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Old 06-14-2016, 03:15 PM   #1
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New AC/Furnace - Need help deciding options.


My 24 year old house has an original Lennox furnace (whisper heat) + AC. The AC definitely needs to be replaced, It has no freon and a crack in the coil. Along with it's age I can't justify $1,000 for the coil.

I recently received several quotes.. the top two companies and quotes are as follows:

1) full TRANE system:
- XR16, 3 ton 16 SEER AC.
- Variable XV95 Furnace, 2-stage, 3 ton (95% efficiency)
- they suggested to keep my old coolant lines from AC to furnace.
- 53 month, 0% finance.
- ComfortLink II XL850 thermostat
INSTALLED PRICE: $7,390.55

2) full LENNOX system:
- XC14, 3.5 ton 14 SEER AC (up to 16 SEER, what they would set it as)
- 80% efficient furnace (need to get model #)
- they would replace coolant lines with new lines.
- not many finance options (12 month handshake), possible 4% plan can be setup.
- White Roger thermostat (not color, looks older.. will get model #)
INSTALLED PRICE: $6,200

It would appear the main difference between the 2 is the 80% vs 95% efficient furnace. The other difference being the brand Lennox vs TRANE. I have all original ductwork (that I plan to keep) and am not looking to spend more than I have to.

Will the 95% TRANE furnace be harder to work on IF a problem comes up? Any recommendations you would suggest? Which setup looks better to you guys (for the price)?

I had another company come out (they do Armana brand) and they suggested ALL of the add-ons:
- Easytrap for furnace (for condensation) [furnace is right next to my ejector pit.. why would I need this?]
- Thermal Expansion Valve (regulate coolant) [was told this is built right in compressor on TRANE/LENNOX..why would I need this?]
- Filter Drier (keeps oil and particles separated) [again, was told this is built into the TRANE/LENNOX]
- Compressor Saver (gives the power that it needs when turning on) [other companies will do this for no extra charge, but say they normally don't install this]
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Old 06-14-2016, 03:36 PM   #2
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Re: New AC/Furnace - Need help deciding options.


the packages aren't equivalent.

There's no reason to get a mid-efficiency furnace in a heating dominant climate.

Sizing not the same either.

Forget the company offering the add-ons.

The txv is a moving part that can fail so I would avoid it. You can get 13 or 14 (maybe 15) seer with a fixed metering device, called a piston or fixed orifice.

Filter drier isn't an add on.

"Compressor saver" sounds like a hard start kit; you don't need it unless you get a txv (which stops the pressures from equalizing when off) and the compressor is the reciprocating type.

Be sure you know what you're looking for before hand.

Do you want a 80% or 90%+ furnace?

Do you want two-stage/variable speed or not?

Do you need a 16+ seer a/c or will 13 do just fine for your climate.

There are lots of options, not just what Mr. dishonest high commission sales guy wants you to buy.

Be informed or be ripped off.
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Last edited by user_12345a; 06-14-2016 at 03:41 PM.
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Old 06-14-2016, 04:02 PM   #3
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Re: New AC/Furnace - Need help deciding options.


Quote:
Originally Posted by user_12345a View Post
the packages aren't equivalent.

There's no reason to get a mid-efficiency furnace in a heating dominant climate.

Sizing not the same either.

Forget the company offering the add-ons.

The txv is a moving part that can fail so I would avoid it. You can get 13 or 14 (maybe 15) seer with a fixed metering device, called a piston or fixed orifice.

Filter drier isn't an add on.

"Compressor saver" sounds like a hard start kit; you don't need it unless you get a txv (which stops the pressures from equalizing when off) and the compressor is the reciprocating type.

Be sure you know what you're looking for before hand.

Do you want a 80% or 90%+ furnace?

Do you want two-stage/variable speed or not?

Do you need a 16+ seer a/c or will 13 do just fine for your climate.

There are lots of options, not just what Mr. dishonest high commission sales guy wants you to buy.

