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Old 07-20-2009, 03:57 PM   #1
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Worth it for Central Air


Hi all,

Been at my place for a few months now and the girlfriend and I are having a debate whether or not a Central Air system would be worth it for us. We live in Winnipeg, Canada which means we would only employ the AC for 3-4 months a year. Plus we live in a modest 1100 sq ft single floor house and so a stand alone unit may be the more efficient route.

However, I would really prefer going with the central air as I do not want a bulky unit in the house or sticking out of a window. Plus, a central air system shouldn't be too much considering I have the ductwork already installed for the heating furnace, right?

Right now she is winning the debate on the grounds of cost efficiency and so any suggestions that could sway the argument my way are welcomed and appreciated,

John

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Old 07-20-2009, 04:22 PM   #2
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Worth it for Central Air


Hey John,

I live in Alberta and have family in Winnipeg. When we visit in the summer, all I can say is I am damn glad they all have Central Air. So what if you only use it for 3 or 4 months, what is your comfort worth.

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Old 07-20-2009, 04:36 PM   #3
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Worth it for Central Air


I live in Winnipeg and with the lack of Summer so far am questioning moving South. LOL. Actually a central unit is worthwhile as it does get hot and humid for long periods of time most Summers. Standalones are noisy, inefficient etc. Central A/C adds value to the house. There are some good deals on R22 units if you are strapped for cash but a R410 unit is better. R22 is being phased out next year. You are looking at $3000 to get started. Buy a good name brand and not some cheap knockoff from Mex*co etc. Buy one with some protection/grills on the sides to prevent hail damage to the coil or you may be sorry. The Lennox 13ACX is a good entry level unit. http://www.lennox.com/products/overview.asp?model=13ACX
Rheems are pretty good. You can finance them thru Mb Hydro if your credit is OK with them.

Good Luck

Last edited by yuri; 07-20-2009 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 07-20-2009, 04:46 PM   #4
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Worth it for Central Air


Quote:
Originally Posted by John84 View Post
we would only employ the AC for 3-4 months a year.
1100 sq ft single floor house
I would really prefer going with the central air
do not want a bulky unit in the house
sticking out of a window.
considering I have the ductwork already installed for the heating furnace, right?
To put a financial slant on this:
You could get at least 5 bids on a central unit with them doing the Manual J calculations as to heat gain and cooling needs,
and
you could get bids on building wall openings that would take smaller AC units.
If the central air bids or the other bids are all over the map, get more.
A dot plot might be helpful at some point

.........a...bcd...e.........f
$0....1.....2.....3.....4.....5
........^relative price^
Bids a and f are probably outliers, and bcd seems to be the true price of doing your job in your zip code, today.

With the smaller units you have better room to room temp control and control over your maintenance and repair/replacement costs and there will be no ductwork issues or proper install issues and no contracts to sign.
It seems to me that central HVAC purchase, install, maintenance and vulnerability to power surges are all unknowns.
If these little ones don't work out you can always go to a central unit and you will then know how many BTUs/hr it takes to cool your house.

Getting bids for either option will quantify your preferences.

Your girlfriend and you probably have different 'utility functions.' You seem to have a high utility for esthetics and she for saving money.
If the central unit costs 5x the little ones and comes with more hassles and more unknowns, would you still go with the central one?

We have central air and we still use a window AC in the bedroom, and a window fan during other times.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 07-20-2009 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 07-20-2009, 05:35 PM   #5
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Worth it for Central Air


Window shakers sukk IMO. Noisy, unsanitary, pain in the butt to keep running (ever tried to clean the coils on them). If the house is well insulated he probably needs a 18,000 BTU unit which can do the entire house or a 24,000 if not well insulated/dual pane windows/no shade trees. Shakers are good for apartments and 1 room only. Our electricity is fairly cheap 8c/kwh so it may cost $20-30/ month to cool his house. Not a lot of cost. 2 shakers will cost more than 1 central unit to run. He would need 2 or 3 of them to do the job.

Last edited by yuri; 07-20-2009 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 07-20-2009, 05:52 PM   #6
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Worth it for Central Air


I bought my 24k AC for a little over $300 on clearance, $75 rebate & 10% off coupon from Home Depot
I initially used it in my old house 912 sq ft poorly insulated
I also had a 12-15k in the bedroom - less $$
Both were built into the wall
But we only use AC maybe 14 days in total here

New house I have the 24k AC for the new great room - 864 sq ft
I bought (2) 14k AC's - again $75 rebate, 10% off - $200 each or less
I also bought a 12k unit from a friend for $100 who was moving
The 14k is built into my sunroom - 250 sq ft, but open to the kitchen
The 2nd 14k AC is built into the wall on the 2nd floor - Master bedroom
--maybe ~700 sq ft

