Choosing between two estimates for A/C install


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Old 05-02-17, 06:57 PM
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Choosing between two estimates for A/C install

I know this is not DIY, except for the part about paying someone a huge amount of money, that counts as 'doing' something, I guess...

We own a split-level with central air for the top, about 1500 square feet. Current system is 35 years old and has a break in the condensate line that nobody wants to fix, and the system is old anyway, so we're going for a complete replacement.

Current system has an electrostatic whatsit for filtering that I believe Contractor #2 wants to remove and replace the whole thing.

Both estimates are from contractors with excellent online ratings and seem like upstanding folks. But I can't tell if one is better than the other -- and I thought the electostatic whatsit was a good thing ... one important thing, the 2nd contractor claims he can do the official MassSave inspection to confirm the existing system works, so I get the $750 rebate.

Estimate #1: Price when you include to the below replacing the run-offs and upgrading to the 16 SEER with 2 speeds: $10,800
Installation of new Bryant Central 13 SEER condenser and air handler
Equipment:
One (1) Bryant 3 Ton, Legacy Series, model 113ANA036BN0 13 seer condenser with Puron 3T. One (1) Bryant FB4CNF036L00 Fan coil alum 3T air
handler. New condensate pan, float and switch. New Condensate drain and pan.. Assorted supply air/return transitions.Charge new system with Puron
Refrigrant. New refrigeration line set. Assorted wiring materials and fittings. New Pad and whip. OPTION: One (1) Bryant 3 Ton, 16 SEER rating,
Preffered Series model 126BNA036000 condenser with Puron 3T. One (1) Bryant FX4DNB049L00 Fan coil 3T air handler.
Installation:
Work Included:
* Reclaim of existing equipment per EPA standards.
* Demo and removal of existing fan coil, air cleaner and condenser.
* Fan coil shall be installed at existing location.
* Fan coil shall be reconfigured to support proper servicing.
* Condenser shall be relocated (approximately 2) to meet clearance requirements from gas meter.
* Installation of auxiliary condensate drain pan with safety switch for fan coil.
* Installation of duct transitions to accommodate fan coil.
* Installation of return duct transition from existing plenum to new fan coil.
* All installed ducts shall be constructed of galvanized steel.
* Installation of new refrigerant piping.
* All exterior refrigerant piping shall be concealed in slim duct enclosure (brown).
* Installation of new condensate drains.
* New condenser pad
* Reconnect to existing power and control wiring.
* Thermostat shall remain at existing location.
* Start up and check of system.

Estimate #2: also $10,800
* Install a Carrier very high efficiency (16SEER) 3 1/2 Ton Central AC. 24ABC642.
* The Airhandler will have an ECM X-Motor for max efficiency FXDNF49L00
* The existing A/C system will be removed and disposed of.
* New Ductwork to go to the existing registers.
* Auxiliary Drain pan and A/C line to the outside.
* Manual control dampers installed on each supply line for room control.
* Reuse the existing electrical work.
* Aprilaire high efficiency aircleaner #1210
* Aprilaire Programmable Thermostat #8463
* Removal and disposal of old equipment
* 1 Year warranty on parts/labor
* 5 year warranty on carrier parts (10 year with Online reg)
Also, asked a follow-up on moving the unit, they will also move the unit to a premade plastic foundation a little farther from the gas meter.

Any key differences between these? I've been leaning towards the first for a week, but this second one just came in and looks to me like more work and a bigger system for the same amount of money. Though it's odd to me, a bit, that he wants to replace the trunk, nobody else suggested that.

Thanks much, very much appreciate any comments you can give.

GB

PS If anything, SEER16 is overkill on efficiency, I've got solar power that means during the summer it's all free.
 
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Old 05-02-17, 08:12 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Your location would be helpful in this discussion.

Pushing the efficiency envelope is a good thing but the repair costs can outweigh the benefits in the long run.
 
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Old 05-02-17, 09:52 PM
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I figure the MassSave thing means Massachusetts?
 
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Old 05-02-17, 10:12 PM
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Yes, this is Massachusetts.

Anything stand out as differences between the two, besides the size of the system?
 
