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View Full Version : A/C brand recommendations?


riley2008
03-28-2011, 05:41 PM
Ugh! Our 12 year old A/C unit has met the end. (Heil brand. I had never heard of it.) Luckily, it's not too bad here in south Texas this week, so we have some time to shop and get reviews.

We've started reading on-line reviews and realize that everyone that posts reviews on most of these sites are unhappy. No one goes to a site to say, "Hey, had my xx brand A/C unit for the last 4 years and no problems."

So, any brand/model recommendations. Remember, we are in south, humid, hot Texas.

TIA

akcire
03-28-2011, 08:53 PM
Ugh! Our 12 year old A/C unit has met the end. (Heil brand. I had never heard of it.) Luckily, it's not too bad here in south Texas this week, so we have some time to shop and get reviews.

We've started reading on-line reviews and realize that everyone that posts reviews on most of these sites are unhappy. No one goes to a site to say, "Hey, had my xx brand A/C unit for the last 4 years and no problems."

So, any brand/model recommendations. Remember, we are in south, humid, hot Texas.

TIA

Years ago my parents had a heating and cooling business--they sold lots of brands. My dad sold the business about 10 years ago.

Two years ago I needed a new furnace and ac for my house. I called my dad and asked which brands I should consider. He had some ideas, but called around to a few of the people still operating businesses (not in my market) to get recommendations.

He told me he thought best value for the dollar and best reliability would come from an American Standard. He then helped me pick the best model for my house size and efficiency rating (I wanted the higher efficiency for the tax credit). Once I had the model picked out, I called a half dozen businesses in my area that installed American Standard and asked for quotes. It was funny how many of them quoted me American Standard, but other brands too.

First I will tell you the pricing differences were huge--same models varied in price from $11,000 installed to $3800--although most were in the $6,000-$8,000 range. I did not choose the cheapest option, I picked the guy I liked the best and negotiated a better price. We have been very happy with our new units, and have seen a 20-30% decrease in our energy usage.

akgluvsdisney
03-29-2011, 08:02 AM
I have worked at an HVAC company for 17 years and have dealt with many brands. I recently replaced my home unit with a Trane dual fuel heat pump. (Love it!!) I would say the main things to look at are warranty and efficiency ratings.

With the newer government requirements efficiency is not as much an issue as it use to be but if you are comparing make sure you are comparing apples to apples. (same efficiency ratings)

Also, warranty is a big must. Since the refrigerant changes to 410A some manufacturers are having issues with coils and replacing one can be very costly just for labor. Most manufacturers have a 10 year parts warranty standard if you go with a higher efficiency. I would highly recommend an extended warranty if it is in your budget. Depending on the brand they usually run from $500 to $1000 dollars for a 10 year parts and labor warranty. Most people are against extended warranties, but as long as it is a manufacturers warranty you should be OK. If a coil or compressor goes out even if the part itself is warranty you still could be looking at $400 to $800 dollars in labor and refrigerant.

Find a company that has been in business for a while that you know will be around, lowest price is not always the best price when it comes to a big $$ purchase. You want a company that will stand behind what they sell, all brands have issues sooner or later. So whom you purchase from can sometimes be as important as what brand you buy.

Let me know if you have any question on specific units and I will be happy to help. Don't get sticker shock when you start pricing units, if you have never purchased a unit your jaw may drop when you get the first price. I would get a minimum of 3 prices and don't be afraid to ask for references. Friends and family are also good to start with for recommendations.

amcnj
03-29-2011, 08:05 AM
Hi. I was just wondering if the 12 year life the Heil unit had is considered good or not. What is the current life of ac units? Thanks.

I

riley2008
03-29-2011, 08:54 AM
He told me he thought best value for the dollar and best reliability would come from an American Standard. He then helped me pick the best model for my house size and efficiency rating (I wanted the higher efficiency for the tax credit). Once I had the model picked out, I called a half dozen businesses in my area that installed American Standard and asked for quotes. It was funny how many of them quoted me American Standard, but other brands too.

First I will tell you the pricing differences were huge--same models varied in price from $11,000 installed to $3800--although most were in the $6,000-$8,000 range. I did not choose the cheapest option, I picked the guy I liked the best and negotiated a better price. We have been very happy with our new units, and have seen a 20-30% decrease in our energy usage.

Thanks. I had forgotten about them. American Standard is what we put in at our previous home and were quite happy, except for the loudness of an auxillary pump that had to be installed becuase of where the AC had to be located - totally not related to American Standard though. The guy that put in that unit is no longer working.

riley2008
03-29-2011, 09:03 AM
I have worked at an HVAC company for 17 years and have dealt with many brands. I recently replaced my home unit with a Trane dual fuel heat pump. (Love it!!) I would say the main things to look at are warranty and efficiency ratings.

