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New Heat Pump Options
Old 07-24-2018, 12:59 PM   #1
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New Heat Pump Options

We recently moved into our new house in the DFW area. The conventional AC and gas furnace is 16 years old. It is functioning. However, we got our first electric bill which was $265 for 21 days. We used over 120 kwh per day which was a lot more than we were using at our last house which was larger. New house was built in the mid-80s and is one story, 2300 SF.

Anyway - we have gotten 2 quotes. I lean strongly to wanting a heat pump which is common here.

First person was recommended by my real estate agent. He quoted conventional systems and heat pump. He is not really a heat pump fan. He has one in his home and says he will go back to conventional when that one is done. However, he acknowledged that the heat pumps are popular enough that some HVAC people in this area sell nothing else. He things that the heat pumps don't last as long as they run year round.

He quoted a Trane XR14 (16 SEER rating) conventional system for $7980.42.

He quoted 3 Trane heat pump systems. The one I am interested in is the XR 16 which is a single stage, 17 SEER unit at $8830.72. He did not quote any two stage units. The other two he quoted were the XR 14 and XR 15 (16 SEER - $8402.32).

His quotes were very bare bones. Basically the model number and price which is a turnkey price. He says that our electrical panel may need to be upgraded and we are getting that checked out today.

Then we got a quote from another guy. This was a company that came out to do a minor repair on our AC (capacitor went out) and we had them come back and give a quote.

This guy sells American Standard (which I know is owned by the same company that owes Trane). His position was that American Standard is better than Trane. He had a very detailed quote that he did, saying exactly what they would do. That said -- I don't think that he is necessarily doing anything else that the first guy wouldn't have done. That is, the 2nd guy had things like put in a new concrete pad for the outside unit because the new heat pump is bigger than the 16 year old unit. The first guy didn't mention that at all but just quoted the system. DH assumes that his quote would include things like doing a new pad if needed but we would check to make sure we are comparing apples to apples.

Anyway - second companies quote:

Silver 16 - 16 Seer - $9868

Gold 17 - 17 Seer - 2 stage - $11538

Platinum 18 - Seer - variable speed = $12,541 (this one would require using their thermostat rather than our existing Nest. I don't really want to get rid of the Nest which works with our security system controls).

FWIW, this guy was very high on heat pumps and didn't even quote a conventional system.

I must admit that I had expected the American Standard system would be less expensive than the Trane. The two quotes are a little different in that the first guys quotes topped out with the 17 SEER single stage system and he didn't quote any 2 stage systems.

The American Standard unit for 16 SEER single stage is $1400 more than the 16 SEER single stage Trane unit and $1000 more than the 17 SEER single stage Trane.

That seems like a significant difference.

My sense is that the extra cost for the 2 stage unit is not really worth it (first guy didn't even quote one although I am sure he would if we asked him to).

How do Trane and American Standard compare? Any reason to spend $1000 more for a 16 SEER American Standard as compared to a 17 SEER Trane?

We can, of course, get more quotes. This is not super urgent to get replaced but both of these guys did feel that replacing the old unit with a new higher SEER unit would make a significant difference in electric cost. Neither guy was hard sale and we liked both of them.
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New Heat Pump Options
Old 07-24-2018, 01:10 PM   #2
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New Heat Pump Options

I have a Trane 2-stage 20 seer conventional system that has worked flawlessly for five years. It cost me about $10k at the time, including a ten year warranty.
Id recommend Trane to anyone. It dropped my heating/cooling bill dramatically.
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Old 07-24-2018, 01:21 PM   #3
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Katsmeow, a survey of central AC reliability by Consumers Reports shows the top brands are American Standard, Trane, Bryant, Lennox, Carrier and Amana. Not enough difference in the scores of these six to be significant. The most critical factor in how long a system lasts and how well it performs seems to be the quality of installation.

FWIW, those prices from the second guy seem high to me. Probably a good idea to get more quotes.
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Old 07-24-2018, 01:35 PM   #4
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Phoenix here. We replaced a 19 y.o. Trane roof mount gas-pack (AC and Furnace in one box) two years ago and was open to other options but wound up with another Trane. Both are/were two stage - at least one of the sales guys said we wouldn't be happy with a single stage after being used to a two stage unit. My understanding is that Trane and American Standard are badge engineered and virtually identical units. We certainly had great service from our old one but it had developed a tiny leak and required topping up every year with obsolete and increasingly expensive refrigerant. I prefer gas heat and the price of gas is also attractive these days compared to electricity. We also have gas water heater and gas dryer which we far prefer to electric.
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Old 07-24-2018, 01:36 PM   #5
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P.S. you might consider an extended warranty - we got one for 10 years parts and labor for ~$900.
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Old 07-24-2018, 01:37 PM   #6
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My .02
I would go with a multi stage unit.
Makev sure you get new copper, flushing is not worth any possible issues vs cost of new coppet lines.
The upgraded breaker box was probaly for electric heat strips, i would stick with gas as the backup heat ,gas is way cheaper than electric.

