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Old 09-19-2014, 07:55 PM   #41
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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).



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!

If you have a heat pump that should work as the AC unit also... so I doubt you have one...

You probably just have a gas fired furnace.... they will need to add the condenser upstairs in that unit and then run the high and low pressure hoses along with some wire to the outside.... hopefully the furnace is close to a place where you can put the outside unit...
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Old 09-19-2014, 08:01 PM   #42
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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).



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!
Hey nash, great questions.

First, I agree about your choice to use the ducting you have now. The mini-split ductless systems are awesome for certain retrofits, or even new work, in specific circumstances. But you don't sound like a candidate. The biggest downside of those is the system you have to mount on the wall. But anyway, onto your other questions...

When I said "footprint", here were my thoughts... You currently only have a furnace. I'm a bit confused since you say it is gas and and a heat pump? A little confusing. Anyway, a gas only, or electric resistance only furnace has a very small footprint. A heat pump or gas furnace with A/C has an extra footprint to hold the condenser coils. So, it is typically slightly larger. However, in the last 30 years, they've made improvements in size and could probably fit in the space if necessary.

The outside compressor just needs a pad. Most installers can actually just place a simple precast pad for you. This is much easier than pouring a custom pad.

So... What do you have? Do you have a heat pump today? If you did, you'd have an outside compressor already and really it would be simple for an AC conversion.

Finally, I love gas heat. But in Southern California, a heat pump should be pretty darn efficient. The upside is that the installation is simpler (no gas, no flue). The downside is there's no substitute for gas on those few cold days you do get. A heat pump in the attic is fairly safe and easy to maintain. Gas in the attic is possible, but you need to keep a little bit more of an eye on it. It probably also means an extra roof penetration. This is all do-able, but the electric heat pump only installation will be simpler.
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Old 09-19-2014, 08:55 PM   #43
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You currently only have a furnace. I'm a bit confused since you say it is gas and and a heat pump? ... Anyway, a gas only, or electric resistance only furnace has a very small footprint. A ... gas furnace with A/C has an extra footprint to hold the condenser coils. So, it is typically slightly larger. However, in the last 30 years, they've made improvements in size and could probably fit in the space if necessary.

The outside compressor just needs a pad. Most installers can actually just place a simple precast pad for you. This is much easier than pouring a custom pad.

So... What do you have? Do you have a heat pump today? If you did, you'd have an outside compressor already and really it would be simple for an AC conversion.

Finally, I love gas heat. But in Southern California, a heat pump should be pretty darn efficient. The upside is that the installation is simpler (no gas, no flue). The downside is there's no substitute for gas on those few cold days you do get. A heat pump in the attic is fairly safe and easy to maintain. Gas in the attic is possible, but you need to keep a little bit more of an eye on it. It probably also means an extra roof penetration. This is all do-able, but the electric heat pump only installation will be simpler.
So, you're confused because my knowledge of such things is limited, at best. We have a gas water heater, gas grill connection outside, just last year installed gas appliances in the kitchen... I can only assume this means we have a gas furnace and I do know that it's in the attic. Coupled with your statement that we'd already have a compressor outside (we don't) this leads me to the obvious conclusion that we simply have a furnace up there. So I confused you by not know what the heck I'm talking about!

Thanks for clarifying all of that.

Based on what I've seen up there in my trips into that part of the attic, there's some pretty good space, and I do believe it's directly ventilated (as I would assume it must be. Fortunately, it is close to some outside access, including one place I think they would want to put the pad for the compressor.

Again - thanks for that feedback!

Any ideas as to the size for my application (~1600sq ft, single story, relatively mild heat/humidity 80/80% on avg in the summer)? I can't see going over 3 tons, and wondering if I can get away with 2?

Just want to be armed as well as possible before going into "estimate mode."
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Old 09-19-2014, 09:02 PM   #44
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Actually a simple test, does a pipe go from the furnace thru the roof or outside thru the walls? (a couple of inches in size). Do you have to light a pilot or is the furnace new enough to not have one, so when the furnace comes on you hear a fan start a bit the main fan comes on. When I had a gas furnace in the attic in Houston you could hear the gas come on. See also if a black pipe or a flexible coupling like used on the water heater goes to the furnace.
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Old 09-19-2014, 09:10 PM   #45
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Any ideas as to the size for my application (~1600sq ft, single story, relatively mild heat/humidity 80/80% on avg in the summer)? I can't see going over 3 tons, and wondering if I can get away with 2?
That's the trickiest part of a new installation. Making the CORRECT calculations to get the load and size the unit. Call an A/C specialist and ask if they can do the load calculations (professionally) It (the specification calcs) takes into consideration a lot of variables and physical attributed about the house.