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Old 05-03-17, 04:41 AM
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A couple of things regarding the second quote. The system includes a high-efficiency ECM blower motor. That's good and bad. The good is that it is very efficient. The bad is that these motors are notorious for only lasting ~5 years and then breaking down. Often, it's the thermistor in the control module ($3 part), however the replacement cost for the motor is over $1,000. I have one of these motors in my furnace, and if I knew then what I know now, I would have gone with a simple PSC motor.

The second thing is that, while you are getting a slightly larger system, bigger is not always better. If the system is oversized, it will only run for short periods of time and won't dehumidify the air as well as it should. FWIW, my 1400 sq.ft. ranch has a 2 ton A/C unit (25 year old Bryant) and that is sufficient to cool the entire house. You may want to ask the contractor(s) to calculate what size system you need. BTW, Bryant is made by Carrier, so both systems are really Carrier.
 
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Old 05-03-17, 08:03 AM
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Thanks, Bob. The system is a 2-speed which is supposed to be able to help with the dehumidifying thing. I posted this question on another forum and someone was harping that neither mentioned air sealing on the new ductwork ... is that an important thing?
 
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Old 05-03-17, 08:55 AM
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While air sealing should help, if the ductwork is designed and installed properly, there should be minimal leaking. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if properly designed/installed, it's not a big deal.
 
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Old 05-03-17, 11:12 AM
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One thing that confuses me is how estimate #2 replaces the whole hanging trunk while the other does not (and one new estimate I just received suggests that replacing it would cost $2800 above and beyond all other work). And do I really want to ditch my electrostatic whatsit? Part of me wonders whether contractor #2 plans on re-using it in another job. Paranoid, I know. Right??
 
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Old 05-03-17, 12:45 PM
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The electrostatic "thing" is likely an air cleaner (they are usually electrostatic). I'm surprised also that they are wanting to replace all of the ductwork. That normally isn't done unless there is either something wrong with the existing ductwork (falling apart), or the existing ductwork is too small to support the required volume of airflow.
 
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Old 05-03-17, 04:33 PM
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The system includes a high-efficiency ECM blower motor. That's good and bad. The good is that it is very efficient. The bad is that these motors are notorious for only lasting ~5 years and then breaking down.
I have ten years on the ECM in my furnace and never had a bit of trouble. This includes operation when the filter was severely plugged. From what I have read it is inadequate supply ductwork that causes an overload on the motor that contributes to their early death. Perhaps that is why a large section of existing duct is to be replaced.

Electrostatic (electronic) air filters are excellent in removing the smallest of particulate matter. Unfortunately, unlike a media-type filter the more dirt an electrostatic collects the LESS effective it becomes. The filter cells in an electrostatic unit NEED to cleaned at least once a month and every other week is not too often. Very few homeowners are willing to do this and so within a very short time the electrostatic filter becomes useless. A four or five inch thick media filter will do a very good job of filtering and allow for maybe twice a year filter changes. The media filters are NOT cheap, often running $20-$30 per element.

* Manual control dampers installed on each supply line for room control.
Manual dampers are NOT used for "room control" but are used to balance the airflow throughout the entire system. They are a good thing, often left out as a cost savings measure. A properly balanced system will run consistent temperatures throughout the house provided the ductwork is properly designed and installed.
 
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Old 05-03-17, 05:54 PM
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Three legged stools are more stable than two legged ones. Get a third estimate to break the tie and, at least, see which one is out of line or promising the moon.
 
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Old 05-04-17, 09:10 AM
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Actually, the ductwork replacement request is mostly on my part, there are some tears here and there but mostly I'm concerned about crap like mold building up in there given the somewhat foul smell that's come out in the past. Probably paranoid but I'm willing to cover the cost.

Thanks, all! I think we're going to go with #2. I got a #3 estimate that was in line with #1, it looks like #2, replacing the electro-whatsit (which I am not planning on cleaning monthly) may be the best bang for the buck.
 
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Old 05-05-17, 03:30 PM
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In MA U shouldn't even need 3-Ton of cooling for 1500-sf.
Use this Free load-calc & sizing.
HVAC Load Calculation - Maunualj - Whole House Loadcalc
 
 

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