As for the pad when mine was done they provided a plastic pad for the new unit, its sinking a little but had been in 10 Years.
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Old 07-24-2018, 02:43 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ransil View Post
My .02
I would go with a multi stage unit.
Makev sure you get new copper, flushing is not worth any possible issues vs cost of new coppet lines.
The upgraded breaker box was probaly for electric heat strips, i would stick with gas as the backup heat ,gas is way cheaper than electric.
First guy -- who actually is a fan of conventional AC/gas furnace -- says it makes no sense to have gas as the backup heat particularly since given my existing gas furnace is 16 years old.

I think I will have him quote a two stage unit and see what that costs.

I would actually prefer to not have gas at all. I have 3 things that use gas:

1. Gas furnace

2. Gas water heater

3. Pool/spa heater

So, get rid of gas furnace and that just leaves gas water heater and pool/spa heater. We need to get a new water heater soon so I think I will get an electric hybrid.

That leaves only the pool/spa heater which is the problem. I hate to have to pay the gas connection fee just for the pool/spa (gas service here is over $30 a month even if you don't actually use any significant amount of gas).

We probably won't ever heat up the whole pool (we've had pools before and never did). But we will regularly heat up the spa (which is part of the pool). The pool guy recommended against a heat pump heater for the pool/spa since he says it will take too long to heat up the spa and will have difficulty in the winter.

But, I hate to have to pay for gas just to heat up the spa. I guess I could get a conventional electric heater? But know that is expensive. But, if I had no gas I could cancel the gas service entirely....
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Old 07-24-2018, 03:21 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post
First guy -- who actually is a fan of conventional AC/gas furnace -- says it makes no sense to have gas as the backup heat particularly since given my existing gas furnace is 16 years old.

I think I will have him quote a two stage unit and see what that costs.

I would actually prefer to not have gas at all. I have 3 things that use gas:

1. Gas furnace

2. Gas water heater

3. Pool/spa heater

So, get rid of gas furnace and that just leaves gas water heater and pool/spa heater. We need to get a new water heater soon so I think I will get an electric hybrid.

That leaves only the pool/spa heater which is the problem. I hate to have to pay the gas connection fee just for the pool/spa (gas service here is over $30 a month even if you don't actually use any significant amount of gas).

We probably won't ever heat up the whole pool (we've had pools before and never did). But we will regularly heat up the spa (which is part of the pool). The pool guy recommended against a heat pump heater for the pool/spa since he says it will take too long to heat up the spa and will have difficulty in the winter.

But, I hate to have to pay for gas just to heat up the spa. I guess I could get a conventional electric heater? But know that is expensive. But, if I had no gas I could cancel the gas service entirely....
Here in Arizona, the electric utilities are moving to demand/time of use rate structures which really make gas appliances like water heaters, stoves, and dryers attractive. When we were on a demand type rate some years back, it was such a nuisance to have to plan when to do loads of washing and worry about starting the electric dryer during the demand time of day. One false move and your demand portion of your bill would skyrocket for the entire month. Ugh, no thanks. No such problem with gas appliances. If we were staying in the home long term, I'd probably replace the electric range with gas and plumb the BBQ grill for natural gas as well.

Even if your electric utility hasn't moved to residential demand/time of use rate structures, odds are that it will do so in the future as they can improve efficiency by leveling electric usage throughout the day and thereby making more profits.
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Old 07-24-2018, 03:39 PM   #9
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Even if your electric utility hasn't moved to residential demand/time of use rate structures, odds are that it will do so in the future as they can improve efficiency by leveling electric usage throughout the day and thereby making more profits.
Maybe it will. But if I am getting a heat pump I would prefer to be all electric. Even if it costs a little more money I would prefer to be all electric.
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Old 07-24-2018, 06:52 PM   #10
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I did not see the size of the unit...



We were in the $11K to $12K range (can not remember exactly) for both AC and heater... changed out the whole thing including dampers to zone the house... for a 5 ton variable speed Trane...


You quotes just for a heat pump seem high... get a few changing out to gas heat...