A lot of A/C contractors just do repair and replacement since, hopefully, the specs were chosen correctly when the General Contractor built the house. If you don't do this sizing correctly, you can end up with an inefficient disaster.
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Old 09-19-2014, 09:20 PM   #46
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That's the trickiest part of a new installation. Making the CORRECT calculations to get the load and size the unit. Call an A/C specialist and ask if they can do the load calculations (professionally) It (the specification calcs) takes into consideration a lot of variables and physical attributed about the house.

A lot of A/C contractors just do repair and replacement since, hopefully, the specs were chosen correctly when the General Contractor built the house. If you don't do this sizing correctly, you can end up with an inefficient disaster.
Issues you need to address is the window to wall ratio and which side of the house the windows are on, the amount of insulation in the walls and ceiling as well as just the square footage.
There are two calculations manual j and manual d. But you will likely have to pay to have them done, as the installers tend to run by rule of thumb, such as houses in this area of about this size tend to have about x btu of capacity.
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Old 09-19-2014, 09:45 PM   #47
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I did this upgrade three years ago, added a heat pump to an existing gas furnace, also added a new duct run to the far end of the house for balance.

Yep, the sizing can be fun, a little bit of a learning curve, but important as are some of the other details. The contractor I worked with was good, we did have some go arounds on sizing, as the whole front of my house is basically a window looking out over the sound. The install was worth it though for the comfort and reduced conditioning cost.
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Old 09-20-2014, 03:16 PM   #48
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Just poked around upstairs: definitely a gas furnace, in fact a Rheem Criterion II. Nice, clean looking installation, too. Properly ventilated and gas line looks well done. Furnace looks relatively new. Ample space, it would seem, for an install in that area. Not sure where the easiest place would be to run the condenser line, but I have an idea...
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Old 09-20-2014, 05:44 PM   #49
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Just poked around upstairs: definitely a gas furnace, in fact a Rheem Criterion II. Nice, clean looking installation, too. Properly ventilated and gas line looks well done. Furnace looks relatively new. Ample space, it would seem, for an install in that area. Not sure where the easiest place would be to run the condenser line, but I have an idea...
Great. You'll be good to go. Might as well stay with gas and just add the cooling. Sounds like you have the room.

Not sure how high your house is (1 story, 2 story?), but what a lot of guys do for retrofits is they mount a "box" which looks a bit like a downspout on the wall and then run both the condensate pipe AND the refrigerant line through this. This is very common on 2 stories. Just another thing to think about... i.e. the fridge line.

What I did on my retrofit is I worked with the installers and opened up a few walls for them (small holes for them to thread things through). They ran the fridge pipe and condensate here. They were OK with this as long as I did the fixing of the drywall. In the end, it created a really nice hidden install, both inside and out. Not saying you should go here, but just mentioning it.
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:06 AM   #50
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Well, the quotes are in....

Top variable speed system... $12,300
Lower rated variable speed... $10,900
Two stage..... $9,700

And to replace the AC unit (replaces the coil inside and a few other things inside)... $5,400...
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Old 09-21-2014, 08:17 AM   #51
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Well, the quotes are in....

Top variable speed system... $12,300
Lower rated variable speed... $10,900
Two stage..... $9,700

And to replace the AC unit (replaces the coil inside and a few other things inside)... $5,400...
Is this for a furnace and AC or just the AC?
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Old 09-21-2014, 08:56 AM   #52
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Is this for a furnace and AC or just the AC?
Top three is to replace the whole system, AC and heating...

Bottom is to replace only the AC.... both inside and out...
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:37 AM   #53
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Top three is to replace the whole system, AC and heating...

Bottom is to replace only the AC.... both inside and out...
Just for another data point. I paid $3375 for a 95% efficient two stage gas furnace with variable fan (in 2009) and $2600 for a new AC (mid range Carrier) in 2013, which included inside and outside components and all electrical. It pays to get multiple quotes.
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:54 AM   #54
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Just for another data point. I paid $3375 for a 95% efficient two stage gas furnace with variable fan (in 2009) and $2600 for a new AC (mid range Carrier) in 2013, which included inside and outside components and all electrical. It pays to get multiple quotes.
That's a good price for the A/C system. When I bought my 4 ton Goodman unit (components only), I paid $1,800 for the system. Dropped it in myself in 1/2 day with help from friends. It came pre-charged with freon too, but we had to add some from the saved amount.

