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Buy variable speed 8 22.22%
Buy dual speed 5 13.89%
Just replace outside unit 1 2.78%
Why do anything right now 22 61.11%
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Old 09-18-2014, 06:24 AM   #21
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I am in a similar situation but my AC is at least 20 years old. I thought it died in June but it was just a capacitor. Now I am waiting for the next next coolant change. They do say the next coolant will be compatible with the current equipment but... I don't know squat about the questions you pose so I will keep this thread handy for when my unit gasps it's last breath.
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:00 AM   #22
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.......... Believe it or not, you really don't get any deals in the winter from the vendors, they just make you think you do. ...............
I had my AC installed in December (this is in MI). The tech asked me why and I said that I thought they would be less busy and I'd get a better deal plus they'd take their time installing it. He said not true, same prices all year round.
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:06 AM   #23
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I would also say that if you replace a system, make sure the new equipment is properly sized for your house (insulation, window area, ceiling height, climate, orientation, etc) and that the system has a sufficient number of returns or it will never run properly.
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:31 AM   #24
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One way to approach these decisions is to ask yourself what happens if I postpone making the choice now? For example:

You may be faced with a period of days, maybe weeks before an installer can come to you house and put in the new system - can you live with that in the middle of winter? in the middle of summer? If so, put off the decision.

Are you missing an opportunity for cost savings (energy) by postponing? Maybe yes, maybe no. We installed a variable speed system inside and an SEER 16 outside and I don't see any cost savings after two years compared to our 20 year old compressor and 50+ year old gas furnace. I haven't taken time to actually chart the therm (natural gas) usage and KW usage. when I look at the usage charts on our gas and electric bills every month they show relatively consistent usage compared to last year. And I certainly haven't noticed a decrease in the monthly dollar amount.

So those two things make me suggest - wait, make the choice later. The system may cost more at that time but it will be new and you will have gotten 2, 3, 4 more years of service from the existing system.

The one benefit of our new blower/furnace is the noise level is lower than the old system. But that's about the only benefit that I see. DW on the other hand is glad we made the change for her peace of mind.
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:33 AM   #25
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When I got a new unit in 2003, a 12 SEER, 3T unit cost $2700. A 14 SEER with two speed fan was $7000. Ignore the ROI? Not this guy...
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Old 09-18-2014, 05:17 PM   #26
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I would also say that if you replace a system, make sure the new equipment is properly sized for your house (insulation, window area, ceiling height, climate, orientation, etc) and that the system has a sufficient number of returns or it will never run properly.

I will agree... when they redid my ducts and added a split system.. they said my return was WAY too small... added three more in the upstairs game room... this created so much more airflow that when they were here fixing the motor we had the fan speed lowered...
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Old 09-18-2014, 05:20 PM   #27
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When I got a new unit in 2003, a 12 SEER, 3T unit cost $2700. A 14 SEER with two speed fan was $7000. Ignore the ROI? Not this guy...

That is the final info that I do not have yet.... costs... I would not pay that difference to go to the two speed... but the AC company said there are so many incentives right now for the more efficient unit that the cost is not supposed to be that big of a difference... I am thinking 20%.... but, we will see...
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Old 09-18-2014, 10:43 PM   #28
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But TexasProud lives in Texas, and I have never been hotter in my life than I was when living back in College Station, TX. I had my AC break there one summer, and believe me, it wasn't an experience I would ever want to repeat. With TexasProud's AC being as old as it is, it doesn't have many years left. I'd want to replace it proactively BEFORE it breaks down.
Ah. On this, I will yield to the voice of experience. I have never been in Texas, let alone in summer.
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Old 09-19-2014, 06:26 AM   #29
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If the two stage unit pricing turns out to be as close as the AC people are telling you, then I'd go with that instead of a variable speed system. I'm assuming this is a heat pump and is also your heating? May not be as important in Texas as you'll be using the full capabilities more in the summer than we do here in WV but we liked the idea that sometimes the system is still cooling/heating as needed but doesn't always have to work at full capacity? During winter, the low stage may handle most of your needs?

Having said that, I'm not sure I'd replace anything right away if it was working now and hope it finally breaks during mild weather, lol.
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Old 09-19-2014, 07:12 AM   #30
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If the two stage unit pricing turns out to be as close as the AC people are telling you, then I'd go with that instead of a variable speed system. I'm assuming this is a heat pump and is also your heating? May not be as important in Texas as you'll be using the full capabilities more in the summer than we do here in WV but we liked the idea that sometimes the system is still cooling/heating as needed but doesn't always have to work at full capacity? During winter, the low stage may handle most of your needs?

Having said that, I'm not sure I'd replace anything right away if it was working now and hope it finally breaks during mild weather, lol.