The 12k I put in the front room window if needed
I've yet to turn an AC on this year

We have ceiling fans in every room except the dining room on the 1st floor
I put window fans on the 2nd floor to blow cool air in at night

Get some estimates on installation etc
Then decide, I've spent ~$800 on 64,000 BTU right now
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Old 07-20-2009, 05:53 PM   #7
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Worth it for Central Air


Quote:
Originally Posted by yuri View Post
Window shakers sukk IMO. Noisy, unsanitary, pain in the butt to keep running (ever tried to clean the coils on them). If the house is well insulated he probably needs a 18,000 BTU unit which can do the entire house or a 24,000 if not well insulated/dual pane windows/no shade trees. Shakers are good for apartments and 1 room only. Our electricity is fairly cheap 8c/kwh so it may cost $20-30/ month to cool his house. Not a lot of cost. 2 shakers will cost more than 1 central unit to run. He would need 2 or 3 of them to do the job.
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Old 07-20-2009, 06:03 PM   #8
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Worth it for Central Air


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
I bought my 24k AC for a little over $300 on clearance, $75 rebate & 10% off coupon from Home Depot
I initially used it in my old house 912 sq ft poorly insulated
I also had a 12-15k in the bedroom - less $$
Both were built into the wall
But we only use AC maybe 14 days in total here

New house I have the 24k AC for the new great room - 864 sq ft
I bought (2) 14k AC's - again $75 rebate, 10% off - $200 each or less
I also bought a 12k unit from a friend for $100 who was moving
The 14k is built into my sunroom - 250 sq ft, but open to the kitchen
The 2nd 14k AC is built into the wall on the 2nd floor - Master bedroom
--maybe ~700 sq ft

The 12k I put in the front room window if needed
I've yet to turn an AC on this year

We have ceiling fans in every room except the dining room on the 1st floor
I put window fans on the 2nd floor to blow cool air in at night

Get some estimates on installation etc
Then decide, I've spent ~$800 on 64,000 BTU right now
I would really hate too see a house with that many window shakers in it, even if you saved all that money
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Old 07-20-2009, 06:48 PM   #9
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Worth it for Central Air


In Winnipeg, a house with that many window shakers in it will be a tourist attraction. Like having Pink Flamingos in your yard or a car up on blocks in your front yard.
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Old 07-20-2009, 07:04 PM   #10
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Worth it for Central Air


Two of them are in a corner & can't be seen
The 3rd is also blocked from view
I can't see spending $3-5k on something that will be used 10-14 days a year

My last house the bedroom AC was built into the wall & hidden by a lilac bush
When the bush was flowering I turned the fan on
The 24k AC was also built into the wall & also hidden from view

Proper location Is key

The past 2 cars the AC has been dead at trade-in because I never used them
I'd hate to have the same thing happen in an expensive Central AC
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Old 07-20-2009, 09:37 PM   #11
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Worth it for Central Air


Thanks for the replies so far guys. I just went to Canadian Tire and saw a portable 10K air conditioner for $500; it says it has some kind of 'no-drip' technology so there is no need to clear a bucket - does this mean I could just tuck it in the corner and plug it in? What about the ones without 'no-drip' technology, how often do you have to dump the bucket?

I think I'm getting closer to getting the central air after I told the girlfriend that it would also increase the value of the house and, when selling time comes, will more than likely pay for itself. But I also told her that the system would cost $1500 - $2000; am I low-balling the price there?

I called MB Hydro and their financing is 13% interest which is too high in my opinion. I heard Sears installs central air units and help finance as well so I might give them a call.

And, yes the house is well insulated.
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Old 07-20-2009, 10:08 PM   #12
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Worth it for Central Air


The portable units you may need to dump the water 1-2 times a day
It all depends upon the humidity in your house
And I think they need a place to exhaust the heat
So a window nearby or other vent
One place I worked had one for emergency in case main AC went out & for added cooling (Server room)
The water overflowed the pan for whatever reasonon more then one occaision

If you already have ducts in place Central is a good choice for use of 3-4 months
Sorry, I don't know pricing on HVAC systems
Cost can vary, I would get some local estimates

Last edited by Scuba_Dave; 07-21-2009 at 08:54 AM. Reason: sp
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Old 07-21-2009, 08:37 AM   #13
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Worth it for Central Air


Yes, get more than one estimate.
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Old 07-21-2009, 06:00 PM   #14
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You won't get nothing in Winnipeg for $2000 unless it fell off the back of a truck and got "recycled". Good is not cheap and cheap is not good. You get what you pay for. Be careful with Sears, the contractor who does them will actually do them for $400 less when he does his own jobs. You pay $400 for the sake of Sears and the million useless points they give you.


Last edited by yuri; 07-21-2009 at 06:03 PM.
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