New Central AC Recommendations?

We live in Central Texas where temperatures stay in the 90's for half the year and are mild for most of the winter. Our current 4 ton York unit is 12 years old and starting to fail (freon leaks in the coil among other things).
We have had several different estimates for a new installation from local companies that vary considerably - all for units from different manufacturers. Though Carrier seems to be the most recommended brand online, none of these companies offer Carrier.
Instead we have been offered Trane, Amana and Fridgidaire. Amana is the cheapest, Trane much more expensive. Has anyone had experience with new installation of these brands in the past few years?
Is Trane worth the extra money for a similar SEER rating?
What other questions do you feel are most important to ask the installers?
Thanks,
Murk
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I went Carrier, and am delighted with it, but understand you wanting a local co., you may need service later on. A couple of things which made my install better: the contractor put in a 5 ton coil, it kicks up the seer a bit and just makes things run better (more surface area). He also installed a humidistat instead of a thermostat which runs the AC on low speed when the humidity climbs. The third bell / whistle, was an Autumn air filter, a huge pleated filter good for a year or more and very fine filtration, I've found the filters on ebay for about 1/2 the $35 they cost locally. Central TX gets pretty hot so, I imagine you could easily have a high seer unit pay for itself, I'd say I'm saving ~ $100 per month with the 18 seer during the hot months which here is pretty much March till November. My old unit however, was pretty inefficient, and would run all day and still lose the battle in mid-afternoon.
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I just had a 4 ton, 13 SEER Rheem installed. I realize this is not one of your possibilities. I did find a wide range of prices running from $3400 all the way up to $10k so it's definitely best to shop around. My installer said he actually prefers Rheem and others that are just basic units as the Carriers etc... have too many bells and whistles such that something is always wrong with them. I've always thought of Carrier as a good brand however. In any case, check the warranties of the various units and for me, I'd go with what's cheapest with the longest, most comprehensive warranty. Cheers, cc
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James "Cubby" Culbertson wrote:

You need to start from scratch. First, have a manual J heat-gain heat-loss calc done. Then, do everything possible to reduce the heat-gain! Have the entire ductwork checked for leaks and proper sizing for the new (perhaps smaller) central A/C size. Central TX should be a hot and dry climate therefore you will need to use high airflow through the evaporator coil; up to 475-CFM per Ton of cooling. Make those oversized coils absorb and discharge heat at near the BTUH Capacity Rating of the Equipment! A proper high quality installation is everything! Yes, Goodman equipment will work well when installed properly. Follow all the links below and read and Learn what you need to know. - udarrell
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Air Conditioning\'s Affordable Path to the "Human Comfort Zone Goal"
http://www.udarrell.com/air-conditioning-total-heat-enthalpy-latent-heat.html
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