP which builds Tempstar and Heil, and Ducane builds Lennox's Air Flow brand (because Lennox International owns Lennox industries, ADP, Heatcraft and Allied Air, which Ducane is a subdivision of) and Nordyne is Frigidiare, Gibson, Tappen, Westinghouse, Maytag, NuTone (to name a few) and York owns Coleman and...well, hopefully you get the point.

Like I said, it's not the name of the equipment being put in, but the skill and knowledge of those installing it.
 
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   #8  

dex3361

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Correction, on heat pumps, it is a 15 SEER, 8.5 HSPF and 12.5 EER rating.

It is 30% up to $5,000. So, if you put in a ductless mini split that may run you 3.5 grand, your tax credit would be $1050.

I'm guessing you had a SSZ14 Goodman outdoor unit with an AEPF variable speed air handler with TXV if you qualified for the tax credit (using R410A).

Please keep in mind, the "rating" on the outdoor unit really does't mean that much. For example, just because you have an 18 SEER outdoor unit, there is a good chance you are only getting 16.5 SEER out of it due to the indoor air handler/coil even with an ECM motor (variable speed).

And yes, I know *&*%$ homeowners who will argue that they paid for a 14 SEER unit and since it says "13 SEER" on the outdoor unit, they "demand" that it says "14 SEER" on the unit.

I stand corrected it is 14 seer only if it is a package system the split system must be 15 seer.
 
   #9  

Sigarms

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I stand corrected it is 14 seer only if it is a package system the split system must be 15 seer.

I should of been more speciffic myself, apologies.

However, keep in mind, on a package heat pump, it also has to "hit" 12 EER and 8 HSPF. The SEER rating alone will not qualify you.

Keep in mind, if you go dual fuel, as long as you have a 95% AFUE gas furance (variable OR non variable speed without an AHRI matchup) you will still qualify on the gas furnace which means it dosen't matter what SEER heat pump you install. Just that the contractor will have to make up two invoices, one for the gas furnace, and one for the heat pump.
 
 
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