But, maybe heat pumps do cost about the same or more as both an AC and gas heater...
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Old 07-24-2018, 07:12 PM   #11
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Just spent $8100 for a 16 SEER 5 ton Champion (owned by Johnson Controls, like other companies they make lots of other brand names like York, Goodman, etc) 2 stage compressor heat pump with an electric furnace and auxiliary heat, the blower is variable speed. I kept my Nest thermostat and wired it up to the new system.

In Texas 2300 sq ft is likely on the edge of needing two units but it’s amazing what dampers and separate thermostats can do with one system in terms of zoning.

The 2 stage compressor will save operating cost even if it runs the same period of time. We love the variable speed blower fan comes on slow and increases as needed instead of coming on full force all the time, again an energy savings.

Good luck
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Old 07-24-2018, 07:24 PM   #12
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When we built our retirement home in northern Utah at 5,000 ft. elevation, the contractor used a "rule of thumb" method to decide what size unit AC we needed. That is NOT a professional way to do it. The 4500 sq. ft. house (includes basement) was designed to minimize the need for AC. Most of the older homes here don't even have AC, there are a lot of evaporative coolers being used. So we put in 1 unit for the rooms in the loft level, pre-wired and pre-plumbed and pre-ducted for another unit in case we need it. 10 years later, we still have just the upstairs unit installed.

You may want to make the house more energy efficient first.
LSS, hire a professional...
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Old 07-24-2018, 07:36 PM   #13
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Maybe it will. But if I am getting a heat pump I would prefer to be all electric. Even if it costs a little more money I would prefer to be all electric.
All electric homes seldom explode!!
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Old 07-24-2018, 07:41 PM   #14
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I did not see the size of the unit...



We were in the $11K to $12K range (can not remember exactly) for both AC and heater... changed out the whole thing including dampers to zone the house... for a 5 ton variable speed Trane...


You quotes just for a heat pump seem high... get a few changing out to gas heat...


But, maybe heat pumps do cost about the same or more as both an AC and gas heater...
The American Standard was a 4 ton. Not sure on the Trane -- DH talked to that guy so will have to ask him.

Yes, heat pump which covers both AC and heating is a little more expensive for equipment than a conventional system. Seemed to be about $1000 different. The heat pump is less expensive to run though so question is how long it takes to make up the difference.

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Most of the older homes here don't even have AC, there are a lot of evaporative coolers being used. So we put in 1 unit for the rooms in the loft level, pre-wired and pre-plumbed and pre-ducted for another unit in case we need it. 10 years later, we still have just the upstairs unit installed.

You may want to make the house more energy efficient first.
LSS, hire a professional...
Going without AC here is a non-starter. The other day my car said it was 112 outside... Anyway, yes, increasing energy efficiency is a good thing to do but this is a 30 year old house. We are considering replacing windows but replacing the AC will make the most immediate difference.
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Old 07-24-2018, 07:51 PM   #15
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We also blew in 6 of cellulose insulation on top of the 8 of fiberglass (loose) - $2k. This has made a huge difference. I used an infrared thermometer and scanned the bottom of the roof in the attic the other day when it was near 100 degrees outside. The attic roof was 154 degrees but the ceilings inside the house were 74 degrees. The builder grade windows are the weak point now but without knowing I will be here at least 10 more years, I wont do it. Put windows in our Texas house and they were great, moved 2 years later , but did get the tax credit.
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Old 07-24-2018, 07:53 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post
We recently moved into our new house in the DFW area. The conventional AC and gas furnace is 16 years old. It is functioning. However, we got our first electric bill which was $265 for 21 days. We used over 120 kwh per day which was a lot more than we were using at our last house which was larger. New house was built in the mid-80s and is one story, 2300 SF.
If your move-ins are anything like ours, the first few weeks in the house may not be a good indication of what your ultimate utility bills are likely to be. The actual move-in day, plus moving things/empty boxes in and out as you unpack 'em, etc: your eventual utility bills are likely to be lower, so don't panic yet.


Did your HVAC guy do a true Manual J calculation based on his/her own measurements to determine the size of the unit you need for both heating and cooling? If they just used a rule-of-thumb or looked at the data late on the existing unit, then get someone out there who knows what they are doing.



Be sure your HVAC tech has assured that your ducts are sufficient to handle the increased airflow a heat pump may need to use in the wintertime. The warm air they produce is not warm at all compared to a gas furnace, so they need to move a lot more of it. Some homes with ducting sized for air conditioning/gas furnace need larger ducts to accommodate the larger flow rates of a heat pump in winter.



