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.
 
   #11  

kenmac

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Goodman has a large market share. If I'm not they are still the #1 spot

Trane is my 1 line nordine the 2 nd goodman my 3 rd
 
   #12  

Sigarms

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It's hard to stop a trane:D;)

Problem is once it does stop, God help you trying to get it running again.

I like to call you guys Tranewashed:D

On a side note, if you do go for a "tax credit" system, make sure that the HVAC contractor supplies you with an AHRI rating "match up" of the system. I'd suggest you make a copy of your invoice for the work and attach it to the AHRI rating sheet for your tax records.

See, if you go with a 14 SEER outdoor unit and a non variable speed air handler, you may only be getting 14 SEER. However, if you go with a variable speed air handler, you may actually get a 15 SEER.

Technically, the AHRI rating ensures that the manufacturer isn't "cheating" on what they are telling you what you should get since the ratings are done by a third party.

Example of an "official" AHRI rating done with Rheem equipment...

AHRI rating0001.jpg

Goodman has a large market share. If I'm not they are still the #1 spot

Last I checked Carrier is #1 and Goodman is #2.

nordine the 2 nd

Which Nordyne?

Broan?
Frigidaire?
Maytag?
Nutone?
Tappan?
Westinghouse?
Gibson?
Grandaire?
Philco?
Kelvinator?
Intertherm?
Miller?
Medallon?

You darn well better know your contractor number on their technical website:D LOL

In all honestly, I do like Nordyne. Air handlers are a nice size in small spaces, piston on some 13 SEER and most parts interchangable between brands. Good wrty to boot with the quality pledge. However... just like everyone else, they do have some issues:D Not to mention that out of 10 of the Nordyne names I've given, the only thing different about them is the name tag on the unit and perhaps some paint on their lower end units. Total BS marketing IMO, but you got to give them credit for going after the market share.
 
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   #13  

om21braz

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Hope you find a good unit at a reasonable price. Talk about inflation, basically the same unit I had installed 4 years ago has almost doubled in price.
 
   #14  

kyspartan

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ive got a 11 year old goodman heat pump, it is ok, just had to change the dual run cap on the outdoor unit and that is all i have done to that part, but as far as air hander goes. i would love to get my hands on the engineer who designed it with those thermal sequencers instead of normal relays, it is best to keep a few spare sequencers around, perhaps the new ones are better
 
   #15  

timswi

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I have American Standard..Both heat pump and strip heater...Both have had very few problems after eight years...Warranty was very good. Excellent HVAC contractor helps too.

Sorry about my original post, I thought that the contractor shopping was a given.

Others experiences with the contractor over the long haul is key.
 
   #16  

psj12

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I had my 1975 heat pump replaced with a variable speed Carrier. I used the power company home appliace sales (BGE home). They handled all brands so they didn't badmouth any and had good comparitive knowledge. They were about in the middle on their costs compared to other HVAC contractors. they showed me the size unit I would need and a comparitive cost of several brands and effeciency levels.

I didn't quite believe them but my electric bill for the last year and a half has been reduced by even more than they estimated. This is particularly true for cooling costs. My average summertime bill dropped about $90 and the winter bill $50.
 
  
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MarkV

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Thanks for all the replies and good information. Keep it coming.

We will be getting estimates from several contractors and know something about all of them. We will be getting at least the minimum efficiency rating to qualify for the tax rebate. If the costs are not to high we will look at even higher seer units. i don't think we will need to replace ducts but I'll wait to see what the contractors say. The duct work is in an unfinished basement so easily accessible. This is our last house and we hope to be here another 20 years so if we need to pay a bit more for a system that will pay it back we will.

Thanks,
MarkV
 
   #18  

jinman

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Mark, I would check with any contractor to make sure the evaporator coil/heating coil is coated to prevent "dirty sock syndrome." I have been fighting this for several years on my York system and have found that even after installing UV lamps above and below my evap coil, I still get the odor when the system goes into defrost mode. This year it has been particulary noticable because we have had so many nightime temperatures in the 20s. You can easily find a lot of info (both good and bad) by googling "dirty sock syndrome." UV is certainly not the complete answer. Coil coating seems to be the best solution at the moment.
 

jejeosborne

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I researched this forum HVAC-Talk: Heating, Air & Refrigeration Discussion - Powered by vBulletin and went with a Carrier Infinity system. If it is a zoned system I don't think it can be beat. The thermostat is the most configurable one you can purchase. You can control every setting on the system yourself and tailor it to you needs. Statistical data for run times on high and low are also very good to know. This system has pressure and temperature sensors in the ducts to control airflow using DC driven fan. I have had this system for 5 years and had no call backs.
Jeff
 

