Carrier, Heil, Trane a/c - there's got to be a difference

Hi,
I see from prior postings that people think it makes little difference what brand of a/c you go for, provided the installer is good.
well - I have just gotten quotes for a 2 zone replacement of air handlers and condensing units (ie 2 new condensers, 2 new air handlers + pipework, limited duct adaptation)
The best price I can get for the Carrier systems is $13,586 after all rebates. For the directly comperable system from Heil I've been quoted $8600! ($8000 for the Freon version). OK the Carrier is "15.5 SEER" and the Heil is 14+ SEER, but that doesn't account for the $5K difference!
It can't be just $5K for the brand label? c'mon, someone must have some independant info on the different value-for-money, reliability, quality of these various systems? anyone?
(I also got Trane, ?Lennox and York to quote. York (PSE&G) never showed, Trane dealer promised a quote but never bothered to send it, ditto for the other guy, so I can't give equivelent prices for their stuff, despite trying)
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You're dealing with various independent dealers who set their own prices and make their own estimates. Some of them need work and quote low, some of them are too busy and quote high, sometimes very high. So there can be quite a bit of price variance that has *nothing* to do with the quality of the components or the installation.
A shrewd contractor will never dismiss a request for quote when he is too busy, he just quotes a price that is high enough to get him interested. Many people are too lazy, stupid, busy, and/or rich to shop around.
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I just tracked down the "cost" of the carrier units the rep quoted. It amounts to approx $7500 max (http://acforsale.com/online/default.php?cPath0_43_81 ). That means they are allowing for $6000 in labor, pipework, and profit. Sounds way OTT.
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Not questioning your method, but how did you go about contacting the companies that you did? Did you look in the yellow pages and call a Carrier dealer, then a Heil dealer, etc? What you need to do is ask friends and neighbors who they would use and then call them, find out what brand they carry, and then go from there. Get at least 3 different companies to give you QUOTES (not estimates). If 2 of them carry the same brand, then it's easier to compare. You are correct in saying that the installer is more important than the brand. You can buy the most elite/expensive line out there and if the installer used poor "methods", it can die a short and tragic death.
We sell Carrier, American Standard, Rheem, Armstrong, and several other brands. At one time I would say that some brands are better than others because of the warranty the mfg offered. Just about all of them are now offering 5 years parts and 10 years on the compressor. So what's a consumer to do? Again: Ask your friends and neighbors who they would use and get at LEAST 3 quotes from 3 different companies.
Can't say anything about the price because different areas demand different price structures.
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This is Turtle.
Now you are learning about Salesmanship.
Carrier is the parent company of Heil and both are being engineered by the same design group. So Carrier and Heil being the same company, what designs would you think they would make different. ZERO ! So would you want to pay $5K more for a different name on the box ?
now forget all this shopping spree but the most inportant thing there is in the hvac buying business is the Installer must be a good installer or all equipment it nothing but trash.
TURTLE
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My Carrier rep assures me Carrier has nothing to do with Heil, it's just that Carrier's parent owns both, and many other companies besides. I just found the Better business report - it has Carrier listed as "unsatisfactory":
http://search.buffalo.bbb.org/nis/newsearch2.asp?ID=1&ComID 41000057100593
Heil is a brand of International Comfort Products, LLC. They have a "satisfactory" report from the bbb:
http://data.middletennessee.bbb.org/commonreport.html?bid 623
Then again, Carrier has a far bigger market share, so maybe it is going to get more complaints just from the volume...
.... still none the wiser.
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At the risk of making this a converstion with myself, there's more...
"In the U.S. four compressor manufacturers offer products for use in residential air conditioners: Bristol (a division of York), Copeland (a division of Emerson Electric), Tecumseh, and Scroll Technologies (a joint venture between Bristol and Carlysle, which itself is a division of Carrier). Bristol and Copeland are the dominant firms. Bristol's product line is limited to reciprocating compressors, which use pistons to compress the refrigerant. Reciprocating compressors have the longest history and have a reputation for reliability. Copeland offers reciprocating compressors, but is known more for its line of scroll compressors. Instead of pistons, scroll compressors use interlocking helixes to compress the refrigerant in a continuous action. Tecumseh and Scroll Technologies are less prominent. Although it offers both types of compressor, Tecumseh supplies mainly reciprocating and rotary compressors in smaller air conditioners and refrigerators. Scroll Technologies is effectively Bristol's scroll division and is capable of supplying only scroll compressors." (http://www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/residential/pdfs/chap8_mia.pdf)
The Heil is using the same Copeland compressor.
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<In my best Johnny Carson voice>
"I did not know that!"
(You sure, turtle?)
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It seems Turtle is right: "Carrier Corporation brands include: Carrier, Bryant, Payne, and ICP brand names Airquest, Arcoaire, Comfortmaker, Heil, KeepRite, and TempStar."
see:http://www.appliancemagazine.com/editorial.php?article 2&zone=1&first=1
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We used to install Heil. You can still go to houses that have Heil units installed (20 years ago) and unitl you get right up on it (and read the tag) you don't know WHAT "brand" it is. Heil made:
Tempstart Heil Whirlpool Sears Montgomery Wards
Anyone in the business knows which units I'm talking about (those green "horseshoe" shaped ones.
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Oh yeah, I just changed one of those out. Almost ruptured myself loading into the truck. I didn't realize how heavy they were.