If you live in a place where a heat pump needs to sometimes go to "emergency" electric resistance heat on the coldest days, that's a pretty big deal and makes your electric bill very high in a short time. If this is the case, I would not get rid of the gas furnace.


My personal preference would be different than yours: I'd keep a gas furnace and use a regular AC unit for cooling. If you are dead-set on getting rid of the gas, maybe consider a hybrid unit that heats your water with the AC waste heat during the summer.
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Old 07-24-2018, 07:57 PM   #17
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Kind of sad , both American Standard and Trane go down the same assembly line in North Texas . They are the same machine . You will laugh at this , I just had a new Trane put in . When they unpacked it there was a plastic bag full of parts . A decal fell out ( American Standard ) . I told the installer I ordered Trane . He reached in the same bag and pulled out Trane decals . He told me they are built on the same assembly line same parts same assemblers same machines.
I shopped the A/C to the bone , I would recommend going out of your area because in my situation the A/C guys had fixed pricing.
I got my first full months electric bill with my new A/C , Heat pump 91.00
My house is only 1000sf all electric , I keep our hot tub going and a freezer going
We have been getting 100 degree plus and I keep the thermostat set at 74
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Old 07-24-2018, 08:04 PM   #18
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The American Standard was a 4 ton. Not sure on the Trane -- DH talked to that guy so will have to ask him.




Going without AC here is a non-starter. The other day my car said it was 112 outside... Anyway, yes, increasing energy efficiency is a good thing to do but this is a 30 year old house. We are considering replacing windows but replacing the AC will make the most immediate difference.
I grew up in Houston, so I feel your pain. I was only making a point about contractors not really knowing what they are doing.
We settled in a dry area with some altitude to avoid the heat + humidity problems. But even where AC might not be needed, I see builders making huge mistakes, like lots of windows on the east and west. That makes a house extra hot and needing even more AC tonnage.
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Old 07-24-2018, 08:10 PM   #19
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If your move-ins are anything like ours, the first few weeks in the house may not be a good indication of what your ultimate utility bills are likely to be. The actual move-in day, plus moving things/empty boxes in and out as you unpack 'em, etc: your eventual utility bills are likely to be lower, so don't panic yet.
I do think the usage will not be as bad. We should soon get our second bill so will have a better feel for it.


Quote:
Did your HVAC guy do a true Manual J calculation based on his/her own measurements to determine the size of the unit you need for both heating and cooling? If they just used a rule-of-thumb or looked at the data late on the existing unit, then get someone out there who knows what they are doing.
The guy today said that if we did decide to go with theirs they would do a Manual J calculation to verify what he thought. He seemed to think he was likely right but said he would do it. I didn't talk to the other guy myself so will have to ask DH what he said.

In any event, I am sure we are going to get at least one other quote.



Quote:
Be sure your HVAC tech has assured that your ducts are sufficient to handle the increased airflow a heat pump may need to use in the wintertime. The warm air they produce is not warm at all compared to a gas furnace, so they need to move a lot more of it. Some homes with ducting sized for air conditioning/gas furnace need larger ducts to accommodate the larger flow rates of a heat pump in winter.
Everyone says that the ducts are fine.

Quote:
If you live in a place where a heat pump needs to sometimes go to "emergency" electric resistance heat on the coldest days, that's a pretty big deal and makes your electric bill very high in a short time. If this is the case, I would not get rid of the gas furnace.
I actually used to live in a house that was all electric and it had an electric furnace not a heat pump. Our highest electric bills were in the winter and not the summer (both were very high though).

Anyway - The time we would have to use the electric heat should be fairly minimal.

Keeping the gas furnace as the back up is just not what I would want to do. To keep gas service would cost me over $30 a month even I used no gas at all. That is not attractive to me.

From the research I've done this is a pretty ideal area for a heat pump which is why they are really popular.

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Kind of sad , both American Standard and Trane go down the same assembly line in North Texas . They are the same machine . You will laugh at this , I just had a new Trane put in . When they unpacked it there was a plastic bag full of parts . A decal fell out ( American Standard ) . I told the installer I ordered Trane . He reached in the same bag and pulled out Trane decals . He told me they are built on the same assembly line same parts same assemblers same machines.
Yes, that is why I kind of rolled my eyes when DH told me that the guy today touted how much better American Standard was than Trane! I expected the American Standard quote to be less than the Trane quote so was really surprised when it wasn't....
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Old 07-24-2018, 08:23 PM   #20
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“Anyway - The time we would have to use the electric heat should be fairly minimal.”

If you have a newer thermostat they allow you to lock out the auxiliary heat to prevent it from coming on if that’s what you want.
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