Be informed or be ripped off.
Thanks! I just finished reading your replies in DIY-her's post and you really provide a lot of good feedback.

I believe my current unit is 3.5 tons but I will need to double-check that when I get home. I think the quotes were supposed to be for 3.5 ton also so I have a call into the company that gave me a 3 ton quote to ask why.

We only use AC 3-4 months here in NW IL (it's always cold) but the humidity is nasty. I was told 14-15 would be fine.. the 16 seer was due to the energy credit making up most of the difference. I wouldn't go past 16 though.

The company that recommended the 80% unit has a VERY good reputation in this area. His advice was that it's easier to fix and work on, and that he didn't feel I needed a 95% efficient unit. I like the "idea" of 95% efficiency but the more advanced and costly parts of those units is of a concern.

Does the 2-stage refer to the blower in the furnace? I read that you suggest the best bang for the buck is a "single-stage with a variable indoor blower" but I wasn't sure the difference. 2-stage refers to the 2 power levels I believe.. but the blower can be variable whether you have a 1-stage or 2-stage, correct?
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Old 06-14-2016, 04:07 PM   #4
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Re: New AC/Furnace - Need help deciding options.


Quote:
Originally Posted by user_12345a View Post

There's no reason to get a mid-efficiency furnace in a heating dominant climate.
I live in NW Illinois and this is a good thing to take into consideration since I use my furnace a lot. My parents live 10 miles from me and just replaced there unit with an 80% efficient unit and they seem happy but this comment has me really thinking.
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Old 06-14-2016, 04:10 PM   #5
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Re: New AC/Furnace - Need help deciding options.


Looks like you have a lot to dig into here. I'll weigh in on one thing, whether you go 95% or 80% furnace I recommend a 2-stage VS unit that gives longer lower speed run times for additional comfort but still has the high stage when it is cold enough to need it. That doesn't add too much complexity and they are very reliable.
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Old 06-14-2016, 04:15 PM   #6
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Re: New AC/Furnace - Need help deciding options.


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Originally Posted by raylo32 View Post
Looks like you have a lot to dig into here. I'll weigh in on one thing, whether you go 95% or 80% furnace I recommend a 2-stage VS unit that gives longer lower speed run times for additional comfort but still has the high stage when it is cold enough to need it. That doesn't add too much complexity and they are very reliable.
So you're suggesting go with 2-stage over a single stage?

I wasn't sure what you were referring to when you stated a "unit that gives longer lower speed run times for additional comfort".
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Old 06-14-2016, 04:16 PM   #7
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Re: New AC/Furnace - Need help deciding options.


My furnace is OK for the most part.. I know I will need to replace it eventually though. Wold it be a big mistake to just get the AC now and do the furnace in a year or so? I was reading that you ideally want to replace the furnace first if only doing one, then the AC (since you will have the correct blower).
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Old 06-14-2016, 04:49 PM   #8
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Re: New AC/Furnace - Need help deciding options.


I just called one of the companies regarding the size of the units. He indicated ont he load test that my house came up as 29,227 BTU which puts me right at the borderline of a 2.5 ton.. but that I should get a 3 ton since it's too close.

My house has a 3.5 ton now so it appears after his load test I don't need another 3 ton unit.
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Old 06-14-2016, 05:50 PM   #9
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Re: New AC/Furnace - Need help deciding options.


The basic difference between the 80% and 95% is 95% has a secondary heat exchanger and components to drain the condensate.

Mid and high are mechanically the same; the only issues have to do with condensate lines/traps getting blocked, vents being blocked by snow if not installed high enough off the ground.

90%+ is worth the extra money in a cold climate.

Repair costs higher for 2-stage than single stage furnaces especially if u get a variable speed/ecm motor. The circuit boards and blower motors on these furnaces are more costly.

2-stage runs at around 66% capacity on low, quieter, heats more evenly. Gas use is about the same, possibly slightly higher.