With the newer government requirements efficiency is not as much an issue as it use to be but if you are comparing make sure you are comparing apples to apples. (same efficiency ratings)

Also, warranty is a big must. Since the refrigerant changes to 410A some manufacturers are having issues with coils and replacing one can be very costly just for labor. Most manufacturers have a 10 year parts warranty standard if you go with a higher efficiency. I would highly recommend an extended warranty if it is in your budget. Depending on the brand they usually run from $500 to $1000 dollars for a 10 year parts and labor warranty. Most people are against extended warranties, but as long as it is a manufacturers warranty you should be OK. If a coil or compressor goes out even if the part itself is warranty you still could be looking at $400 to $800 dollars in labor and refrigerant.

Find a company that has been in business for a while that you know will be around, lowest price is not always the best price when it comes to a big $$ purchase. You want a company that will stand behind what they sell, all brands have issues sooner or later. So whom you purchase from can sometimes be as important as what brand you buy.

Let me know if you have any question on specific units and I will be happy to help. Don't get sticker shock when you start pricing units, if you have never purchased a unit your jaw may drop when you get the first price. I would get a minimum of 3 prices and don't be afraid to ask for references. Friends and family are also good to start with for recommendations.

Thanks. I've asked about Heat Pumps and gotten the same response from two large AC companies in our area - "We don't do a lot of those in this area". That has me worried in regards to service. From what I've read, the Heat Pump would be great for our area. Maybe I'm missing something though.

This morning a friend who previously worked in HVAC recommended anything with a high SEER, the more you can afford the better, but wouldn't go higher than 18, 16 would likely be the most cost effective aver the overall life of a unit. He didn't have any brand recommendations. Also said warranty - get the best manufacture's warranty you can. And finally, gave me a list of about 10 people in our area that he thought were good and a couple to stay away from. He stressed that it is important to get a good installer with experience, hopefully one that has been trained by the more well-known dealers like Trane,Carrier and Rheem.

riley2008
03-29-2011, 09:16 AM
Hi. I was just wondering if the 12 year life the Heil unit had is considered good or not. What is the current life of ac units? Thanks.

I

My mother's AC is 25 years old and our last one in our old house before it was replaced was older. The Heil (SEER 10) that we have now uses the old refrigerant and will no longer be available after 2020. We've had to replace/add freon twice, along with some other work in the last year that has been covered under our home warranty. We are really tired (time, effort, time off of work, heat, electricity bill) of them just "fixin" the unit to keep it going. We have the money to replace it with a more efficient unit at this time. (A SEER of 14 would be 40% more efficient - savings calculators estimate a savings of $40-$60/month during June to October.) This is also our upstairs unit that is heavily used and where we sleep.

Also, our thought is we replace this one now, hopefully the other unit will last. It's a Rheem and hardly used. Also, our roof will likely need replacing in the next 6-8 years. So, if we can spread out these major expenses, the better - and gives us a little time to shop around without being in an emergency situtation.

Tanzanite
03-29-2011, 10:53 AM
Our air went out last year need to replace it next few weeks have had a few quotes its amazing how prices same unit vary had one guy quote us $11,000 for heat and air unit as we decided to do both upstairs then same Trane unit $9000 another guy then around $7000 .We starting to look at less expensive brands but dont know much about them any one heard of Westinghouse units another guy said they were better as parts cheaper if go wrong said Trane parts high.

NotUrsula
03-29-2011, 11:15 AM
We put in a Trane 2 years ago that we're very happy with. It's a Super Efficiency unit; I forget the SEER rating, but of their 4 grades it is the second-highest. We're in hot, humid Missouri.

One thing to be careful of is to be sure not to buy a unit that is actually too big for your home, as that will not run efficiently. You want someone who will measure carefully and size the unit correctly for you using what is called a "Manual J calculation". This used to be really difficult and time consuming to do, but now any quality contractor should have software to do it. (It does involve measuring the rooms, plus the windows and doors, and accounting for siting and the insulation and building materials, so it does still take some time.)

A small but important issue for your daily happiness with whatever you buy: have them put it on a composite (plastic) slab -- the difference in the noise is phenomenal, because the plastic dampens the sound in a way that concrete cannot touch.

The unit we had before this one was a Carrier that was in place for 16 years; it was a decent unit, but as it aged it developed coolant leak problems that began to get expensive because it used freon. The new Trane is actually a bit smaller and a LOT more efficient.

