New A/C - 3 Ton

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Hi, I live in northern Louisiana and I've got a 16-year old 3 ton Central A/C with electric heating. My wife and I got married in 2005 and moved into our current house (about 1200 square feet; built in the mid 1970's) and twice every year during the summer we've had to get R-22 put into the unit because of coil leaks (typically once in April, once in August). We've also had to pay very high heating bills and it hasn't even been that cold around here.
I would like to get a new unit for the house, something that's more efficient than what we've got now. There's a local guy that comes and charges up my A/C and he told me that new SEER-13; 3-Ton unit with a heat pump should cost about $3500 with installation (that was the estimate he gave me last year). I haven't crunched the numbers yet but I'm hoping that the amount that I would save on a monthly basis would help offset the cost of the unit because I'd like to get it financed if I could.
Here are my questions:
1.) Would it be better to replace the coil in my current system and just keep chugging along until the thing breaks completely? The A/C guy told me that the coil is one of the most expensive components of the unit and that if I replace the coil I should probably replace the whole thing.
2.) I've heard good things about the heat pumps but are they really that good? I think the A/C guy quoted me about $2800 to $2900 for a conventional system w/out the heat-pump so I'd be spending $600-$700 more. Just for reference; my December, January, and February electricity bills have been $250, $270, and $290 respectively. so if a heat pump really does reduce the heating costs by a significant amount then I could see where this would add up for me.
3.) Do the above prices sound reasonable for a 3-ton; 13 SEER Unit w/ Installation?
4.) Are the newer units efficient enough to where a modern 2 Ton unit could do the job of an older 3-ton unit or is that not the case?
Any insight would be greatly appreciated,
Josh
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Inline reply...

In your area you should be operating a heat pump to save on your utility bills!

You can forget what you he told you LAST year, prices have went up like everything else in the world. You might want to look into a higher S.E.E.R. unit since you live in a warm/humid/southern climate.

Operating a Heat Pump over your straight electric heat is going to save you a LOT of money in operating costs.

No, it's time to replace the COMPLETE system and start saving money. Not only will you be saving on operational cost, but you will not be having to call for service twice a year to have it repaired!
Plus, the new unit will be sized correctly (requires a Manual J 'load calculation') and you will have a WARRANTY to boot.

Yes they are THAT good. Just think what you would do if your electric bill was cut in half? Heat Pumps operate anywhere from 2.0 - 4.5 COP with an outdoor temperature of 0 - 65 degrees F.
What does that mean to you? A COP of 2.0 means it's two times as efficient as straight electric. A COP of 4.5 means it's 4.5 times as efficient as straight electric.
Electric Heat $100 Heat Pump 2.0 COP at 0F = $50 (50 % savings!!!!)
Electric Heat $100 Heat Pump 4.5 COP at 65F = $22.22 (77% savings!!!!)
Like those figures? I thought you would. :-)

They sound cheap, especially at TODAY'S costs. Remember things have drastically went up in price. The fact that no one here can SEE your home over the internet also adds complication to the proposal.
Cheap now doesn't always equate to cheap in the long run. Find a competent HVAC company and do your homework.

The installing company needs to do a load calculation, otherwise, EVERYTHING is a guess. Remember, your unit is 16 years old... what has change to the structure in those 16 years?
Insulation, room additions, new windows, new doors, new screen doors, smaller windows, more windows, etc, etc?

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Thanks for the professional response.
For you guys that work in the field it may be difficult for you to understand how totally foreign it seems for a homeowner to with a HVAC contractor. Unless you find someone who flat out lies, you have no idea what information that you are getting is valid. The guy that bought a truck last week and gets units from e-bay often comes across as legit to a homeowner who buys a system once or twice a decade. It's even worse if you just moved into an area.
Many of us lurkers aren't trying to screw someone out of an honest wage, just trying to become a more knowledgeable consumer.

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TH wrote:

hopefully to save themselves a lot of money. I need to use streaming audio to relieve the reading chores however, the free Realproducer software is causing upload problems. <http://www.udarrell.com/proper_cfm_btuh_duct_sizing_air_conditioning_systems.html http://www.udarrell.com/proper_cfm_btuh_duct_sizing_air_conditioning_systems.html - udarrell
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wrote:

and hopefully, Udarrell, with any luck, you will teach all the customers in your area well enough that you will be the first one to go out of business and starve your family to death. Good Luck Bubba
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Bubba wrote:

A little consumer knowledge might increase your business, because they might not be satisfied with insufficient performance. I am hoping it will cause contractors' & techs' to get the test instruments they need to do the proper tests to know whether there are any problems that need attention. - udarrell
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wrote:

Well, have at it but maybe think of it this way. You buy a new car (or truck). Its totally electronic. All kinds of idiot lights, sensors and warning devices, instrument icons and the likes. All of a sudden it starts mis-firing or not starting or banging or whatever the hell. Are you really going to start educating yourself on how to work on your own automobile?? Hell, most of them even make something as simple as changing your own oil difficult. Now you've got to reset the "oil life" warning on your dash. Personally, I dont have time for such silly shit. At 3,000 miles I take it to get the oil changed. The rest gets done per the scheduled maintenance in the owners manual. Bubba
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Bubba wrote:

fix their HVAC problems. I should make it more clear to them that they should NOT attempt to service any part of their heating or airconditioning systems. In nearly every case it is foolhardy & very dangerous, plus being illegal due to violating various codes. Some awareness could be helpful to HOs and might contribute to the consumer finding better qualified contractor techs'.
Concerning auto techs servicing cars, the cruise control finally went bad on my old buick. I replaced the burnt out brake light in the rear window, however that did not fix the problem. I checked the fuses & all were good.
A few weeks later I stopped by a large well established GM Service Center & they confessed to me that they troubleshot a buick for over two hours before they discovered it was the burnt out brake light in back window. They must have a wiring diagram of that model and plenty of instrument to easily trouble shoot that problem.
Therefore, tell me why they could not pinpoint the component failure, even if it were a section of the wiring circuit. Yes, they can easily check the vacuum components. How could it take them over two hours, when I checked the brake light bulb immediately & it did not light also the brake switch has to be checked.
It is now my belief that everyone should ask intelligent questions concerning how they are going to locate the source of the problem, and then watch the service tech perform the trouble shooting process. Over two hours of fruitless labor charges is NOT something I want to pay an authorized (this case - GM) auto service center to do! - udarrell
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wrote:

The problem is most dont know what or how to ask. You are forgetting......that is not their field. It is ours. Perhaps they are a lawyer and dont have the first clue about schematics and electric. Maybe its a housewife who knows nothing except how to grow big boobs and breast feed. Maybe its just the ol grandma who has lots of money (or not) and doesnt have the first clue where a light bulb is. It is there job to find a good company and spread the word. It is OUR job to BE that company and make their hvac experience a great one. Again a perfect example of why Flat Rate is good. Then they can spend 3 days diagnosing it if they want. Its still just a diagnostic charge and whatever the repair is (if they are honest). Nothing wrong with intelligent and informed customers. Its just my impression that you seem to want to teach them. Maybe Im wrong? Bubba
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Replace the oxygen sensor--( it's almost *always* the oxygen sensor )..
If that doesn't work, then suggest try replacing the spark plugs and wires.
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| and hopefully, Udarrell, with any luck, you will teach all the | customers in your area well enough that you will be the first one to | go out of business and starve your family to death. | Good Luck | Bubba
Ah, so that is why you give absolutely no useful advice. Why are you even here?
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He's here to troll for the likes of you
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To fuck with stupid idiots like you that happen to carelessly fall through the skylight we keep patching here. Now go piss on a rope you little dweeb. Bubba
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Thanks everyone for your responses; I think its pretty obvious at this point what I need to do.
One last question; I've heard that it is cheaper to get a new central unit in the fall; should I try to make it through one more summer to try to save money on the unit? Of course i'm looking at the expense of two service calls; two charges of R-22; and the associated energy costs of running through another summer with an ineffcient unit. I'm not sure it would make sense but I thought I'd still pose the question.
Thanks!
Josh
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Do you want to lose weight today, or after Summer?
WHY, would you want to spend MORE money on a POS that you are going to replace ANYWAY??????
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Why would you want to deprive yourself of the many benefits of a new comfort system when you've already decided you need to replace the old one?
Not the least of which is reduced energy bills.
Don't worry about the price being a couple of bucks cheaper in the fall.

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On 20 Mar 2007 07:41:34 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Josh, Here's a clue for you. My air conditioners and furnaces are not any cheaper today or tomorrow. Usually, in fact, there is a price increase sometime after the start of the new year. Sometimes, even 2 price increases. Ive never seen my suppliers give me a cheaper price unless its a scratch and dent or something like that. Now every once in a while they run a deal where you get free 6 months same as cash or they give me a humidifier or some sort of promo like that. Johnstone usually puts together a pkg price with Goodman equipment where they give you basically everything you need but Goodman is cheap no matter how you get it. There are no free lunches. It just that sometimes they throw in the pickle with the sandwich. Bubba
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You could call your local company, and ask.
Also, please consider this. If you offer to sign the contract for the system replacement in the fall, they may give you a better price on the two top offs.
--

Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
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Stormin doesn't have a clue about the business of doing business
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