No, not a heat pump. I would be replacing my heater also to get the two speed or variable speed which is why the cost will go up.
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Old 09-19-2014, 07:44 AM   #31
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No, not a heat pump. I would be replacing my heater also to get the two speed or variable speed which is why the cost will go up.
I think that there is some confusion regarding a two stage AC compressor as opposed to a two speed or variable speed fan in the furnace.

For maximum dehumidification, you want the compressor to be as small as possible, yet still cool adequately under all heat conditions. A two stage compressor handles this nicely by running on low unless demand forces it to kick into the high range. A two stage compressor also is more energy efficient and provides more even temperatures. Down side is higher initial cost and higher repair costs.
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Old 09-19-2014, 08:17 AM   #32
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My units are 23 years old and I've kept them working through minimal investment in freon and capacitors.

Duke Energy sends me a graph that shows how I'm doing with my old "contractor grade" units, and frankly, I don't think it's too bad.

At 10.3 per kwh, I'm spending less than $150 a year over the average house in cooling season. Even if buying a new system puts me down at the green line (which it wouldn't because I still have the same insulation, windows, etc), it would take forEVer to payback...just a bad ROI.

So my system is going to have to die before it gets replaced. Unfortunately, on the upstairs unit, the condensate water started leaking out of the bottom of the evaporator coil box (instead of coming out of one of the two drain pipes). I guess that means the pan has rusted through, but haven't yanked it apart yet. Maybe a little silicone caulk once cooling season is over, hehe.
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Old 09-19-2014, 08:45 AM   #33
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I think that there is some confusion regarding a two stage AC compressor as opposed to a two speed or variable speed fan in the furnace.

For maximum dehumidification, you want the compressor to be as small as possible, yet still cool adequately under all heat conditions. A two stage compressor handles this nicely by running on low unless demand forces it to kick into the high range. A two stage compressor also is more energy efficient and provides more even temperatures. Down side is higher initial cost and higher repair costs.

Agree... and the variable stage (as I am told and read) is not just two compressors where you have X or Y running... you have anywhere between 30% to 100% working... so if the AC calculates you need 2 tons, it provides 2 tons... if you need 2.3, it provides 2.3.... if you need the full 5 tons... you got it....
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Old 09-19-2014, 08:53 AM   #34
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My units are 23 years old and I've kept them working through minimal investment in freon and capacitors.

Duke Energy sends me a graph that shows how I'm doing with my old "contractor grade" units, and frankly, I don't think it's too bad.

At 10.3 per kwh, I'm spending less than $150 a year over the average house in cooling season. Even if buying a new system puts me down at the green line (which it wouldn't because I still have the same insulation, windows, etc), it would take forEVer to payback...just a bad ROI.

So my system is going to have to die before it gets replaced. Unfortunately, on the upstairs unit, the condensate water started leaking out of the bottom of the evaporator coil box (instead of coming out of one of the two drain pipes). I guess that means the pan has rusted through, but haven't yanked it apart yet. Maybe a little silicone caulk once cooling season is over, hehe.

Not sure that the graph means anything... heck, you could be like my mom and love it hot!!! She lives in 78 or 79 all the time... we have it at 76...

The better question is how much would you save on your (lets just guess) 10 SEER unit vs a 16 SEER or even a 20 SEER..... add in a two stage system and the savings are even better....

But to your point... even the AC guy said that there is no ROI if all you are looking at are dollars.... he said the biggest benefit is comfort... these units control temp and humidity much better than a single stage...

And that is one of the problems.... our temp can be 76, but we still have too much humidity... so it is not as comfortable as we would like... so I have to put a value on that comfort...
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Old 09-19-2014, 10:06 AM   #35
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Timely thread for me.

The recent heat wave and above average temperatures this summer have finally convinced me that people who live in Southern California and comment on how they "don't need A/C" are just willing to deal with months of 80 degree houses and 80% humidity. And that's in San Diego!

I have declared () to DW that we are getting A/C when my annual bonus hits, which coincides with the fall. According to a quick web search, several contractors recommended the fall as it is between the time when they are busy with HVAC repairs and the time when people figure out that their heat isn't working. I'm thinking October or early November here ought to provide whatever "deal" there is, or at least the most availability.

We live in a 1600 sqft, single-story home. I'm thinking we could probably get away with a 2 ton, maybe 3 ton unit, and given that we may only use it 3-4 months out of the year, that I don't think we need to break the bank for a top-of-the-line system. I admit I am not yet that familiar with two-stage vs. variable speed, etc.

We have existing ducting that our home inspector said was in good shape, as was the furnace, when we purchased the home 3.5 years ago. Unfortunately, the 30 year old house has never had A/C, so there will likely be more cost associated with a new install.