Gina
03-29-2011, 11:26 AM
One thing to be careful of is to be sure not to buy a unit that is actually too big for your home, as that will not run efficiently. You want someone who will measure carefully and size the unit correctly for you using what is called a "Manual J calculation". This used to be really difficult and time consuming to do, but now any quality contractor should have software to do it. (It does involve measuring the rooms, plus the windows and doors, and accounting for siting and the insulation and building materials, so it does still take some time.)





That is really excellent advice. A lot of people think, "If a 4-ton is good, then a 5-ton must be better!" but it doesn't work that way at all. If a unit is oversized for your home, it will cool it down and shut off before it pulls all the humidity out of the air, and that's miserable when you live in a climate like ours. If a contractor suggests a different size than what is already in your home, ask why! Make him show you the calculations. It might very well be that he's right, and the unit that is already there is the wrong size, but just ask him to show you why he's recommending what he is.

akgluvsdisney
03-29-2011, 11:49 AM
Just curious Riley2008, what type heat do you have gas or electric?

Just curious due to the fact not many people install heat pumps in your area. (or maybe just dual fuel heat pumps?) Heat pumps are probably 80% of our business or more.

riley2008
03-29-2011, 12:00 PM
We put in a Trane 2 years ago that we're very happy with. It's a Super Efficiency unit; I forget the SEER rating, but of their 4 grades it is the second-highest. We're in hot, humid Missouri.

One thing to be careful of is to be sure not to buy a unit that is actually too big for your home, as that will not run efficiently. You want someone who will measure carefully and size the unit correctly for you using what is called a "Manual J calculation". This used to be really difficult and time consuming to do, but now any quality contractor should have software to do it. (It does involve measuring the rooms, plus the windows and doors, and accounting for siting and the insulation and building materials, so it does still take some time.)

A small but important issue for your daily happiness with whatever you buy: have them put it on a composite (plastic) slab -- the difference in the noise is phenomenal, because the plastic dampens the sound in a way that concrete cannot touch.

The unit we had before this one was a Carrier that was in place for 16 years; it was a decent unit, but as it aged it developed coolant leak problems that began to get expensive because it used freon. The new Trane is actually a bit smaller and a LOT more efficient.

Unit size - That's funny you brought that up. Our town purchased several new units for a new construction project. Out City Manager insisted on the larger 5ton units rather than the 3 ton recommended. As a result the company drafted a letter about potential issues. They all came true. The larger units do cool the building quite quickly, but they don't run very long and the humidity is terrible, which resulted in mold in the first summer. Strange. They also kick on/off very frequently.

Slab- right now our units are on cinder blocks! The units are near the garage and away from any windows, so outside sound isn't really an issue. I think all the companies are going to the composite slabs though. (It'll look nicer anyway too!)

Efficiency - We're really wanting this! We replaced the windows last year, and planned to make some door adjustments, so a new AC should really help!

Thank you very much for your input.

riley2008
03-29-2011, 12:03 PM
Just curious Riley2008, what type heat do you have gas or electric?

Just curious due to the fact not many people install heat pumps in your area. (or maybe just dual fuel heat pumps?) Heat pumps are probably 80% of our business or more.

We're all electric in this house. Previously we were electric with gas heat.


(Want to come to Texas? ;))

riley2008
03-29-2011, 12:10 PM
Our air went out last year need to replace it next few weeks have had a few quotes its amazing how prices same unit vary had one guy quote us $11,000 for heat and air unit as we decided to do both upstairs then same Trane unit $9000 another guy then around $7000 .We starting to look at less expensive brands but dont know much about them any one heard of Westinghouse units another guy said they were better as parts cheaper if go wrong said Trane parts high.

I feel like I'm mattress shopping. I can't tell if I'm comparing apples to apples, other than the SEER rating. I also wish companies would list their prices for units on-line, so we only had to negotiate the installation. I've already marked off one company as he said that they only give quotes for the total job and don't break it down. Based on others' estimates so far, I really couldn't see that I had what I thought was about $6,000 in labor costs for one day of work!:scared1:

DawnM
03-29-2011, 12:17 PM
We just replaced our 1989 Trane brand HVACs (we have two, one upper and one lower) with Trane again!

If the first one can last 22 years, it has SOLD us!

Dawn

StregaNona
03-29-2011, 03:32 PM
We replaced a Janitrol A/C only unit last fall with a much more efficient Carrier A/C unit. We ran it a few times last fall. We'll see how well it works wehn summer arrives :).