It's that sad time to replace a furnace and possibly the A/C at the same time. I've done my googling of past threads and gathered bits and pieces, but thought I'd offer up my situation all the same. The location is Chicago, IL, home is a 15 year old 2-story colonial around 2300sf, with a 15-year old 100,000 BTU furnace and a 3ton A/C unit. Summers get hot and obnoxiously humid, but aren't that long. Winters are, well, Chicago winters.
I'd like some thoughts on the conceptual stories being spun by two quotes I've received thus far. Sadly, the two companies seem to have divergent advice on several points!
o Company A: a large well-respected 2-location Carrier dealer in Chicagoland that has a training budget and a large staff of technicians. Thought of well by every home inspector I've come across.
o Company B: The other company, a lesser known, a 2 co-owner Frigidaire dealer recommended by a friend who knows them very well. The friend is one of those sorts who can do ANYTHING to his house and just got done rebuilding it literally from the foundation up largely on his own, and chose these guys for HVAC.
1) Carrier vs Frigidaire. Carrier I've had and had pretty good luck with. Frigidaire...never even knew they did HVAC. Thoughts? I'm leaning heavily Carrier or Bryant on this one.
2) 80 vs 90% The larger Carrier dealer interestingly was recommending 80% for my 15-year old home. They said if it were new construction 90% would make a lot of sense to save on running a flue to the roof, but given that we already have one, it was probably more cost effective to go with 80%. The Frigidaire dealer said the 90% was the way to go with the number of degree days we have here in Chicagoland. I'm more inclined to lean toward 90% because I don't see energy getting anything but more expensive in the future.
3) Variable speed vs fixed speed fan. Carrier dealer recommended against variable speed for my ductwork. He did not recommend the variable speed motor for my ductwork because it went from square ducting to round ducting ,and something about the turbulence caused by the transition causing the motor to run at higher speeds for longer than it should--some mention perhaps of a sensor of some sort? How do Carrier's variable speed motors work?
The Frigidaire dealer was very pro-variable speed, although they couldn't seem to explain to me my question about "what dictates the speed the fan runs during a cycle? Is there a sensor? Is it timed?" They told me a lot about dip switches for setting mins and maxes, but never did manage to "get" that I wanted to know the control algorithm for the fan speed so I could make sense of maybe why they were all for variable while the Carrier guy was not.
4) Dual stage furnace vs single stage. The Carrier dealer, who'd ruled out variable speed based on my duct configuration, said a 2-stage would bring me more comfort and evenness of heating temp. The Frigidaire dealer wasn't pushing 2 stage since variable speed addressed the comfort issue.
5) 13SEER vs 15SEER. If it only cost $300 more, would ya do it? Carrier dealer had this option for mein the quiet Performance series (I like quiet given the configuration of my yard and its use i the summer). Both dealers seemed to feel the federally mandated 13SEER was plenty efficient for our area. In the Carrier dealer quote, I had 13SEER comfort and 13SEER performance options with a $300 spread between them for the better noise package. Another $300 gets me to 15SEER and quiet.
6) R410A vs R22? Carrier dealer recommended the R410A versions of their units vs the R22 as it was only $75 more to get the more eco-friendly refrigerant that'd be around for the forseeable future, plus the R410A units were a lot more reliable and had longer warranties because they cooperate with lubricants a lot better than R-22. The Frigidaire dealer was quiet on this issue as they didn't appear to have any R410A units available.
7) Do furnace and A/C simultaneously? Or not? One one hand I'd like to hold onto the $2500-$3500 the A/C would cost rather than dropping that into the bucket now. The Carrier dealer said I would only save about $250 in installatoin labor by doing them both at the same time. The Frigidaire dealer seemed to push at least replacing the A/C coil with the heater even if we waited on the outside unit. The A/C currently seems to work well now, though we do have a pretty good temp difference upstairs and down even when running our current single speed blower 24/7. I don't see a new unit making any difference in comfort, but we would see a few months of energy savings.
Company #3, another larger place, comes tomorrow.
Thanks so much for any thoughts or advice with these issues!
Best Regards, -- Todd H. http://www.toddh.net /