I'm interested in everyone's thoughts on my threadjack here... if you lived someplace like San Diego/Coronado where it gets hot but not HOT, humid but not HUMID, and lived in a house our size requiring cooling for 4 or so months each year, what type of system would you recommend?

(Note: NONE is no longer an option. )
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Old 09-19-2014, 10:11 AM   #36
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.............
And that is one of the problems.... our temp can be 76, but we still have too much humidity... so it is not as comfortable as we would like... so I have to put a value on that comfort...
Have you considered also running a dehumidifier?
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Old 09-19-2014, 11:48 AM   #37
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We live in a 1600 sqft, single-story home. I'm thinking we could probably get away with a 2 ton, maybe 3 ton unit, and given that we may only use it 3-4 months out of the year, that I don't think we need to break the bank for a top-of-the-line system. I admit I am not yet that familiar with two-stage vs. variable speed, etc.

We have existing ducting that our home inspector said was in good shape, as was the furnace, when we purchased the home 3.5 years ago. Unfortunately, the 30 year old house has never had A/C, so there will likely be more cost associated with a new install.
For San Diego, keep it simple. Earlier I waxed poetic about going all out. But I live in a very hot humid place in the summer, and still significantly cool in the winter. Our units get a real work out all year round.

If I lived in S.D., keep it simple. You only need a traditional unit that runs at a moderate speed. Done.

Since you have ducting, that's a plus. There are ducting retrofits that run like dryer hoses, but I don't think you need that.

Likely, your biggest extra surprise expense (aside from the unit) will be running some new electric for the outside compressor. Hopefully, you have a modern electric service. (I've seen too many "This Old House" kind of shows from California where people have these ancient electrical systems.) Assuming you have a modern 200 amp service, even the new electric run shouldn't be too bad. If you have to upgrade your service -- watch out.

The fact you have a furnace is big. Hopefully they can fit the new system in the footprint allocated. So, the furnace, fan and condenser fit right where your furnace is now. Then, they have to run the fridge line outside. You'll need room outside for the compressor. And then there is the electric to the compressor, which will be a heavy duty 240 service.
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Old 09-19-2014, 02:26 PM   #38
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Timely thread for me.
I'm interested in everyone's thoughts on my threadjack here... if you lived someplace like San Diego/Coronado where it gets hot but not HOT, humid but not HUMID, and lived in a house our size requiring cooling for 4 or so months each year, what type of system would you recommend?
Take a look at Ductless Heatpump; AKA mini-split system. These units are great for retrofit installs and are actually more efficient than regular heat pumps. One outside compressor can run several indoor units.
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Old 09-19-2014, 06:13 PM   #39
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Take a look at Ductless Heatpump; AKA mini-split system. These units are great for retrofit installs and are actually more efficient than regular heat pumps. One outside compressor can run several indoor of the units.

Since he already has ducts, probably not a great fit for him... you do have to run the lines to all the outlets...

I have also not seen any outlet unit that is quiet enough.. our ducted system is pretty quiet... most places in the house you cannot even hear it running.... you can never say that about a ductless system...
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Old 09-19-2014, 07:20 PM   #40
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Since he already has ducts, probably not a great fit for him...
Yeah, we'll go central based on what little research I've done. Pricing seems doable, expecting $2500-5000, but hopefully on the low end of that for what I think can be a simple install (at least as simple as can be).

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If I lived in S.D., keep it simple. You only need a traditional unit that runs at a moderate speed. Done.

Since you have ducting, that's a plus. There are ducting retrofits that run like dryer hoses, but I don't think you need that.

Likely, your biggest extra surprise expense (aside from the unit) will be running some new electric for the outside compressor. Hopefully, you have a modern electric service.

The fact you have a furnace is big. Hopefully they can fit the new system in the footprint allocated. So, the furnace, fan and condenser fit right where your furnace is now. Then, they have to run the fridge line outside. You'll need room outside for the compressor. And then there is the electric to the compressor, which will be a heavy duty 240 service.
Our house is fairly modern, and we recently had some significant electrical work done before we moved in. No inspector or the two electricians that have worked here mentioned anything about it being old (just some bad series wiring in one room). I don't expect a huge electric modification, but of course we'll see.

When you say "fit the new system in the footprint allocated," I'm wondering if I haven't communicated properly. Our "furnace" (maybe more accurately a heat pump - though we run gas... I should check this) is located in the attic. I assume the compressor would be laid outside, so I think they would have to put down a foundation for it. I don't expect a super-simple installation, but nothing to blow the wallet either.

Anything I should look for with respect to the heat pump/furnace in the attic to determine if our installation is going to be more complex?

As previously mentioned, the home inspector three-plus years ago did specifically mention that our ducting was in good shape in the event that we did choose to install A/C, so that's good.

Thanks for the feedback thus far!
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