The higher end furnace is great comfort wise and also boosts the seer rating so you can get a credit. More money to purchase and repair though; a little more complex.

What did the load calculation say for heating?
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Old 06-14-2016, 05:53 PM   #10
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Re: New AC/Furnace - Need help deciding options.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cjaustin81 View Post
I just called one of the companies regarding the size of the units. He indicated ont he load test that my house came up as 29,227 BTU which puts me right at the borderline of a 2.5 ton.. but that I should get a 3 ton since it's too close.

My house has a 3.5 ton now so it appears after his load test I don't need another 3 ton unit.

So did this contractor measure all the windows and doors in your house, and measure each room? or is he just feeding you a line, and sizing by sq ft.
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Old 06-14-2016, 07:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjaustin81 View Post
I just called one of the companies regarding the size of the units. He indicated ont he load test that my house came up as 29,227 BTU which puts me right at the borderline of a 2.5 ton.. but that I should get a 3 ton since it's too close.

My house has a 3.5 ton now so it appears after his load test I don't need another 3 ton unit.

So did this contractor measure all the windows and doors in your house, and measure each room? or is he just feeding you a line, and sizing by sq ft.
He used a laser measuring device in each room, counted all the returns, number of Windows, doors, etc. the other company did pretty much the same thing.

When I called today and he gave me the BTU for my house he had every room mapped out w numbers and indicated I had a room that was getting less air flow from the ductwork.
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Old 06-14-2016, 07:28 PM   #12
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Re: New AC/Furnace - Need help deciding options.


Some more info on the Lennox system I was quoted:

- Furnace => 3.5 ton Lennox sc280v, 2-stage, variable speed
- AC => 3.5 ton Lennox 14acx, single-stage
- Evaporator => Lennox cx34, cased w txv
- Control => White Roger 1F80-361
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Old 06-14-2016, 08:14 PM   #13
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Re: New AC/Furnace - Need help deciding options.


With a heat gain of 29k I would want a 2.5 or 3 ton a/c, not 3.5+.

The thermostat is a single stage, where on a 2-stage variable a 2-stage thermostat should be used. The only issue may be pulling a new wire, needs an extra conductor.

I would go for a 90% single stage before looking at the 80% 2-stage/variable. Pricing should be similar with the 90% 'er burning less gas.

The 80% is easier to install, no new venting. That's probably why you were quoted it.

We don't have anything below 90% any more.
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Old 06-14-2016, 08:22 PM   #14
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Re: New AC/Furnace - Need help deciding options.


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With a heat gain of 29k I would want a 2.5 or 3 ton a/c, not 3.5+.

The thermostat is a single stage, where on a 2-stage variable a 2-stage thermostat should be used. The only issue may be pulling a new wire, needs an extra conductor.

I would go for a 90% single stage before looking at the 80% 2-stage/variable. Pricing should be similar with the 90% 'er burning less gas.

The 80% is easier to install, no new venting. That's probably why you were quoted it.

We don't have anything below 90% any more.
Thanks. He said the Lennox 95% was $1,300 or so more if I wanted that. I can get a better number tomorrow from him. Come to think of it they didn't measure every room like the guys that recommended the 3-ton (and had the 29k reading). So now I will go back to the Lennox guys and ask how on earth he came up with his sizing without a complete load calc.

Aside from that, what are your opinions on trane vs lennox. Seems like I'm getting good parts w the trane deal for $1,100 more..
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Old 06-14-2016, 08:45 PM   #15
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Re: New AC/Furnace - Need help deciding options.


Have no idea about brand name vs quality. I think you should be good with either brand. (or carrier, or york, or rheem)

American standard BTW is the same as trane.

If the 95% equivalent is too expensive, explore the option of getting a less fully featured furnace instead.

To me the raw fuel efficiency is far more important than whether it's 2-stage or not or has a variable speed blower.

The big energy savings come from increasing the afue. Most of the energy is consumed in the form of gas, the fan is drop in the bucket by comparison.

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