Heat pump replacement questions

I'm getting conflicting stories regarding replacing my heat pump.
It's 20 years old and it's time to send it off into that great freon cloud in the sky. It services a 1000SF rental condo.
Anyway, one guy has said he can replace the outside unit with a 10 SEER unit that won't neccesitate replacing the inside air handler. He wanted something like $2600.
Another guy has said the the code now requires a 13 SEER unit and this will mean replacing the inside air handler. He also mentioned the phasing out of the old freon which won't be available in a few years. He will get me a price in a few days as he said Carrier is backed up getting quotes to him.
I have a third guy due to look at it next week.
I know all about the SEER ratings but can someone clue me in on the issue of inside unit replacement regarding the 10 vs. the 13? and any other matters I should be concerned about?
Thanks,
Doug
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and any

First guy is a hack, second guy is a liar and possible hack. 13 seer is required. Period. R22, which is used now, will be around a long time. If second guy has to wait for carrier to qoute him a price he doesn't know shit.
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!3 SEER can no longer be manufactured as of January 23, 2006. Existing units still in stock are still legal to install, but why put in an obsolete unit with low efficiency. With electric rates going up, it makes sense to put in a high efficiency system, unless you get your electricity for free.
$2600.00 sounds awfull high for a low end outdoor unit. 1st guy is a hack and possibly a crook.
Heat pumps are sold as matched sets, changing just the outdoor unit, even if only 10 SEER, is not a good idea. I assume the indoor unit is 20 years old also, then it is at the end of it's useful life also. If you don't have a match recommended by the manufacturer, there are no certified ratings on the system, so using the old indoor unit over is a bad idea for that reason as well.
Stretch
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You mean 12 SEER and below, don't you?
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You mean 12 SEER and below, don't you?
OOPS! I meant LESS THAN 13 SEER. 12.9 SEER would not be legal to manufacture, 13.0 SEER would be OK to manufacture.
Stretch
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At the beginning of 2006 the minimum standard for manufacturers making residential HVAC systems became 13 SEER. Prior to that time it was 10 SEER. Installers can still sell 10 SEER units that were completed and in stock, distributor or manufacturer, prior to 1/1/06.
My advice - go to this site,
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_tax_credits
find out what will qualify for the tax credit, get quotes on a full replacement based on taking the credit and letting the lower energy bills pay for the balance of the unit. Be sure to select a unit that qualifys in SEER, EER, and HSPF. Sounds like you have a split unit and there are many that qualify for the credit.
The refrigerant change is not relevant at this time. The old refrigerant will be around and available for the service life of a unit that is installed today. You should be able to go either way without concern.
A qualified HVAC installer should tell you all of the above. If they are not, I would be concerned and would be looking for one who would lay out all your options, not just try to sell you the cheapest unit that might be last years technology.
Frank
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If it's not leaking and you're not adding freon, why bother replacing it?

If you want to replace it, now's the time. You can still get 10 SEER units, but your guy is a ripoff artist. He wants at least twice, what he should be asking. Assuming he does not have to rebuild half of the place to get to it. Your system must be no bigger than 2t.
Rich
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The inside unit and outside unit should be matched to get the best seer rating. There is also a "cheat factor" as I call it in the way some of the seer ratings are obtained. Varitable speed fans is one method of getting the seer rating up. Sort of like the car milage sitckers show. If you don't care about getting the maximum seer but just want a functioning system then the outside unit can be replaced if they can find one that will work with it.
There is also a tax credit that comes with the higher seer rated units.
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The outside unit should match the coil inside (sometimes it is inside the air handler). But either way, if you have to replace the inside coil to get it to match, you really shouldn't have to replace the whole air handler, just the coil itself.
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Maybe not, but with the motor and bearings around 20 years old and the newer units going to varitable speed systems you might as well replace the whole air handler.
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Doug wrote:

