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Old 09-01-2012, 10:56 PM   #1
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what brand of A/C - Heating Unit should I buy?


I live in southern calif. I have natural gas forced heating only with ducts already installed. Two story 1950 sq ft home built in 1965. I used to do insulation years ago so I have been in my attic and sealed all ducts years ago. I wrapped them with insulation so I think I am going to just need a new unit and maybe a larger electrical panel to replace the original 100 amp panel I currently use. I was looking for suggestions on what brand units to buy or look for when getting prices. Then I will look for someone to do the install. I don't want to bring someone over to my house and have them give me a price and not be able to talk about the reason I want a certain brand versus what he might want to sell me.
I have been working on my house since 1986 when I bought it as a fixer upper so I have done a little bit of everything when it comes to remodeling. My heater is in the closet on the 1st floor with the make up air coming from under the house.
I live in this 5 bedroom house by myself because my 3 kids are grown up and gone. I am 59, retired and will live here possibly the rest of my life as I like the area. I don't ever go upstairs so all of my time is spent on the 1st floor. I know it probably doesn't weigh in much on what brand to buy but I was trying to paint the whole picture of how the home is used. Any thoughts?

Last edited by Pawl; 09-01-2012 at 11:37 PM. Reason: forgot some other information
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Old 09-01-2012, 11:53 PM   #2
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what brand of A/C - Heating Unit should I buy?


You're asking the wrong question. You should be asking which contractor in your area is the best.

When it comes to equipment, what do you want? Single stage, two stage, variable speed, heat pump, what?

What can you afford to spend? 5K? 8K$? 10K?
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Old 09-02-2012, 12:01 AM   #3
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what brand of A/C - Heating Unit should I buy?


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I am currently reading older posts to get more educated so I can answer these questions you pose. I can spend 10k if needed to get a good product with install. Are you suggesting I create another post asking which contractor is the best in the northern Orange County area of California or is what I just posted here enough for someone to see it?
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Old 09-02-2012, 12:13 AM   #4
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what brand of A/C - Heating Unit should I buy?


You don't need an entire new thread, just keep this one going. We will all see it.

What I would do if I were you is get on Craigslist for your city and under services offered/skilled trades search for "HVAC" and call and find a few. You'll go through many nincompoops for sure, but good ones should be on their as well. That or Google search "HVAC Contractors" in your zip code. This site is pretty small compared to the rest of the entire world's population but it won't hurt to ask. If you do do Craigslist be up front about wanting a quote as most times they'll be free. Plus you can meet the techs and whomever you feel comfortable with would be a good lead.

What you then do is ask about quotes and the differences in equipment, ask your neighbors what they have and how they like it, who they used, their experiences, etc..

All of the equipment will get the job done, the install from a professional and experienced company is what determines how well. You can spend 10K for a top of the line system and not have it perform nearly as well as your basic/standard builder grade equipment.
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Old 09-02-2012, 12:43 AM   #5
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what brand of A/C - Heating Unit should I buy?


For starters Doc I noticed in your post regarding someone in Arizona asking about two stage AC units. You suggested a single stage unit considering they don't deal with humidity. Do you also feel the same way with California? I dont deal with humidity here. Is a single stage going to have a noise issue through any of the ducts or the closest ducts to the unit or when shopping am I looking for some type of identification with a brand of unit that signifies it is one of the quiet ones?
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Old 09-02-2012, 08:58 AM   #6
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what brand of A/C - Heating Unit should I buy?


All a/c systems deal with humidity. If you do not need specific attention to that detail living in Southern Cali than any old single stage will work. It's all up to you. The higher the SEER rating, the lower your electrical bill will be and that's the cut and dry of it all. Two stage and variable speed systems are higher SEER (efficiency, cost less to operate) systems.

As for noise, that's all in the install as well. Outside of low speed (dehumidification), that is. But all is not lost as you can buy an X-13 single stage blower motor which is super quiet and highly energy efficient. Certain Payne units (furnaces) come with them installed. I'm sure others do as well but I'm familiar with Payne. Payne, btw, is made by Carrier.
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Old 09-02-2012, 09:16 AM   #7
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what brand of A/C - Heating Unit should I buy?


As Doc said, brand isn't real important. The install is though.

Check your area for its requirements. Some areas of Cal have higher efficiency requirements then the fed gov has.

If your area is a low humidity area, then a higher air volume works well for not reducing the humidity too low.

Ask what ever contractors your calling out if they are proposing air handlers/furnaces with ECM, or VS blowers. I believe your electric rates are higher then most areas. So this is important for cost of operation.

2 stage units are comfort units/systems. Although they can save you some more money on cooling. Its only because they tend to help keep the RH down better. but if you already have low RH in your home, you won't save more money.

Might want to look at systems that use a 14 SEER condenser that when matched to a VS blower get 15 or 16 SEER as a system.
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Old 09-03-2012, 06:03 AM   #8
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what brand of A/C - Heating Unit should I buy?


Some of the top brands that are usually used are York, Trane, Lennox, and Carrier.Among this trane is the best that i am using since 10 years.
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Old 09-12-2012, 06:36 PM   #9
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I am also in S. Cal and looking to do a similar project. I agree with a lot of people here saying that brand is not a major issue. The installer is more of a matter. Almost all brands provides low, mid, and high end models. Different level of the system carry different warranty too. I believe that's something that you will need to look out for too.

Besides York, Trane, Lennox, and Carrier, I would also like to add Amana, which carries very good warranty.

I agree with BeenThere.....Might want to look at systems that use a 14 SEER condenser that when matched to a VS blower get 15 or 16 SEER as a system. That's an ideal system that I am looking for too.

You mentioned you are at 1st floor most of the time. For that, you may consider install manual dampers or do zoning. Zoning is a lot more expensive option.
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Old 09-14-2012, 05:10 AM   #10
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what brand of A/C - Heating Unit should I buy?


A AC unit is only as good as the person who installs it. Doesn't matter about brand. What matters is are you comfortable with the Co and are the installers green or qualified. I've replaced compressors on almost all major brands this year due to plugged condensers,voltage issues,incorrect charge.
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Old 09-14-2012, 08:07 AM   #11
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what brand of A/C - Heating Unit should I buy?


American Standard has a good reputation for quality equipment but as stated nearly every manufacturer has different levels of products and all the savings with higher seer numbers and fancy gadgets etc. often is lost when it comes time for repairs. But no matter what brand or how much detail on the install, if it isn't maintained neither of those are very important.

I have a good friend in the HVAC business and this picture is all too typical . The old Chow dog knows to lay just in front of the return grille to scratch his fleas but the home owner doesn't have enough knowledge to keep a filter installed. We can only imagine what the coil looked like because he didn't send me a pic of that.

Sometimes I believe this type of thing is just a lack of knowledge plane and simple and I just can't help but feel for those folks.
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