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Ken Fitzgerald
06-07-2019, 10:47 AM
Last Friday we had our first over 90F temperatures for the year. We didn't turn the AC on until we were ready to go to bed. We awoke Saturday morning to a still hot house. I cleaned our electrostatic filter on the furnace/ac (it didn't need cleaning but did it anyway), restarted the ac with the same results, no cooling. In the fall of 2017 the main control board failed and it cost us over $300. Then in the spring, same situation, new control board cost us again but they did discount it a little. So we were into the furnace over $500. Now with the a/c has failed but the blower is working and so is the condenser motor so there is most likely a Freon leak somewhere within the system.Yesterday the high for the day was 59 F. So we turned the furnace on before we went to bed "just in case" . This morning abnormally I awoke at 0315 and got out of bed at 0415. The outside temperature was 49 F. The furnace did come on a few times in the next 3 hours.

This Lennox system we installed in 1994. 24 years out of a furnace/ac is respectable. It's time to replace the entire system. So I began researching HVAC systems. I love to research things to the Nth degree before making major purchases like cars, HVAC, homes, etc. Few things frustrate me more than the lack of credible information on expensive devices or purchases. With the invention of the internet, there is an incredible amount of information and misinformation available to people/consumers these days.

I started researching on Saturday and finally by Sunday evening I determined I wanted to one of the premium brand ac/furnaces again. I was satisfied to get 24 years out of my previous purchase. Sunday evening I reached out via "Contact Me" at websites for 3 local dealers for 3 of the major premium brands. By noon Monday I hadn't been contacted so I started calling them directly. In the end, 2 dealers came out of get measurements, took photographs and said they'd get back to me with estimates. One guy said if he got the contract, it would be mid-July before he could install it as he had 41 to install. I informed him we had company coming and we needed it before then. He left and never did come back with a bid. I know his boss/owner personally. I sent a lot of commercial business his way with regards to MRI and CT scanner cooling systems for local hospitals. The next time I see the owner, I will let him know I wasn't given a bid.

Another dealer came out, got information said they'd be by Tuesday, called to say they were delayed and finally showed up Wednesday with a well crafted bid/contract. Though it was the most expensive bid, it wasn't so out of line to render it out of consideration.

Another guy came out Tuesday, got the measurements, asked questions, made some really interesting suggestions and came by Wednesday with a bid/contract.

A 4th guy came out, got measurements, when I told him what I wanted for AFUE on the furnace and SEER on the A/C, he proceeded to tell me that he agreed with my AFUE for the furnace but wanted to sell me a 13 SEER AC instead of a 16 SEER I indicated I wanted. He got really aggressive, informed me that I would never recover the difference in price. He arrogantly tried to impress me with his experience his qualifications, and began telling me if I was his father, he'd sell me a 13 SEER so he wouldn't have to worry about his father's AC. Now, with that statement he told me to my face I was an old guy I can see that in the mirror daily and don't need reminding. He never returned with a bid and it's just as well as I won't be doing business with him. We have some unusual climate locally and I had to take those into account when recommending water chiller specs for MR scanners. Every "reasonable" site I checked recommended a minimum 14-15 Seer AC for our area. I elected to spec a 16 SEER. I don't think a 16 SEER is too far out of line. Beyond that, after explaining that fact I might not recover the difference in price, if I want a bigger engine in my Chevy and it's a Chevy offered option, sell me the bigger engine! I won't complain if I don't get the gas mileage I expected.

So on Wednesday afternoon, I ended up buying a new system with a 2 stage gas furnace with a AFUE of 96% and a single stage 16 SEER AC. Our old furnace was a 80% AFUE and our old AC was probably a 8-10 SEER. I may see a decrease in natural gas usage in the winter. If it lasts as long as it's predecessor, I doubt I'll be here to see it happen.

The frustration for me is wading through the misinformation to get to the useful information so one can make an informed purchase...on cars, homes and HVAC.

Today they come out to clean our ducts and the installation begins on Monday morning.

