Goodman/Bryant/Trane/Lennox?

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My 5 ton split system heat pump is in need of another $350 repair this summer to replace the defrost board on the condenser. I'm willing to spend the money, but the system is twenty years old, and the evaporator coils on the air handler are rusty and may not last another year. On top of that, the current system is a 10 SEER and was installed in a way that virtually everybody thinks is stupid because the condenser is a good 50 feet from the air handler, and there's probably 75 feet of run line between them.
So I'm thinking about replacing it with something all new that's more efficient. I know that the skill and intelligence of the installer are the most important qualities in determining how well an HVAC system will work, and how reliable it'll be. I'd like some advice in choosing a contractor that will do a good job.
That said, when my compressor blew out last summer, I stupidly paid $2500 to replace just the compressor, instead of biting the bullet then and replacing the whole system. The contractor who did the work offered a 10% discount on that work if I signed up for a $130 annual maintenance agreement (including two checkups), so I signed up and saved more than the cost of the agreement on that repair. The contractor seems okay, but I have to confess, I don't know how to tell. It took them four trips to finally figure out the reason my AC didn't run at night was because the defrost board was bad.
At any rate, my contract gives me a 10% discount off new purchases, too, so I'm thinking about using them for the new system if I can figure out if they're any good. Yesterday, a sales guy came out to our house and ran the numbers for some estimates. I got the fax this morning, and he's proposing Lennox, Bryant, Goodman and Trane systems, with prices ranging from just over $5k for a 13 SEER Bryant to just over $12k for a 15.9 SEER Trane. I'm getting estimates from other contractors, too, but I don't know if they're any good, either.
The guy who came out yesterday said that our current run line is too small in diameter and needs to be replaced if we want anything more efficient than 13 SEER. In addition, because the condenser is so far from the air handler, he's recommending moving the condenser closer to the air handler.
So, I know I'm coming here late, given that I've already got one set of estimates, but I have two questions:
First, how do I tell a good contractor from a yahoo? Is it possible to get a bad installer from an otherwise good contractor? Are there any contractors I should consider or avoid in Mesa, AZ? My wife is the one who's meeting the estimators at our house, and I don't know if she can tell how they're arriving at their numbers.
Second, assuming I found a good contractor and the quality of the installation wasn't an issue, how does a Bryant 16 SEER at just under $7k compare to the much more expensive Trane and Lennox models? Are Trane and Lennox worth that much more? I've gotten the distinct impression from stuff I've read here that many people here consider Goodman to be junk, but that they'd take a well-installed Goodman over a poorly-installed [insert name of favorite brand here] any day.
BTW: I believe the Lennox and Trane estimates involve new run line, but I'm not sure the Bryant or Goodman quotes do.
-- You lookin at me?
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first of all , call your local wholesalers and ask who they would recommend secondly a quick check of your local bbb might be in order also .
look for the guys who take the time to do heat load and cooling analysis and then inspect the entire system , including ductwork , to make certain all is adequate for the new equipment
higher seers are often money well spent , including the fact that you can now claim a tax credit on the higher efficiency stuff , you need to carefully compare energy costs versus equipment cost and try to amortize the money spent over the lifespan of the equipment . will you see enough energy savings to justify the extra cost , you are the one who will have to do the math .
finally , on the Goodman , Trane Lennox debate , ill probably get flamed , but i see nothing wrong with the newer goodman stuff
their first and second generation 80% furnaces were in a word , junk, but imho, they have tightened up their act , and seem to be turning out better stuff now , ive installed over a hundred in the last four years and have but a handful of warranty failures . the other thing i like about goodman is that they use standard ,readily a vailable honeywell and white rogers controls , lennox and trane do not, what this means to you is that down the road , when you need parts the likelyhood is good that parts for the goodman will be available and generally less expensive , its very hard to get parts for lennox's and trane's as they tend to be very proprietary, for example if your lennox dealer chooses not to keep the four hundred dollar fan control board you need in the middle of july , cuz he doesnt want to keep it in his inventory , then you will be stuck , while it gets ordered and shipped and furthermore , imho, lennox is overengineered overpriced stuff i call them lummox's , atta boy dave !!!!
flame me all you want fellas , but i have never had to go buy a special wrench to change an ignitor on anyhting other than a lennox, ever try to change the spark plugs on a pulse ???????? they seem to try to make it difficult and expensive to repair their stuff
im sure you will get plenty of opinions and sarcasm, but as you already stated, the best value you will get is anyhting thats properly installed ,
good luck