Prices vary considerably on the equipment based on SEER rating and manufacturer.
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:08 PM   #55
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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. )
Last week and the week before were brutal here in San Diego. I grew up here and do not ever remember it being so hot. It was worse than I remember from living in Philly - super humid, and super high temps. I was glad we'd already completed 2/3's of your window upgrades since we don't have AC. We'd cool the house as much as possible overnight with the attic fan, then turn it off and shut all the windows around 7am... when it started getting hot outside. Schools shut down early because of the heat wave for schools that don't have 100% AC. (My kids got early outs because they go to one of the oldest schools in the district.)

We definitely plan to get AC sometime in the next year. It was that bad. (And I've been FIRMLY in the "we don't need AC in San Diego" camp up till this last heat wave.)

We're looking at the dual split system for our 2000sf 2 story house. We're going to put in one unit in the living room, and one unit directly above, in the master bedroom. Fortunately, they're on the North side of the house, so we have a good place to put the compressor. We'll be retrofitting in pocket doors on the entry to the living room from the foyer, and a swinging door from the dining room to the kitchen.

We have a natural gas furnace - which we replaced a few years ago from the original 1964 builder unit. The advise we got at the time was that the location did not make it a good candidate for retrofit to AC. Our neighbors did it - but they had to make some boxouts in one of the bedrooms to accomodate something or other associated with it.

Thank goodness the heat wave broke earlier this week.
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:48 PM   #56
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That's a good price for the A/C system. When I bought my 4 ton Goodman unit (components only), I paid $1,800 for the system. Dropped it in myself in 1/2 day with help from friends. It came pre-charged with freon too, but we had to add some from the saved amount.

Prices vary considerably on the equipment based on SEER rating and manufacturer.
So how would one install a pre-charged system? It would seem as if the connection between the evaporator coils inside and the condenser and compressor outside would be a variable distance, and the connecting copper would need to be threaded through holes in the walls, etc. Just curious/flummoxed. I always assumed that this is not a DIY operation. I could see how one could remove the old and set the new in place, but to evacuate and charge the freon might require more equipment expense than it would save in labor.
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Old 09-21-2014, 01:41 PM   #57
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So how would one install a pre-charged system? It would seem as if the connection between the evaporator coils inside and the condenser and compressor outside would be a variable distance, and the connecting copper would need to be threaded through holes in the walls, etc. Just curious/flummoxed. I always assumed that this is not a DIY operation. I could see how one could remove the old and set the new in place, but to evacuate and charge the freon might require more equipment expense than it would save in labor.
Used existing copper plumbing in walls. Disconnected plumbing was silver soldered to couplings at compressor/coil. The charge in the unit is valved closed until copper is resoldered, vacuum pulled, and valves opened. Hired A/C certified tech to evac old unit, pull vac, finish recharge. Not too complicated for a handy individual. For a Mechanical Engineer like me, it's pretty basic work.
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Old 09-21-2014, 02:50 PM   #58
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Used existing copper plumbing in walls. Disconnected plumbing was silver soldered to couplings at compressor/coil. The charge in the unit is valved closed until copper is resoldered, vacuum pulled, and valves opened. Hired A/C certified tech to evac old unit, pull vac, finish recharge. Not too complicated for a handy individual. For a Mechanical Engineer like me, it's pretty basic work.
New units tend to have a pre charge that covers a standard length of piping. The tech after installing everything, once the unit is turned on adds refrigerant as needed to the pressures correct. (With the unit running). So basically the external unit contains enough refrigerant to handle a standard situation, and is overcharged for just the outside unit.
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Old 09-21-2014, 06:42 PM   #59
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Just for another data point. I paid $3375 for a 95% efficient two stage gas furnace with variable fan (in 2009) and $2600 for a new AC (mid range Carrier) in 2013, which included inside and outside components and all electrical. It pays to get multiple quotes.
Thanks for the price compare... I do not know why it cost more, but it could be my choice in units...

I have always liked Trane units... they seem to last longer...

The one I had at my old house was almost 20 YO when I sold.... but it was on its last leg... the person who bought the house knew it was so...

My sister just replace one that was maybe 16 or so years... like what I have... kinda did the same thing... had a repair and decided to use that money to replace instead of repair... these were the best quotes for someone that seemed like they knew what they were doing....

What sized unit did you get I do not know if there is that much difference in price, but has to be some....
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Old 09-21-2014, 06:49 PM   #60
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..............What sized unit did you get I do not know if there is that much difference in price, but has to be some....
The gas furnace is a Lennox 35,000 / 70,000 BTU unit. The AC is a 2 ton Carrier.

Performance 13 Central Air Conditioning System - 24ACB3 | Carrier - Home Comfort
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