Lisa Starr
06-07-2019, 2:28 PM
I understand your feelings. Our home, which was built in 1838, was uninhabitable when we purchased it. One of the things we wanted was in floor radiant heat. You can't imagine the amount of contradictory information on the web and from the various HVAC companies. I had and spent months sorting thru the data figuring out the truth and then developing the heat loss calculations, tubing layouts, equipment specs etc.

Hope you like you new system after they get it installed.

Bruce Wrenn
06-07-2019, 2:31 PM
Because the very few days you use AC, a 13 SEER isn't unreasonable. Instead of a furnace, with AC, I would have went with a heat pump / gas furnace. To get 16 SEER, manufacturers do all kinds of things, variable speed blower motor, run before/past blower settings, twin compressors, where only one comes on till load increases requiring more heating/ cooling, variable speed condenser fans, all of which drive both the price and complexity up. I went thru this last year, before settling on a 8.0 -8.5 heat pump, with a 14 - 15 Seer cooling. Last winter we used the electric back up strip heat, but will change over to a hydronic coil fed from domestic water heater. Because we don't have natural gas, propane is our gas fuel. There is a high pressure gas transmission line on the other side of the road from our property, but the distance in from road makes it cost prohibitive to hook up.

Ken Fitzgerald
06-07-2019, 3:50 PM
Bruce,

We will use our AC from mid-June through September. We get a 4-6 week period where we will experience 95-105F daily.

Ken Fitzgerald
06-07-2019, 3:54 PM
I understand your feelings. Our home, which was built in 1838, was uninhabitable when we purchased it. One of the things we wanted was in floor radiant heat. You can't imagine the amount of contradictory information on the web and from the various HVAC companies. I had and spent months sorting thru the data figuring out the truth and then developing the heat loss calculations, tubing layouts, equipment specs etc.

Hope you like you new system after they get it installed.

Lisa, I wanted radiant floor heating for the floor in my shop. I don't have water in the shop and the city made it impossible for me to afford the type of design the heater/boiler would have to have to install radiant when I was building the shop. Instead, I have a 75,000 btu Lennox hanging natural gas furnace that works well and isn't too expensive to operate. My shop is well insulated.

Mike Cutler
06-07-2019, 4:27 PM
It's good that you stuck to your guns Ken.
I didn't 10-12 years ago when we re-roofed the house, and I'm paying the price now!!

Lee Schierer
06-07-2019, 7:50 PM
Ken, I believe you made a wise decision regarding going with the 16 seer unit instead of the 13 seer. We all know electricity costs are only going to get higher. You can plug in your local electrical costs at this savings calculator (https://kobiecomplete.com/cool-tips/seer-savings-calculator/) and determine the savings between units. If you lived in PA, the savings would be as shown below:
411036

Jim Becker
06-07-2019, 10:27 PM
I agree with Lee. That was a very good selection. If you have not done so already, check with your utility company and see if they have any rebates available for your upgrade...I've managed a few hundred for the house system and over a hundred for my MiniSplit in the shop that way.

Ken Fitzgerald
06-07-2019, 10:36 PM
There is a $300 rebate for installing a high efficiency natural gas furnace (90% or higher) and a $80 rebate for a variable speed motor.

Ken Fitzgerald
06-07-2019, 11:20 PM
Ken, I believe you made a wise decision regarding going with the 16 seer unit instead of the 13 seer. We all know electricity costs are only going to get higher. You can plug in your local electrical costs at this savings calculator (https://kobiecomplete.com/cool-tips/seer-savings-calculator/) and determine the savings between units. If you lived in PA, the savings would be as shown below:
411036

Lee I used a SEER calculator at one reference website that I felt was unbiased and knowledgeable. Plugging in the Idaho state electric rates and the SEER rating of the new AC it states I should save $120 annually. The difference in savings between a 13 SEER and 16 SEER was $35 annually. So in 15 years, I should recover the price difference.

Larry Frank
06-08-2019, 7:11 AM
I agree with going to the higher efficiency unit. I did this several years ago and very pleased with the savings.