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No flaming from me... :-)

Hehe... like that $2000(?) condenser coil? LOL
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-- good post --

That's why you make "the 'O' face" when you get the bill... (Office Space, a damn funny movie)

Have you done the pressure testing on those beauties. Need to check the Diploma for the engineer that did that one...
It's Flapper time this fall for me (30 units)... LOL

Goodman will have to fight its way out of the cellar... IMHO
Joseph

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$350 for a defrost board? Must be a Lennox. Evaporator coils are rusty? Aluminum doesn't rust. 75 feet is stupid? Not if properly sized.

Get one that will do a manual J to size the system and a manual D to make sure ducting is adequite.

Intermittant problems *can* be a bitch...

$5 - 12 k??? Is the only difference (besides SEER) the brand of equipment?

Most likely true and *if* the new system is designed right, your lineset length will be ok.

Yahoo is on the internet and normally doesn't show up at your home. <g> Ask for references. AZ, I'd be careful if I was you...

They shouldn't be thousands more... and yes the installation is far more important!

No, but I am looking at your wife. And she's HOT!!!!!!!
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Date: 07/17/07 16:11:01 Newsgroup: alt.hvac Server: insight - netnews.insightbb.com
wrote in message
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ICP, molded plastic pans don't rust either. :-)

Had one that the lady said the unit was making noise... got there, everything was fine! I cycled the unit a few times and nothing. Just as I was telling her to try and see when it happens and what is going on with greater details... it started making the sound!
Yep, you guessed it, bad defrost board! :-)

Don't know, why didn't you?

Uh ok, are you willing to be the wife this time? LOL
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ICP, molded plastic pans don't rust either. :-)
do we know for certain he has an icp molded plastic drain pan ? this is 20 plus years old , icp been molding plastic drain pans that long ?

Had one that the lady said the unit was making noise... got there, everything was fine! I cycled the unit a few times and nothing. Just as I was telling her to try and see when it happens and what is going on with greater details... it started making the sound!
Yep, you guessed it, bad defrost board! :-)
lucky you !!!!

Don't know, why didn't you? gee , cant answer that one

Uh ok, are you willing to be the wife this time? LOL
uhhh. not !!!! you'll pick on anybody wont you ? im not sure how to take that kj, i was starting to think we you and i thought on the same level, but now im not so sure ??????????????
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I was giving you shit. But yes, ICP has had plastic pans for a very, very long time now.

LMAO
I had to blow you some shit on that one. :-)
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Any competent tech could easily jump out the defrost board during summertime.
--


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And could still end up with an intermittent problem, so what's your point?
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If your going to use the process of elimination for the troubleshooting of heat pumps then the defrost board seems to me a good place to start at least during the summertime.
--





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I don't guess... I diagnose!
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Fine then
Diagnose a bad defrost but have none in stock its easy enough to jumper it out.
The only part I'm still not getting is the part about the $350.
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Depending on the board, that price is not far from wrong.
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Well my opinion here is that any tech residing within the heating dominated climates should always push for retrofit to the ranco demand kit if for no other reason then just for the energy savings alone.
Esp when you consider that the replacement board retails for under $50
--


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Who is your source of supply??? I need some more boards, and would love to get them at 40% OFF
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Nooner,
Looks like maybe call these folks--though admittedly I've never purchased anything from them.
http://www.patriot-supply.com/products/showitem.cfm/25570
Back burner project, but I do got several unit here I would like to eventually get around to doing--so if you could at some point source suitable thermister sensors I certainly would appreciate...
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In case anyone following along is interested the below link is to Ranco's patent:
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4882908.html
( Best thing that's happened to heat pumps since the introduction of the reversing valve )
--




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I don't see anything wrong with $350 for a defrost board especially if its an OEM part. Thats a little more than I usually charge for the basic retrofit but some of those OEM boartds cost some money. I do agree that in the summertime on an old unit I always offer the customer a temporary jump out till the fall to buy them time for the price of the service call. Usually the main problem is the time delay on the board in the summer time.
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