You've gotten bad advice twice, and several more times since from this group. Let me address your points in order: The $2600 quote may or may not be within reason. Depending upon the details it could even be a good deal. There are several factors that influence pricing, or IOW there is no set price with HVAC equipment as there is with automobiles, and this is because an HVAC system is not something that you come in, pick up, and walk out with. There are labor and transportation costs involved, and other materials. No two installs are identical, or to wit, some jobs can be a real PITA while others can be relatively effortless. Accessory equipment and parts must also be taken into account. Do you need a pad, disconnect, line set, t-stat, or t-stat wire? Was it a burnout? How's the access? These are just a few of the factors that figure in to the grand total.
Now that said, if it's running ok, then you would gain nothing by going back with another 10SEER condenser. If it isn't working, however, and not worth repairing, then you have the option of going back with a 10SEER condenser, but with no potential savings. You shouldn't choose that option unless you aren't going to be living there long or you simply don't have the money to replace the whole system. We can't provide a foolproof cost analysis because there are variables that are beyond our knowledge. Worst case is that the indoor coil fails and no replacement is available. In this case you'll be looking at replacing the indoor unit as well. This could occur anytime after the condenser is installed, 1 day, 1 week, 10 years, who knows? It's a gamble on your part, and there are odds that you could cost yourself considerably more in the long run by replacing just the condensing unit, or conversely you could end up with a considerably lower long term expenditure. We aren't gods, though there are several people who's faulty logic leads them to believe that "if something could go wrong, then it absolutely will". As a matter of experience this isn't sage advice, as I've seen electric air handlers last over 30 years on numerous occasions. One of those is in my own house. I don't intend to upgrade until I have to. If I had replaced my system with a 14-15 SEER system 5 years ago, then I wouldn't have saved a dime in the long run, and would contrarily have ended up with system that would in all likelihood not been as reliable as the existing system. More controls means there's more to go wrong.
Any contractor is going to recommend that you replace the entire system and upgrade to at least 13 SEER, not because this is what you "need", but because it's "what the odds say" is going to better for you in the long run. It doesn't hurt that it's also better for the contractor. It's a case of something that is in both of your best interests. Again, this depends upon your current circumstances and future plans with the residence. The code does not require 13SEER to be installed, it only requires that nothing less than 13SEER rolls off the assembly lines.
BTW, Carrier is in flux at the moment. The stocking and pricing issues have however been promised to be resolved soon.
Richard Perry
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Thanks for all the advice and help everyone.
Not wanting to muddy the waters in my first post I didn't mention that this unit serves a 1000 SF office condo. I didn't include that fact because the HVAC/heat pump/air handler setup is a 100% residential application. The condenser sits right outside the unit on a concrete pad and the air handler is right inside the unit with the typical wiring and freon tubing connecting the two and the typical condensate pipe going outside through the wall. The fact that the 1000 SF has desks in it instead of bedroom furniture I figured was irrelevant. I did however overlook the tax credit/deduction factors as it relates to residences but in any event the expense will be some sort of deduction or credit.
The history behind all this is somewhat interesting.
The heat stopped about three weeks ago and the guy came out (recommended by the boss) and gave the $2600 quote. I was on the verge of going with it just in the interest of keeping my tenant happy (they've been great over the years) when I got a call from the receptionist. Her boyfriend had looked at it (he obviously knows something about these systems) and found the fan had burnt out (I thought the emergency heat was working but this was not the case). Upon my authorization he replaced the fan (for a total of about $200 including the cost of the new fan) and the heat worked fine. I called the $2600 guy back and I think he was a little chagrined at that development.
Anyway, for those still reading, about 20 days later the heat stopped again. The boyfriend looked at it and said the outside unit looks shot. The boyfriend installed fan IS working fine however so the emergency heat IS keeping the tenant warm, unlike the first time.
I'm figuring that since the unit is 20 years old it might be time for a replacement instead of a fix. Since it's an office rental and the tenant pays the electric bill, I'm not really that concerned with super efficiency, just something reasonable. As part of this I'm going to call the boyfriend up but he's out of town until next week.
That's the story. Any additional insight would be welcomed and thanks all for your help.
Doug
Doug wrote:

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