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Awkward as hell too!! They are a lot easier if you leave all of the screws in it.
How bout those early 80's round (trash can) Carriers that they bolted to the round cement pad??!!! I carry a sledge hammer just for that reason....
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Uh-huh. Someone there before me replaced the contactor. They didn't put even one screw back in the cover. I almost fell on my bum when the cover popped off in my hands.

things and they are still running. Inefficient as all get out, but they're running....

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wrote

This is Turtle.
I could always be wrong about most anything but here is what i've seen lately. Carrier in my area moved out and just left. I had to now order control boards and relay boards on Carrier equipment. I talk to the ArcoAire warehouse about these boards of carrier and this is what he said. I wanted a board for a Carrier on a gas furnace and he said here let me see the numbers on the board and match them up on a arcoAire furnace. He plugged in the numbers on the board and it fit 15 different Arcoaire gas furnaces and the number was exactly stated from the board. i had some other board numbers from Carrier in my pocket book for numbers and every number that the carrier board was there was the same board that fit the Arcoaire board. I had about 8 or 10 carrier board numbers and Arcoaire had all them using them on the equipment. Now any board more than 5+ years old was different numbers but the same exact board carrier or arcoaire was using.
Then we started going with door switches, safety shut downs,defrost boards and found Arcoaire had everyone of them that carrier had. The ideal here is the TSH for a heil gas furnace had a type number on it and the carrier TSH had the same number on it.
Then the Arcoaire warehouse fellow told me that when he has trouble with a furnace or equipment to advise him. He calls ICP and Carrier Information Control Center. If he just gives the part number , sometimes they will ask him what brand is it , ICP , Bryant, or Carrier.
So when i go to my ArcoAire warehouse to get all my Carrier parts. It just make me think strange things like they are all engineered the same. Also have you looked at a Carrier , Bryant, and a Arcoaire condenser lately ?
TURTLE
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In 1998, we had 2 Carrier Heat Pumps put in our new house. A 3.5 ton and a 2.5 ton with FK4CN var spd air handlers and full insulated hardduct in a 2800 sf one level home. It cost right around what theyre quoting you now for your job but yours already has the ductwork.
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Thanks, that's a really useful benchmark for me. That works out to roughly 16K with inflation. My price is after 1700 of rebates - so it's really 15286. I believe ductwork is expensive, ie I would *guess* it would account for maybe 1/3 of the job - roughly. That's another indicator that I'm being overcharged for the Carrier. On the other hand, I've seen some worrying info on heil:
http://groups-beta.google.com/group/alt.hvac/browse_frm/thread/2bee05f45d1149f7/533fe6aed3d3026e?lnk=st&q=heil&rnum=4#533fe6aed3d3026e
It sounds like i need to get another couple of dealer's carrier quotes to see how much I'm being 'overcharged' for the same equipment.
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