When getting quotes, there was a huge difference in the quality of the quotes. One of mine said that some of my main trunks were undersized and could not carry the needed flow. With the higher efficiency and new ducts, our house heats and cools excellently.

Jon Grider
06-08-2019, 2:17 PM
I'm not sure Michigan has as many high heat days as Idaho, and we probably have higher average humidity so your purchase was probably a wise one for your area in the long run. When I replaced ours 4 years ago, I talked to 4 different AC installers, 3 of which were recommending a 13 SEER unit. The contractor we went with said that one way the new high efficiency units save energy is by not extracting as much moisture from the air as the lower SEER units, along with the measures Bruce mentioned above.
I know we have some miserably humid days here in the Great Lakes area, and yes southern tier states you have my sympathy but as they say "It's not the heat but the humidity" or as Arizonians say "Yes, but it's a dry heat."

Kev Williams
06-08-2019, 3:10 PM
I have a question- how does anyone really know how efficient any of them are? I'm asking because I've been googling for an hour, trying to find actual power usage specs on AC units-- ANY AC units. There's no actual testing among brands and/of seer figures I can find. The closest any advertising comes to specs for amps or watt usage that I can find is the circuit breaker you need. I've read thru a few 'top 10' reviews, best I can tell their reviews are based on nothing more than the sellers advertised specs. Me, I like a little more proof than the mfr's word for it ;)

Ken Fitzgerald
06-08-2019, 3:21 PM
Kev,

If you have time start at this link: https://www.pickhvac.com/central-air-conditioner/ .

Larry Frank
06-08-2019, 8:48 PM
My system monitors humidity in the house and if get too high but temperature is cool enough it run a cycle to reduce humidity.

Andrew Gibson
06-12-2019, 4:59 PM
A couple years ago my wife and I replace the 21 year old AC system in our house. We went from an undersized SEER 10 to a SEER 15. Our electric bill dropped by $40 a month from May to October, and $15-$20 a month the rest of the year. The year before we replace all the single pain windows with insulated units, and while we did not see a big difference in temperature we did see a huge drop in noise level.
We were amazed by the difference the day the new unit went in, the old 2.5 ton unit struggled to maintain 78 degrees and ran 24/7 most of the summer. The new unit will keep the house at whatever temp we set it to. We also have one of the Nest thermostats which send the system into an away mode when we leave the house and lets us run fairly complex schedules.

Ken, I can't believe the AC companies were trying to sell you less efficient units, the only thing I can think of is they had them sitting around and they were trying to get rid of them. I actually kicked a window salesmen out of my house when getting bids... it was not a fun evening.

Ron Citerone
06-12-2019, 11:08 PM
Good for you Ken. I can't comment on the numbers because I really don't know, but you are the one paying so you should get what you want.

Ken Fitzgerald
06-12-2019, 11:27 PM
Well, in fact, I got it, bought it and yesterday evening they completed the installation of a 16SEER AC and a 60,000 btu 96% gas furnace. Today it reached 96F but I had the thermostat set for 74F and there it stayed. I worked outside until 5:00 p.m. and it sure was nice to come in to a cool house!

Interestingly enough, the guy who argued with me, who is the owner of that company, didn't even send me a bid after he came out, measured, argued his point and left. It's just as well as he wouldn't have gotten the contract. Maybe he figured that out during our "discussion".

I couldn't have been happier with the installation. They did a good job of installing it and a great job of cleaning up their messes after they were finished. A local regional medical center was one of my major customer accounts before I retired. The young guy in his 30's who did the install was the son of the head of the engineering department there. His dad and I are friends. Like his Dad, he did a good job in a friendly manner. The installation manager saw my surname and address and dropped by to visit. I hadn't seen in nearly 35 years since he played little league baseball with our youngest son. I was unaware of these 2 guys working for the company I chose before I signed the contract and wrote the down payment check.

diaz jonathan
06-19-2019, 2:25 PM
Few times facing small problem in our AC so we have to know few idea: https://finalscope.com/ac-troubleshooting-tips/