Kays Supply

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I know you are going with an electric backup heat pump, BUT, I have just had a York heat pump, LP gas backup ,system put in. It is the variable speed type. I have to admit, that I am a plumbing contractor that sells and installs boilers. That said , this system is GREAT. I strive for the least temperature sway with a boiler. This unit has almost no temperature difference from the set point. I can't get over how even the heat is. The down side is that I had to turn off the heat pump and run on staight LP. It blows warm air. I decided I would rather be comfortable instead of cheap. It won't maintain the comfort on HP setting. The other reason I went with the LP was that we are in the country and have power outages. I can run the LP heat with a very small generator.
 
   #21  

Bird

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Well, I said our Rheem was over 10 years old, and sure enough, the coils sprung a leak. So we're having a complete new Amana system installed today with a 10 year warranty on everything.
 
  
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MarkV

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Guess you never should have responded to my tread Bird. Looks like it brought bad luck. I assume you know about the tax credit for putting in a high efficiency system. There was some stimulus money that was given to each state in addition to the tax credit that isn't as well known about. Here in Georgia I am receiving $199 in the form of a debit card for putting in a new energy efficient air source heat pump. Take a look at what is being offered in your state. It is a one time thing until the money allocated to the state runs out.

MarkV
 
   #23  

kenmac

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Well, I said our Rheem was over 10 years old, and sure enough, the coils sprung a leak. So we're having a complete new Amana system installed today with a 10 year warranty on everything.



Amana is goodman. I've not had any more problems with goodman than with any other brand. Bird, Is that 10 yrs parts & labor or just 10 yrs parts ? 10 yr parts 1 yr labor is standard warranty. It's xtra $$ for 10 yr parts & labor..

Hope it's a R410 system as there is still some R22 equipment for sale
 
   #24  

Bird

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Amana is goodman. I've not had any more problems with goodman than with any other brand. Bird, Is that 10 yrs parts & labor or just 10 yrs parts ? 10 yr parts 1 yr labor is standard warranty. It's xtra $$ for 10 yr parts & labor..

Hope it's a R410 system as there is still some R22 equipment for sale

Well, they got a late start; didn't get here until after 4 p.m. so they're working on it now. And yes, I've heard that Goodman was good, but no personal experience, and everything I've seen so far is labelled "Goodman" instead of Amana. I haven't seen the word Amana on any of the equipment.:laughing:

But yes, there was about $300 extra and this company says everything is covered for 10 years; service available 24 hours a day 365 days a year, never any overtime or extra charge for nights or holidays.

And yep, it's R410A but it's an economy model, just SEER 13, 2.5 ton. They did measure the house and the windows, checked the attic insulation, double pane windows, number of people living here and all that good stuff for a (was it "heat load" calculation?). Of course it's just the two of us (and a chihuahua:)), and only 1,295 sq. ft. to heat and cool.

Their written warranty even says if, within 12 months, I'm not happy with it, they'll take it out, refund my money, and I can go with another company if I want to.

So it's the complete system, even including a new thermostat for a grand total of $5939.98.
 
   #25  

jinman

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So it's the complete system, even including a new thermostat for a grand total of $5939.98.

Good timing, Bird. If it had been the middle of August, you'd be hot, they'd be snowed under with work, and it might have been a lot more expensive. Even if they are a few hours late, it's better than waiting a long time without any AC. I hope everything works out well.:):thumbsup:
 
   #26  

kenmac

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They did measure the house and the windows, checked the attic insulation, double pane windows, number of people living here and all that good stuff for a (was it "heat load" calculation?)..



hard to say. Heat load calculation is a little more involved than that. They should have been able to show you the heat gain heat loss, designed temp. for your area , etc,etc,. http://www.heatload.com/unico/heatloadpreform.htm
 
   #27  

Bird

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hard to say. Heat load calculation is a little more involved than that. They should have been able to show you the heat gain heat loss, designed temp. for your area , etc,etc,. HEATLOAD.COM - Heat Load Calculation Form

Yep, it was a lot more involved than what I said. I just didn't go into details, partly because I ain't gonna claim to remember all of it.:laughing:
 
   #28  

Bird

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Good timing, Bird.

Jim, there is no such thing as good timing when you're talking about me spending that much money. But you are right that it could have been a lot worse timing.:laughing:
 
 
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