HVAC System - Opinions on New System Install?

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Old 07-05-18, 02:06 PM
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HVAC System - Opinions on New System Install?

Hi Guys,

Wanted to get the opinion on the quotes I've received from a few local HVAC installers. The prices seem pretty high compared to the prices I've seen from sites like acwholesalers, and since almost every company says they can install the units in less than a day I don't think a lot of the price is going towards labor? We're in the Charlotte, NC area.

Here's the specs:
House is 3 stories and 4,058 sqft.
1st floor is just under 1,700 sqft, second just under 1,800 sqft, and third is just under 600 sqft.

Installers recommended 3T for the 1st floor, a 2.5T or 3T for 2nd floor, and 1.5T or 2T for 3rd floor.

Our present systems are the Trane XE1100 series and 3T, 2.5T, and 1.5T.

Our electric bill is out of control in the hotter summer months ($450-$500). So looking at going to minimum 14 SEER and up to 17 SEER units to get our electrical costs under control.

Our furnaces and run on propane. First year we were in the house, our highest propane bill was over $600 for one month. Since our AC units aren't also heat pumps, we were burning up money like...well, propane lol. After installing a big Century fireplace insert in place of our propane logs (which we never used), our propane bills were cut in half.

Questions

1) To help more with our heating, we thought that going with a hybrid AC system would be a good idea. Some installers recommended just going w/ the AC rather than adding the heat pump. The heat pump feature would add about $1k to the cost of the units, and some installers warned that the added wear wasn't worth the costs savings due to increased maintenance costs.

What would you guys recommend? New hybrid systems w/ AC + Heat Pump w/ Furnace for extremely cold nights -or- AC only w/ Furnace?

2) Prices have been all over the place. Smaller companies have been more economical. Here's some of the prices we've received (all are for Carrier units):

AC Only w/ Furnace - 3 ton, 3 ton, 2 ton
14 Seer: $18.8k 16 SEER: $21.8k

AC + Heat Pump + Furnace - 3 ton, 2.5 ton, 1.5 ton:
14 SEER: $23.9k 16 SEER: $25.4k 17 SEER: $34.2k

AC + Heat Pump + Furnace - 3 ton, 3 ton, 2 ton:
14 Sear: $21.5k 16 SEER: $25k

With ACWholesalers, I've seen the same sized units (although they were all Goodman and not Carrier units) go for $2-$4k each. Since the lines aren't being replaced, that means equipment costs should be b/w $6-12k, meaning I'm looking at over $10k in labor and miscellaneous material costs for 1 days work?

I'm guessing the carrier units are more expensive than goodman...maybe a lot more expensive...but one installer actually quoted the goodman equipment in his install, and the pricing was the same as the carrier units.

I was considering just buying the units myself and placing them where the old units are - then hiring some pros to come in and do the line brazing and handle the system checks, but after doing some research on Goodman - it sounds like all their products are junk. One installer even refused to install goodman b/c they won't make much on the warranty repairs - which they need pretty frequently (apparently).

So...how do those prices look to you guys, and what would you do?

Thanks in advance for any advice! It is really appreciated. I'd like to get this work done without having to get a home equity line of credit!!
 
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Old 07-06-18, 05:06 AM
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Nothing? Did I provide the wrong information?
 
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Old 07-06-18, 05:37 AM
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Its Hot we don't have a lot of spare time to be on here. 1st I hope they did a heat load so they know exactly what size units you need. 2nd I wouldn't be scared to go all Heat pump in Charlotte. Maybe put in a HP on the floor that uses the least amount of heat. You will have extra cost going straight HP with running elec to the heater. Pricing is hard to do over the internet but 1.5k per ton to up to 6k per ton is the range I see. When you purchase from the contractor it is going to be market up. Its profit. Its also warranty money for when that system breaks. They have to pay there employees. Have you asked these contractors to give you pricing for October? Could easily be 20% cheaper then.
 
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Old 07-06-18, 06:04 AM
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So not knowing where all the equipment, ducting, or rooms on each floor, is there a possibility of installing a dampered system for two of the floors?

Would at least eliminate one system.
 
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Old 07-14-18, 08:53 AM
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Systems offered

First, Goodman earned that rep on there own. I donít know why but we never buy them. I do mainly commercial but, 14 seer really??? Are you aware that thatís barely above minimum now right? Look towards something in the 20ís and an inverter unit. This way, when that 3 ton unit only needs a half ton of cooling, it ramps down the power consumption, saving you money. Lennox makes really good quality units. When you pay a lot, thereís a reason. That house you have is a McMansion... These heat pumps today can run down to below zero temperatures, and as quiet as a church mouse. Be aware manufactures make all level of units. American standard has Silver series, Gold Series and Platinum series. As you can imagine they all go up in cost... Nothingís free. You pay for what you get. Start with a professional heat load calculation being performed. When you get quotes, list specifics, name brands, trash removal, insurance, references... how long have they been in business. BBB complaints. Permits...who pulls them? Have a energy audit done, most places theyíre free by the power company.
 
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Old 07-20-18, 11:35 AM
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Hi Guys,

Thanks for all the advice! Iíll make sure to put it to good use.

Does anyone know if there are any worthwhile tax credits available for installing a more efficient HVAC system?

With regards to the heat load and energy conservation programs, weíve done both. All the techs that came out were within 1T on the overall system sizing. The energy audit was insightful, but the house is only 20 years old, so its relatively efficient.

I didnít think 14 SEER was worth a hill of beans, but thatís what everyone is pushing. Personally, I was hoping for an 18 SEER w/ 96% HFUE Furnace (I think HFUE was the furnace efficiency rating?). Of course, it seems like every +1 SEER you add, the price goes up about $500/per unit.....but you guys hit the nail on the head...you get what you pay for.

The last salesman did make a good point. You can spend the money up front or later on. If you get an 18 SEER instead of a 14 SEER, you might save 20% on your electric costs, but itís going to take a long time for the utility bills to cover the cost of the extra $1.5-$2k in system costs - per unit. In NC, our energy is pretty cheap (want to say $.09-.11/kwh) and weíre actually seriously considering installing a 5kW Solar Grid Tied System (since Duke Energy is considering raising our rates and they have a pretty sizable rebate for solar right now in addition to the federal tax credit).

Right now, the best quote weíve received is the $18.8k for 7 tons of cooling (~$2.7k/Ton), and thatís just for a 14 SEER. I guess thatís probably because its peak season (and as one of you guys pointed out...itís super busy )

I guess my only option at this point would be to buy and place the units myself and then have an HVAC come in to connect the electrical and braze the lines and charge/test the system pressure. The problem with the McMansion is it burns through money faster than my wife on Black Friday.
 
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Old 07-21-18, 07:14 AM
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buying the parts and placing them

many companies won't do that work, or they will calculate the equipment cost and insert their markup anyway. Then there is the fact they dont warranty anything but their work. Many companies that sell on the internet, have no warranty or limited at best. You'd better check to see if anyone would do the work like that first. Can you imagine the look on your car mechanics face if you handed him the brake pads, rotors and calipers for a brake job?
 
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Old 07-21-18, 10:10 AM
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You need a complete package system. The money that can be saved on internet purchased equipment and local installation isn't worth the risk. It would be different if you were installing, charging and servicing the equipment yourself.
 
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